Monica Pearson. Contributed by GPB
Photo: For the AJC
Photo: For the AJC

Monica Pearson makes a plea: save her GPB show “A Seat at the Table”

GPB said there is no funding for more episodes though several are still in the can

Originally posted Friday, January 10, 2020 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

After three seasons, Monica Pearson’s “A Seat at the Table” on Georgia Public Broadcasting will no longer be funded and new episodes will not air beyond June of this year.

Pearson hopes to save it. 

The Emmy-nominated show, which features three generations of black women talking about issues important to them such as colorism, micro-aggressions and aging, was championed by GPB chief Teya Ryan and overseen by TV producer Tiffany Brown Rideaux. Pearson is joined by author Denene Millner and entertainment attorney and business advisor Christine White.

But Ryan, in an email sent to Pearson and others involved on the show, said funding original programming has been a challenge lately at GPB. 

“Over the last couple of years the marketplace has changed significantly,” Ryan wrote Pearson. “Corporations have been far less willing to fund programs that do not fit into their corporate goals. In addition, many foundations have pulled in their reigns and more narrowly focused their giving. ‘A Seat at the Table’ is hard to put into a category.”

Ryan, in a separate statement, noted that they taped 30 episodes over the last two years. She still hopes to produce one or two special broadcasts a year. “I have nothing but admiration and respect for these hosts and the producer and the work we’ve done together,” she said. “Hopefully there’s more to do in the future.”

Christine White, Denene Millner and Monica Pearson on June 12, 2017 pose for promo photos for their new GPB show "A Seat at the Table."CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com
Photo: Rodney Ho/Radio and TV Talk

Ryan said she sought others to take over the show and continues to do so, bringing up everyone from Will Packer to Tyler Perry. 

“We still have some shows in edit and we will finish these programs,” Ryan wrote. “But that will be it. We have enough shows so we will keep the time slot going until about June.”

Rideaux said some of the future episodes that will air include those about gentrification, mothering and women in the music industry featuring Usher’s mother Jonnetta Patton

She would love to see it on a bigger platform like OWN, BET/BET Her, WE-TV or the upcoming Black News Network. “The show is a baby of mine and it’s grown up and has legs,” Rideaux said. “I want to take it to the next level.”

Pearson, who spent more than 35 years as an anchor at WSB-TV until retiring in 2012, said she was extremely disappointed by the news and felt promotion of the show was greatly lacking, especially season two. She was also planning future episodes on topics she really cares about such as the census and the criminalization of black girls. 

“I’d really hate to see ‘A Seat the Table’ go away,” Pearson said in a Facebook video. “It’s unlike any other show. It was one of the reasons I came out of retirement. It is an opportunity to let people know who we are as black women. We’re not a monolith. We are very different. In the same vein, we have the same concerns and even bigger concerns when it comes to our children because of the era we live in.”

Pearson said it costs about $30,000 for each episode and she is seeking to raise funding herself to ensure some more episodes will be able to come out if another network doesn’t pick it up. Pearson asked people to go to GPB and earmark donations for the show. 

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About the Author

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