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Redemption, Receptions & Adoption: The 2009 Cable TCA Summer Press Tour – Feature – Part II

Continuing on in structure, the essence of cable is showing its diversity whether it be in the home or in the workplace. The key is to keep it fresh.

BET The network is taking the balance of the beauty and power that is woman with two effective new productions. Working the gate with a highly acclaimed new film “Precious”, Monique first will be entering the talk show circuit in full view. She makes the point that Oprah came before her. She says it is “time for a big double belly” because she says “we are beautiful” and that most of the TV execs are big women like her. She says it is still OK to be big but one needs to be big and healthy. That is the main reason why she said she lost some weight. She said that “I can’t get too much smaller because my head is big”.

Monica, by rite, is doing her own drama reality show which she says will highlight the visceral nature of her career. She explains that at the beginning of her career, she was brought to see Clive Davis. If a song felt good to her, Davis would tell her what the sound was. At a certain point, the people who were originally at Arista Records had left. Monica had to get more control but it took a lot more this time to get close to Davis and to Barry [Weiss]. She relates “I was a little persistant and they probably thought I was a little crazy” but “nothing was off limits”. Her biggest lesson has been that people believe in alot of different things but that her belief in God pushes her.

She also relates her connection to Michael Jackson and his inspiration. She had lost a person to suicide nearly 10 years ago. Somebody who had been working with her sold the story to National Enquirer. She hopes the same thing does not happen to Jackson’s children. He met him on two occasions. The first was after the birth of her oldest son. He started singing “Angel Of Mine”. She said that he struck her “more like a mama” with that kind of protective instinct. He said she was “really cool and really fun”. He asked her to come play Dorothy at his birthday party and she sang “Heal The World” with him. His last words to her was that he told her that she was talented and not to ever forget it.

Her biggest challenge in her music is that she wants a producer that is not a diva. She sees herself as an old school singer which in her mind means that she doesn’t need anything but good music. Missy Elliot and Dallas Austin, she cites, are like that. We shall see.

TLC Learning is always a form of healing. The first permeation after the continual drama that is Jon and Kate rests in the ability of the real world with a big of entertainment. Jon apparently in struggling to make pizza while Kate is putting up tents.

Serving and the drama behind it fuels “Masters Of Reception” which is produced by Regis & Kelly’s Kelly Ripa and her husband Marc Consuelos who spoke via satellite. The functions they follow are much more ornate than their nuptials ever were. Ripa relates that their experience was the exact opposite. They had an elopement to Vegas that cost $200 including plane fare. After being guests at many mega weddings, they wanted to show everyone how the Frugillo Family out of New Jersey makes people’s dreams seem to come true effortlessly. Marc interjects that this is a “feel good Jersey show” which Ripa mirrors that the show is a “love note” to New Jersey saying that “these are hard working people that throw the party of a lifetime six times a night”.

Consuelos relates that TLC was the right place because the network shows the humanity of people while not being overproduced. He likens the idea of the family to theirs saying that there is a team mentality with Ripa jumping in that “they are not letting us make wedding cakes”.

“Police Women Of Broward County” pushes the envelope in a different direction taking people behind the sheet for the approach of female law enforcement in South Florida. Ana Murillo, who is a Broward Sheriff’s Office detective, relates that when she is at work she is at play but when she goes home is when the real work begins. She deals with alot of people screaming but they can do it all they want, it is not going to change how she does her job. Andrea Penoyer, also a detective, explains that she was raised by her dad. The first time she did a ride along she loved it. She though is realizing that, no matter how good you are, you are not bulletproof. Shelunda Cooper, who works in the department as a deputy, says with a sense of the sardonic that the job offers great opportunity in terms of the kind of situations she can get into. She relates a story about how she got a call where a woman lost it because she was “really pissed about a hair in her steak”. Julie Bower, another detective on the force, works the division based in prostitution where she goes undercover as a street walker. She says her being on the air while not deter hooking in Broward. Johns will continue coming up to her.

Science Channel To invest in the advent of new minds and bringing the game show contingent up to snuff, “Head Games” works on the aspect of scientific riddles. Produced by Whoopi Goldberg, who brought the vivaciousness back to Hollywood Squares, the show has pedigree. It just matters if it has the audience. Whoopi, who had flown from NY to Pasadena on a quick break from her duties on ABC’s “The View”, says that this show is surprisingly her forte. Of course, any show which brings to the forefront the fact that fleas can jump with velocity of the space shuttle warrants more specific thoughts. Whoopi explains that she liked science in school but it didn’t seem like practical information (even though she wanted to be an astronaut). Greg Propps, who is hosting the show, says that the format will be questions surrounded by answers bounded by format.

Discovery The balance integrated with the channel which is very specified within the nature structure is placing more of their new elements within a societal basis. “Out Of Egypt” follows Dr. Kara Cooney, an assistant professor of Egyptian Art & Architecture at UCLA, who investigates the tombs and temples in this ancient land. She admits the idea interests her as an academic but might be considered macabre. This arena, of course, is a colonial science that has been past pillaged by the British as well as the Americans. Cooney says that people are still fascinated by this culture but she wanted to motivate the asking of ancient and global questions. The different in recent years is that media has become a big part of education and the key at times is to take it into your own hands. The key, she says, is showing human moments within the journey. She has been in a graveyard at 2am in Vietnam as locals were picking up bones. She explored the catacombs of Rome. The angle is making these voyages of discovery seem intrinsic and interesting to the process of learning.

Following on Investigation Discovery, “On The Case With Paula Zahn” pursues the answers behind lingering investigations and mysteries. Zahn says that the key is invigorating the sense of the characters involved. When you delve into a sensational murder case, there becomes a certain statute of limitations in terms of what you can air. They have managed to pick up exclusive interviews because of grit and determination which is a stalwart of the industry.

weTV The two inclusive programs introduced by the channel weigh the aspect of nuclear family creation versus a new alternative perspective. The first, “Adoption Diaries” follows the aspect of the open adoption process through surrogate motherhood. Speaking first as the birth mother is Janell Haycock who carried a baby to term saying “the positive influence outweighs any negatives”. Mimi and Michael Shrall, who are the adoptive parents seem very engrossed within the possibility saying it is “the best gift we can give”. Mimi follows this up saying: “The way [this situation] is laid out, the door is open”. Michael mirrors this sentiment saying: “From the beginning [of this adoption], there was open communication” adding that Janell can be “as much as she wants to be part of his life”. Jennifer Bliss, speaking as a counselor and co-director of the Independent Adoption Center, says that the fear people have in hesitation [of this scenario] comes from boundary issues in that both sides need to know what the expectations of the situation are whether it be anything from religion to child rearing.

The second new show from the channel entitled “My Fair Wedding” angles with bridal expert David Tutera on making the nuptials of a bride come through in fantastic style. Tutera says, with every wedding, he wants it done to perfection until the very end. The end result of a great wedding is a very easy but nevertheless a long process. The network itself makes the final decision of who gets to come on the show. He himself doesn’t see the brides until three weeks before the wedding. He agrees that people, when planning their nuptials, can be “a little crazy” and “a little misdirected” but that every woman is excited about their wedding, and one has to play to that.

Sundance Channel The global and local permutations of the channel’s programming focus reflects in two of its new programs. The first, “Brick City”, takes a specific look at Newark, New Jersey and the element of bringing it back to a semblance of balance. With a gang problem and societal blight against it, the key is showing the similarities in the deep seated differences in the community. Forest Whitaker, one of the executive producers, says that “the cornerstone of difference between the two [opposing forces] is hope” and “how we move ourselves forward within the mechanics of that”. Garry McCarthy, who is the Newark Police Director, thought the idea of two gang mentors from the two rival sides of the Crips and Bloods was “a very compelling story” and that “he was willing”. He believes in the righteousness of what his department is doing because it is based in the fact that these people are human beings that are being saved. He cites his father’s example that “if you start fixing the small things, you fix the big things”.

One of the first things they did was institute a “quality of life enforcement program”. The question for him becomes: does it make sense to throw somebody in jail for drinking a Heineken on a stoop? No. But this behavior can lead to something else. Say this same person drinks four beers and breaks it over somebody’s head. There has be a way, in McCarthy’s mind, to curb that. He says that since this initiative was started, there have been incredible numbers to support its credibility citing that Newark’s murder rate is flat at this point. He agrees though that the whole system in Newark has to come together to support this because they are always fighting against the perception of what people think.

Jayda Jacques, the Queen of the Bloods in Newark [which is a Blood city] who also functions as a youth mentor, says that the importance of “Brick City” is “that fact that they show what Garry [McCarthy] and the police are doing but they are also showing our side”. What she and her Crip boyfriend Creep, who is also in the show, try to do is in her words “focusing on the kids and giving them the fruits and the seeds to make a difference”. Creep reflects that the show “is not what you are programmed to see” in the fact that “it shows the change” because the conflict between them and the police “is not as personal as one would think”. Mark Benjamin, who is also an executive producer, relates that Forest [Whitaker] himself was raised in South Central and that there is a reflection in that. This, in his mind, is very serious television but also dramatic.

The other Sundance show, which takes a much more buoyant subject, is “Man Shops Globe” which follows Keith Johnson, the Buyer-At-Large for retailer Anthropologie, as he traverses the planet for new and interesting placations for their consumers. Alot of what he says they do, as a fashion company, is driven by pattern. The key is to finds items that are not found so easily in the States. He tries to buy in the form of an aesthetic. He relates that, at one time, he had an open ticket to go around the world to track down essential items but that now he has to come back every two weeks. In terms of taping the TV show, he was a little petrified by how the vendors would respond. He says it really helps promote the essence of Africa since a lot of items and designers down there are so underrated and unknown and that it is important to showcase “these handmade beautiful products”.

TV One This competitor in track with BET takes on different perceptions of ideals and keys them into some of their new shows. With “Life After”, it shows how different celebrities and well known personas deal with major turning points in their lives and careers. In this season, both Al Reynolds and Omarosa are profiled. Reynolds says that the misconception of him is that he has been called everything from “gay” to “freeloading”. He likes the way this show operates because the approach was uncensored yet comfortable. He was a banker on Wall Street before he married Star Jones and now teaches as a professor laughingly stating that his students didn’t know who he was at the university although “after a while they got to know.” Omarosa, much speculated on during “The Apprentice”, is very forthcoming on the money she made on reality shows but doesn’t seem to care what people think. She says in terms of her career, reality shows are much more satisfying economically [which she relates with a hint of glubness]. She says the new kids of reality are “numb” because “the new generation is not shocked at all”.

Two other shows take a more practical viewpoint across the viewpoint. “Washington Watch With Roland Martin” is a Sunday morning political show which allows for the intrinsic perspective. Martin says that he thinks it is important to place the fact out there “when you have 35% of black men born out of Chicago not graduating high school”. April Ryan, a White House Correspondent also working on the show, says that “the labor figures and issues of the the black employment rate” need to come out and be specified. Martin says that although “he doesn’t live in the beltway”, he likes the “idea that we are watching Washington”.

“Mario’s Green House” by comparison takes the young Van Peeples away from the grit of his films and places him in the process of living a cleaner life by changing certain life elements. Peeples relates that when he first got out of school, he worked briefly for the US Department Of Environment Protection. His mother he says has recently starting comparing him to Ed Begley while his dad Melvin has warned him that he will be coming by to embarass him on the show. The key for him was, if he was going to do a reality show, to do one with “some nutritional value”.

With the distinctiveness of different cable channels, the different between all of them in terms of programming whether it be Sundance, Discovery or TLC is applying broad strokes and a variety of different feelings to the play. The key is the recruitment of audiences in identifying and following with those ideals that apply to them the most.