UB Industry Talk: Legendary Entertainment Journalist Flo Anthony Speaks to UB

flo

Simply put, Flo Anthony is a legendary celebrity journalist that has been in the game for three decades. The originator of the gossip game before tabloid TV and blogs were even thought of, Flo has managed to stay relevant and busy since getting her start at The New York Post in the 80s.

Flo has covered stories from everyone from O.J. Simpson to Michael Jackson. She can currently be heard on the nationally syndicated radio segment, “Gossip To Go With Flo” and writes a weekly column called “Go With the Flo.”

In 2000, she made her debut as an author with “Keeping Secrets Telling Lies” and in November Flo will release the sequel, “Deadly Stuff Players” described as a steamy murder mystery. On top of it all, Flo has her own company Dottie Media Group and a magazine entitled Black Noir.

A familiar face on television, Flo has been seen on various talk shows and networks, including Sally, Maury Povich, Ricki Lake, Montel Williams, Matt Lauer’s Stars and Legends, the E! True Hollywood Story, CNN, MSNBC, BET, Extra, Inside Edition, Entertainment Tonight and currently TV One’s docu-series “Life After.”

Aries from UrbanBridgez.com spoke with Flo recently as apart of our Industry Talk feature. Flo spoke about her upcoming book, the definition of a real journalist, her issues with the current gossip game, The Jacksons, upcoming projects and more.

Flo also discusses the lawsuit filed against her by the late Whitney Houston in 1992 and reveals the source of the story that caused it all, something she has kept mum all these years.

If you’re a journalist, blogger, wanna-be writer or whatever, this is an interview you don’t want to miss!

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UrbanBridgez.com: What’s the best part for you, doing “Gossip To Go With Flo” and “Flo Anthony’s Big Apple Buzz?”
Flo Anthony: All of it, I don’t think there is a best part to it. I’ve actually been on the radio for over 25 years. I’ve had Gossip On The Flo since 1996 and I’ve had Flo Anthony’s Big Apple Buzz since 2011. So I’ve been on the radio for a very, very long time. I just love all aspects of it!

UrbanBridgez.com: Tell us about “Deadly Stuff Players” and when it will be available?
Flo Anthony: It’s my new novel, it will be out on November 19th. It’s actually a sequel to my first novel, Keeping Secrets, Telling Lies. The two main characters are Valarie who’s basically me, she’s a gossip columnist. Only she’s based in California and I’m based here (New York). It’s a black Hollywood murder mystery. Rome is a retired football player turned investigator. In this particular book, they’re trying to solve the murder of Andrea Dumas who was the first full figured black model and married to Black.com billionaire Victor Dumas. Their sons name is Vance and he’s a jockey and in the course of 5 days, you just see everything that happens in the lives of Rome, Valarie, Victor and Vance and various other characters. How they come to solve the murder and people are getting murdered along the way. I was going to have it all culminate at the Kentucky Derby, but because when it’s being released I found out there is prelude at Hollywood Park in December to the Kentucky Derby, so everything culminates there.

UrbanBridgez.com: I can’t wait to read it!
Flo Anthony: It’s exciting, I’m excited about it. My last book people really liked it a lot but this book makes Keeping Secrets, Telling Lies look like Mickey Mouse.

UrbanBridgez.com: Tell us your definition of a journalist?
Flo Anthony: Well a journalist is someone who actually looks for a real story. Not just picking something up off of a blog and not just being some wild cat person with a blog, but someone looking for a real story! Someone who researches the story, talks to people regarding the story and also a journalist is someone who breaks stories!

UrbanBridgez.com: What do you think of the gossip game today, to where it was in the late 90s. Better or worse?
Flo Anthony: I don’t think there is a Gossip Game today. In fact with the new TV show Gossip Game and I know it’s all young girls out here. But for them not to include me as some sort of mentor or something is ridiculous! I don’t even understand why Mona (Scott-Young) would even do that. First of all, these people are all renegades out here running their mouths. It’s worse than Wendy (Williams) was in the 90s. I created tabloid TV. If it had not been for me, being the first African American woman in the United States of America to write on a gossip page which was Page Six of the New York Post. Now there is another African American woman over there named Stephanie Smith. I was it and if it had not been for Hard Copy coming down to the New York Post to interview me about Whitney or this or that, then there would almost be no tabloid TV. So that’s what I mean about gossip, I still just consider Page Six and now I work for the columns for the New York Daily News and my mentor Cyndie Adams are real gossip columns. I don’t know what these other people are. They’re just some people out here running their mouths! That’s what I feel about it, thank you (both laugh)!

UrbanBridgez.com: I agree 1000% with you!
Flo Anthony: They wouldn’t know how to find the story if the story was sitting right in front of them. The best one is Necole Bitchie (NecoleBitchie.com). I’ve never met her, but she can actually write! As much as I love Jamesha at YBF, even though they do decent covers, they can’t write. The writing is horrific and even if you look at Bossip. But again whoever is doing Necole Bitchie, can write they know how to use words. So of all these renegades out here I would say she is the best. I also like SandraRose.com because I think she has very good coverage and especially things that are going on in Atlanta. The rest are just pick-ups, but as far as things going on in Atlanta she’s pretty good at what she does.

UrbanBridgez.com: A real journalist will automatically know who you are just from the name alone, but for those that are just getting to know you…tell us how you got your start in being a celebrity journalists?
Flo Anthony: Well I wanted to be a Sports Reporter, my mentor Ophelia DeVore who of course had Ophelia DeVore Modeling School which was probably before anybody’s time. She said the problem with me was I came after everybody got that money after the riots in 1967. I came along in the 70’s, so I came after to be able to get that money. Then I was before, where everybody got that money at the turn of the millennium (laughs). So I was what some of my athlete friends would call a tweener (laughs). In between this and in between that. But I wanted to be a sports writer and had a column in New York Black American called Keep Punching. I basically covered sports and everything and someone called me and said I seen your column and you should be on ABC, what are you doing on Black America? I said whatever and then I got a call from Bob Williams and Dean Meminger who of course played for the Knicks and his son Dean Meminger Jr. is on New York One now. They said the New York Post had an opening in the sports department as a Agate Clerk. They wanted to hire a black woman and thought I would be perfect for the job. I was doing a lot of projects for boxers like Larry Holmes and even Mohammed Ali. So I went to the interview and got the job. After awhile they said you flunked the job and I was like what do you mean I flunked? But it was the thing of being the agate clerk, you had to do a lot and I would be there all night till like 5 in the morning. So they was like don’t worry we see you have a masters degree in fine arts. We’re moving you to the entertainment department. I went to the entertainment department kicking and screaming, they said look it’s a day job and pays more money so why are you upset? So I went from the first African American woman in the sports department to the first African American woman in the entertainment department. So I asked if I could write some stories around the time of Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It. I said maybe I could interview one of them and they said do you think you could get somebody? I said yeah and got Tracy Camilla Johns and wrote that article. Then my friend Jermaine Jackson came to town to perform at the Apollo and I told them I wanted to interview him. They said do you think you can get that interview, I said yeah and I got it. So everything kept growing and growing and I got more responsibilities in the entertainment department. I was the editorial assistant, I was doing the Atlantic City section, the movie clock, TV grid..really all of the different columns you see on Fridays in the different sections. One Christmas I went upstairs to the composing room and this guy said if I was you I would just walk out. Because everybody was gone because it was Christmas and he was like I heard about all of that stuff down there and you were crazy to take it. So at the same time, I would break stories. Like with Jim McMahon who use to play for the Chicago Bears had this Adidas headband on. At the time I had a friend Otis Wilson who played for the Bears and I was on the phone with him and he said do you know he got fined 5,000 dollars for that? So I told them in the Sports department and it was on Page Six. Then when Mike Tyson married Robin Givens I just happen to be using the phone for something. I was at the premiere of School Daze and I over heard someone say it. So I broke that story and it just grew and grew and grew! At the time because I’m always trying to be an entrepreneur I had a black sports magazine called Gladiator. I had everybody in the whole Post working on it, art department, photo department, etc because everybody just loved me. So one day I was so tired I answered the entertainment phone and said Gladiator (laughs). So I got called in by the managing editor to his office and I just knew I was going to get fired. But they didn’t, he said we’re moving you to Page Six. That’s how it all started, hard work!

UrbanBridgez.com: What’s one the of the biggest lessons you’ve learned in this business?
Flo Anthony: I don’t know because I think a lot of people would think when Whitney Houston sued me, over a diet pill story which was crazy. That was a lesson learned, but it really wasn’t. Now she’s dead and her father who was the source is dead. I don’t care, I’ll talk. She settled, before I settled. Now that everybody is dead, the call came in that she OD’d on cocaine and I called her father and he told me, no it was diet pills. I went to court and never gave up her dad. So that wasn’t really a lesson because in the end she OD’d in a bathtub. So I think I was correct. I also think if someone would of tried to help Whitney, instead of filing a lawsuit against me to try to clean up what it was – she might be with us today. That might be the lesson, why didn’t somebody try to help her instead of trying to ruin me? So no I don’t think I learned any lessons, I’ve had a wonderful career. I’m not a multi-millionaire or anything like that but I’ve had a wonderful career. I’ve broken in roads that will never be broken in again. So if I never wrote another sentence or got on radio again in life or got on TV, I would miss it yes but I feel I’ve done a lot of what God put me on this earth to do. As an African American woman and be able to say that and say I was the first in so many aspects, I feel very blessed in life. I don’t feel that I’ve learned lessons (laughs).

UrbanBridgez.com: You’ve appeared on so many daytime shows, have you ever thought about hosting your own?
Flo Anthony: I’ve tried and still trying but I’m still on Life After on TVOne and I’m working on a new show called Ladies First. It’s about women’s issues and for women over 40. So we’re trying to get that together as we speak.

UrbanBridgez.com: What can we expect with the next season of Life After, have you started filming I love that show?
Flo Anthony: I’m waiting till we start filming, I’m not sure who they’re going to film this year. To me it’s always interesting to see the names that the producers come up with. It is always interesting to see where people are at this point in their career. Like when we did Kyla Pratt and New York (Tiffany Pollard), it seemed too early to do Life Afters on them. But guess what they turned out to be really great! And to think about New York, she had 6 reality shows. So this is Life After (laughs).

UrbanBridgez.com: You’re very close to The Jacksons, so I have to ask about them of course. How is the family doing as a whole and did you know before recently that Janet was married again?
Flo Anthony: Yes I did know Janet was married and I think as a whole everybody is doing very well. I think they’ve always done much better than most people have thought. They’re a very strong family and close knit. I think everybody was kind of shocked at that fight Janet had with Paris, but that’s really who Janet is. A lot of people didn’t even know that she was that close to her family but as I explained then. First of all, she does whatever Jermaine and Randy tell her to do and always has. Especially Randy and that was sort of a Rebbie orchestrated kidnapping of the mother (laughs). Rebbie is the oldest sister, so they kind of follow her lead too.

UrbanBridgez.com: That was so unexpected when it went down.
Flo Anthony: I think it was more unexpected with Jan, I was kind of surprised they tried to gain power of attorney over their mother as well. Rebbie at the time, and I’m not sure if you knew but her husband passed away in January of Cancer. So she was going through a very difficult time. Rebbie is very nice, she’s wonderful. The whole family is.

UrbanBridgez.com: What’s coming next from Dottie Media Group?
Flo Anthony: We’re trying to get the magazine back out not just Black Noir but a new magazine called Sports and Joy. I haven’t given up on my dream to have a sports magazine. I’m hoping that I might be able to get a movie deal out of my next book.

UrbanBridgez.com: Anything else you want to share with your fans before we wrap up?
Flo Anthony: I have fans (both laugh)?

UrbanBridgez.com: Yes, with me being the biggest one!
Flo Anthony: Just really thank you for the support over the years. I think that in talking with young people every day I want to stress the importance of getting a formal education. If I didn’t have a college degree I don’t know where I would be today. I think it’s very important now with people looking at everybody in Hip-Hop and with Sports players, they think everything is suppose to come so easily to you. If it was easy, everybody could do it! So it’s not going to be easy, so get an education and it will make it a bit easier.

9 Comments
  1. All you had to say was how most of these bloggers can’t write and I was sold. I wouldn’t consider than a form of journalism because anyone can do it and the art lacks skill / challenge.
    I concur with you about journalists lacking the skills to find stories. I had a debate with my colleagues weeks ago about how most rely on someone to feed them information instead of finding it themselves. Going for what you know only makes you a stronger reporter and adds much clout to your credibility.

    Ms. Flo, thanks for acknowledging mentoring. I’ve been in journalism professionally for 5 years now and it’s hard trying to find a mentor that truly cares about future writers and reporters. The “journos” today is on this all about me kick. It takes a special person to groom and give advice for the next gen.

  2. I am not sure that Ms. Anthony should be so proud of tabloid television. If there real facts were being reported without the smarmy judgement coming out of the hosts’ mouths, then maybe she could be proud. I don’t doubt that she can be considered an entertainment journalist (more old school) but most out there can’t even come close to being a journalist.

    So Rebbie Jackson is responsible for the granny napping and power of attorney grab which would lead to trying to control Michael Jackson’s estate? Michael Jackson’s siblings were not beneficiaries of his will. He did that for a reason.

  3. I really enjoyed reading this interview. The entire thing from start to finish. Great questions and honest answers. I wish continued success to Flo and UB.

  4. Although many other blogs are bigger in name you guys are bigger in content. You’re interviews are always good reads and whomever is being interviewed always seems relaxed like they’re talking to an old friend and give honest answers. Kudus UB on being one of the only respectable, professional and accurate urban music blogs online! All the best to you in the future.

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