Bounce TV, the new Atlanta-based broadcast network targeting blacks, is holding a special seven-hour “Soul Train” marathon Saturday from 7 to 2 a.m. in honor of the late Don Cornelius, who was found dead Tuesday with a gunshot in his head.
Police have ruled it a suicide.
This sad ending to a legend’s life hasn’t dimmed people’s memories of him and the impact his show has had on blacks and society at large.
The network hired Atlanta’s Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas of TLC as the host, providing interesting facts and memories of Cornelius. Her segments, which will close and open each episode, were taped Thursday. Some of the acts you’ll see include Kool & the Gang, Gladys Knight & the Pips and En Vogue.
“I put a little of my Chilli sauce on it,” she said by phone today. “I did my best impression of Don Cornelius. I can’t my voice that low but I tried!”
Chilli remembers growing up watching “Soul Train” every Saturday, eager to learn the dance moves and groove to the latest tunes. Her favorite dancer was Cheryl Song, the Asian American woman with the extra long hair.
“My hair was long but not that long,” she said. “I’d wrap a towel around my head and it would be down to my butt.”
And of course, she cherished the “Soul Train” line.
She was thrilled 20 years ago when TLC performed for the first time on the show. (She thinks it was “What About Your Friends.”) She recalled how tall Cornelius was. “I was so happy to see him in person,” she said. “It was surreal!” She didn’t get a shot to dance on the “Soul Train” line, though.
In other Chilli news, she is working with others on a script for an upcoming VH1 biopic on the life and times of TLC.
Casting has not begun yet but she said neither she nor Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins will be playing themselves. “We’re executive producers, totally behind the scenes,” she said. She plans to cast newcomers.
“The story will focus on the three of us,” she said, including the late Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, who died in a car accident in 2002. We’re going to provide some intimate things we’ve never talked about before.” She expects the film will cover the time they got together as TLC to present day.
She is also waiting for scripts from VH1’s ‘Single Ladies.” She expects to be in a few episodes again. The first season, she played a fictional version of herself in three episodes as a friend of LisaRaye McCoy. (She felt creator Stacy Littlejohn captured her spirit well.) Production for season two has just begun here in Atlanta.
I also asked her about how T-Boz is doing since she filed for bankruptcy last fall. “She’s doing great,” Chilli said. “She’s in Los Angeles working on some different projects, including the movie.”
And after two seasons of VH1’s “What Chilli Wants,” Chilli said she remains a single woman. “One of these days,” she said, with a sigh, “a miracle will happen!”
Tyrese, the hot R&B star, recently asked her to be in his video with him for his song “Nothing On You.” It comes out Valentine’s Day. You can watch the trailer here. She said he’s just a friend, though.
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk