‘The Real,’ ‘Exhale,’ Take New Approach to TV Talk

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The daytime show concludes its four-week test Friday on stations in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Houston and Tampa, Fla. A similar run last summer for “Bethenny” led to a syndicated berth this fall for Bethenny Frankel’s show.

“Exhale” also is getting a summer tryout but, in contrast, the ethnicity of its five African-American co-hosts is front and center on Aspire, a black-oriented cable channel.

The goal is “to focus on topics that are important to the African-American woman and to the African-American family and to the African-American community,” said Paul Butler, general manager of Aspire, which launched “Exhale” as a weekly nighttime series in June on the channel’s first anniversary. It airs Wednesday at 8 p.m., 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. EDT.

Issues including relationships, health, beauty, careers and financial planning are discussed in what Butler said are more than “30-second sound bites” by hosts Angela Burt-Murray, Erin Jackson, Issa Rae, Rene Syler and Malinda Williams, who are joined by doctors and other experts as well as celebrities.

The panel’s ethnicity “changes the focus of the conversation,” said Syler, a writer and TV anchor. “You wouldn’t necessarily see something that was of care and concern specifically to black women when only one African-American is represented. These are issues you talk about in your living room.”

The decision on whether “Exhale” will return for a second year is pending as the audience weighs in. Syler suggested that non-black women give the show a try.

“There are issues we talk about that transcend race. There are issues that all women understand: ‘Am I on the right path, am I going to find a soul mate?'” she said. Talk shows like “Exhale” provide a sounding board and “make it safe or you to own your own feelings.”

(Photo: AP)

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