February 13, 2014 at 9:08 am

Grapevine: BET honors Detroit legends

Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. with Smokey Robinson and Aretha Franklin at the BET Honors dinner in Washington. (Gwendolyn Quinn Public Relations)

It was a reunion of Detroit North End “sandbox friends” Aretha Franklin and Smokey Robinson with east side pal/Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. this week at the annual BET Honors dinner in Washington, D.C. The Queen of Soul and Gordy are honorees on the show, which will air Feb. 24 on the BET network.

NBC's Brokaw 'optimistic' in cancer fight

Veteran newsman Tom Brokaw is upbeat about beating multiple myeloma, a cancer affecting blood cells in the bone marrow. Brokaw, 74, anchored the “NBC Nightly News” from 1982-2004. According to NBC, Brokaw said: “With the exceptional support of my family, medical team and friends, I am very optimistic about the future and look forward to continuing my life, my work and adventures still to come. I remain the luckiest guy I know.”

Barker glams up Art Van

Art Van Furniture tapped fashion photographer Nigel Barker to shoot part of its upcoming spring catalog in Chicago, Miami, High Point, N.C., and, of course, Metro Detroit. “We are thrilled to have him with us,” said Art Van Elslander. Barker, currently a judge on “The Face,” said, “When I shoot for you, I want to inject that sense of life, sense of family, sense of fun.” Van Elslander joked, “I think we ought to put him on the furniture floor. Maybe he could do some sales training for us.” Barker and his family have visited northern Michigan for the last eight years and he called Michiganians “very warm, very fun ... one of the proudest states I’ve ever met.”

A Beatle's son gives back

While social media buzzed about Julian Lennon’s absence from the Grammys’ Beatles salute — he feared it would be “Beatles karaoke” — John Lennon’s singer-songwriter son is touting the importance of clean water for the developing world for Valentine’s Day, asking that people donate a virtual bottle via his whitefeatherfoundation.com, to help fund the effort. The foundation’s name comes from the late Lennon telling Julian that if anything happened to him and he saw a white feather floating evenly across the room, “you’ll know that’s me.”

Detroiters get justice from Judge Mathis

Detroit native Judge Greg Mathis will focus on his hometown next week, featuring a docket of plaintiffs and defendants from Metro Detroit. The show airs Monday through Friday on CW50.

Maureen Feighan contributed
swhitall@detroitnews.com

Brokaw (Ben Gabbe / Getty Images)
Photographer Nigel Barker says Michiganians are fun. (Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz F)
Mathis (Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images for BET)