When your father is Don Cornelius – the man who created “Soul Train” – following him into the entertainment industry might lead to some identity issues.

But longtime producer Tony Cornelius was more than happy to learn the show biz ropes from his famous dad, whose nationally syndicated show is best known for featuring performances of African-American artists including James Brown, Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight and the Pips in the 1970s.

“It was really just a wonderful experience to have a father who was brave enough to challenge things and to create something that had never been done before,” said Cornelius.

Growing up in this environment meant hobnobbing with stars like Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye.

“It was normal,” said Cornelius, now 52. “It was more of a family thing.”

The longtime executive in charge of production for his father’s company, he just launched his own company, Akabueze Productions Inc., which develops award shows.

How did he decide on the unique name?

“It means ‘support is paramount,’” Cornelius explained. “It comes from a language out of Northern Africa.”

Barbra Talks

It was an evening of memories at Public Counsel’s annual awards gala.

The downtown L.A. pro bono law firm recognized former President Bill Clinton two weeks ago at the Beverly Hilton with its William O. Douglas award, and brought in longtime Clinton friend and supporter Barbra Streisand to do the honors.

Streisand entertained the crowd of more than 1,200 with stories about Clinton’s late mother, Virginia Clinton Kelley. The two women made friends at Clinton’s inauguration ceremony.

“Like her, he is down to earth, great fun and an incredible card player,” Streisand said of Clinton.

The former president fondly recalled how he wanted his mother to celebrate the first holiday season of his presidency at the White House, but she was afraid of missing a Streisand concert in Las Vegas.

“She said, ‘I’ll come if you promise to have me home in enough time to make a plane to Barbra’s show,’” Clinton remembered.

Public Counsel also honored Century City law firm Irell & Manella LLP and New York media giant CBS Corp. at the event, which drew a crowd that included Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling, Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, music producer Clarence Avant, and executives from El Segundo’s DirecTV and Rosemead’s Southern California Edison.

Staff reporters Greg Hernandez and Alexa Hyland contributed to this column. Page 3 is compiled by Editor Charles Crumpley. He can be reached at ccrumpley@labusinessjournal.com.

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