Sunday, September 28, 2014

Thank You, Arise TV

The Equalizer.  That was a hit series in the CBS prime time line-up back in the 1980s.  He was played by British actor Edward Woodward, a middle-aged gent who wore a jacket and tie while carrying a gun to protect and help the downtrodden.  I made my TV acting debut in one episode of The Equalizer during my VH1 veejay years.  The Equalizer has been fast forwarded to the 21st Century and upgraded to the big screen.  Upgraded and Americanized.  And he's now played by Denzel Washington.  Today's Equalizer is a man with a mysterious past.  He works in store like Home Depot.
He's a life coach to fellow employees.

At night, he eats alone in a diner and shares his love of classic literature with an abused hooker.
Also at night, he becomes a killing machine as he protects people like that hooker.
No young evil Russian bodybuilder is a match for this nearly 60 year old movie star.  You can tell Denzel is the hero because -- just like other he-man action movie heroes -- he walks calmly in slow motion towards the camera with a serious expression on his face and doesn't flinch at all as something blows up in a fireball behind him.

I was one of three black film reviewers who discussed The Equalizer during the half hour of Arise On Screen, the weekend film review/entertainment news show hosted by Mike Sargent.  Mike is a radio/TV host and nationally quoted film critic.  Every week, he invites a pair of fellow critics on to join  him in reviews of new Hollywood and foreign films.  That's exactly what we did for the September 27th weekend.  Mike is a terrific, knowledgeable host and interviewer who generously shares the spotlight with his guest critics.

Yes.  BLACK people reviewing Hollywood and foreign films on television.  Did you ever see that on the Today Show, Good Morning America, the CBS morning news program or on syndicated film review programs?  Rarely, if at all.  Black and Latino film critics, male and female, lived on the Island of Misfit Toys in the minds of most Caucasian network/syndication TV executives.                                            

That's a color barrier Mike Sargent and Arise TV have broken through with Arise On Screen.  I cannot thank Mike and the staff enough for inviting me to be a guest on the show this year.  It's a groundbreaking program that no TV columnist has noticed yet.  Maybe TV journalists have not noticed that the field of film critics on TV has been a predominantly white boys club from the 20th into the 21st Century.  Think of NBC's Gene Shalit, Joel Siegel on GMA, Gene Siskel (of Siskel & Ebert) on CBS' morning show, Ben Mankiewicz and Ben Lyons in syndication and David Edelstein currently on CBS Sunday Morning.

For the September 27th weekend edition, three black film critics talked about Denzel Washington as the life coach/killing machine called The Equalizer...
...and we highly recommended the sweet British drama/comedy about underdogs -- gays and union mineworkers -- joining forces to fight for political rights in Thatcher's England of the 1980s.  This polished gem of a movie, based on a real event, is called Pride.
Billy Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West and some talented young actors make this British import a winner.


If you need a good date night movie, keep Pride in mind.

We also reviewed a new French drama called The Little Bedroom.  It's about two people of different generations who have a hole in their hearts where a child used to be.

I loved doing that kind of film review and classic movie history work for Arise On Screen.  Network and local TV news programs in New York City dropped the ball on that kind of racial diversity for decades when it came to movie critics and film review shows. That could change.  I hope it does.

Thank you, Arise On Screen, for allowing me to contribute in presenting some new images on television.  Thank you, host/producer Mike Sargent.  I'm proud to be part of the show's guest history.

Please visit the website at www.Arise.TV.  Take note of this show, you TV columnists.  There's a story in it.  I started my TV career as a weekly movie critic on Milwaukee's ABC affiliate in the early 1980s. I was contacted by Chicago PBS to audition to be half of the new Sneak Previews duo when Siskel & Ebert left for syndication.  In New York City, I always hit resistance when I wanted to review films weekly when I worked on local morning news programs.  Ben Lyons (son of Jeffrey Lyons) never met with resistance.  He reviewed movies for a WNBC news film review show.  I was reviewing movies on TV when Ben was a toddler.  None of the New York City local news shows had a black film critic.  That is why I'm so proud of the groundbreaking Arise On Screen.




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