Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Jimmy Kimmel Needs BLACK-ish Star

Back in 2003, there was a documentary special on Discovery.  It was a special that Discovery produced in conjunction with The New York Times.  The name of the show was The New Face of Late Night TV.
This special spotlighted Jimmy Kimmel, the host of the late night ABC show that I totally dig.  I like Kimmel a lot.  I like that there's a late night show with a Los Angeles vibe.  L.A. is my hometown.

The Discovery Channel special was very interesting as it went behind-the-scenes to show us what a helluva lot of work it takes to launch a new late night show.  One aspect really caught my attention because I've personally seen this bit of business happen in morning TV -- especially morning TV news programs in New York City.

We, the viewers, were focused on staff members booking guests for Kimmel's first shows.  There was a young, slim willowy blonde who was an important part of the process.   You hear the name "Laurence Fishburne" come up as an available guest to book.  She passes on Laurence Fishburne because she wasn't sure if he could be funny.

I felt that she really passed on booking him because she personally did not know much about his career.  By that time, Fishburne had a Best Actor Oscar nomination to his credit for playing Ike Turner in the Tina Turner biopic, What's Love Got To Do With It.  Angela Bassett got a Best Actress Oscar nomination for playing Tina.  The 1993 movie did very well at the box office.

Fishburne had a major role in the hugely successful sci-fi futuristic thriller, The Matrix.  That 1999 movie was about as popular with American males as The Super Bowl game.  It did terrific box office and had a sequel.

Before that, in the late 1980s, Larry Fishburne showed millions of TV viewers that he could do comedy.  He played Cowboy Curtis on the Pee-wee's Playhouse TV series.


But the young blonde staffer on Jimmy Kimmel's soon-to-debut late night show didn't know all that, bless her heart.  Instead, if I recall correctly, she booked a guy seen on MTV's Jackass.  His skill was that he could set his stomach on fire.  We see him perform in the Discovery documentary special.

If I had been on Kimmel's production staff, I would have blurted out, "What are you, nuts?  It's Laurence Fishburne!  Book him!  Trust me on this.  He's a good booking!"

Many's the time I've seen a TV staffer about to turn down a guest simply because the staffer didn't know anything about the person offered to be a guest.  Here's a story from when I worked for Good Day New York on Fox5 TV in New York City back in the1990s.  I had been offered the opportunity to interview Chris Rock live on our show.  I would've loved to do that interview.  But the offer went to our executive producer, whose name I will not print here.  A nice guy, but he wasn't exactly hip.  He admitted to me that he'd been offered the chance to have Chris Rock on our show live for me to interview.

He turned down that chance because he was not familiar with Chris Rock's work.  At the time, Rock had a comedy show on HBO and was gracing national magazine covers.  Who did my executive producer book for me to interview live on Good Day New York instead?  The Body-by-Jake guy.
Remember him?  He made the minutes fly by like hours.  He was an absolute jerk in the green room.

Wednesday, September 24th, Black-ish premieres on ABC.  One of the stars and producers of the new sitcom is Laurence Fishburne. I hope this sitcom is a hit.
I think Mr. Fishburne should be a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live!  Don't you?




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