News for 12/10/2006

The following article appeared in the September 10, 2006 issue of Parade Magazine

News for 8/20/2006

The following article appeared in the May 8, 2006 issue of People Magazine

News for 1/10/2006

Williams Hits J. Lo's 'South Beach'

By Jay Bobbin

She's a native New Yorker, but Vanessa Williams knows the appeal of "South Beach."

Location was a big factor in the actress-singer's decision to sign up for the new UPN drama, marking singer Jennifer Lopez's first stab at producing a television series. Starting with a two-hour premiere Wednesday, Jan. 11, the show puts Williams amid a generally younger cast in the saga of a hotel in one of Miami's trendiest sections.

Owned by Williams' character, the site houses a nightclub frequented by many of the other characters ... including two arrivals (Marcus Coloma, Chris Johnson) from Brooklyn, N.Y., who waste no time finding trouble.

Williams' alter ego, Elizabeth, already has her own headaches. Many are caused by the money man (Giancarlo Esposito) behind the hotel, who tries to maneuver her club-managing son (Lee Thompson Young) against her, hoping eventually to call all the shots in running the business.

"I love the city," Williams says of making "South Beach" on location. "It's very international, and you feel like you're really on vacation. The building I'm staying in has a great gym, and I'm doing yoga and taking all different kinds of classes. The food is great, and it's just a terrific new environment. My kids come down on weekends, peel off their clothes and get on their skateboards or jump in the pool, so they're loving it as well."

Any series filmed in Florida has the ghost of "Miami Vice" to contend with, but it can show off what the state is famous for. In the case of "South Beach," Williams says, that means something "light and fun and sexy. I'm not playing a cop or a doctor or a lawyer, and I love the position of power the role gives me. She's the owner of a hotel, and she's the boss."

Being one of several stars of "South Beach" enticed Williams, who enjoyed her ensemble situation on the NBC show "Boomtown" several seasons ago. "This is one of the nicest groups of people I've ever worked with," she says. "Usually, there's some stinker in the bunch who ruins it for everybody, but everyone here is motivated and grounded and gracious. I do feel like a mentor and a mother hen, being one of the senior members, but I'm really happy to be part of the cast."

Not even a hurricane, or three, could keep Williams and her co-stars from their "South Beach" work. Katrina, Rita and Wilma "kind of put a cramp in our style," Williams says. "I went home for Rita, but the other two, I was there for. We were supposed to do 12 episodes, but we stopped at eight. Since this is a midseason show, they're just putting us on and seeing how we do. We're in [UPN's] best position, following 'America's Next Top Model.'"

Certainly, the network would like to keep one Ms. Lopez happy, although Williams hasn't seen J. Lo on the "South Beach" set. "I met her once, when they announced this season's UPN lineup, and that was it. Her producing partner, Simon Fields, came down when we were shooting the first episode; Philip Levens is the actual show runner."

Running factors into "South Beach" in another way, since its actors must maintain the physiques that were virtual requirements for their jobs. "I've got four kids I'm always trying to keep up with," Williams says, "but it's also the nature of the business. I enjoy staying in shape and keeping in fashion, and the show offers another nice example of women who are over 40 and still doing their thing."

From the time she gave up the title of Miss America 1984 over the publication of nude photos, Bronx, N.Y.-born Williams has done her thing in various areas of show business.

She parlayed earlier studies at New York's High School for the Performing Arts -- aka the "Fame" school -- into a music career that has yielded 11 Grammy nominations and the hit singles "Save the Best for Last" and "Colors of the Wind." Her acting credits encompass such movies as "Eraser," "Soul Food," "Light It Up" and the 2000 remake of "Shaft."

"I don't necessarily think things are always in balance," says Williams, who is divorced from former NBA player Rick Fox. "I try to be consistent as a parent and as an artist and to be true to what my needs are as a woman.

"I've been blessed and fortunate enough to continue to have a singing career. I was out on the road for just about all of 2005, I put two albums out, and I did a stint on Broadway, but I've also been there for all of my kids' concerts and recitals. The kids come first, then I work my schedule around that. It may not be 'balance,' but I put my best effort forward."

News for 4/5/2005

UPN Casts Williams, Vassey

LOS ANGELES ( Vanessa L. Williams, who starred in a pilot for UPN last year, is taking another shot with the network.

Williams was part of a flurry of activity with the network's pilots this week that also saw Liz Vassey, Richard T. Jones and Brad Rowe join shows.

The one-time Miss America, singer and "Soul Food" star will take a lead role in UPN's drama "South Beach," according to The Hollywood Reporter. The show, executive produced by Jennifer Lopez, follows the lives of several people living in the trendy Miami community.

Williams starred in a UPN pilot called "Beck and Call" last spring that wasn't picked up. Her other credits include the "Shaft" remake, "Johnson Family Vacation" and a recurring part on NBC's "Boomtown." (Read more.....)

News for 12/5/2004

The following article appears in the December 2004 issue of Essence Magazine

News for 9/25/2004

Williams Talking Up Show for NBC Universal

By Kimberly Speight

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Vanessa Williams is close to signing a development deal with NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution, sources said.

The singer-actress has been meeting with syndicators recently as she shops herself as host of a daytime talk show, but the development deal could generate a different type of project, sources said.

NBC Universal declined comment. Reps for Williams were not available at press time.

Williams most recently appeared in the feature film "Johnson Family Vacation" opposite Cedric the Entertainer. Her film credits also include "Shaft" and "Soul Food."

Williams also did a stint on NBC's drama series "Boomtown."

Williams is one of several big names looking to host their own talk show. Others hoping to enter daytime, possibly next year, include Tom Arnold, Tyra Banks, Mo'Nique, Steve Harvey, Isaac Mizrahi and Vera Wang.

News for 9/13/2004

Vanessa's Back, and Lava's Got Her

By Melinda Newman

LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - Lava Records has signed Vanessa Williams to a two-album deal.

Both releases will be theme records. A Christmas album, "Silver & Gold," is due Oct. 12, and it will be followed in February with an album of classic love songs from the '70s.

"The themed projects were important parts of the deal," said Lava founder and president Jason Flom, who is also chairman/CEO of Atlantic Records.

"We didn't just want to go into this with, 'Let's just try to get a lot of airplay and promote it the traditional way.' Vanessa has another life; she can't be on the road 350 days a year promoting a record in the way that you have to promote your normal pop or hot AC record."

It was that understanding that appealed to Williams.

"I had been looking for the right deal for a few years," Williams told Billboard. "That meant being allowed to do all the things that I do and being appreciated for it. I don't live and breathe only in the music world, and thankfully, because it's gone through some tremendous ups and downs, and I'm 41. You can't have longevity all that time."

Williams has focused on Broadway and movies since "Next," her last Mercury Records studio set in 1997. "Next" has sold 220,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

It was also crucial to Williams that she continue to work with Rob Mathes, who has produced, arranged and conducted her material since her first Christmas collection in 1996.

In fact, she laughs when she recalls how her early albums were made. "In the past, it was a producer's medium. 'Can you get R. Kelly, Jimmy Jam?' That's why everything was so expensive back in the day, those producer-friendly days when they made lots of money and cost the artists a fortune and the artists didn't make any money at all."

Instead, Williams told Lava that she and Mathes would deliver the Christmas record on a budget less than one-tenth of previous ones, but which still allowed them to record the strings at Abbey Road Studios.

Williams will promote the album with a Sept. 14 performance on QVC. She also will appear on Broadway for a seven-show run at the Palace Theater, Dec. 1-5.

News for 8/11/2004

Rick Fox Files for Divorce From Williams

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Former Los Angeles Laker Rick Fox has filed for divorce from singer-actress Vanessa Williams. The couple have been married for five years and have a 4-year-old daughter, Sasha, Fox's spokeswoman, Staci Wolfe, said Tuesday.

"They are both extremely devoted parents, so the most important thing to them right now is the welfare of their child," Wolfe said. "They are committed to working out what's best for her."

Wolfe declined further comment.

Fox, who played with the Lakers for seven years, was traded last week to the Boston Celtics. The 35-year-old may retire because of nagging injuries rather than play in Boston, according to Celtics director of basketball operations Danny Ainge.

Williams' publicist, Brad Cafarelli, declined comment.

Her film credits include 2000's "Shaft," 1997's "Soul Food" and this year's "Johnson Family Vacation." The 41-year-old has also appeared in Broadway musicals including "Into the Woods."

She won the Miss America pageant in 1984, but was forced to resign after nude pictures of her appeared in Penthouse magazine.

Williams has three children from her first marriage, and Fox has a son from a previous relationship. The two had been separated.

News for 5/24/2004

The following article appeared in the April 12, 2004 issue of Jet Magazine

News for 4/6/2004

The following article appeared in the May 2000 issue of InStyle Magazine

News for 3/16/2004

The following article appeared in the February 2004 issue of InStyle Magazine

News for 2/5/2004

Vanessa Williams to Be a Runway Model

By The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) - Vanessa Williams, already an actress, singer and former Miss America, is adding runway model to her resume.

She'll join famous catwalk faces Alex Wek, Frankie Rayder and Angela Lindvall in presenting The Red Dress Collection at Friday's Heart Truth fashion show, part of New York Fashion Week.

But unlike most shows that preview next season's designer clothes, the Heart Truth show, sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and Johnson & Johnson, tries to raise awareness about the dangers of heart disease.

"I've always been hyperaware of heart disease. My father, who lost both parents (to heart disease), ate a lot of oatmeal and berries and he always exercised. He did it all way before the trend," Williams told The Associated Press. "My participation in this is an outgrowth, it was a no-brainer for me."

Models will wear red dresses by top designers such as Donna Karan, Vera Wang and Oscar de la Renta; Williams' gown is by Carmen Marc Valvo, who has created many of her red carpet gowns. Coincidentally, Williams said, red is one of her best colors.

Is she nervous about her first turn on the runway?

"I'm 40. I have four kids. I am who I am, and I'm up there for a good cause."

After Fashion Week, the gowns become part of a LifeWise-sponsored road show that will bring free risk-factor screenings to shopping malls in Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Philadelphia and San Diego.

News for 10/27/2003

The following article appears in the October 2003 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine

News for 10/21/2003

No Room for 'Boomtown' on NBC Schedule

By Scott Collins

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - NBC's latest scheduling moves are raising doubts about the future of the sophomore crime drama "Boomtown."

The network said Friday that the cops-and-paramedics drama "Third Watch" will switch to the 10 p.m. Friday slot starting Oct. 31. In "Boomtown's" old 10 p.m. Monday period, NBC will debut "Average Joe," a new reality romance hosted by Kathy Griffin, for at least six episodes starting Nov. 3.

Preceding "Third Watch" on the Friday schedule will be "Dateline" followed by the slow-starting Alicia Silverstone dramedy "Miss Match."

That leaves "Boomtown" without a perch. The most recent episode aired Oct. 3, when it ranked third in the ratings behind CBS' "The Handler" and ABC's "20/20." The "Boomtown" cast includes Donnie Wahlberg, Mykelti Williamson and new arrival Vanessa Williams.

NBC entertainment president Jeff Zucker said no decision has been made about when the ensemble drama will return to the schedule, although work on a new episode is slated to begin this week. For the past two weeks, NBC put repeats of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" into the Friday slot.

"If and when 'Boomtown' returns, it won't be Fridays at 10," Zucker said.

Zucker added that "Third Watch" had been a "solid performer" on Mondays, and the new switch will allow the series to avoid stiff competition on Mondays from CBS' "CSI: Miami."

News for 8/25/2003

Vanessa Williams Balances Work, Motherhood

NEW YORK (AP) - Like many working mothers, Vanessa Williams often finds herself conflicted.

When she's working, the 40-year-old singer-actress worries about not being with her children, and when she's at home, she worries about where her next job will come from.

"I throw myself into my work. It's exhausting. It's time-consuming. I feel guilty for not being with my kids all the time," she told AP Radio in an interview.

"But then when I'm home with my children and devoting my life to my kids, in the back of my mind I'm wondering whether I'll ever get employed again. So there's a constant battle of doing what fuels me and what I do best. And also, being there for my kids."

Williams says she'll do 10 episodes of the NBC drama "Boomtown" this fall. The season premiere is Sept. 26. She's also writing a half-hour comedy show.

Her film credits include 2000's "Shaft" and 1997's "Soul Food."

Williams has three children from her first marriage. She has a young daughter with her second husband, Rick Fox of the Los Angeles Lakers, and he has a son from a previous relationship.

News for 7/29/2003

Vanessa Williams Joining NBC's 'Boomtown'

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - Vanessa Williams liked the idea of joining the NBC drama "Boomtown" even though it means being away from her New York-based children while shooting the show in Los Angeles.

Williams has signed on to appear as Det. Katherine Pierce in 10 of the season's first 13 episodes of the sophomore series that airs Fridays this fall.

"It's a time in my life where I think that I have the flexibility to fly back and forth and try to balance the kids in New York, flying back there for them and working hard out here," she told the Television Critics Association last week.

"My nanny's been with me for 13 years. She went to high school with me. She's an extended part of my family. My parents still live back in New York. So it's a constant juggle, but that's my life."

Williams, 40, has three children from her first marriage. She has a young daughter with second husband, Rick Fox of the Los Angeles Lakers, and he has a son from a previous relationship.

Fox, 33, is busy with his own acting career. He plays the love interest of Gloria Reuben in the Lifetime series "1-800-Missing," which debuts Aug. 2.

Williams said she isn't worried about her husband being in someone else's arms.

"I've met Gloria. She's lovely and he gets really into his part. He's more concerned about making sure the lines are nailed," she said.

Williams' movie credits include "Shaft," "Eraser," and "Soul Food."

News for 5/12/2003

Vanessa Williams Eyes 'Boomtown' Series

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Actress-singer Vanessa Williams has inked a deal to star in 10 episodes of the NBC drama 'Boomtown,' should the show be picked up for a second season.

'Boomtown's' pickup prospects are looking better, according to industry sources. Speculative NBC schedules making the rounds Wednesday had the series staying in its current Sunday 10 p.m. berth or possibly moving to 9 p.m. Friday. NBC on Monday is set to kick off a week of fall schedule unveilings by the major broadcast networks.

Other contenders for 'Boomtown's' Sunday 10 p.m. slot include 'The West Wing,' an untitled Las Vegas project and the legal ensemble 'The Lyon's Den.'

In what would be an interesting twist, 'Lyon's Den,' starring 'West Wing' alumnus Rob Lowe, also is being considered for the political soap's Wednesday 9 p.m. slot as a midseason replacement for that show or as a fall starter if 'West Wing' moves to Sunday.

Mondays and Saturdays are rumored to be staying the same, with drama repeats also a possibility for Saturday.

The untitled Whoopi Goldberg project is said to lead off Tuesday night, followed by the untitled Tracy Morgan comedy, 'Frasier,' the new domestic comedy 'Happy Family' and concluding with 'Dateline.'

NBC's other two-hour comedy block on Thursday is said to feature one change, with the ensemble comedy 'Coupling' taking the 9:30 p.m. slot.

There also is an idea for a Wednesday 8-9 p.m. comedy block, sources said, with new comedies 'Stuck in the Middle With You' and 'Come to Papa' in consideration. The new Alicia Silverstone dramedy 'Miss/Match' is said to be eyed for an 8 p.m. slot on Wednesday or Friday.

For Williams, the gig on 'Boomtown' would extend her relationship with NBC. Earlier this season, she signed a development deal with the network for a comedy project that did not get off the ground, but it's understood that the actress is continuing to discuss development prospects with the broadcaster.

Meanwhile, NBC seems determined to stay in business with Heather Locklear. Following the demise of her NBC comedy pilot 'Once Around the Park,' the network has approached the former 'Spin City' actress about signing on to 'A.U.S.A.,' sources said. The midseason comedy was considered unlikely to be picked up for next season, but sources said network executives have told 'A.U.S.A.' producers that the show would be picked up if they can persuade Locklear to join the cast.

NBC declined comment on pickup and scheduling matters Wednesday.