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Lynette Brown of Somerville recently visited Hollywood, where she was invited to and attended the red carpet premiere of the Cuba Gooding Jr. movie 'What Love Is.'
Daily photo by Emily Saunders
Lynette Brown of Somerville recently visited Hollywood, where she was invited to and attended the red carpet premiere of the Cuba Gooding Jr. movie "What Love Is."

Somerville woman goes Hollywood
Radio show host relishes
kiss on the cheek from Cuba

By Ronnie Thomas
rthomas@decaturdaily.com 340-2438

At 35, Lynette Brown of Somerville had never been on an airplane or traveled outside the South.

Imagine the rush she got flying to Hollywood, Calif., last week for the red carpet premiere of "What Love Is," a comedy written and directed by Mars Callahan and starring Cuba Gooding Jr.

Officials from Big Sky Motion Pictures sent Brown an invitation because of her show over Huntsville's WLOR Radio, Jammin 1550 AM.

From 9 to 10 each Saturday morning, she plays exclusively Southern soul and blues.

Southern soul is on the soundtrack at the end of the movie.

She had wanted to go to Jackson, Miss., in late February to watch a television pilot for blues artists.

Covering costs

"It was short notice, and I
didn't have the money," said Brown, a former welfare recipient and single mother of three children who attend Priceville schools.

"Two days later, I get the invitation to go to Hollywood. I said, 'Oh, goodness. I don't know anything about flying and baggage checks and all that.' "

But she had another problem.

Her room at the upscale Sportsmen's Lodge Hotel in Studio City, near Universal Studios, was free.

The plane fare and other expenses were not.

She had about three weeks to gather funds.

"A friend told me that I had been selling ads for others for years, referring to my eight years in television and less than two years in radio. He said, 'Now, it's time for you to go sell yourself.' "

Former sponsors who had supported her in the past pitched in, donating enough to pay for clothes, shoes and the striking outfit she wore to the premiere.

"Morgan County is such a giving community. Had it not been for our business owners, there would be no trip. Jimmy Smith's Jewelers loaned me jewelry," said Brown, who once operated a beauty shop in Priceville.

"Although my radio name is 'Thee Fiery Diva,' needless to say, I did not look like a diva."

Doing it on her own

Although Brown's invitation included a guest, she wanted to prove to herself she could do it on her own.

"I felt like I was walking on air during the whole trip," she said.

A limousine picked her up at the hotel for the ride to Directors Guild of America Theatre for the premiere.

"It's a moment I'll never forget," she said. "There were so many people and so many cameras, totally unbelievable."

Everyone had taken their seats and waited impatiently for the arrival of Gooding, who was 45 minutes late.

"But I was watching and waiting, and here he came," Brown said. " 'That's him,' I said to no one in particular. Everyone pounced on him, and I wasn't going to be left out. I jumped up immediately and began breezing past folks in my 5-inch heels — 'excuse me, pardon me' — and I got to him.

"It was so loud, and he had his ear down so he could hear me. I introduced myself, and he kissed me on the cheek! He said, 'Lynette, when the movie is over, we'll get some pictures, darling.' "

Brown then spied Erik Estrada, former star of the television show, "ChiPs." Of him, she said, "here I go again. We were very cuddly. His date, or his wife or whomever snapped our picture."

Celebrities and soul

She saw Callahan, who also starred in the movie, along with two other stars, Sean Astin and Tamala Jones.

Brown found the activities at the after party to be as exhilarating as the movie because artists such as Jackie Payne and Steve Edmondson played her kind of music.

"And everyone danced so hard to that Southern soul," she said.

"What was so shocking to me was that so many of those dan-cers were white. I grew up thinking that the blues was primarily an African-American thing."

She recalled what someone from the production company said when he called about the invitation.

"He asked me if I played white and black Southern soul on my program," she said. "I told him I play anything that comes my way, as long as it sounds good."

One of Brown's only disappointments during her four-day trip was that Gooding did not keep his word for photos.

"He sneaked out at some point before the movie ended," she said.

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