African Americans and TVLatest News and Opinion
Posted Wednesday 9/19/18 at 10:06PM EDT
Thad Mumford, Emmy-winning black TV writer who blazed a trail writing for white shows in the 1970s, dies at 67
Source: The New York Times
Mumford wrote for M*A*S*H and Maude in the 1970s, when black writers in white writers' rooms were extremely rare. Mumford, who won an Emmy for The Electric Company, also wrote for black shows like Good Times and A Different World, as well as white shows like Coach and ALF. "I don’t want to be called a black writer or a black producer,” he once said. “I’m a producer and a writer who happens to be black.”
Posted Monday 9/10/18 at 2:00PM EDT
Netflix execs are silent on a Louis CK comeback, but they address concerns over the lack of black female comedians and too many comedy specials
Source: The New York Times
The New York Times' comedy critic Jason Zinoman sat down with Lisa Nishimura, Netflix’s vice president of original documentary and comedy programming, and Robbie Praw, the director of original stand-up comedy. When he asked about the potential of Louis CK returning with a new standup special, Zinoman reported that they paused to reflect for a minute before a publicist said they wouldn't be able to answer. They also addressed concerns over the lack of black female comedians with Netflix specials in 2017 and 2018. When asked if Netflix has a responsibility to do better, Praw said: “I think we have a responsibility, but it’s also what our members want.” The next day, Praw emailed Zinoman saying that having so few black women standup specials has been a failure. Since their talk, Netflix has signed Tiffany Haddish and Wanda Sykes to do standup specials. As for whether Netflix is oversaturating the market by putting out too many standup specials, Praw said: “We would never look at musicians and say let’s put out 10 albums this year." ALSO: Netflix's silence about Louis CK's return is concerning.
Posted Sunday 9/09/18 at 12:19PM EDT
Emmys make history with black actors sweeping all guest categories
The Creative Arts Emmy Awards had a historic night on Saturday with black actors winning all guest acting categories in comedy and drama. Tiffany Haddish won the Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for hosting Saturday Night Live, while Katt Williams won Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for his appearance on Atlanta. Ron Cephas Jones won Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for This Is Us after being nominated for the second year in a row, while Samira Wiley won Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for The Handmaid's Tale. The sweep seemed all the more likely when a whopping 11 black actors were nominated in the guest acting categories.
- Megan Amram fails to win an Emmy for An Emmy for Megan, vows that Season 2 will be about "revenge"
- Rick and Morty wins its first Emmy, for Outstanding Animated Program
- Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker says "never say never" to a "USS Callister" spinoff TV series after it won the Emmy for Outstanding Made for Television Movie
- Game of Thrones won seven awards at Creative Arts Emmys
- James Corden picked up two Emmys, including one for "Outstanding Actor" for his portrayal of James Corden in James Corden's Next James Corden
- Read the complete list of Creative Arts Emmy winners
# TOPICS: 70th Primetime Emmy Awards, An Emmy for Megan, Black Mirror, Game of Thrones, James Corden’s Next James Corden, Rick and Morty, James Corden, Katt Williams, Megan Amram, Ron Cephas Jones, Samira Wiley, Tiffany Haddish, African Americans and TV, Diversity, Emmys
Posted Thursday 8/30/18 at 10:02PM EDT
LeBron James' The Shop on HBO is an unfiltered glimpse of the black experience in present-day America
The barbershop-set talk show, which premiered this week, "lovingly seizes the aura and aesthetics of the barbershop, historically a revered safe space and bastion of unbridled camaraderie in the black community," says Derreck Johnson. "No topic is off-limits within these walls. The shop itself is almost a cast member. It’s not just a place to get a shave and a haircut. A barbershop worth its weight in sheen oil can shape-shift into a local news outlet, therapy session, flea market, comedy club, or soapbox during any given day. For the pilot episode of The Shop, LeBron pulls no punches while he discusses the struggles of being a black man in America, even for someone of his stature."
Posted Monday 8/27/18 at 10:30PM EDT
"The Omarosa Effect": The former Apprentice villain and Trump advisor has done real harm to cultural representation of black women
"Like the archetype of the 'strong black woman' (i.e., Olivia Pope), Omarosa and her imitators position themselves as impenetrable, unbreakable, and unemotional," says Robin M. Boylorn. "Real black women are not that strong or magical or unaffected by pain. The Omarosa trope is what happens when your fear, anxiety, sadness, and vulnerability are edited out of the version of your life that everyone can see." Boylorn adds: "Omarosa taught us to see her as a caricature whose calculating ways, business savvy, and money-seeking hustle took her from the boardroom to the penthouse to the White House. She really did win the prize she’d initially sought on a television show, but she got more than she bargained for. In real life as in reality TV, it’s not so easy to turn a villain into a victim."
Posted Thursday 8/23/18 at 10:35PM EDT
Turner Classic Movies to examine "The Black Experience in Film" in partnership with the African-American Critics Association
From Sept. 4 to Sept. 27, TCM's black film retrospective will cover movies from the 1920s through the 1990s, including To Kill a Mockingbird, Hollywood Shuffle and Stir Crazy.
Posted Monday 8/13/18 at 2:35PM EDT
Insecure tackles the lack of black sitcom reboots
Source: Entertainment Weekly
Season 3's "show within a show" spoof, Kev'yn, was inspired by Roseanne and the flurry of 1990s sitcom reboots, but also as a tribute to the black sitcoms of the same era like Martin, Living Single and A Different World. "Since nobody wants to reboot a black show, we’re going to reboot our show," said showrunner Prentice Penny. So he enlisted Living Single's Kim Fields to direct the fake comedy Kev'yn, starring A Different World's Darryl M. Bell, Living Single's Erika Alexander and former MTV VJ Bill Bellamy. “It was like, ‘Where is our representation?'” says Penny. “They’re rebooting Will & Grace, Full House, Roseanne obviously. We’re like, ‘They can’t reboot Living Single, Martin, A Different World?’ So many of these black shows made these networks what they are today, but when it comes to our value and people wanting to see us, why aren’t we doing Living Single?” Issa Rae called Kev'yn "a 90s dream come true."
Posted Tuesday 7/24/18 at 8:03PM EDT
Titans star Anna Diop disables her Instagram comments after receiving racist abuse
The release of the DC Universe trailer for Titans last week reignited racist conversations about Diop's portrayal of Starfire, aka Koriand'r, prompting her disable comments on her Instagram account, according to Syfywire. Diop has been receiving racial abuse ever since she was cast because -- even though she's portraying a black character -- Starfire was drawn as being light-skinned black while Diop has darker skin. As Jason Johnson explains, Diop's detractors say she is "is too 'black' and 'too dark' to play an alien black woman who’s supposed to be beautiful. White cosplay websites continue to promote the fantasy that Starfire is a white woman painted orange but she definitely can’t be a dark-skinned, black woman." He adds: "The unwritten rule for black women in Hollywood is that if you want to carry a sword, fly into space or fight aliens, you’ve got to be racially ambiguous."
Posted Thursday 7/12/18 at 5:29PM EDT
More people of color were nominated for Emmys this year than ever before
Source: TV Guide
According to TV Guide's tally, 38 people of color were nominated in the top categories, form Lin-Manuel Miranda to Sandra Oh to Trevor Noah. That's nearly double from 2016, when 21 people of color were nominated. ALSO: Sandra Oh and Darren Criss' nominations show the two ways to diversity casting.
# TOPICS: Emmys, 70th Primetime Emmy Awards, Darren Criss, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Sandra Oh, Trevor Noah, African Americans and TV, Asian Americans and TV, Diversity, Indian-Americans and TV, Latinos and TV
Posted Tuesday 7/03/18 at 3:01PM EDT
Anne of Green Gables gets its first black character thanks to Netflix's Anne with an E
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
Canadian actor Dalmar Abuzeid will play the Afro-Caribbean character Sebastian Lacroix on the Netflix drama from Canada's CBC. Creator Moira Walley-Beckett said she wanted her dark reboot of the classic novel to be multicultural. "When I was first conceiving Anne with an E, I was troubled by the lack of diversity in the book, especially since Canada is such a diverse nation, both then and now," she says.
Posted Monday 6/25/18 at 6:21AM EDT
Netflix airs "Strong Black Lead" commercial during BET Awards, two days after firing its PR chief for using the N-word
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
The commercial that ran during the BET Awards, featuring prominent black Netflix stars and creators from Spike Lee to Ava DuVernay to Laverne Cox, had been in the works for months before head of public relations Jonathan Friedland was fired on Friday after multiple uses of the N-word during meetings. According to The Hollywood Reporter, "the commercial had been conceived months ago by the company’s Strong Black Lead Team, a cross-functional group of employees spearheaded by black executives at Netflix. The spot was inspired by the legendary 1958 photo 'A Great Day in Harlem,' which featured prominent jazz musicians of the time."
Posted Friday 5/25/18 at 7:45PM EDT
Racial jokes on network sitcoms too often reinforce stereotypes instead of subverting them
There is nothing wrong with jokes about race, says Yoonj Kim, who spent a week in March studying every network sitcom for racial jokes. But, he adds, "there’s a crucial distinction between gratuitous one-stop references and thought-provoking humor: The latter will feature another moment in the same episode that dispels or shows another side to the stereotype being invoked. Context turns the joke from a zero-sum remark to subversive humor that serves as a segue into meaningful commentary. To put it in facetiously simple terms, it’s the difference between 'No offense, but you’re really ugly,' and 'No offense, but you’re really ugly when you do this.'"
Posted Friday 5/25/18 at 7:45PM EDT
Analyzing Black Lightning's first season
Source: The Middle Spaces
The CW DC Comics series was about the afro-present, in contrast to the afro-futurism of Marvel's Black Panther.
Posted Tuesday 5/22/18 at 10:30PM EDT
Issa Rae: Insecure was inspired by the predominantly black TV shows I grew up on: Living Single, A Different World, Girlfriends
Those kind of shows just disappeared, says Rae in a GQ profile. “The takeaway was ‘Agh, black people are so dope. Where are they at on TV right now? Now I want my own version,'" she says. Still, Rae is surprised by the demographics of her audience. “I think what most surprised me was that the audience wasn't 90 percent black,” she says. “I think only 30 to 40 percent of the audience are black people. But I'm like, okay, HBO isn't accessible to everyone. Like, I didn't have HBO. I used my friend's password until the show got picked up.”
Posted Monday 5/07/18 at 10:00PM EDT
Dear White People's Justin Simien pens "love letter" analyzing Donald Glover's "This Is America"
The Dear White People creator, who is four months older than Glover, was blown away by Childish Gambino's "This Is America," which was released on the same weekend as the return of his Netflix series. "For the second time this year I’ve been shifted by Donald Glover’s work,” Simien said in the first of many tweets analyzing the viral music video. “He forced me to confront the effects of consumerism on the lives of people of color in Atlanta Robbin’ Season..and now I feel compelled to stare deeply into the dog and pony show of black popular culture through black culture with ‘This Is America.'" Simien proceeded to analyze the thought-provoking images from the music video. "But this is America, Gambino tells us," tweeted Simien. "It's brutal, but either you participate in the space American culture has allotted you (even if only to play Jim Crow as many black entertainers have and continue to do since the country's founding) or you perish."