Tag: black tv shows

Gina Prince-Bythewood on Beyond the Lights and her start in television (I get a covert shout out!)

BTL1Shannon M Houston, writer for Paste Magazine, got to interview Love & Basketball writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood about her latest movie Beyond the Lights. Before the interview, she asked me on Twitter what I would ask Gina. I knew that she wrote for A Different World at the beginning of her career, so I wanted to know if she’d ever return to television. Shannon asked the question and I got a covert shout out and a response! Here’s the quote:

Paste: Your name came up the other night while I was tweeting with Black Girl Nerds during a podcast. One of the co-hosts is a big fan of yours, and she suggested I ask you about transitioning from TV to film, and whether or not you’d consider a return to TV.
Prince-Bythewood: TV was such a great training ground for me. I was very fortunate to have gone right from film school to A Different World. Going to work every day with three black women running the show made it normal for me. Later, I worked with J.J. Abrams, which was amazing. I learned a lot from him. I love TV!My So-Called Life was one of my favorite shows growing up. I love writing it, because I loved watching it. But ultimately, I knew I wanted to get into directing. I wanted that big canvas, so I left after five years.
I will do TV again eventually. I’m actually writing a pilot now, but I’d never attach myself to a show that’s expected to do 22 episodes over five years. I just couldn’t do that. But with TV now, it’s great because you can create shorter seasons, or you can be on the peripheral.Her response makes a lot of sense–she used TV to propel her career into the direction she wanted, but still loves the genre. I wonder what her pilot is about (and how I can write for whatever show it is!) and if we’ll see it on television someday. Something Gina says later in the interview also really resonated with me because it’s something that’s also important to me:

GPB1Prince-Bythewood: When we allow Hollywood to have “black film” as a genre it limits us. They do one film a year with a black cast, and that’s their black film. I want us in every genre—sci-fi, romance, period pieces—that is really my fight.

This is what I want as well. I want black films and TV shows to be seen as more than just the “urban” film/show of the year. Gina mentions that Scandal isn’t a black show–and neither is How to Get Away with Murder–but they have black leads and that often makes people want to dump them into an “urban” category, but that’s not what they are. They are TV shows, political and law shows (however loosely they accurately portray real life haha), with black leads. They don’t have to be shoved into a box that only black people are allowed to unlock. We need more television and film with black stars and we need them in all genres. The Marvel Black Panther film isn’t out until 2017 and Will Smith’s next movie is a con movie (as fun as those are), so when will I get to see a black person leading a science-fiction movie? Or a fantasy film? I need studios to get rid of the idea that making a “black” film or show doesn’t intersect with making a romance or sci-fi/fantasy or period piece. They aren’t mutually exclusive ideas and can still appeal to wide audiences (read: white audiences too) .
I loved this article, love that Gina answered my question, and love that she and I have similar ideas on widening the genres black stars are allowed to lead in. I hope her pilot gets made, but in the meantime, I just hope that she has more films on the way, because I really enjoyed Beyond the Lights and we need more films like it.
For the rest of the article, go here: Gina Prince-Bythewood On Beyond the Lights, and Dismantling the “Black Film” Genre (Paste Magazine).

Pilot Season Diversity: Various Network Pilots

For the last few days, I’ve been showcasing some pilots being worked on this season with diverse casting. Here are some more that might be coming to our screens in the fall, but maybe I am less invested in. I found them by checking the TVLine descriptions and seeing which actors/producers are PoCs. If a show coming up with PoCs is being made but not on this list, I just didn’t notice. Definitely not an extensive list, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for more along the way.
Descriptions are from TVLine

Fresh Off the Boat (Comedy)
EPs | Nahnatchka Kahn (Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23), Jake Kasdan, and Melvin Mar
It’s the 90’s and hip hop loving Eddie is growing up in suburban Orlando, raised by an immigrant father who is obsessed with all things American and an immigrant mother who is often bewildered by white culture. With his father owning and operating an All-American Steakhouse chain, this loving family of FOB (“fresh off the boat”) Taiwanese Americans try to live the American dream while still maintaining their cultural identity and sense of family. [ABC]

I hope this makes it just because its an ethnicity we don’t get to see much of on television. The specifics of Asian culture is often grossly glossed over. I went to school with Asian students with families from all over the continent, so I got a chance to learn about different aspects of Asian life and how each nationality differs from each other, but most Americans don’t know Asian from being specifically Chinese or Japanese. Just because TV is entertainment, doesn’t mean you should never learn anything about different people.

How to Get Away With Murder (Drama)
EPs | Peter Nowalk (Grey’s Anatomy), Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers
A sexy, suspense-driven legal thriller about a group of ambitious law students and their brilliant, mysterious criminal defense professor who become entangled in a murder plot that will rock the entire university and change the course of their lives. [ABC]

No guarantees on who the casting will be for this one, but as a Shonda Rhimes show, it is sure to have color-blind casting.

Untitled Kevin Hart Project (Comedy)
EPs | Kevin Hart, Dave Becky, Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan (Community)
Based on Kevin Hart’s life and stand-up, it takes a candid look at the post-divorce life of a couple trying to forge a friendship for the sake of their kids, despite differences. [ABC]

Kevin Hart has been everywhere. He has like 4 movies out, 3 shows in development, and who knows what else. I don’t know if that over-saturation is stifling his true funniness (some people have said his stand-up special wasn’t as good as the previous ones), but hopefully this turns out good. Kevin Hart is funny and we have zero black sitcoms on network TV. If this AND Blackish get greenlit, that would make a grand total of 2. #sigh

The Flash (Drama)
EPs | Greg Berlanti (Arrow), Andrew Kreisberg, Geoff Johns, David Nutter, Melissa Kellner Berman
DIRECTOR | David Nutter (Arrow)
CAST | Grant Gustin (Glee), Jesse L. Martin (Law & Order), Danielle Panabaker (Shark) and Rick Cosnett (The Vampire Diaries)
The Arrow spin-off follows Barry Allen, a Central City assistant police forensics investigator with a tragic past.

Jesse L. Martin is all I have to say. I bit token-esque, but I’ll let it go lol.

Cabot College (Comedy)
EPs | Matt Hubbard, Tina Fey, Robert Carlock, Pam Fryman, David Miner
DIRECTOR | Pam Fryman (How I Met Your Mother)
CAST | Bonnie Dennison (Third Watch), Jack Cutmore-Scott, Brandon Jones, Margaret Cho (Drop Dead Diva)
A women’s college begins accepting men for the first time in its history.

While I’ll give any new show from Tina a chance, it featuring Margaret Cho is a plus in the diversity factor. Also Pam Fryman from HIMYM fame is a plus for me.

Empire (Drama)
EPs | Danny Strong (The Butler), Lee Daniels (The Butler), Brian Grazer, Francie Calfo
DIRECTOR | Lee Daniels (The Butler)
A unique family drama set in the world of a hip-hop empire [FOX]

I probably wouldn’t watch this, but it could be a great black drama, which are even harder to name than black comedies…

Mr. Robinson (Comedy) — ORDERED TO SERIES
EPs | Mark Cullen and Rob Cullen (Back in the Game), Howard Klein, Mark Schulman
CAST | Craig Robinson (The Office), Larenz Tate (House of Lies), Amanda Lund, Jean Smart (Harry’s Law, Hawaii Five-0)
A talented musician adjusts to his new life as a middle school music teacher, where he maneuvers precocious kids, teacher politics, and the temptations of single moms. [NBC]

This one’s already been ordered to series and stars Office alum Craig Robinson. So there will be at least one new black sitcom coming in fall. It sounds very similar to the Steve Harvey Show, so I’ll have to check it out to see how it’s different/updated for the new millennium.
It surprises me not one bit that none of these shows are for CBS… I don’t remember any for the CW either (and with it’s WB/UPN  strong PoC cast roots, this is sad to say).
IO’m excited for all of these shows featuring people of color. It’s about time we got some new faces on our TV screens. Hopefully these survive pilot season and we get to at least give them a test run in September.
for more, check TVLine’s Pilot Scoop
 

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What I Love About Key and Peele

Key and Peele is brilliant comedy and exactly what I want more of on television.

What I mean when I say that is that Key and Peele are black comedians, but the things they joke about and goof on aren’t always things that are considered apart of black culture. Sure, they do sketches on smoking weed and ridiculous football player names (which, while might be “considered” common of black media, it could also be seen in a white comedians sketch show. things get tinted to be about one culture, but so many things are actually universal), but they also referenced Of Mice and Men, Les Mis and, in tonight’s episode, Ratatouille and mafia movies.
These are not things that one would normally think you’d see in a black comedians sketch show, but it’s a perfect sampling for the fact that black people are more than just the stereotype, sidekicks. We like the same things everyone else does, just with a sprinkling of our particular experience as black people. A movie or TV show that stars was written by a black person CAN appeal to the masses, because what we offer is the same thing that white writers/stars offer.
Key and Peele is brilliant and I’m glad it is being appreciated by audiences of all types.

Bill Cosby says:

“I’ve seen this movie before,” Bill Cosby said in a recent interview. “How is it that there are people of color who are CEOs of companies, that are presidents of universities, but there is no reflection of that on the networks? It is arrogance and it is narcissism. Even the commercials have more black people than the programs.”

http://articles.latimes.com/2011/nov/19/entertainment/la-et-1119-black-family-20111119 (Unfortunately the show discussed in this article doesn’t seem to have survived–I haven’t heard much on it–though for me, the title is ineffective to start with. Too long and a bit clunky). 

Even on shows starring white leads, there aren’t characters in these high professions. Can we get that at least?