BILL VAUGHAN’S TASTY CLIPS: LL Cool J hosting, being honored and setting sail

[adrotate banner="54"]

By Bill Vaughan

Entertainment Writer

Tis the season for LL Cool J apparently as the superstar rapper turned actor is the focal point of a trio of high-profile events in our immediate future.

The two-time Grammy and NAACP Image Award winner is hosting for a second consecutive year “The National Christmas Tree Lighting” to be broadcast on CBS (home of his “NCIS: Los Angeles” series) Dec. 11 and available afterwards at

The beloved American tradition, presented by the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation, also will feature musical performances by Yolanda Adams, Ariana DeBose, Gloria Estefan, Andy Grammer, Joss Stone and Shania Twain and “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band performing holiday classics.

This weekend, LL will be feted at the fifth annual “Urban One Honors,” taping in Atlanta for airing on Jan. 16, (Martin Luther King Jr. Day) on TV One and Cleo TV.

Hosted by affable R&B singer and actor Tank, the two-hour televised event with the theme of “Celebrating Icons of the Culture,” will also pay respects to NAACP Image Award winner David Mann and his wife, Grammy Award winner Tamela Mann (TV One’s “The Manns”).

The show will include a performance by Keke Wyatt; and a celebration of the 50th anniversary of hip hop with DJ Spinderella (Salt-N-Pepa), Monie Love and Doug E. Fresh. This year’s annual celebration also will include special appearances by Rev. Run (Run DMC, “Run’s House”), Lamman Rucker (“Bad Dad Rehab: The Next Session”) and Grammy Award-winning singer and actress LeToya Luckett, who will host a special backstage pass segment, featuring exclusive interviews with the show’s honorees, performers and presenters.

Also ushering in rap’s golden anniversary is the just-announced “Rock The Bells Cruise: A Hip-Hop Experience” setting sail from Miami to the Bahamas Nov. 13-17, 2023. The cruise is the first of its kind, offering an all-inclusive four-day, four-night trip aboard the Norwegian Pearl.

Inspired by the annual Rock The Bells Festival, founded and curated by LL Cool J in his hometown of Queens, the cruise will offer a full lineup to be announced at the top of the new year, pool deck parties presented by world-renown party rocker Kid Capri, MC and DJ battles, rap karaoke, interactive graffiti, live podcasts, roller skating, open mic nights, movie screenings, master classes, art galleries, custom grillz, tattoos, basketball and The Trill Mealz Food Court.

The vacation kicks off with a special “Welcome to Miami” performance by the city’s own Trick Daddy and Trina on the ship’s pool deck along with the duo hosting a private cocktail happy hour prior to setting sail. For more information, visit

CLIPPETTES: “I want to do something different, something new — and podcasts is one of those things,” announced former radio and TV host Wendy Williams in her first public appearance since leaving rehab at WBLS New York’s Circle of Sisters event. “I’ll be able to wear what I want, look the way I want for good or for bad, and just be free.”

KIIS FM Jingle Ball returns to the Kia Forum on Dec.2 with Dua Lipa, Jack Harlow, Pitbull, Khalid, Bebe Rexha, Ava Max, Dove Cameron and more. Meanwhile, soul man Lee Fields & The Expressions play the Fonda Theatre; and MC Magic, Baby Bash, Warren G and Lil Rob are at The Novo

Boombox celebrates its 16-year anniversary with special guest 9th Wonder at Grand Star on Dec. 3

Saxophonist Jeanette Harris leads the Sunday Jazz Brunch at the Renaissance Hotel LAX Dec. 4. Later that afternoon, multitalented composer Damien Sneed’s Joy To The World: A Christmas Musical Journey hits the Center for the Arts at Pepperdine

Rakim — celebrating the 25th anniversary of the 18th Letter — is at The Observatory on Dec. 5

Dinner Party, featuring Terrace Martin, Robert Glasper and Kamasi Washington, will be held Dec. 8 at The Novo; as Gina Yashere and Sarah Silverman headline Comedy Gives Back: Laughing For Good at the Hollywood Improv; and Living History Live: Jeff “Skunk” Baxter has the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitarist discussing his career and playing from his new album, “Speed of Heat,” at the Grammy Museum.

TASTY QUIP: “There will be moments in your life where everybody is just thinking about you and everything is always so exciting, and then it’ll be chill and then it won’t be as trendy or won’t be a moment. I definitely do feel like there’s a bit of a trendy moment that’s happening [for me] and it’s fun and it’s exciting and I’m just loving to be able to continue to explore different avenues of entertainment. … No moment lasts forever.” – KEKE PALMER (“Nope”) to CNN on hosting NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” this weekend with musical guest SZA

TC ON TV: Dec. 2 – “Riches” (Prime Video): A high-stakes family drama written and created by Abby Ajayi (“How to Get Away With Murder”) starring Deborah Ayorinde (“Them,” “Truth Be Told”). “Tamron Hall” (Syn): The Womack Sisters

Dec. 3 – “New Orleans Noel” (Lifetime): A new film executive produced by Whoopi Goldberg and Keshia Knight Pulliam, who also co-stars with her husband Brad James, Patti LaBelle and Tim Reid. “The Holiday Stocking” (HMC): B.J. Britt (“Being Mary Jane”), Karon Riley, Mykelti Williamson and Nadine Ellis are featured in this fantasy Hallmark Mahogany presentation.

Dec. 4 – “Christmas with My Ex” (TV1): From director Patricia Cuffie-Jones, who co-wrote with ReShonda Tate Billingsley and Camara Davis. “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune” (ABC): RuPaul, Gayle King

Dec. 5 – “TMZ’s Merry Elfin’ Christmas” (Fox): Smokey Robinson, Kenny G, Post Malone, Giada De Laurentiis, Kenya Moore and Camille Vasquez give their takes on the biggest stories that kept everyone talking in 2022. “The Neighborhood” (CBS): Kim Wayans directs this episode featuring Staci Lynn Fletcher. “His Dark Materials” (HBO): The third and final season of spirit animals is here.

Dec. 6 – “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune (ABC): Sasheer Zamata, Jack Black and Kal Penn “People’s Choice Awards” (NBC/E!): Kenan Thompson hosts the event honoring Lizzo, Ryan Reynolds and Shania Twain. “Paul Goes To Hollywood” (Cooking): Combining his passion for baking, biking and movies, celebrity chef Paul Hollywood embarks on a 3,000-mile road trip from New York to Los Angeles. His epic journey will take in culinary locations inspired by some of the most iconic films.

Dec. 7 – “All I Didn’t Want For Christmas” (VH1): Gabourey Sidibe is executive producer and co-stars with Kel Mitchell and Loretta Devine. “Abbott Elementary” (ABC): “Holiday Hookah” “Greatest Holiday Commercials Countdown 2022” (CW): Kevin Frazier and Keltie Knight of “Entertainment Tonight” cite the 12 best of the year.

Dec. 8 – “A Miracle Before Christmas” (BET+): With Keith David, Paula Jai Parker, Demetrius Shipp Jr. and LeToya Luckett. “South Side” (HBO Max): A third season of the comedy shot in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood from Bashir Salahuddin and Diallo Riddle. “CMA Country Christmas” (ABC): The War And Treaty, Maren Morris, Old Dominion and more. “The Best of All The Smoke with Matt Barnes & Stephen Jackson” (SHO): 2 Chainz

END QUOTE: “I don’t mean to sound immodest, but I never had any doubt that I’d be successful, nor any fear of success. I was raised as a little goddess who was told she would be a star.” — Singer, actress and composer IRENE CARA (“Fame,” “Sparkle,” “What A Feeling” from “Flashdance”) [R.I.P.]


As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment columns in the nation, serving nearly one million weekly readers. Bill Vaughan may be reached at, via Twitter @tastyclips, or Instagram @tasty_clips.


[adrotate banner="53"]

Must Read

[adrotate banner="55"]