Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons endorses Obama for president

New York hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons is endorsing Barack Obama for president.Simmons says he’s inspired by the diversity among the Illinois senator’s supporters. He says Obama has built an unprecedented national movement of people from all ethnic, racial, political, social and economic backgrounds.Simmons issued a statement Sunday noting his respect for Obama’s chief rival for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton. He says he has worked with the New York senator on education, prison reform and poverty issues.But the co-founder of Def Jam Recordings says he’s particularly impressed by Obama’s support among young people.In recent years, Simmons has encouraged young people and influential hip-hop musicians to become more involved in the political process. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Side Dish: Russell Simmons makes date with Destiny

Russell Simmons has a heart — or at least we think that's the body part that inspired him to be nice to Destiny Davis last week. A source says the Playboy Playmate "was devastated" when she got outbid on a yoga lesson with Simmons. So he decided he'll teach the Downward Dog to Destiny as well as to the winning bidder. It's all to benefit his Rush Philanthropic Fund, which raised $1.5 million at the Art for Life auction at his Hamptons manse. In this economy, that's nirvana. Looks like Kathy Griffin won't be making a cameo on "Hannah Montana" anytime soon. "Let's face it — Miley Cyrus is a whore," Griffin cracked at the Montreal Just for Laughs Comedy Festival. "I do hope that she gets a virus down there so that Lindsay stays away." Meanwhile, Jimmy Fallon obeyed NBC's gag order and kept mum about his new late-night hosting gig, but did manage a dig at the President: "It's great to be in Montreal. Or as George Bush calls it, Upper Montana." Bono couldn't make it to his daughter Eve's graduation from the New York Academy of Film's summer program. But her proud mom, Ali, was there on Saturday to applaud Eve's short comedy. The Academy, founded by Jerry Sherlock and Robert De Niro in 1992, has become a favorite for kids looking to get into the family busines. Past students include children of Steven Spielberg, Kevin Kline, Jamie Foxx, Pierce Brosnan and Susan Sarandon. Ticket to Tuesday's Crosby, Stills & Nash show at Central Park SummerStage are sold out, but you can still buy your way into the VIP section of the City Parks fund-raiser hosted by Zach Braff, Gloria Gaynor and Jimmy Fallon. Check out www.summerstage.org.  Lee Israel, whose new book, "Can You Ever Forgive Me," chronicles her arrest for forgeries of letters by everybody from Humphrey Bogart to Fanny Brice, says she didn't exactly make a mint off her criminal activity. "I sold them for about $80 each," she told us. "We're talking enough for rent and lunch — not a Continue Reading

Russell Simmons’ model breakup

Porschla Coleman is lashing out at those who think they know the inside story of her breakup with Russell Simmons. The rap mogulaire and the supersizzling "Star Search" beauty broke up three weeks ago. In the meantime, Simmons' ex Kimora Lee has been getting tighter and tighter with brilliant acting hunk Djimon Hounsou. "[Russell] is very controlling," claimed our source. "He has her running on his schedule. He always wants her there with him. He doesn't let her see her girlfriends. He can do what he wants. She can't. "Also, she and his children aren't getting along. And getting along with the children is very important to Russell." Coleman disputes this. She tells us: "I am not prepared to go into detail, but Russell is my best friend. There is no anger on either of our parts. It was a mutual decision. We just decided to be friends, and we're both very happy." The facts back Porschla up. Not only are the two auctioning off a Jivamukti yoga session together July 19 at the Art for Life benefit at Simmons' Hamptons estate (see charitybuzz.com), but Simmons took her furniture-shopping for her new apartment, now that she's moving out of his. "It's around the corner, and he helped me pick it out," Porschla told us. Now that's what we call amicable. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Side Dish: Russell Simmons backs Barack Obama

Kid Rock pleaded not guilty to a charge of battery stemming from an October brawl at the Waffle House in Atlanta. The musician had scuffled with a fellow diner after words were exchanged about a lady in Rock's camp. Disgraced former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley of Florida made his grand social scene reentrance Friday night at a charity bash for the opening of Palm Beach Fashion Week at Mar-a-Lago. Foley, who resigned from the House 17 months ago after allegedly texting inappropriate messages to at least two 16-year-old male former congressional pages, was in good spirits. When the Palm Beach Post's Jose Lambiet asked him about his future, Foley said only that he's trying to sell homes; he renewed his real estate license last year. "I have a couple of offers on a place," Foley said. "[I'm] keeping my fingers crossed." Is everyone's favorite shoplifter finally picking up a husband? Winona Ryder is engaged to Rilo Kiley guitarist Blake Sennett, claims Perez Hilton, but her rep says that the pair are merely BF/GF. The two reportedly made the happy announcement at the Valentino fashion show in Paris. Just in time for today's Ohio primary, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons has thrown his support behind Barack Obama, whom he calls "a unifying force" for the youth of America. "There is something deeply spiritual about his campaign, and it's the element of hope. People who used to be apathetic aren't anymore. He's inspiring." Simmons pooh-poohs critics who claim Obama doesn't speak enough about problems facing African-Americans. "Black issues are poverty, education and opportunity. His aim is to get everyone out of poverty and think of new ways to lift people up and be compassionate. I don't look at him as a black candidate - he's an American candidate." Bette Midler has been getting standing ovations in Vegas but she led one last Tuesday at the Plaza for Cynthia Lufkin, who's been declared mother of the year by the American Cancer Society. Lufkin was 32 weeks pregnant when she was Continue Reading

Divorce gives Russell Simmons’ daughters a big phat allowance

Russell Simmons' daughters are living phat.Each of the hip-hop mogul's two girls with estranged wife Kimora Lee is set to receive $20,000 a month in child support, according to documents obtained Wednesday by TMZ.com. That's a total of $480,000 each year for kids who already live in a palatial $24 million estate in Saddle River, N.J. Their mom, a former model, is CEO of the Baby Phat fashion house. The agreement, filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, shows that until 2019, Russell Simmons will continue payments for Ming Lee, now 8, and, until 2022, for Aoki, now 5. Kimora Lee, 33, filed for divorce in March after nine years of marriage. She's asking for primary custody of the girls and that Russell, 50, be granted "reasonable child visitation ... accompanied at all times by the children's nanny and security personnel." Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Statements by Russell Simmons

April 23 statement DIFFERENTIATING BETWEEN DON IMUS AND HIP-HOP: A STATEMENT FROM RUSSELL SIMMONS, CHAIRMAN AND DR. BENJAMIN CHAVIS, PRESIDENT OF THE HIP-HOP SUMMIT ACTION NETWORK APRIL 13, 2007 NEW YORK, N.Y. - The following is a statement from Russell Simmons, Chairman, and Dr. Benjamin Chavis, President of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network: "Hip-hop is a worldwide cultural phenomena that transcends race and doesn't engage in racial slurs. Don Imus' racially-motivated diatribe toward the Rutger's women's basketball team was in no way connected to hip-hop culture. As Chairman and President of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN), respectively, we are concerned by the false comparisons some in the media are making between Don Imus and hip-hop. We want to clarify what we feel very strongly is an obvious difference between the two. "HSAN believes in freedom of artistic expression. We also believe, with that freedom, comes responsibility. Don Imus is not a hip-hop artist or a poet. Hip-hop artists rap about what they see, hear and feel around them, their experience of the world. Like the artists throughout history, their messages are a mirror of what is right and wrong with society. Sometimes their observations or the way in which they choose to express their art may be uncomfortable for some to hear, but our job is not to silence or censor that expression. Our job is to be an inclusive voice for the hip-hop community and to help create an environment that encourages the positive growth of hip-hop. Language can be a powerful tool. That is why ones intention, when using the power of language, should be made clear. Comparing Don Imus' language with hip-hop artists' poetic expression is misguided and inaccurate and feeds into a mindset that can be a catalyst for unwarranted, rampant censorship." Recommendation to the Recording and Broadcast Industries: A Statement by Russell Simmons and Dr. Benjamin Chavis on behalf of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network Continue Reading

Russell Simmons bash is ex-tra special

It took 50 years, but somebody finally put something over on Russell Simmons. The Def Jam co-founder walked into a surprise black-tie 50th-birthday party Sunday night, organized by his ex, Kimora Lee Simmons. "I was so surprised, my heart was pounding," he said at Gustavino's under the 59th St. bridge. "I thought I was coming to present an award to Kimora for designing accessories. When I walked into the room, I saw cousins, kids I grew up with ... this is one of the most wonderful things that has ever been done for me." Patti LaBelle, LL Cool J and Musiq Soulchild performed for a room that included Gayle King, hotelier Andre Balazs, Rufus Albemarle, Nikki Haskell and Denise Rich. Alicia Keys laughed when I asked what kind of present you get a guy like Russell. "You don't get him anything — you just give him a hug," she said. Director Brett Ratner said, "I met Russell in 1986 when I was 17. I directed the Def Jam videos — he started my career." The former Mr. and Mrs. Simmons both came with their new partners: Porschla Coleman, at Russell's side, and actor and Calvin Klein underwear model Djimon Hounsou, beside Kimora. Which prompted me to ask Kimora a cheeky question. "My sex life is pretty okay at the moment," she replied with a grin. Broadway to test Waters againAre you ready for a Broadway standard called "Girl, Can I Kiss You With Tongue?"That's one of the numbers in "Cry-Baby," the next John Waters -film-turned-musical coming to the Great White Way, in March.Young James Snyder will play the role made famous by Johnny Depp in 1990. "John Waters is like the quirky uncle you always wanted," he told me Sunday at a birthday for Adam Epstein, who is producing "Cry-Baby" after taking home a Tony for "Hairspray.""When I met him, he had just come back from a Hells Angels funeral in Baltimore."Also at the party was "Hairspray" cast member Ashley Parker Angel, who distinguished himself during a performance last week by Continue Reading

Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons apologizes for calling De Blasio a ‘punk’ and a ‘b—–‘ over NYPD reform efforts

All is forgiven. Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons said he was sorry for calling Mayor de Blasio a "punk" and a "b-----" for not pushing hard enough on NYPD reforms, and the mayor accepted his apology. Simmons, who made the rude remarks in a Hot 97 radio interview, tweeted on Sunday, "Hip hop radio/language is expressive. Comes across over zealous on conservative blogs. Apologizing to mayor for my language." De Blasio, speaking in his own Hot 97 radio interview on Monday morning, said he was happy with the mea culpa. "I certainly can accept that apology," said de Blasio. But he also defended himself against Simmons' charges, saying that he has done much to reform the NYPD since taking office. "The facts are clear," de Blasio said. He pointed out that the number of stops and frisks are down, the entire department is undergoing retraining, and he's in the process of getting body cameras for members of the NYPD, which he said would be one of the "new frontiers" in police-community relations. "These are big changes of how we go about policing in this city," he said. Simmons had specifically taken de Blasio to task about not pushing hard enough to have the governor appoint special prosecutors in cases where police shoot someone. Asked about special prosecutors in those instances, de Blasio said he wants to make changes to the "foundation" of the department. "I want to get to the point where there's a tragedy and we're talking about a special prosecutor," he said. "That's about changing things at the front end." The mayor also said that Gov. Cuomo has the power to appoint a special prosecutor if he chooses. "The governor represents the whole state ... the law has already given him the power in those situations to act if he thinks there needs to be some additional look at the case," he said. Continue Reading

That’s not Russell Simmons! Geraldo Rivera, CNN reporter mistakenly ID man

Nope, that wasn’t Russell Simmons. Fox News firebrand Geraldo Rivera and a CNN reporter covering protest marches in Baltimore thought they’d scored interviews with the music industry icon in a pair of embarrassing on-camera guffaws. “Mr. Simmons, the hip hop mogul,” Rivera began. “Russell, why are you here?” Rivera, who’d been told off by a local lawmaker during an encounter earlier in the week, pulled the mic back when he realized his mistake. “Oh, you look just like him,” he quickly added. CNN’s Brian Todd, a corresponded for “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer,” wasn’t so easily dissuaded — even after the man corrected him. “OK, you bear a striking resemblance to Russell Simmons,” Todd said. “You tell me you’re not him. You tell me you’re Kevin Liles? I’m not sure I believe you. We think this is Russell Simmons, Wolf.” Except it was Liles, a former executive at Def Jam Recordings. The Baltimore native was marching alongside New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony as part of the protests following the death of Freddie Gray, who suffered a fatal spinal cord injury in police custody. Todd later apologized to Liles on Twitter for the on-air mix up. "To my new friend @kevinliles1, really sorry for the confusion!," Todd tweeted. A Simmons rep told the Daily News the recording magnate wasn’t in Baltimore on Thursday. Continue Reading

Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons calls Mayor de Blasio a ‘punk’ and a ‘b—h’ for not pushing Gov. Cuomo harder on police reforms

Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons has ripped Mayor de Blasio as a “punk” and “b---h” for not pushing harder for police reforms. “Our police commissioner is bullying our punk mayor that we worked so hard to put in office," Simmons said during a Thursday radio appearance on Hot 97’s "Ebro in the Morning" show. "He knows his kids are at risk. He knows that if a cop shoots his kid and there is no footage, that cop is not getting charged.” Simmons’ scathing attack went on to focus on what he considered de Blasio’s failure to lobby Gov. Cuomo to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate police-involved shootings. Cuomo, Simmons said, vowed to do so if criminal justice-reform legislation failed to pass. “That was Governor Cuomo’s promise not only to me but to the people of New York State, and he has not done it,” Simmons said. “And Mayor de Blasio has not said a word because he’s a punk.” Simmons said de Blasio ran on a promise of pushing progressive issues but he hasn’t delivered. “He’s a b---h,” Simmons said. “I was there when the animal rights community and the gay community said ‘Anybody but Quinn’ and they worked, and we worked, hard because [de Blasio] was a progressive. But he has not done anything ... He’s a mouse.” De Blasio spokeswoman Karen Hinton released a lengthy statement Saturday night rejecting Simmons’ rant, which was first reported by Capital New York. Hinton said de Blasio is strongly pushing for several criminal justice reforms. "The facts are contrary to Mr. Simmons' remarks,” Hinton said. “We are finalizing a plan with [the Department of Justice] and legal aid providers to end abusive conditions at Rikers. Mayor de Blasio has fully embraced the need for federal monitors, more cameras and other Continue Reading