Radio and TV Talk

Rodney Ho covers TV and radio, from Atlanta’s stations to the hottest “American Idol" news.

Exclusive: TV One nixes 'R&B Divas Atlanta' and 'The Rickey Smiley Show'

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Tuesday, April 14, 2015

It was a long time coming but widely expected: two Atlanta-based TV One shows are officially dead and buried: reality show "R&B Divas Atlanta" and sitcom "The Rickey Smiley Show," both after three seasons.

Former Turner and UP-TV executive Brad Siegel recently took over TV One and decided the fate of these two shows that were greenlit by predecessors.

The two shows have been on the bubble for many months, doubts about their renewal growing by the week.

"R&B Divas Atlanta" actually drew okay ratings for TV One (366,000 viewers season three counting three days of DVR usage) but it kept losing key cast members. Faith Evans and Nicci Gilbert left after season two. Angie Stone joined the show season two but after the third and what is now final season, she proclaimed she was done. Syleena Johnson in January told me KeKe Wyatt and season threee entrant LaTavia Roberson were finished as well and wouldn't have done a fourth season. LaTocha Scott spent just a single season on the show (two).

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Only Johnson, season three arrival Kameelah Williams and original diva Monifah Carter were willing to move forward, Johnson said.

The final reunion episode aired July 9, 2014.

Atlanta's Rickey Smiley has a close relationship with TV One since he syndicates his radio show for the radio division.

Roger Bobb's "The Rickey Smiley Show" was a fictionalized version of Smiley's real life, with a family and a radio show. Ray J played his sidekick. Smiley goofed around, playing multiple characters. The show lasted three seasons with the last episode airing June 12, 2014.

It opened with promising numbers but viewers slipped off over time.

Bobb, in an email after I posted this original item, said the show is not dead. It will be going to another network but he can't yet disclose which one.

TV One is not abandoning Atlanta. It has at least one scripted show set to debut in the summer that has begun production here: a comedy called "Born Again Virgin." (The pilot aired in February.)

The black-owned network has also committed to a series of movies and many have been and will be produced in Atlanta. The network recently shot "To Hell and Back" starring Ernie Hudson here and next month's "For the Love of Ruth" was shot locally as well.

Atlanta TV shows in production (as well as a list of recently cancelled shows.)

And if you're really into TV One, here's a bulk of a press release of upcoming shows on the network and descriptions. Warning: it's a long read but provides plenty of detail.

Mitch N' Max  – A TV One twist on the ‘Odd Couple,' this contemporary comedy reveals what happens when hip hop grows up and life happens.  Mitch, a stock broker who loses it all on Wall Street, has to move in with his estranged friend, a hip-hop artist looking to regain his place in the spotlight. Produced by Bentley Kyle Evans (MartinThe Jamie Foxx Show), the scripted comedy is slated to premiere in 3rd quarter 2015.

Unstoppable - A rousing true crime series profiling heroic men and women who stopped at nothing to find justice for a murdered loved one.  The show plunges viewers into the first-person account of these brave individuals as they launch their own investigations, immerse themselves in dangerous manhunts and meet face-to-face with suspected killers - all in the name of justice.  This gripping series is scheduled to premiere in 4th quarter 2015.

The Next 15 – The Next 15 brings to life Andy Warhol’s infamous quip that, “in the future, everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes.”  This new reality series unites a group of male and female former reality stars that crave another 15 minutes of fame. Through the series, the personalities confront the issues that continue to present personal challenges and block their chances for success to capture another 15 minutes of fame.  Produced by Carlos King (Hollywood Divas, Real Housewives of Atlanta) and Eclipse TV, the series is slated to premiere in 4th quarter 2015.

The Weekly Show – In the tradition of The Daily ShowThe Weekly Show is a one hour-parody of a fledgling local news program.  Featuring the comedy musings of a group of seasoned improv vets from The Groundlings, the week-in-review will cover the real news stories of the week, as well as issues important to the Black community.  The series is slated to premiere in 1st quarter 2016.

NEW AND ORIGINAL WORLD PREMIERE MOVIES

For the Love of Ruth  – Based on the Biblical book of Ruth, For The Love of Ruth follows the journey of Ruth Sommerling, a young widow who chooses to take care of her mother-in-law, Naomi.  Ruth soon realizes that her love for Naomi, the only family she’s ever known, leads to her knight in shining armor.  Starring Denise Boutte (Meet The Browns, Why Did I Get Married?), Gary Dourdan (CSI, Being Mary Jane) and reuniting Loretta Devine ( Grey's Anatomy, Waiting to Exhale ) and James Pickens Jr.,  (Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice) for the first time on television since Grey’s Anatomy, the world premiere is scheduled for Saturday, May 9, 2015 at 8PM/ET

Will To Love  – A workaholic bachelor who is set to inherit his terminally ill grandfather’s company, learns that in order to do so, he must first find a wife before his grandfather dies.  As a man who doesn’t embrace marriage, his dilemma is clear.  With some help from his rag tag group of friends, he has to find a way to avoid what he doesn’t want in order to get what he does.  Produced by Chris Stokes (You Got Served, Battlefield America), the romantic comedy is slated to premiere in June 2015.

The Summoning –  Starring the network’s own Hollywood Diva Paula Jai Parker (Hollywood Divas, True Blood) alongside Terrell Tilford (CSI, Single Ladies) and Darius McCrary (Family Matters), The Summoning is a thriller that explores what happens when a remarried widow and mother summons the return of her first husband to spend one more night with him.  Problem is, when he returns, he’s not the same guy she remembers and he has no intention of leaving and wants his family back. Directed by Charles Murray (Sons of Anarchy, Things Never Said), the TV One world premiere movie is slated to premiere in June 2015.

Ringside  – An undefeated boxer prepares for a game-changing fight while being taunted by his outrageous belt-holding opponent and his corrupt former manager.  In order to win the life-altering bout, he must zone out of the chaos of groupies, gambling, and other distractions, including his rhyme-stealing rapper brother, gambleholic manager and promiscuous sister.  Written, produced and directed by Russ Parr (The UndershepherdHear No Evil), the film is slated to premiere in 3rd quarter 2015.

Runaway Island – An uplifting original filled with the interwoven stories of a minister who loses his faith upon the death of his daughter, an estranged grandmother and grandson who are constantly at war and a media-hungry socialite hiding for once from the spotlight.  They all find themselves running away to a remote island in an attempt to escape their troubles.  Once on the island, each discovers that forgiveness and love conquers all.  The 2014 American Black Film Festival award-winning movie and TV One world premiere is slated for 3rd quarter 2015.

Girlfriends Getaway 2 – This fabulous fun-filled film reunites actresses Garcelle Beauvais (Grimm, The Mentalist), Malinda Williams (Soul Food), Terri J. Vaughn (Steve Harvey Show), and Essence Atkins (Haunted House, Are We There Yet?) from the original film.  The fearless foursome once again sets off for a relaxing tropical holiday only to find it tinged with a little suspense, a lot of humor and the power of friendship. Produced and Directed by Roger Bobb (House of Pain, The Rickey Smiley Show, It's A Mann’s World ), the film is slated to premiere in 3rd quarter 2015.

Fear Files 3 – The next gripping installment of this horror franchise returns with three new stories reflecting the very best of iconic scary movie themes, including tales of love, revenge and murders.  The film is slated to premiere in 4th quarter 2015.

A Royal Holiday and A Royal Christmas – A two-part original film follows the Royal family during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season.  In A Royal Holiday the happily married patriarch and matriarch, feeling neglected by their family, plot a fake break-up in order to get their overly-bickering, busy children to come home for Thanksgiving.  However, when the parents play their role a little too well and end up separating for real, their carefully planned family reunion becomes a Thanksgiving disaster. During A Royal Christmas, the bickering children join forces and scheme to reunite their parents in time for Christmas.  However, the parents, having experienced a taste of the single life, may prove challenging for a happily ever after Christmas. The TV One originals are slated to premiere in November and December 2015.

Ebeneza  – In partnership with renowned producer Suzanne de Passe (de Passe Jones Entertainment Group), Ebeneza is a contemporary musical version of the classic Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  This version features a female protagonist who is half of a successful comedy duo.  After her comedy partner unexpectedly dies, our “Scrooge” loses her humor and makes everyone around her miserable; that is, until the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future show her a different path.  The holiday tale is slated to premiere in December 2015.

The Unsung Miki Howard Story  – Not many R&B artists have enjoyed a string of #1 hits like Grammy nominated artist, Miki Howard (Come Share My Love, Ain’t Nobody Like You, Love Under New Management, Baby Be Mine).  Groomed to compete with Whitney Houston in the 80’s, Miki’s career was derailed by poor relationship choices and drug addiction.  Miki’s story of survival ranges from being raised by neglectful gospel singers to being thrown out of the house at 16 years old and having love affairs with Gerald Levert and Easy E.  The film is slated to premiere in 1st quarter 2016.

Definitely Divorcing - A romantic comedy following the lives of co-workers who are all questioning their marriages for a variety of issues including anger management, a child-like spouse, and manipulative children.  In a society where more than half of marriages end in divorce, this timely original film is scheduled to premiere in 1st quarter 2016.

Praise Dance – This faith-inspired film highlights the contemporary struggles of a small church attempting to stay solvent and relevant.  Unexpected circumstances provide the innovative pastor with the chance to organize local youth into a praise dance troupe that ultimately saves the church and its community.  The film is slated to premiere in 2nd quarter 2016.

Welcome to the Family – An internet host and her fiancée happily announce their engagement at her family reunion as part of a publicity stunt for her web series.  However, the couple learns from the family elders that the two are in fact cousins, which throws their relationship into turmoil, but her website into a social media hit.  The TV One original is scheduled to premiere in 2nd quarter 2016.

Home  – A family drama centered around recovering drug addict Sydney, who after being estranged from her family for 3 years is forced to return home.  Her return reveals major changes, including her parents’ separation in the midst of her sister’s engagement. Initial steps to regain her life and trust of family indicate improving conditions and even the surprise of romance.  However, the secrets of her past may ultimately prevent her attempt at a new life from coming true. The drama is slated to premiere in 2nd quarter 2016.

The Devil Is A Lie – Based on ReShonda Tate Billingsley’s novel of the same name, the drama tells the tale of a successful real estate executive who wins the lottery and thinks she’s on top of the world.  However, when she goes to claim her winnings, she’s met with the unpleasant reality that her divorce was never finalized and her husband is claiming half the fortune.  The circumstances force her to question what’s most important to her. The film is slated to premiere in 3rd quarter 2016.

The Secret She Kept – A successful magazine executive marries a driven lawyer, who’s on the cusp of a major promotion, only to discover that his wife is severely bi-polar.  The movie explores the meaning of love and the vow of “in sickness and in health.”  Also based on ReShonda Tate Billingsley’s novel of the same name, the film is slated to premiere in 3rd quarter 2016.

NEW SPECIAL

The Gospel Tradition: In Performance at the White House – This musical special was created to showcase the rich fabric of gospel music in the setting of the nation’s most famous home.  Since 1978, the program has embraced virtually every genre of American performance art.  Airing as part of a first-time partnership between PBS and TV One, Robin Roberts (Good Morning America) hosts the special that includes headliners:  Bishop Rance Allen, Pastor Shirley Caesar, Rodney Crowell, Rhiannon Giddens, Emmylou Harris, Darlene Love, Lyle Lovett, Tamela Mann, The Morgan State University Choir and Michelle WilliamsT Bone Burnett serves as the executive music director and Bill Maxwell serves as music director.  A production of WETA Washington DC; TV One; CoMedia; Mark Karntz Productions; Cappy Productions; and Black and White TV, Inc., the special will premiere on Friday, June 26th at 9PM/ET.

The Triumph Awards (working title)  – TV One and Reverend Al Sharpton, founder of the National Action Network, collaborate to honor those in arts, entertainment and sports, who have gone above and beyond to positively impact society.  The two-hour special will celebrate five extraordinary individuals and will deliver a star-studded evening of great performances and luminaries.  The special is slated to premiere in 3rd quarter 2015.

RETURNING SERIES

Fatal Attraction – The series delves into real-life crime stories of love-gone wrong. This season, mysterious crimes added to the series’ repertoire include chilling accounts of suspicious disappearances; a vicious case of teenage angst; deadly love triangles; and a hate crime. Each episode consists of first-person interviews from loved ones; accounts from investigating officials; interrogation footage; and recreations of pivotal moments. The cinematography is haunting.

This is a photo I took of Lisa Wu back in 2009. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Hollywood Divas – The reality series continues to follow actresses Elise Neal (The Hughleys), Golden Brooks(Girlfriends; Second Chance Christmas), Paula Jai Parker (Hustle and Flow; The Summoning), Countess Vaughn (The Parkers) and Lisa Wu (Real Housewives of Atlanta) as they navigate life in Hollywood and attempt to stay relevant in the unpredictable entertainment industry. This season adds special guest star, Vivica A. Fox

Unsung –  A perennial viewer favorite, TV One’s multi award-winning signature series reveals the untold stories of beloved R&B stars and the enduring impact they’ve had on the music industry. Upcoming artist profiles include: Ike TurnerOtis Redding, Chuck BrownKid N’ PlayDJ QuikXscape and Full Force.

Unsung Hollywood  – From the producers of Unsungthis doc profiles groundbreaking artists and entertainers whose work has left an indelible mark on the entertainment industry. Upcoming profiles include:  Joe MortonBernie MacSammy Davis Jr., Billy Dee Williams, and the movie Car Wash, among others.

ROland martin

News One Now  – Emanating from the heart of Washington D.C. in a state-of-the-art studio that offers a stunning view of the Capitol building, News One Now airs weekdays live on TV One from 9-10 a.m.  News One Now is hosted by Roland S. Martin, the 2013 National Association of Black Journalists' Journalist of the Year.  Each morning, Martin sifts through the headlines of the day to spotlight matters that greatly impact the black community. Beyond radio and television, News One Now reaches audiences 24/7 with exclusive program content and extended editorial on NewsOne.com.  News One Now is an evolution of Interactive One's award-winning digital brand, NewsOne.com, which launched in 2008 and reaches millions each month.  

Verses and Flow - The NAACP Image Award-nominated variety show blends electrifying musical and soul-stirring spoken word performances from mega-watt music stars alongside more than 25 of the best up-and-coming poets in the U.S.  Actor/personality Laz Alonso (The Mysteries of Laura) hosts.  Previous performers have included Maxwell, Ledisi, and Jill Scott, among others.

About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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