This weekend I attended NBC’s Television Critics Association Press Tour. The tour was designed to give the press an inside look at their upcoming season and rub elbows with the stars of your favorite primetime shows.
The heaviest hitters of the event were of course, “Deception”, starring Meagan Good and “Celebrity Apprentice.” We’ve all seen the billboards, the promos on television and the online buzz. The big question is, will “Deception”, the second show on primetime television with a black woman as the lead role (the first being NBC’s “Scandal” starring Kerry Washington), survive the hardcore critics of American television? Especially with most of them being Caucasian?
The overall response to the panel discussion was a heavy concentration on NBC’s willingness to bring a black woman to the forefront. On hearing that she was cast for the lead role of Joanna Padget Locasto, I asked Meagan Good what was the first thing she did after she got the word, her response was “I cried in my car.”
Asking the same question of her co-star Laz Alonso (Will Moreno), he stated “I picked up the phone and called Meagan,” saying that the “Californication” co-star looked out for him for the role.
Good, who’s real life father is a veteran of the LAPD and stepmother who has time with the FBI, drew from her experience to be an investigative sleuth looking into the murder of a friend.
As for the NBC executives who made the decision to cast Good as the lead, “Meagan Good is a home run.” With race being a front row conversation for the panel, NBC says “Shame on us if we cast 8 or 9 regulars [for a show] and they are all white.”
“Deception” premieres January 7th at 10/9 Central.
All-Star Celebrity Apprentice
One of the livelier panels was that of the “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice”. Starting off with a comical promo in which the stars speak on their previous appearances of Trump’s maniacal celebrity charity circus, Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth says after her last season on the show, “I just can’t argue anymore,” (with a comedic tone of course). We first learned of the boardroom vixen in the first season when her not-so-sweet personality garnered more than her fair share of frienemies. “You can’t be concerned about what you look like on reality tv” Manigault-Stallworth says.
While many of the celebs were open about saying “no” and “never again” to another season (at first), celebrity contestant Lil’ Jon, the King of Crunk, says that his main motivation for the show was to fight for his charity, which promotes diabetes awareness. Jon, who’s real name is Jonathan Smith, says that his mother was stricken with diabetes and his famous music friend Phife (A Tribe Called Quest) suffers from the disease. Lil’ Jon says that many successful rappers believe that they are invincible and don’t think about things like healthy eating. He hopes to change that by raising money for his charity, the American Diabetes Association in the “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice”.
On her competition Stephen Baldwin, Omarosa told critics “Stephen Baldwin will stab you in the front….he’s the new villain.”
When asked about the cattiness of the women on the show, Lisa Renna simply stated “women can be bitchy.” That is all.
Apprentice star Trace Adkins spoke on his decision to be on the show despite his personal feelings. “I’m forced to be with individuals that I normally don’t enjoy being around.”
Guess who’s not coming to dinner at the Adkins home?
Adkins says his main motivation for coming on the upcoming season of the show was as clear as day. “My house burned down.” Again, that is all.
The premiere of All Star Celebrity Apprentice is March 3 at 8/9 p.m. Central.
A quick nod to NBC’s second season of “Revolution” starring Giancarlo Esposito. The show made it’s debut last season with a midseason finale that won its slot for viewers 18-49. The show is based upon the concept of a dark world, with the complete loss of electricity and underlying scandal among the cliques that form to survive. Esposito stars as Lt. Neville, a tough southern military general. On the working of stunts on set, Esposito has “nearly broken a rib and almost broke someone’s nose” as he demonstrates his strength as Lt. Neville. It was stated that many of the fight scenes on set are learned the day of filming.
With the concept of darkness falling across the entire world, Esposito says that the premise of the show has definitely impacted his personal life. For Christmas, he and his four children (ages 9-16) decided to skip the tradition of gift giving in 2012 and focused on family.
Revolution premieres Thursday, January 31st at 10/9 central.
Do No Harm
It was a true delight to see star of the Broadway stage and the first black woman to win a Tony Award, Phylicia Rashad, as Vanessa Young in the new show “Do No Harm.” Rashad’s character is the head of neurosurgery who works to understand the mind of main character Dr. Jason Cole (Steven Pasquale) who suffers from a split personality that takes over his life.
Rashad is best known from the hit television show “The Cosby Show” which was the third longest-running American sitcom with a primarily African-American cast. Her character as Dr. Young, however, isn’t all warm and fuzzy like Claire Olivia Hanks Huxtable, Esq. Rashad says that she tapped the expertise of her best friend from college, an OB-GYN, to get in the mind of a high-ranking female physician. Her response, “So she has a like history like I do, she has ancestors like I do, she went to school and had teachers like I had, she has a serious work ethic, and I understand that. There is an heir of detachment, because there has to be, they train that way.”
“You maneuver and hold situations together so that this hospital runs smoothly and stays high in ranking. That’s your job.” Says Rashad. On Dr. Young’s sense of pride, Rashad says “Yes, she has to have that.” “In her personal life, she can’t control those things and the people that are close to her. She’s a very emotional person and she holds it. She is going to hold it. She feels and she feels deeply. She holds it.”
Do No Harm premieres Thursday, January 31st at 10/9 central.
The second season of Smash is going to be a big hit with a big voice to match. That’s right. Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson returns to the theater, well, sort of, in her co-starring role of Veronica Moore, a Tony-Award winning actress who serves as inspiration to Kathryn Mcphee’s character Karen Cartwright.
Hudson’s powerhouse voice is a flashback to her “Dreamgirls” spotlight, reminding viewers the real reason why we’re gonna love her in “Smash”. She has used her experience as a character in multiple upcoming episodes as training for a stint on Broadway.
Also making an appearance is an original dreamgirl, Sheryl Lee Ralph, who, ironically, will star as the mother of Hudson’s character. Surprisingly, her character who’s name is Cynthia is not a performer.
It’s fine, just smile Sheryl. We got you, girl.
“Smash” has been nominated for a Golden Globe Award and is a fan favorite. The second season has been aptly named “Bombshell.” Who doesn’t love a story of reaching and obtaining a dream, betrayal and scandal with a heavy dose of showtunes and sing-a-longs? Not raising my hand.
Co-star of the show, Megan Hilty, replied on working with Hudson “It was incredible to get to hear her. She is a force. Her voice is like no other and she’s a genuine kind person on top of being a great talent.”
Best of luck to Hudson and Ralph in making their NBC spotlights’ successful.
Smash begins Tuesday, February 5th at 9/8 central.