We wind up looking at things in terms of race. And we wonder why non-minorities don't notice the same things or ask the same questions we do. Take network TV news -- the Monday through Friday evening newscasts you see on ABC, NBC, CBS. There has not been a black anchor on one of those networks since the late Max Robinson anchored on ABC in the early 1980s. He died at age 49 in 1988. If NBC's Brian Williams quit next year, I'd give the anchor seat to Lester Holt. But that's just me. None of those three senior networks has had a black host of a late night show nor did any have a black film reviewer on a weekly basis on its morning news shows. Heck, you rarely saw black film critics on local NYC television news and there are plenty of black/Latino film critics in this town who'd love some TV exposure outside of Black History and Hispanic Heritage months. When have you ever seen a black female review new movies on a TV newscast? You'd think they're harder to find than Sasquatch but they're not. New York City has knowledgable black female movie critics -- but they're rarely picked to be on TV. Where are the black/Latino/Asian talents as movie channel hosts or guest co-hosts? In October, Turner Classic Movies had a month-long salute to Africa. I love TCM. But who was the guest host? Someone like Oscar winner Louis Gossett Jr., LeVar Burton, Leslie Uggams or Diahann Carroll, one of the few African-American women to be an Oscar nominee for Best Actress or Bryant Gumble, the former Today host who was the force behind the show's week-long ratings champion week in Africa back in the 1990s? No. The guest host was Alex Trebek. Which episode of Roots was he in?
Rock was an Oscars host and, as Rocca said, was too controversial for the Academy. Chris Rock poked fun at veteran stars such as Clint Eastwood. However, years later, the Academy picked Seth MacFarlane to host the Oscars. He's the writer, director, producer -- the big talent -- behind TV's boundary-blasting animated series, Family Guy. In one episode, MacFarlane used the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy as comedy material.
I never got another national talk show opportunity after my VH1 years -- and I really wanted one. Nor could I get a broadcast agent. Throughout the 1990s, local TV news execs hired me but were reluctant to let me sit at the desk in the studio and do regular film reviews and such. They wanted me on the streets as the funny guy -- like Jim Carrey in the first 20 minutes of Bruce Almighty. Here's a sample of my old VH1 talk show:
In 2008, I tried yet again to get a good broadcast agent. I had a meeting with ICM here in New York City. It's a fine, top quality agency. I met with the broadcast agent (no longer there). Here's the short demo reel of mine the agent watched. It's got national TV host and acting bits:
Mo Rocca did humorous political pieces for The Daily Show, he now hosts a show on the Cooking Channel and he's doing celebrity interviews on CBS Sunday Morning.
Somebody knew what to do with Mo. He is one lucky white dude.
I cannot wait to see Chris Rock's Top Five. If you have time, go to the CBS website and watch Mo Rocca's Sunday Morning interview of Rock: