Tag Archives: NBC

The Wiz Live

The Wiz Live premieres tonight on NBC at 8:00pm EST.

Check out the cast performance at last weeks Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

A first look at The Wiz Live

NBC has released pictures of the cast and their costumes for the upcoming The Wiz Live.  The Wiz Live stars newcomer Shanice Williams as Dorothy, Elijah Kelley as the Scarecrow, NE-YO as the Tin Man and David Alan Grier as the Cowardly Lion.

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Tony-nominated costume designer Paul Tazewell tells PEOPLE, “We’re creating a fantasy land that also is inspired by some of the imagery you’d see today. It’s the edgiest of high-fashion from now but in the world of the Emerald City.”

The Wiz Live will air on Thursday December 3, 2015.

The Wiz Live finds its Dorothy

After holding open auditions a few months ago NBC has found their Dorothy.  Eighteen year old Shanice Williams from New Jersey has landed the role of Dorothy in the upcoming The Wiz Live.

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NBC’s “The Wiz Live!” has found its Dorothy in newcomer Shanice Williams.

The 18-year-old, who was selected out of hundreds of applicants from a nationwide, open casting call, will join the titular Wiz Queen Latifah, Wicked Witch of the West Mary J. Blige and Cowardly Lion David Alan Grier in the live NBC show, it was announced Wednesday on “Today.”

Stephanie Mills, who starred as Dorothy in the original Broadway production of the African-American adaptation, has landed the part of Aunt Em.

The Wiz will mark Williams’ TV debut. She co-starred in several plays in her home state of New Jersey, including “West Side Story,” “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” “42nd Street” and “Pippin.”

The Wiz follows NBC’s live musical specials of “The Sound of Music” and “Peter Pan.” Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who were behind both of the aforementioned NBC productions, will exec produce “The Wiz Live.” Kenny Leon is stage director, and Matthew Diamond is TV director, with Harvey Fierstein providing new written material.

I will admit I thought they would cast a well known actress/singer. I’m glad to hear they cast a newcomer instead of the usual suspects. It’s good to see a unknown black actress get this kind of opportunity.

Williams, who was nominated for a Paper Mill Playhouse’s Rising Star Award last year for her role in Rahway’s “Crazy for You,” recently completed her freshman year at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Los Angeles.

What an amazing voice. I can’t wait to watch The Wiz Live in December.

Congrats to Shanice!!!

Who should be cast as Dorothy in NBC’s The Wiz

Yesterday I blogged about NBC’s live musical The Wiz coming in December 2015.

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I also mentioned that I hope NBC doesn’t mess up when it comes to casting the role of Dorothy.  So who is your choice when it comes to the role of Dorothy?  There are quite a number of actresses who could fit the bill.

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!!!

Undercovers stars grace cover of Jet Magazine

Undercovers stars Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw grace the cover of the October 18, 2010 edition of Jet Magazine.

I’ve been watching the show since it premiered. The pilot episode was somewhat slow but I try not to give up on a show based on the pilot.  I thought the episodes after the pilot were better.  But the ratings for the show haven’t been that great.  Undercovers usually ranks fourth on Wednesday nights in it’s 8:00pm timeslot.  I did read in Deadline Hollywood that NBC has ordered six more scripts for the show so hopefully that’s good news.

All remaining freshman series on NBC got some good news today. Three, The Event, Law & Order: Los Angeles and Outsourced, have been picked up for the rest of the season with back-nine orders. A similar pickup for Chase is said to be pending, while I hear Undercovers is close to receiving an order for additional scripts, said to be about 6.

At least it made it past the 2nd episode.  A couple of new shows on network tv have already been cancelled and they only aired twice. Nowadays if a new tv show doesn’t capture the number one rating in it’s time slot the networks cancel the show within a couple of weeks.

Anyway I’m sticking by Undercovers. I hope NBC doesn’t bail out on this show. It’s nice watching black folks in leading roles for a change instead of being relegated to the background as the best friend or shoulder to cry on.

 

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.

Regina King’s Emmy comments

Actress Regina King has spoken. She wasn’t too happy about this year’s Emmy Awards.  She has a column in The Huffington Post discussing the small number of nominees of color at the Emmy Awards over the years.  I haven’t watched the Emmy Awards in years because the same old folks were always nominated year after year and the shows and actors that are nominated just don’t appeal to me. The tv shows I’ve found more interesting are always ignored by the Emmys.

The Emmys: As White As Ever

Since the Emmy ceremony, I have been going back and forth about whether or not I should compose this letter. I try hard in my daily life not to engage in uncomfortable situations regarding race. But sometimes it’s very difficult to find other reasons that better explain why certain events play out the way they do. It is impossible for me to ignore the published statistics regarding the number of people of color mentioned, celebrated or honored in the history of the televised Emmys. Up to and including this year, there have been only 53 non-white actors nominated for Emmys out of nearly 1,000 possible nominations in the top four acting categories for drama and comedy.

She mentions that a picture of True Blood actress Rutina Wesley was labeled as Regina King cause you know all us black folks look alike 😦

I’ve worked in television nearly all of my professional life, and that statistic is quite sobering to me. And to add injury to my already sensitive nerve endings a picture of Rutina Wesley from True Blood, who attended this year’s Emmys, had a caption that read: “Regina King enters the 62nd Emmys.” No, I wasn’t there. Mistakes happen, right? Well after a few “mistakes” of how people of color are portrayed in the Hollywood media, I decided it was important to say something about how things go down in Hollywood.

Her former 227 co-star Alaina Reed Hall was missing from the Emmy memoriam. She passed away last December.  Emmy Award winning writer David Mills was also left out.

The initial pull on my heart strings was not seeing the veteran Sesame Street actress Alaina Reed Hall included in this year’s memoriam.

I’m glad to see a Hollywood actress speak out about liberal Hollywood. But the problem isn’t just the Emmys.  It’s the hiring practices going on in liberal Hollywood.  I remember reading a comment by a black actress years ago that Hollywood practices legal discrimination by using the line “we’re not going black for this role.” Can you imagine a private company saying some mess like that to a potential employee?

Seems like whenever a new show comes up, the leading roles always default to white actors.  As Stephanie Zacharek stated in her Salon.com column Invisible Women back in 2002 about the lack of movie roles for black actresses:

The question of why there are few good roles for black actresses is virtually irrelevant. A more significant question might be:  How many roles in Hollywood movies actually need to be played by a white woman, and a white woman only?

I saw more black folks on network tv in leading roles in the late 80’s and 90’s compared to today.  TPTB in Hollywood are always using the same old excuse that white viewers don’t want to see black actors in leading roles even if it’s a quality tv show.  You would think Hollywood’s target audience was the Tea Party crowd.

Anyway NBC has a new show coming on this season titled Undercovers starring Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha Raw.  I blogged about the casting of this show back in February.  Undercovers premieres on September 22.  At least NBC has the guts and courage to cast two black actors in leading roles for a show that’s not a comedy. This is the first time in years that’s I’m actually looking forward to watching a new network television show. I’m curious to see how this show will do in the ratings. Will NBC punk out if Undercovers doesn’t show up in the top 10?  If it’s a good show I hope it last more than one season but Hollywood’s target audience might not like it 😉

Black actors in the lead?

On NBC too?????? I was shocked when I read that J.J. Abrams who was the executive producer of such shows as Alias, Felicity and currently Lost has cast two black actors (or biracial for those who want to get technical) in his new series UndercoversSoul Food’s Boris Kodjoe and English actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw who starred in Doctor Who have been cast as husband and wife in the new series.

J.J. Abrams has found his next great heroine.

English actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Doctor Who) has nabbed the coveted female lead in Undercovers, the new NBC dramedy about married spies from Abrams and Josh Reims, sources confirm to me exclusively.

Mbatha-Raw will play the role of Samantha Bloom opposite Soul Food’s Boris Kodjoe, who was previously cast as her husband, Steven Bloom.

Gerald McRaney co-stars as the couple’s boss.

NBC confirmed this week that Abrams will direct the Undercovers pilot.

So, who’s Mbatha-Raw? The 27-year-old actress is best known for her recurring role as Tish Jones in Doctor Who. Other credits include UK dramas Spooks and Bonekickers. Most recently, she appeared on Broadway in Hamlet opposite Jude Law.

When I first read about Boris being cast in the show I was happy for him but I thought there was no way in hell network tv would cast a black actress as his wife. When was the last time you’ve seen a black couple or black folks period in the lead on network tv?   Part of an ensemble cast yet only a few lines, yes.  Best friend, yes.  Sidekick, yes.  Shoulder to cry on, yes.  Stuck in the background, yes.   I mean it’s the 21st century and take a real good look at network television. I thought for sure they were gonna cast a non black actress. But when I read that Miss Mbatha-Raw was cast as Boris’s wife I nearly fell out of my chair.  It’s the 21st century and this is a shock to me yet it shouldn’t be.  But we all know how Hollywood is.

I’m not familiar with Miss Mbatha-Raw’s work but you can read more about her in this May 2009 interview at the Guardian.uk.  I’m very familiar with Boris Kodjoe.  I was a huge fan of Boris from his Soul Food days and he also starred in the short lived tv series Second Time Around with his real life wife Nicole Ari Parker who also starred in Soul Food.

Anyway I’m looking forward to Undercovers.

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.

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