Members of the AAFCA, the African American Film Critics Association, will be on TCM for the "Black Experience On Film" nights. These are critics you rarely see on national television. In fact, this month may mark the first time many TV viewers see black female film critics. The Los Angeles Times is the only outlet I can think of that reports on what awards the African American Film Critics Association gives out annually. And don't think that the AAFCA only honors black actors. It gave acting awards to JK Simmons for WHIPLASH (he later won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor of 2014) and Frances McDormand for THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI (she later won the Oscar for Best Actress of 2017).
The one awkward programming element I see in this special event is that the TCM "Black Experience On Film" spotlight premieres on Sept. 4th, hours after the TCM daytime airing of HOLIDAY INN, a major 1942 Paramount musical with several characters in a blackface production number saluting Abraham Lincoln ("...who was it set the darkies free? Abraham! Abraham!") and sung by Bing Crosby. In blackface. HOLIDAY INN should've been scheduled for another day.
Films are my passion. I took Film Journalism courses at Marquette University. After graduation, I was the first black film critic seen on Milwaukee TV. I did that for four years, plus celebrity interviews. I got hired away by New York City in 1985. I had my own talk show on VH1. That terrific opportunity was in the late 80s. In 1992, I started years of work on local and network TV news shows in New York City.
From 1992 to 2006, white broadcast executives frequently asked me "Do you know anything about movies?" and "Have you ever done any entertainment news pieces?" when I pushed for auditions and equal opportunities. It was always frustrating to feel that my skills and history had been overlooked. That's why I keep pushing for race/gender diversity and inclusion. I explain more in the podcast episode. Also, I do feel that we black TCM fans have been starved for representations of ourselves in its host segments over the last couple of years. We have the knowledge and interest to participate in the general classic film conversation.
Please watch members of the African American Film Critics Association on TCM this month. It is important that they're seen. Now here's some of my stuff to help underline points I make in the podcast. I'll start with clips from my VH1 host years.
Meryl Streep told me how seeing Liza Minnelli in a 1977 Broadway musical directed by Martin Scorcese changed her approach to acting.
VH1 flew me to London to interview Paul McCartney.
Here are samples of my network and local TV program work from the 1990s to 2000.
To hear my podcast, just go here and scroll down to "Fall Colors on Turner Classic Movies": www.MOCHAA.podomatic.com.
Remember to check out the Lorraine Hansberry documentary that premiered on the PBS American Masters program early this year. Look for it online. It's called LORRAINE HANSBERRY: SIGHTED EYES/FEELING HEART.