ABOVE PHOTO: Guests on Color TV Week (l to r) BerNadette Stanis, Ernest Thomas, Lynn Hamilton with host Darryl Bell.
Photo credit: Gerard Burkhart
Silver Spring, MD – TV One is set to take a fresh approach to Our History Month this February with Way Black When, a look back at dramatic, musical, and comedic portrayals of African American life from the 70s, 80s and early 90s. During primetime (all times ET) each weeknight, TV One will spotlight a variety of black cult classics from film to television with in-depth, provocative commentary from a star-studded gathering of industry experts including actresses and actors, producers and musical artists who helped create, or were influenced by these celebrated productions. During each of the four weeks during February, TV One will focus on one of four genres popular with African Americans: Comedy/Variety; Classic Films/Film Soundtracks; Classic Sitcoms, and Blaxploitation Movies.
LORDS OF COMEDY WEEK (Monday, Feb. 1 – Friday, Feb. 5) - TV One kicks off Way Black When in high style with a week devoted to the shows of two legendary comic geniuses: Richard Pryor and Flip Wilson, whose work changed the face and tone of television with their colorful characters, and irreverent brands of sketch comedy. Viewers will be treated to encore presentations of The Flip Wilson Show, the first successful broadcast network variety series starring an African American, and the never before re-aired The Richard Pryor Show, which first ran on NBC in 1977. Comedian Mark Curry will host the week, joined by actress/comedienne Rain Pryor (Richard Pryor’s daughter), and comedians Doug Williams and Tommy Davidson, who are slated to highlight the impact these groundbreaking comedians had on television, and the legacy they left for the troop of black comedians that followed them. Of course, in addition to his famous skits, Flip Wilson also signed many popular singers to provide entertainment, including The Jackson Five, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, and Stevie Wonder, to name just a few. The Flip Wilson Show will air each night at 8 and 8:30 PM, followed by The Richard Pryor Show at 9 PM.
SOUL SOUNDTRACKS WEEK (Monday, Feb. 8 – Friday, Feb. 12) -During week two of Way Black When, every night at 8 PM, TV One will honor the films with soundtracks that underscored our lives…that we got our groove on to…such as the hip hop classic, Krush Groove and the quintessential coming-of-age treasure, Cooley High. TV One will take viewers on a trip back to the “blue light basement” with our host, producer, rapper, and comedian Chris “Kid” Reid (House Party), who is joined by famed musical artists Brian McKnight, Johnny Gill and El DeBarge, along with producer/director Warrington Hudlin, president of the Black Filmmaker Foundation, actor/singer/keyboardist Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs and stage, television, and film actor Glynn Turman. The movie schedule is: Monday, Feb 8 – Cooley High; Tuesday, Feb. 9 – Krush Groove; Wednesday, Feb. 10 – Claudine; Thursday, Feb. 11 – Crooklyn; and Friday, Feb. 12 – Juice.
COLOR TV WEEK (Monday, Feb. 15 – Friday, Feb. 19) – From 8-10 PM each night, the third week of Way Black When focuses on classic black situation comedies that not only became a proving ground for some of Hollywood’s most successful black actresses/actors, but an authentic reflection of African American life as well. This week will be hosted by actor Darryl Bell from A Different World, one of the featured sitcoms. He will be joined by a panel that includes other actors and actresses from this week’s featured sitcoms including Ernest Thomas and Haywood Nelson from What’s Happening!; The Jeffersons’ Marla Gibbs; Good Times’ Jimmie Walker and BernNadette Stanis; Lynn Hamilton from Sanford and Son; and Ajai Sanders from A Different World. Each night a 30-minute special featuring a panel discussion with cast members from the featured series will kick off the evening at 8 PM, followed from 8:30 – 10 PM with episodes from the popular sitcoms. The featured sitcoms include: On Monday, Feb. 15, What’s Happening; on Tuesday, Feb. 16, Good Times; on Wednesday, Feb. 17, Sanford and Son; on Thursday, Feb. 18, The Jeffersons; and on Friday, Feb. 19, A Different World.
BLACK POWER CINEMA WEEK – (Monday, Feb. 22 – Friday, Feb. 26) The final week is devoted to Blaxploitation films, beginning each weeknight at 8 PM. The weekwill be hosted by actor/director Mario Van Peebles (New Jack City, Heartbreak Ridge, Carlito’s Way: Rise To Power), with a panel that includes his father, the legendary director Melvin Van Peebles, and actors Michael Jai White (Full Contact, Spawn, Bus Stop), Fred Williamson (Black Caesar, Hell Up In Harlem, Three The Hard Way), Anne-Marie Johnson (In The Heat of The Night, Hollywood Shuffle, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka); LisaRaye, (The Players’ Club, The Wood) star of TV One’s upcoming reality series LisaRaye: The Real McCoy; and Roger E. Mosley (Magnum PI, Leadbelly, The Mack). These film stars and directors will be on hand to offer viewers an inside look at what it took to create these iconic films, and how those portrayals influenced the lives of that era’s African American audiences as well as Hollywood’s acceptance of black talent in front and behind the camera. The film lineup is Monday, Feb. 22 – The Mack; Tuesday, Feb. 23 – Cleopatra Jones; Wednesday., Feb. 24 – Sweet Jesus Preacher Man; Thursday, Feb. 25 – Foxy Brown; and Friday, Feb. 26 – Three The Hard Way.
“The manner in which our culture has been portrayed in film and television provides an interesting and provocative lens through which to view our history over the past 40 years,” said TV One Senior Vice President of Original Programming Toni Judkins. “With the help of a number of the actors, comedians, producers and directors involved, we not only want to spotlight that programming, but tell a story about how it relates to where our culture and society are today.”
Way Black When is being produced for TV One by Kusza Productions. Executive producer for Kusza is Michael Derek Bohusz. TV One executives in charge of production are Robyn Greene Arrington and Craig Henry