I am SO happy about this. I know that columnist Eric Deggans is too. Go to my blog archive of articles posted last month and read my "Eric Deggans on NPR" piece. He recently did a segment on the lack of racial and sexual diversity in the field of late night entertainment talk show hosts. I urged folks to hear his short, sharp National Public Radio feature. I added my notes as someone who's been attentive to and influenced by racial diversity on TV ever since I was a kid growing up in South Central Los Angeles and attending a high school in Watts.
When I posted the Comedy Central news item from The Hollywood Reporter and New York's Daily News on Twitter and on Facebook, one of my Facebook buddies who's also a Wilmore fan wrote this about Comedy Central:
Him: "They do know he's black, right?"
Me: "I just called and told them. I heard the phone drop."
The fact that a black person has booked a major national gig as host of a late night entertainment talk show can be a cultural shock -- especially to top executives at other networks. Larry Wilmore is known to Comedy Central fans as the Senior Black Correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
Mr. Wilmore is also an Emmy-winning writer and producer.
We love Larry Wilmore. He was also an executive producer and writer for the Peabody Award winning sitcom, The Bernie Mac Show.
We need minority representation in the area of satirical news shows, shows that often cut to the real meat better than actual news shows do because the actual news programs are now too busy trying to entertainment us. Read my previous post, "Mexican Culture and the News" to see what I mean. That post is about Caucasian news people on Cinco de Mayo.
Wilmore's new gig is such a racial breakthrough that National Public Radio's weekday morning show, Fresh Air, will be forced to pay attention to it. Again, if you read my "Eric Deggans on NPR" piece, I refer to my 2013 blog post in which I spanked that show -- a show I listen to regularly -- for excluding Arsenio Hall from its weeklong salute to late night talk show hosts. Five shows, one hour each, with the host of the show and contributions from a TV historian. Listeners were taken back to 1950s TV with Jerry Lester and Dagmar, through the Jack Paar and Johnny Carson nights of the 1960s and 70s and up to the Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon and Seth Myers host gigs. Pat Sajak and Chevy Chase got mentions for their short-lived shows. No mention of Arsenio Hall whatsoever. And Arsenio was on the brink of making his late night return.
Again...five shows, one hour each. With segments from a TV historian who's a frequent Fresh Air contributor. I listened to every single show. No mention of Arsenio Hall. Lord, help us.
Congratulations, Mr. Wilmore! I will most definitely be watching you on Comedy Central's The Minority Report.