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Oprah launches ‘Life You Want’; Denzel the next Bond?

Oprah Winfrey kicked off her “Life You Want Weekend Tour” in Atlanta and her fans were legion.  The two-day extravaganza began with the opening of O Town in Centennial Olympic Park where ticket holders were given programmed electric wristbands with their info to tap for photos and giveaways.

The iconic talk show host made a surprise appearance on stage to the sound of screams, followed by Carla Hall from ABC’s “The Chew” and actress Jasmine Guy.

That evening, before Oprah was to take center stage solely, the crowd at Phillips Arena was whipped into frenzy by the sight of best pal Gayle King and self-help guru Iyanla Vanzant, who toured the entire floor. Also making a rare appearance was Oprah’s mother, Vernita Lee.

That program served as a primer and rally for what was to come the following day, to the delight of all, including a woman from San Diego who brought 300 people with her!

Saturday was time to get to business with Oprah leading the workshop while hosting meditations from Deepak Chopra, and affirmations from “Eat, Pray, Love” author Elizabeth Gilbert, Pastor Rob Bell and Vanzant, who got the most raucous responses.

The VIP Experience was all that with a spread, open bar and photo session with O.  She was effusively grateful for people spending their hard-earned money and time to be there.  In turn, everyone was rewarded through her efforts to get people in touch with their spirit and calling.

The eight-city tour comes west for its only scheduled California date on Nov. 14-15 in San Jose. Visit Oprah.comfor all upcoming tour stops.

TASTY QUIP: “He’s not a nice person. But I just have to accept that. It’s just something between he and I that I try to rise above. Maybe one day we will have a good experience, I don’t know.

“Everyone’s not meant to be friends. But I have no doubt in my mind that the reason I play music is because of him. And I really appreciate all his works. I try to have empathy. I don’t know what his life is like; I don’t know what made him the person he is.” – MESHELL NDEGEOCELLO to Factmag.com on Prince calling her a “house nigga” in 2002 for making a record for Warner Bros., now his label home again.

ARTFUL HONORS: The National Black Arts Festival continued its tradition of recognizing artistic luminaries during its Legends Celebration last week. Wynton Marsalis, cited as this year’s Music Legend, jammed with Marcus Belgrave after accepting. Melvin Van Peebles (“Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song “) received the film award from producer Roger Bobb.

Ntozake Shange, suffering from the effects of two strokes, was unable to attend but looked terrific via video accepting the theatre award. Passages of her landmark work, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf,”were recited by Anika Noni Rose, who starred in the film adaptation by Tyler Perry.

Dr. Samella Lewis (Visual Arts) also videoed her remarks from L.A. due to age (90) but was repped by her poet /artist grandson, Unity Lewis. Maurice Hines (Dance) was a show stopper performing a bit from his Broadwaybound auto-biographical show “Tappin’ Thru Life” with next gen tappers The Manzari Brothers. He also had the line of the night: “’Class is like pornography. You know it when you see it!”

CLIPPETTES: After the premiere of “The Equalizer” at the Toronto Film Festival, Denzel Washington told reporters he wouldn’t mind starring as the next James Bond, being The Black Panther for Marvel, appearing in a remake of “Uptown Saturday Night” with Will Smith, and in starring in a horror film.  He’d also like to host Saturday Night Live…

Ja Rule is getting his own comedy docu-series to be produced by Queen Latifah on MTV whose programming president considers him to be “the modern day reality rap star version of Bill Cosby’s role from The Cosby Show”…

Anthony Hamilton’s “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” ranks among the best renditions ever. It’s on Dr. John’s new Louis Armstrong tribute album, “Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit of Satch.” Ledisi, Bonnie Raitt, Terence Blanchard, Arturo Sandoval, and The Blind Boys of Alabama also chip in.

TC ON TV: Yaani King wasn’t interested in the idea about playing a slave in a period piece. She was recurring on TV shows like “Mad Men,” “Extant,” and the web series “Roomieloverfriends.” Then she got the script for best-selling author Nicholas Sparks’ “Deliverance Creek,” which premieres Sept. 12 on LIFETIME.

“In this perspective, we see a strong woman standing up for her family, taking the initiative, being brave, and freeing herself and her family,” she told TASTY CLIPS. “That’s something we haven’t seen.”

On working with Halle Berry on her CBS series, King revealed that the Oscar winner is a bit of a perfectionist.

“There are some actors that are on that level who kind of phone it in,” she said.  “If she missed one word she would be like, “No, let me do another take.’  I think that’s a great honor to the writers, because sometimes we get a little bit loose with the language.  It was refreshing to see that when it’s time to work, she works!”

King was the runner-up to Zoe Saldana for the lead role in the blockbuster “Avatar.” “I loved what she did with it,” she admitted.  “Having gotten so close, I didn’t want to compare it to myself but I thought it was beautiful.” When asked if she was also considered for Nina Simone, she paused before responding: “No, I was not.” (laughs) “That’s all I will say about that.”

HIP-HOP FOR CHANGE: “Hip Hop as a Catalyst for Positive Social Change” is one of the featured panels this Saturday at the 10th annual Los Angeles Black Book Expo at L.A. Southwest College, 1600 W. Imperial Highway.

The event also will feature workshops, a children’s corner and the spoken word pavilion that will highlight the second annual Spoken Worlds contest. A backpack giveaway and fashion show is also part of this year’s celebration.

One of the anticipated highlights of the LABBX is the book release of celebrity psychologist’s Niama Malachi’s “A Hip Hop State of Mind.”

The event is free to the public. For more information, visit www.labbx.org.

TASTY QUIP II: “She was 81 years old. In the history of comedy, no comedian has ever been that old and still hip. Hey, I love [Bill] Cosby – slowing down a bit. Rickles – slowing down a bit. I know comedians 40 years younger than Joan Rivers that are still telling Reagan jokes and Clinton and all sorts of lame references that they should have thrown out years ago. She was the hippest comedian from the time she started to the day she died.”  – CHRIS ROCK to The Hollywood Reporter.

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