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Category Archives: African American Television

Future Cloudy for African-Americans in Mainstream Media

Soledad O'Brien

Michael Baisden, Roland Martin, Soledad O’Brien and Constance White have all either been fired or stepped down from their respective positions in the communications field. With their departures, the future of African-Americans in mainstream media is uncertain.

Michael Baisden announced via Twitter on Wednesday and Facebook Thursday that “The Michael Baisden Show,” his nationally syndicated radio show, was canceled. He stated, “We were unable to reach an agreement with our syndication partner Cumulus Media. This was not a hostile situation; sometimes parties have different ideas and visions about how to move forward.”

The show, which ran for 10 years, will air reruns until March 29. Baisden also stated,   “We may not have been given the chance to have a going-away party, but the welcome-back party is going to be the bomb.”

Although, Baisden will continue to be active through public appearances, his dismissal leaves an absence of the African-American presence on radio. Tom Joyner and Steve Harvey are the only African-American nationally syndicated shows on radio.

Roland Martin and Soledad O’Brien have also been dismissed as analysts and have had their roles redefined at CNN, respectively.

Martin announced his dismissal via Twitter on Tuesday. He announced that his last day at CNN would be April 6. Jeff Zucker, CNN’s new president, is responsible for the decision, citing a new direction for the network. Martin confirmed this via Twitter stating, “New boss wants his own peeps.”

Martin will continue to work as a columnist and analyst for TVOne.

O’Brien has not been fired from CNN, but rather she is taking on a new role in the news organization.

O’Brien, host of “Starting Point” a morning television show, is relinquishing her current position at the request of  Zucker. Her new role will be to host documentaries for CNN part-time, while also forming her own production company Starfish Media Group, which will create documentaries for CNN and other organizations…

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Alright TV announces lineup of new faith-friendly and family-oriented digital programming

– Issa Rae, Deion Sanders, AJ Johnson, DeRay Davis, and Cheryl Jackson Headline Original Productions –

Los Angeles, CA (BlackNews.com) — Robert L. Johnson, Founder and Chairman of The RLJ Companies and Tracey E. Edmonds, President and CEO of Alright TV, recently announced the new programming slate of upcoming family oriented and faith-friendly content developed for the channel created in collaboration with YouTube. Alright TV will launch on Easter Sunday, March 31st and will appeal to the aspirational and inspirational goals of consumers of all ages with buzz-worthy comedies, talk, reality, music, and online streaming of Sunday church services from around the country.

“I am very excited about the launch of Alright TV and the broad array of diversified producer-generated content that has been produced and made available through the channel,” said Johnson. “Tracey is an award-winning producer and I am confident that viewers will enjoy the new digital series that she and her team have developed featuring well known artists and personalities from the faith-based, reality, sports and entertainment industries. Alright TV’s content and collaboration with YouTube represents the spectrum of new and exciting opportunities for consumers and advertisers,” he concluded.

“Alright TV is a groundbreaking channel that will revolutionize faith friendly content viewing and will feature premiere talent along with rising stars,” said Edmonds. “There has been, and for some time, a lack of availability of faith-based, family friendly programming on television. Alright TV, in collaboration with YouTube’s global platform, fills this gap by making the genre available to everyone.” She continued, “We have incredible talent on board and are excited to present our viewers with new digital series that offer the best in feel-good, value based entertainment that will both inspire and motivate. I look forward to continuing to work with YouTube and our outstanding creative team of writers that have produced quality entertainment for the channel, ultimately creating a lineup of some of the best digital offerings that consumers will enjoy.”

Upcoming Alright TV premieres include:

* Issa Rae, the creative mind behind the ground-breaking Internet sensation Awkward Black Girl, brings us The Choir, a comedic series about the personal, spiritual and often controversial dynamics of a revered church choir.

* NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders debuts two new inspirational reality series. In Sports Dads, Sanders comes to the rescue to counsel families of sports-obsessed parents pushing their children too hard. He will also produce and star in Truth, an inspirational show that will uplift and motivate viewers to put a more positive outlook into practice.

* Take Action, produced by 1820 Productions features Cheryl “Action” Jackson transforming the lives of families in need. Facing hard hitting economic struggles that have impacted the lives of families from around the country, Jackson and her team bring hope and joy to families in need by blessing them with gifts that help with everyday family living.

* Written by Vanessa Middleton, former co-executive producer of The Cosby Show, Walk This Way is a comedy sketch series in which parishioners seek advice from their pastor for some of the most unusual problems. Series stars Michael Kenneth Williams (Boardwalk Empire, The Wire).

* Ms. Right and Mr. Right are two webisode series that explore dating from both the male and female perspectives. Ms. Right stars DeRay Davis of 21 Jump Street and Jumping the Broom and Mr. Right stars Kali Hawk of Couples Retreat and New Girl both on the search for love through a series of blind dates with the most undesirable candidates in hopes of finding their respective Mr. and Ms. Right.

* YouTube’s popular comedy trio, The Playmakers – Kevin Fredericks, Jason Fredericks, and Anthony Davis bring faith-friendly comedy with hilarious takes on some of the most recognizable church related topics.

* The No-Budget Gourmet, Bravo’s Top Chef alum and from the Food Network’s Private Chefs of Beverly Hills, Chef Brian Hill teaches America how to eat well and spend less on meals that will impress. Chef Brian is joined by special comedy guests each episode.

* Dr. James Meschino headlines Pure Health, an in-depth look at the natural ways to approach health and living.

* Dormtainment features You Tube’s super popular 6-man Atlanta comedy sketch troop who deliver laugh out loud webisodes on the trials and tribulations of college and young adult life.

* Celebrity lifestylist AJ Johnson shows viewers how to attain a better mind, body and soul in The AJ ZONE.

* Preach On, Teach On, an amateur blog series where rising inspirational speakers offer words of encouragement and inspiration that empowers.

* Vurch will live-stream weekly church services and sermons of pastors from around the country. With its innovative platform and national database of devotional and worship churches, Vurch features some of today’s foremost spiritual leaders such as Bishop T.D. Jakes, Reverend Michael Beckwith, Bishop Paul S. Morton, and Apostle Frederick K. C. Price.

* Powerful inspirational, theme-based messages will be featured with Message from the Masters, a collection of teachings from pastors of various ministries and well known inspirational speakers.

In addition to live-streaming weekly broadcasts of devotional and worship services, Alright TV will feature an array of powerful inspirational messages, gospel and Christian-themed musical videos on demand and ministries from well-known speakers and spiritual leaders.

About The RLJ Companies:

The RLJ Companies, founded by Robert L. Johnson, is an innovative business network that provides strategic investments in a diverse portfolio of companies. Within The RLJ Companies portfolio, Johnson owns or holds interests in businesses operating in a publicly traded hotel real estate investment trust; private equity; financial services; asset management; insurance services; automobile dealerships; sports and entertainment; and video lottery terminal (VLT) gaming. The RLJ Companies is headquartered in Bethesda, MD, with affiliate operations in Charlotte, NC; Little Rock, AR; Los Angeles, CA; San Juan, PR; and Monrovia, Liberia. Prior to founding The RLJ Companies, Johnson was founder and chairman of Black Entertainment Television (BET). For more information visit: www.rljcompanies.com.

About Our Stories Films, LLC:

Our Stories Films is the first African American owned film production studio that produces theatrical motion pictures that showcase the talents of African Americans on both sides of the camera and in the creative process. Founded in 2006, Our Stories Films is headquartered in Hollywood, CA, and targets underserved, urban audiences within the family and urban comedy genre with a production budget of $5M–$7M per film. In May 2011, Our Stories Films in collaboration with TriStar, a Sony Pictures Entertainment company, produced and released Jumping the Broom, which debuted as the number one comedy during the opening box office weekend.

For additional information please visit: www.ourstoriesfilms.com.

About Alright TV:

Alright TV is a groundbreaking digital channel that will revolutionize faith friendly content viewing. Featuring premiere talent along with rising stars, Alright TV offers the best in feel-good, value based entertainment which will inspire and motivate. Alright TV brings buzz-worthy comedies, talk, reality, music, and the streaming of national Sunday church services. Developed by Robert L. Johnson, founder and chairman of The RLJ Companies and Tracey E. Edmonds, President and COO of Our Stories Films, Alright TV is a digital collaboration with YouTube that includes an array of online productions and entertainment. For more about Alright TV visit: http://www.youtube.com/alrighttv or http://www.alrighttv.com.

 
 

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Find Our Missing returns, more unsolved African American disappearances

TV One will air the season two premiere of Find Our Missing, this Wednesday night. The award-winning show highlights the unsolved cases of missing African Americans.

Find Our Missing returns for a second season, ready to do more than merely present unsolved cases.

TV One touts the show’s award bestowed by the National Association of Black Journalists and its partnership with the Black & Missing Foundation, Inc.

“Find Our Missing will continue its partnership with the Black and Missing Foundation, Inc. (BAMFI) to raise further awareness and attention for the plight of the missing. TVOne.tv will use BAMFI’s alerts and latest updates about recent missing persons cases, as well as other content supplied by the organization including tips on how to prevent abductions.”

While controversial to some, TV One found an audience that loved the show enough to warrant its renewal for a second season.

“TV One saw unprecedented response to this series which resonated strongly with audiences and the media in terms of how the issue of missing Black Americans has been traditionally addressed,” said Toni Judkins, Executive Vice President Programming Production.

Traditionally addresses in the context of the show’s purpose means that popular national media have not focused on missing black children and adults to the same extent as coverage for their white counterparts.

Prior to its season one debut in 2012, the network’s top exec said it this way. “The local and regional press does a good job. The national press doesn’t really cover these stories to the extent that they should, and that’s a void that TV One will now fill.”

Hosted by well known and acclaimed actress S. Epatha Merkerson, of TV’s “Law & Order” fame, the show uses dramatized scenes and real footage to craft the back story to abductions both recent and those considered cold cases.

It is hoped that in a similar fashion to the long running “America’s Most Wanted”, hosted by John Walsh, the stories presented will rekindle memories or new clues that might lead to the end of sad stories for families who want to know what happened.

The season premiere presents the cases of two young people. Stevie Grey, 19 was attending college but seemed to have a change of heart.

She called her mother in April 2012 from a bus station in Pittsburgh, PA and said she wanted to return home to her family and friends in New York. She never made it.

In another heartbreaking story, an autistic teen, Kahil Grey walked out of a Chicago hospital into broad daylight and was never seen again. He was with his father in an elevator and as the doors opened, Kahil ran out, turned a corner through a door and disappeared.

Watch the TV One presentation of Find Our Missing’s season two premiere starting at 9:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday January 9. Check local cable listings for channel information. Image: Towers Productions/Find Our Missing

 

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Talking with Kids About News

Strategies for Talking and Listening

Girl: Who's Saddam Hussein? | Mom: What have you heard?

Through Your Child’s Eyes

“Children think about the news very differently from adults. News to kids is not just tragic events or disasters; instead they define it to include their entire lives. A child’s “news” could be a dead bird on the street, a cut finger, as well as a story about Hurricane Katrina.

“They also interpret the news in personal ways. For example, when young children watch or listen to news reports about crime, bombings, and hurricanes, they may worry about their own safety. Because young children are not able to fully understand cause and effect and distance, it’s hard for them to make distinctions between an immediate threat and one that is far away.”

Diane Levin, Ph.D.

Professor of Education, Wheelock College. Co-Author, The War Play Dilemma.

Talking about the news with kids happens in everyday moments. Children ask questions in the car on the way to school, in between pushes on the swings, and just when you’re trying to rush out the door. In one breath, they’ll ask about a range of topics — from the weather to the president to the latest war. And when difficult questions come up, parents wonder how to respond.

To help the conversation along, this article offers flexible suggestions for answering kids’ questions about the news. There is no script to follow but these strategies can help you tune in to what your child is thinking and feeling and talk it through together.

Start by finding out what your child knows. When a news topic comes up, ask an open-ended question to find out what she knows like “What have you heard about it?” This encourages your child to let you know what she is thinking.

Ask a follow up question. Depending on your child’s comments, ask another question to get him thinking, such as “Why do you think that happened?” or “What do you think people should do to help?”

Explain simply. Give children the information they need to know in a way that makes sense to them. At times, a few sentences are enough. “A good analogy is how you might talk about sex,” adds Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Ed. D. “You obviously wouldn’t explain everything to a 5-year-old. Talking about violence and safety is similar.”

Listen and acknowledge. If a child talks about a news event (like a local robbery or kidnapping) and is worried,recognize her feeling and comfort her. You might say “I can see you’re worried, but you are safe here. Remember how we always lock our doors.” This acknowledges your child’s feelings, helps her feel secure, and encourages her to tell you more.

Offer reassurance. When a child is exposed to disturbing news, she may worry about her safety. To help her calm down, offer specific examples that relate to her environment like, “That hurricane happened far away but we’ve never had a hurricane where we live.” Actions speak louder than words — so show your child how you lock the door if she gets scared by a news report about robbers, point out the gutters and storm drains if a hurricane story causes fear, and explain what the security guards do at the airport after a story about terrorists.

Tailor your answer to your child’s age. The amount of information children need changes age by age. “A kindergartner may feel reassured simply knowing a hurricane is thousands of miles away. An older child may want to know how hurricanes could affect the place where he lives and may want to know what is being done to help those in need. Both ages will be reassured by doing something to help,” notes Jane Katch, M.S.T., author of Under Deadman’s Skin: Discovering the Meaning of Children’s Violent Play.

 

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Television Viewing – Making Smart Choices for Your Child

by Sharon Rechter

The issue of children and television viewing has been debated for many years, including whether they should be allowed to watch at all.  As the mother of two young girls myself, I understand the challenge of determining at what age they can be first exposed to TV, as well as what types of programming can provide the most benefit to them.

While some may regard television simply as an electronic babysitter, I think it’s important to understand that as with many other activities, television can actually be used as an important tool to enhance the development of our kids.  It starts with parents doing research on what is available, and seeking out the kinds of shows that are designed by developmental experts.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 95% of American babies watch television, so from my practical perspective, the question isn’t “should children watch TV,” but rather, “what are they watching, how much and under what conditions?”  Content is absolutely key.  If it’s appropriate, educational and non-violent, children can learn and have a very positive experience.

It’s also important to vary the types of programs your kids watch.  The younger the child (especially babies), the greater will be their natural tendency to gravitate toward their favorites.  Be sure to continually refresh the content you select, offering your child exposure to new and exciting things.  In the long-term, this will help keep their interest, while nurturing their development.

Of course, just because a TV show is educational, it is essential that limits be set on the amount of time that children are allowed to watch.  As with all aspects of parenting, a healthy balance should be maintained, with plenty of time allocated for reading, creative play and spending time outdoors.

Ideally, parents should watch television together with their children.  Not only does this foster bonding, it also allows you to become an interactive part of the viewing experience.  Concepts that are introduced during viewing can be reinforced and built upon by moms and dads.  An easy way to do this is by exercising their memory skills after a program has concluded.  Ask your child about what they saw and heard, such as the names of favorite characters, noises the animals made and songs they enjoyed the most.

Moreover, watching together provides an excellent opportunity for emotional bonding.  Providing immediate positive reinforcement to a child, especially when they may be too young to communicate verbally, can be critically important to their emotional growth.

Ultimately, each child and family’s experience with television will be different.  In my own experience, I’ve found that my daughters have learned a great deal from age-appropriate educational TV.  They even learned sign language!

The company I co-founded, BabyFirst, decided to produce a television series called, I Can Sign, that helps parents communicate with their very young children before they’re able to speak.  I found it to be an amazing way to interact and connect with my girls, and it really fostered a bond with them long before they had learned to talk.  That was a few years ago, but we still use it as a “secret language” between us.

There is constant debate as to the “right way” to raise a child, and most parents ask a lot of questions and experiment quite a bit before they find what works best.  Because television viewing is a reality in today’s homes, parents can take advantage of it as very versatile tool that can introduce their children to a wide variety of new ideas, while helping to reinforce early education.

About Sharon Rechter

Co-Founder, BabyFirst

Sharon Rechter, along with business partner, Guy Oranim, conceptualized and co-founded BabyFirst (www.babyfirsttv.com), which is a global TV channel for tots. In her role as executive vice president, she leads the business development and marketing activities for the company – with a clear passion to bring quality, new educational programming to families of babies and toddlers.

Rechter has a broad background in television programming and recently served as the vice president and head of operations for The Israeli Network (the Israeli television channel in the U.S.). She was responsible for the general management of the network, and focused on areas including business development, advertising and subscriptions. Before entering the television broadcast industry, Rechter headed the strategic planning department at GNS Advertising in Israel where she was responsible for developing strategic plans for a variety of lifestyle brands.

 

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T.J. Holmes’ ‘Don’t Sleep’ cuts back on airings; BET exec says viewers ‘don’t show up’

RTWT LATE NIGHT THOUGHTS ON THIS

New York City, NY –  Host T.J. Holmes attends the premiere of ‘Don’t Sleep’ at BET Studios on October 1, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

by Similoluwa Ojurongb, theGrio

When T.J. Holmes left CNN to host his own show on BET, Don’t Sleep, some called it a risky move, while the network’s viewers seemed to be excited.

Holmes saw it as an opportunity to “reach out and report on stories that directly affect the African-American community.”

Unfortunately, the viewership has not lived up to hype.

Holmes’ show combines comedy, news and commentary not unlike The Colbert Report and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Don’t Sleep airs in the 11 pm time-slot and drew 400,000 viewers on to its October 1 premiere.

The October 9th episode drew 1 million viewers, but since then, it has slipped to as low as 203,000.

“To be honest, the ratings haven’t been great in the past two weeks. Our audience always says they want this kind of programming, but they don’t show up,” said Debra Lee, BET’s CEO.

As a result, Don’t Sleep will now be on for one hour once a week, instead of every night.

BET released a statement saying, “The viewers have spoken and due to the overwhelming demand, Don’t Sleep will now be expanded to a one hour weekly format allowing for a more comprehensive discussion of the issues and events affecting the African-American community,”

“We will now have an hour-long format to educate, empower, and engage.  This will allow us more time to delve deeper into topics and determine how we can all, in our own way, be agents of change,” Holmes wrote on his website. “As part of being extended to an hour, the show will move to Wednesday nights at 11 p.m.  This will allow us to do on-location reporting from cities and communities across the country.”

 
 

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“Save My Son,” Powerful New Series Hosted by Education Activist and Author Dr. Steve Perry, to Premiere on TV One Wednesday, September 26 at 9PM ET

The eight-episode, one-hour series is produced by Powerhouse Productions.

 

– Dr. Perry works with families and celebrity mentors to help rescue young sons from a life of bad influences and wrong choices, celebrity mentors include: Steve Harvey, Ruben Studdard, Derek Anderson, Jalen Rose and Pooch Hall –

Silver Spring, MD – July 10, 2012- Beginning Wednesday, September 26 at 9 PM ET, TV One will introduce Save My Son, a powerful new documentary series, that will delve into the gripping tales of families struggling to save their sons who have fallen victim to bad influences and wrong choices.

Hosted by renowned educator Dr. Steve Perry, Save My Son is intended to shed light on an all too familiar story within the African American community across a broad spectrum of socio-economic backgrounds. Dr. Perry will venture into these young men’s communities and give viewers a real, unfiltered look into their daily lives and struggles. Each episode will tell the story of a different young man and the dangerous activities and/or behaviors that threaten to derail a promising young life, from drug use to gang involvement to truancy to robbery. Along with Dr. Perry, in each episode a celebrity mentor will offer inspiration, support and insight into what choosing a different path can mean, and help these young men fight their darkest demons. Each episode also features an intervention with Dr. Perry and loved ones of the troubled youth. They work together to design the best possible plan of action to get the young man in crisis back on track. Celebrity mentors include radio personality, comedian, actor, and author Steve Harvey; former NBA players Jalen Rose and Derek Anderson; American Idol winner and R&B artist, Ruben Studdard and actor Pooch Hall. Also making a guest appearance is, author, inspirational speaker and television personality Iyanla Vanzant, among others.

“We have hit rock bottom. Our sons are dying of every disease, suffering from every academic, social and emotional trauma at rates that have never been recorded,” says Dr. Perry.”The only thing left to do is to fight like hell to save our sons.”

Dr. Perry is on a mission to reform black communities and save as many young men as possible. As founder and principle of Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, CT, Dr. Perry is no stranger to the hardships young black men face growing up. Capital Preparatory Magnet School is designed to send children to college, and since its inception, 100 percent of its students have gone on to four year colleges. Dr. Perry is also author of bestselling books Man Up! and Push has Come to Shove, CNN education contributor, a columnist for Essence magazine, and a highly sought after speaker for colleges and education forums around the country.

“This groundbreaking series will chronicle a topic that is rarely explored in today’s media.” said TV One Executive Vice President of Original Programming and Production Toni Judkins. “There is an epidemic of young black men in danger of leading a life estranged from their families and with heightened chances of becoming another statistic in the criminal justice system. In working with Dr. Perry on this series, we hope we can draw attention to this critical issue and help rescue young men from a life-threatening downward spiral and help put their lives back on track.”Save My Son is an eight-episode, one-hour series produced for TV One by Powerhouse Productions. Executive Producers for Powerhouse are Rochelle Brown and Sonia Armstead. Executive Producer for TV One is Toni Judkins. Executive in Charge of Production at TV One is Robyn Greene Arrington.

About TV One

Launched in January 2004, TV One (www.tvoneonline.com) serves more than 57.3 million households, offering a broad range of real-life and entertainment-focused original programming, classic series, movies, and music designed to entertain, inform and inspire a diverse audience of adult African American viewers. In December 2008, the company launched TV One High Def, which now serves more than 10.3 million households. TV One is a joint venture owned by Radio One [NASDAQ: ROIA and ROIAK; http://www.radio-one.com], the largest radio company that primarily targets African American and urban listeners; and Comcast Corporation [NASDAQ: CMCSA, CMCSK); http://www.comcast.com], one of the nation’s leading providers of entertainment, information and communications products and services.

 
 

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