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TV One plans party for Obama, reveals new programming

Sarah Rodman
TV One plans party for Obama, reveals new programming
Back on July 27, 2004, when he gave the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Barack Obama was an Illinois state senator and a candidate for U.S. Senate. Four years later, African American-targeted cable network TV One plans to launch live nightly coverage of the 2008 convention, at which Obama is expected to be confirmed as the Democratic presidential nominee. (Photo: AP /Ron Edmonds)

Just shy of its five-year anniversary, cable network TV One unveiled its programming plans for the fourth quarter at the annual Television Critics Association press tour last month in Los Angeles.

President and CEO Johnathan Rodgers announced that the network, which targets African American adults and is available in 40 million homes, will unveil a high-definition (HD) simulcast in December. Rodgers said the network plans to continue expanding its original programming and hopes to “reflect the breadth and the depth of the African American culture, but we also try to do programming that reflects positively on the lives of African Americans.”

To that end, beginning Aug. 25 the network will air live nightly coverage of the Democratic National Convention in Denver where, presumably, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama will be confirmed as the party’s historic presidential nominee.

The convention coverage will be hosted by XM Satellite Radio DJ and political reporter Joe Madison and Arthur Fennell, former president of the National Association of Black Journalists and currently a Comcast CN8 anchorman.

“One of our goals throughout our convention coverage is to get every member of the Congressional Black Caucus on our coverage and get their opinion and input as to what is going on and what they are saying and what it means to them and means to African Americans in general,” said Rodgers.

Rodgers cited Obama’s popularity with TV One’s target audience as a key element in launching the convention coverage.

“When he announced he was running about two years ago, I believe he had the support of about 10 percent of African Americans,” said Rodgers. “That number is up to now 90 percent of African Americans. And African Americans have fallen in love with his candidacy, his family and what it means to our community.”

Additionally, the network will air a program called “TV One Live: DNC Afterparty,” with participants including the Rev. Al Sharpton, “The Tom Joyner Morning Show” correspondent Jacque Reid, comic Sheryl Underwood, Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson, his wife the Rev. Marcia Dyson and actor Hill Harper of “CSI: NY,” who was Obama’s roommate during their time at Harvard.

The “Afterparty” shows will air directly after the convention coverage, and Rodgers said the title is no mistake.

“One way to look at this show is it’s like you’ve gone to your daughter’s graduation or your son’s wedding, and you get back home with your relatives, you sit around the kitchen, you kick your shoes off and you just talk about that day’s events,” he said. “That’s what I hope this panel will do.”

For her part, panelist Reid said she hopes “Afterparty” will appeal to viewers across racial lines.

“Even though it’s on a network that’s geared toward a predominantly African American audience, there’s something for every group that wants to watch this show,” she said. “We are not just going to get on this show and talk about black issues. … We have a perspective on everything, not just black issues.

“And that will be the beauty of bringing this panel together. It’s a brilliant panel with people who can talk about everything from A to Z when it comes to politics, and it will be fun and engaging.”

In other TV One news:

• On Aug. 24, the network will present “Mean Streets: Cities Under Fire.” In the special, Rodgers said, Judge Greg Mathis will take comics Mark Curry and Bill Bellamy back to their respective hometowns of Oakland, Calif., and Newark, N.J., to examine what’s happening and help viewers “understand what’s going on within those urban communities.”

• “Murder in Black and White,” a four-part series, will offer documentary-style looks at unsolved civil rights cases from the ’40s and ’50s and be hosted by the Rev. Al Sharpton. The show, which is being produced in cooperation with the FBI, was brought to TV One by filmmaker Keith Beauchamp, whose 2005 documentary “The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till” inspired the government to reopen the Till case. The series will debut on Oct 5.

• In November, the network will unveil a four-part series called “Unsung,” which chronicles the careers of Donny Hathaway, the DeBarges, Phyllis Hyman and The Clark Sisters.

Sarah Rodman is the staff music critic at The Boston Globe.