Thursday, July 11, 2013

Reel Talk on Our TV Pilot

One of the best experiences I had last year was shooting a TV pilot for a possible weekly film-related show to air on a PBS station.  Noted film columnist Gene Seymour and I teamed up to talk about movies, new and old, and about new TV productions.  Racially, this would be a groundbreaking show.

True, a couple of people reviewing new movies and discussing classic films is not a fresh concept.  But, consider this:  We are over a decade into the 21st century.  If you asked most Americans to name two black people they've seen on a regular basis on national TV reviewing movies, they could probably only name the two "Men on Film" from the early 1990s sketch comedy series, In Living Color.  Seriously.  There wasn't a black critic reviewing movies weekly on the CBS, NBC or ABC morning news shows.

Early this year when the Oscar nominations were announced, none of those network morning shows had a black contributor on set to discuss the Oscar contenders.  Charlie Rose had a panel of critics on his show that night.  He forgot to invite a black critic -- and one of the big films being discussed in all those segments was the racially controversial Django Unchained.

The arts and talk about the arts need diversity.  The lack of African-American film critics and movie hosts seen on TV can come off as a media implication that black people have no interest in the fine art of films -- that we have no interest in seeing movies that star Meryl Streep, actor/director George Clooney, Daniel Day-Lewis, Helen Mirren and such.  It can imply that we don't care about seeing subtitled foreign features, documentaries and classic films.  It can also imply that we have no sense of cinema history.  This is simply not true and that's not a message we need sent to Hollywood.  We do not just go see films made by and starring Tyler Perry.  This TV project has become very important to me because it could open a door to more diversity in a field that needs it.  The executive producer is a black woman who has tirelessly worked on this project for well over one year.  She got a green light from PBS to shoot the pilot.  I'm so grateful she asked me to be a part of it.  She then was told she had to find funding for our show.  She'd never done that before but, without help, she learned how to fundraise while doing it.  She delivered the pilot to PBS by Thanksgiving last year.  It's still "in consideration."

French actress/writer/director Julie Delpy got great reviews this year for her drama sequel, Before Midnight, co-starring Ethan Hawke.  Last year, Delpy starred in, co-wrote and directed the romantic comedy, 2 Days in New York.  Chris Rock co-starred as her public radio host boyfriend in New York City.

They live together and have sweet kids from previous relationships.  Her unpredictable relatives are coming to visit from France.  She's an insecure, nervous wreck trying to deal with her visiting family and prepare her photography for a downtown gallery exhibition.
Here's a short clip of what Gene and I had to say about Julie Delpy's 2012 indie comedy.

I loved doing that pilot and working with its entire team.  Loved it.  Because I'm shamelessly promoting what I do well, he's another reel of Bobby Rivers on Films:

Thanks so much for your attention.  Wish me luck landing a new gig.


  1. I am crossing my fingers for you! The project sounds great, and so sorely needed. I scour the web looking for media reviews by people of color, and I know I'm not alone. Good luck--so excited for you!

  2. Thank you very, very much. I am so passionate about this project and the diversity it could bring to one area of television. From DO THE RIGHT THING to THE HELP, I can't recall ever seeing a black film critic on a network news program -- are on a local newscast in New York City -- telling me why the film is good and why I should see it. You didn't see us on TV reviewing those movies. Or talking about TOOTSIE, POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE, AMERICAN BEAUTY, THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA or LINCOLN for that matter. We're not yet part of the mainstream movie discussion on TV. I hope to change that.

  3. Good luck, Bobby! I remember watching clips form the pilot months ago and I can tell you it is definitely a show I would watch every week. It still amazes me that in the 2010's none of the networks have ever had a black film critic.

  4. It amazes me too. In full disclosure, I tried for years to change that when I lived in New York City. Starting in the early 1990s, I campaigned to do entertainment features and film reviews as a contributor on a network morning news show. I pitched to NBC, ABC and CBS.

  5. This SOOO needs to happen, Bobby! Crossing everything that I have!

  6. Oh, Greg. Such a big supporter. Not complimenting you on your protective gym attire. I'm thanking you for your encouragement in my broadcast and writing ventures.

    1. LOL! You know how to turn a phrase. You should write a book.

  7. When is somebody going to give this man a TV show? He was and still is the best interviewer around. And his passion can make you want to see the worst movie HE ever saw from beginning to end. Bobby Rivers is the best.


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