The long, long lack of racial diversity implied that we African-Americans don't care about new films, unless they're Black films, and we don't care about classic films, unless they're Black films. This is wrong and racially offensive. I write that as a man who has had his own talk show, been a film reviewer and entertainment news contributor on network TV and was a contributor to ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY magazine.
Classic films are my sweet addiction. By the time I started 3rd grade in South Central L.A., Fred Astaire was my favorite classic film star. In high school, I was the youngest and first Black contestant on a syndicated film trivia quiz show called THE MOVIE GAME. My celebrity teammates were Phyllis Diller and Hugh O'Brian. I also became the show's youngest winner answering questions like "What was the name of the boat in the MGM musical HIGH SOCIETY?" and "Who was the skating star of 20th Century Fox?" I started my professional broadcast career in radio. I was the new part time reporter who got soundbites from Bette Davis, Sylvia Sidney and Maureen O'Sullivan. I've been a TCM devotee in 1999. After 2003, I even pitched myself to TCM for employment a few times. Not for on-air work. For work in promotions, marketing or to write copy for Ben Mankiewicz. Not that he couldn't write his own, mind you. But, when he was new, some of his intros had trivia I'd already heard many times already. I felt I could give him some new stuff, stuff I'd gotten from my VH1 talk show in the late 80s. For instance, here's a short clip from my Paul McCartney interview. I never read this classic film fact about Paul in any bio about The Beatles.
Veteran African-American broadcasters who have covered entertainment for quite some time have been keenly aware of Hollywood's "Black stories don't sell" barrier. Black filmmakers could not get projects greenlit. Black actors couldn't get work and, often, couldn't get agent representation because the industry's limited view of Black talent. And not just Black filmmakers experienced this shut out. After IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT won the Oscar for Best Picture, director Norman Jewison couldn't get funding for A SOLDIER'S STORY. Why? Because it had a predominantly Black cast and Hollywood proclaimed "Black stories don't sell." Since we Black entertainment reporters were hip to this Hollywood exclusion, we were committed to using our skills to help underdog talent get attention -- filmmakers of color, women directors and such. The problem was, we too were trying to get the same on-air opportunities that white talent constantly got. We reporters could not get auditions and agents. Take a look at this short video of mine. By the way, all the work in this is work I got on my own -- because broadcast agents said that they wouldn't know what to do with me.