Category Archives: television

Unsung Legacy of Black Daytime Soap Stars

The Atlantic has a very good article about the unsung legacy of black actors and actresses in daytime soap operas.

I’m a fourth-generation soap watcher who got hooked on the shows the way a lot of fans do: spending summers watching TV alongside an older relative during school breaks. In her later years, my great-grandmother kept two TVs and two VCRs in her apartment—one to tape the ABC soaps, and the other for the CBS soaps, of which her all-time favorite was The Young and the Restless. Y&R, its nickname in the soap world, was also my grandmother’s favorite and my mother’s, so naturally it became mine. By far, Y&R was the easiest to keep up with: You could tune out for a week without missing anything crucial to the overarching story, and it was accessible because, unlike some other programs, the same actors stayed in the same roles for years.

I’ve been a long time daytime soap viewer myself. I started out with All My Children and then added One Life To Live and General Hospital to my soap watching. Thanks to then vcr’s I added The Young and The Restless to my list. I stopped watching General Hospital during the early 90’s.  I gave up on All My Children and One Life to Live during the early 2000’s. I still dvr The Young and the Restless but I swear that show gets on my nerves sometimes.

In 1982, All My Children introduced Jesse and Angie. Jesse was Dr. Grant’s nephew, and Angie was the daughter of a wealthy black couple. They were friends and frenemies of other burgeoning young players in Pine Valley: Tad, Liza, Jenny, and Greg. Despite the soap world’s trouble with interracial relationships, it had no problem bringing actual racial tensions to the forefront. Liza falsely accused Jesse of rape, thinking that a black man could be easily convicted. Jesse was exonerated, and later pursued a romance with Angie. Their parents didn’t want them together, making for a classic Romeo-and-Juliet tale. Defying those odds, they became daytime’s first black supercouple.

Oh man I loved Jesse & Angie. To me they were the supercouple.

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Read the entire article at The Atlantic.

Sleepy Hollow renewed for third season

After waiting on pins and needles, FOX decided to renew Sleepy Hollow for a third season.  This news came out a couple of weeks ago.  I was so happy. I know Sleepy Hollow went off track during season 2 thanks to a couple of characters but the show got better the last couple of episodes.

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After losing showrunner Mark Goffman, the network has renewed the series and tapped The Glades alum Clifton Campbell to take over the reins of the genre series for its third season.

The renewal comes after the series — a breakout hit in its freshman run — suffered a ratings slump in its second run. Additionally, in a bid to trim costs and take advantage of better filming rebates, production on season three will move from North Carolina to Atlanta, as had been rumored for months.

The show lost alot of fans due to TPTB throwing Abbie in the background when she was originally a main character. There was also too much focus on Katrina. The show found it’s way back during the last 2 episodes. Hopefully the show will go back to the way it was in season 1.

The Wiz is coming to NBC

Just read that The Wiz will be the next live musical coming to NBC.

The Wiz started out as a musical on Broadway in 1975 starring Stephanie Mills. The film version starring Diana Ross was released in 1978.

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The Wiz will be NBC’s next live televised production, the network announced on Monday. The telecast, airing in December 2015, will be produced by Cirque du Soleil with Craig Zadan and Neil Meron returning to executive produce. The duo was also behind NBC’s The Sound of Music Live! starring Carrie Underwood in 2013, and Peter Pan Live! starring Allison Williams late last year. Zadan and Meron are working to revive The Wiz on Broadway for the 2016-17 season.

Reading about this sort of scares me. I’m wondering who will they cast as Dorothy. I would love to see someone who has a Stephanie Mills type of talent. But this is Hollywood we’re talking about not Broadway. They could end up hiring someone who just looks good with no talent.

Don’t screw this up NBC!!!

Too Many Ethnics on TV

Yes you read that right.  According to Deadline.com’s Nellie Andreeva, since the success of Empire (which I love), How To Get Away with Murder (another favorite)  and other shows where the leading characters are POC, this could hurt white actors when it comes to casting.

There was a noticeable shift toward minority castings last season, with more parts opening up to ethnic actors, a casting term used for non-Caucasian thesps. It was a concerted effort, with more than one instance where a family member role was rewritten as adopted to make them ethnic. Then, following the success of freshman series How To Get Away With Murder, Black-ish, Fresh Off The Boat, Jane the Virgin and especially Empire, which launched to huge ratings at the kickoff of pilot casting season, ethnic castings exploded this season.

Ms. Andreeva continues to talk about the number of POC who are being cast in pilots that could be picked up for the upcoming fall season. Some of those roles where not originally earmarked for actors of color.

But there were more broadcast drama pilots than ever whose leads had been designated as black this year. That includes Fox medical drama Rosewood, toplined by Morris Chestnut, and CBS civil rights crime drama For Justice, starring Anika Noni Rose. Uncle Buck was rebooted by ABC specifically as a black family sitcom, with Mike Epps in the title role originated by John Candy. NBC opted to make the lead couple in its drama about diverse couples Love Is A Four Letter Word black in picking up the pilot. (It had been originally conceived as Caucasian.) After a post-table read recasting of the female role, the two leads went to Cynthia McWilliams and Rockmond Dunbar.

There also have been a number of drama co-leads on which the networks chose to go ethnic this year, including Supergirl’s male lead, cast with Mehcad Brooks; one of the four female leads in ABC drama Broad Squad (Rutina Wesley); and the female lead in Minority Report (Meagan Good).

Choosing to go ethnic?  Ms. Andreeva loves the word “ethnic.”  Ms. Andreeva now feels that the pendulum is swinging too far in the opposite direction. Too far? Does Ms. Andreeva realize that actors of color have been shut out of leading roles in television for decades? Oh we have gone through spurts here and there. We had some roles in the usual comedies throughout the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s. But by the late 90’s through the 2000’s actors of color started to experience a drought. By the time the year 2000 hit, with a few exceptions, you were hollering “blacks are on tv” cause we became a rarity again.  And as usual asian and latinos were practically invisible.

And what about leading roles in dramas? For black actors that was unheard of until Scandal came along. Now we have Scandal, HTGAWM and Empire. Ms Andreeva feels that actors of color have reached the max when it comes to leading roles. Is this woman crazy? I doubt very seriously that having a more open door policy when it comes to casting tv shows will hurt white actors and actresses.  With all the tv shows on network, cable, Netflix and Amazon there’s enough work for everyone.

Check out the entire article here.

RIP Don Cornelius

Earlier today I read that Soul Train creator Don Cornelius committed suicide.  He was found in his home in Southern California early this morning.  He was 75 years old.

I remember back in the day watching this show. It was fun to watch the dancers and the different music artist every Saturday.  Soul Train brought some great music into the homes of millions of Americans.  I remember a while ago watching a documentary titled Soul Train:  The Hippest Trip in America.  VH1 is showing the documentary on February 6 at 9:30pm.  I know Centric, the cable channel use to show episodes of Soul Train.  I wonder if they will start up again.  Or maybe have a Soul Train marathon this weekend.

‘Soul Train’ creator Don Cornelius found dead

By Greg Kot

Tribune critic

Don Cornelius became the baritone-voiced bellwether of Chicago cool when he took “Soul Train” from the South Side to a national audience in the 1970s.

Cornelius, 75, was found dead Wednesday at his Mulholland Drive home in Encino, Calif. He apparently died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police say. There was no sign of foul play, but the Los Angeles Police Department was investigating.

Born in Chicago in 1936, Cornelius grew up in the Bronzeville neighborhood and worked numerous jobs: he sold insurance, worked as a TV newsman and deejayed at WVON, which serenaded the South and West Sides with soul music. While employed at WCIU-TV in the ’60s, he started hosting soul dance parties around the city and eventually approached station management about a show based on the same idea. They accepted.

“I wasn’t surprised because I was invited to come over there by one of my mentors, Roy Wood, who was the news director at WVON-AM radio,” Cornelius told the Tribune last year. “He was a good man. He had persuaded them to do a black-oriented news show called ‘A Black’s View of the News.’ I knew the format at Channel 26 had a lot to do with ethnic-targeted programming, so I said to the owner one day, ‘Why don’t you let me try this?'”

“Soul Train” debuted in 1970 with low expectations and overhead. Color cameras weren’t in the budget and the dancefloor was the size of a typical living room. But the show struck a chord with an audience that had been largely ignored by other teen-oriented dance shows, most famously Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand.” For young, African-American kids, “Soul Train” was must-see after-school viewing because it presented mostly R&B artists that other shows neglected. And, perhaps most importantly, it showcased the hippest dance moves.

You can read the entire article here at the Chicago Tribune.

Mr. Cornelius use to end his show with the following saying:

“And you can bet your last money, it’s all gonna be a stone gas, honey! I’m Don Cornelius, and as always in parting, we wish you love, peace and soul!”

Check out the video to the Soul Train theme song The Sound of Philadelphia.  The song was written by Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff.

RIP Mr. Cornelius.

Undercovers premieres tomorrow night

NBC’s new series Undercovers premieres tomorrow night at 8:00pm ET. The show stars former Soul Food alum Boris Kodjoe and British actress Gugu Mbatha-RawUndercovers also stars former Simon & Simon star Gerald McRaney and Mekia Cox who was a dancer in the Michael Jackson documentary concert film This Is It.

I’ve been looking forward to watching this show since they announced that Boris and Gugu would be the leading stars. Talk about a miracle on network television. And it shouldn’t be a miracle in the 21st century.  I blogged about this miracle back in February.

Anyway MSNBC has an article about the show and interviews the two actors.

‘Undercovers’ puts minority leads in the TV spotlight

New series from ‘Lost’ creator features two main characters who happen to be black

Voters may have overwhelmingly elected a black man as president in 2008, but broadcast TV decision makers still don’t fully believe mainstream audiences will embrace a drama series with a black lead unless coupled with a white actor or as part of a large, multiracial ensemble cast. And don’t even consider two black leads carrying a drama series on a major network.

“Lost” creator J.J. Abrams may change that perception with his anticipated new show on NBC, “Undercovers,” which debuts Sept. 23. (TODAYshow.com is a part of msnbc.com, which is a joint venture between Microsoft and NBC Universal.)

The drama stars Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Steven and Samantha Bloom, a married couple who were once spies and are now getting back into the business. At the core, the show is a brightly written romantic adventure with two strong leading characters who happen to be black.

Boris made an interesting yet very true comment about how things go in liberal Hollywood.

“I just decided I wasn’t going to be the affirmative action guy,” Kodjoe said of the practice of auditioning minorities for roles. “Everybody says you did a great job. Then you get the call they ‘went another way,’ which means they went with a white actor. (The color of your skin) is something you have no control over. After a while, it wears you out.”

But Undercovers creator J.J. Abrams and producer Josh Reims were definitely looking for a different type of cast from what you’re normally seeing on network television.

He was finally persuaded that Reims and Abrams were serious about casting non-white actors in the roles if they could find the right actors. The veteran producers knew exactly what they didn’t want to see in their two prospective leads: the same homogenous actors playing in every other series on the air.

“We wanted (our series) to look different,” said Reims, who previously worked with Abrams on “Felicity.” “We didn’t go out of our way to say we are hiring two black people to be the leads of the show. But we (knew) it would be great if we could do that.”

Check out the entire article here.

The Real Housewives of D.C.

As you know I’ve bitched and moaned about how reality shows have pretty much taken over network and cable tv.  But I’ll admit I do have a couple of guilty pleasures when it comes to reality tv shows.   One of those shows is America’s Next Top Model and unfortunately I’m addicted to the Real Housewives franchise.  Yes I watch all the housewives from Orange County, New York City, Atlanta and New Jersey. The latest housewives saga starts on Thursday August 5. The Real Housewives of D.C.

I blogged about the first mention of the D.C. Housewives last year.

Since I live in the D.C. metro area (not the DMV, lol) I will definitely watch this one.

The Reliable Source at the Washington Post did a feature about the cast last month.

Washington, you’re forgiven if you don’t know what to make of your “Housewives.”

Are the stars-to-be of “The Real Housewives of D.C.” representative of our city? Of course not.  Four out of five are white, all are affluent, and most live in the ‘burbs.

Are they prominent Washington players? Not really. A few have social pull in limited circles, but none are A-listers.

Should they all be on TV? Federal and Virginia prosecutors, still weighing charges against Tareq and Michaele Salahi for the White House dinner-crashing and certain business practices, didn’t have a say.

But who cares! This will be reality TV in all its semi-staged glory. Bravo touts the series as portraying “connected D.C. power players” navigating “the unwritten social rules of the Beltway.” But none of these women works in government or politics; for the most part, neither do their husbands. Friends tell us most of the cast didn’t know each other before taping began last year. Bravo gave serious consideration to a lobbyist and a fundraiser, but both dropped out, because their jobs either required discretion or were too boring.

Instead, we’ve got a modeling agency owner, a socialite mom, an expat, a real estate agent and, well, Michaele Salahi. We’ve written about them only a kajillion times over the past year as they’ve shown up at parties and cafes with TV cameras in tow, but let’s meet them — and the other housewives — again!

Yes the Salahis. Who can forget the White House dinner party crashers.

When I first heard about the D.C. Housewives show I thought for sure Bravo casting would concentrate on all white women from Northwest D.C. and Northern Virginia.  Well at least they diversified the cast with one black woman even though the D.C. area is very diverse.

This week’s TV Week from Sunday’s Washington Post has an article about the new franchise but the article spends more time talking about Michelle Salahi.  Just click on the pictures to read the article.

Why am I not surprised that the Salahi woman is on the cover? TV Week could have at least featured the entire cast on the cover but we are talking about the Washington Post.

Anyway if you can’t get enough of the Real Housewives franchise just wait.  There’s more.  Bravo has another Real Housewives franchise in The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.  Yeah that’s right.  This one features former child stars Kim and Kyle Richards who just happen to be the aunts of Paris Hilton.

Other cast members, which Bravo will not confirm but people with knowledge of the production did, include: Kim and Kyle Richards, former child actors who are the younger sisters of Kathy Hilton and aunts to Paris and Nicky.

Kyle Richards, married with four daughters, is no stranger to the camera, having worked in TV starting in the ’70s on shows like “Little House on the Prairie” and “Fantasy Island.” Her acting credits list the original “Escape to Witch Mountain,” John Carpenter’s cult classic version of “Halloween” and the 2006 frat boy comedy, “Pledge This!” starring her niece, Paris.

Kim Richards, a divorced mom of four, broke into the entertainment business on family sitcom “Nanny and the Professor,” and had parts in TV shows ranging from “ABC Afterschool Specials” and “Diff’rent Strokes” to “Chips” and “The Dukes of Hazzard” as well as a starring role in “Escape to Witch Mountain.” She has some reality TV experience, too, appearing in her niece’s Fox series, “The Simple Life.”

According to the article the Beverly Hills saga will premiere either late fall or early 2011.

Life After

Tv One starts season 2 of the tv show Life After next Monday (July 19) at 9:00pm ET.  Life After looks at whatever happened to certain actors, singers and other entertainers. I’m looking forward to this season. One of the actors being interviewed is Janet Hubert who played the first Aunt Viv (Vivan Banks) on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.  She left the show in 1993 after season 3.

I’ve always wondered what the real story was behind her leaving the show.  I liked her Aunt Viv character better than her replacement.

Other folks featured this season include Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Mark Curry, Karrine Steffans, Ruben Studdard, Shar Jackson, Elise Neal and Ron Artest.

Whatever happened to The Facts of Life cast?

Yahoo Tv Blog has a post about the cast of the tv series The Facts of Life.

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The Facts of Life aired on NBC from 1979 to 1988.  The setting was the Eastland School for Girls in Peekskill, New York.  The series starred Charlotte Rae, Kim Fields, Lisa Whelchel, Nancy McKeon and Mindy Cohn.

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I enjoyed reading about the cast members and what they’re up to now but this little item caught my attention:

Five years after “Facts” wrapped in 1988, Kim joined Queen Latifah and Kim Coles in the cast of another popular sitcom, “Living Single,” FOX’s African-American answer to “Friends.” It ran from 1993 to 1998.

FOX’s African American answer to Friends?  Since when?  It’s obvious that Living Single never received the media hype that Friends received.   Living Single started airing August 1993.  Friends premiered on NBC in  September 1994.  Maybe Friends was the Caucasion answer to Living Single.

Will traditional television go by the wayside?

When it comes to watching your favorite tv shows, could you make the switch from your 27 to 60 inch tv screen to your desktop or laptop?

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Even though 99 percent of the country owns at least one television, the number of people watching tv shows on computers and mobile devices such as ipods and cellphones is becoming a growing trend.  Some are saying goodbye to cable tv bills and instead are watching their favorite shows on YouTube or Hulu.com.  And if they want to watch movies they just subcribe to Netflix.

Danny Ledonne rarely misses “The Daily Show.” He’s a frequent viewer of its cable TV cousin, “The Colbert Report,” too. And for additional political satire and commentary, he often checks out HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher.”

The thing is, Ledonne doesn’t own a television. He hasn’t had one since he was in college more than eight years ago. When he walks into a friend’s house nowadays and the TV set is on, he says, “It’s like a quaint visit to an alien world.”

These days, Ledonne, 27, can watch all the TV he wants merely by opening his laptop, or going to his cellphone or iPod. With full-length TV programs available all over the Internet (in both legal and pirated form), he finds he does just fine without paying a monthly cable bill — or even having a TV. In industry parlance, he’s among those who have “cut the cord,” no longer tethered to the sources that have delivered programming into the home since television’s inception.

As alternative means of watching “television” rapidly mature, the Danny Ledonnes of the world are at the vanguard of a potentially potent economic and social force. People like him could be poised to do to the broadcasting, cable and satellite TV industries what free music downloads did to the recording industry and free online news has done to newspapers — that is, alter everything about the creation, production and delivery of TV.

Ledonne, for example, can construct an entire TV schedule without ever flicking on a remote control. Thanks to dozens of videocasting Web sites, such as Hulu, TV.com, Joost and Fancast, full-length episodes of more than 90 percent of the shows carried by the major broadcast networks are legally accessible within a day of being broadcast, according to Forrester Research (only about 20 percent of what’s on cable is similarly available). And because online TV programs are always “on,” and cost little more than the price of an Internet connection, Ledonne has gotten used to watching on his own terms.

“I don’t want an arbitrary television schedule telling me when and where I’m supposed to meet it every night or every week,” says Ledonne, a graduate student at American University and a video producer. “I want to watch when I want to, I want to be able to download it and listen on the bike or watch on a plane, and I want to do it for free with minimal advertising. Otherwise, I have better things to do.”

The Sony in the living room isn’t about to vanish, not with almost 99 percent of all American households still owning at least one TV. Nor are the cable or satellite industries in any immediate danger, given that 85 percent of the country still pays for TV service.

Since I grew up watching television on a regular television screen I don’t know if I could make that kind of switch. I know I wouldn’t watch a tv show or movie on my mp3 player or cellphone. The screens are much too small for my old eyes, lol 😉  I’ve watched a couple of movies on my 17 inch desktop monitor and even then it wasn’t the same as watching a movie on the tv screen.  And besides when it’s a really good tv show like 24 or a movie, I prefer the comfort of my sofa, not an office chair.

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