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

Star Jones (Diversity Career Fair Atlanta 9/21) talks Donald Trump, Matt Damon, 'The View'

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015

Star Jones is a long-time friend of Donald Trump and finished fifth on his NBC show "Celebrity Apprentice" in 2011. But the former host of "The View" is no fan of his presidential campaign or many of his political views.

"I've known Donald for 20 years," said Jones, president of the Professional Diversity Network who is coming to Atlanta Monday for a job fair and networking event. (Details here.) "I know all three of his wives. I am very close to his first wife Ivana. I just vacationed with her over the summer. But Donald and I completely part ways politically. I called him at his office back when he started questioning Pres. Obama's birthplace. I told him he was race baiting."

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26: (L-R) Star Jones, Donald Trump Jr., Donald Trump, Marlee Matlin, Jim Cramer, John Rich and Meatloaf attend An Evening with "The Celebrity Apprentice" at Florence Gould Hall on April 26, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Joe Corrigan/Getty Images)

She said she has been an open supporter of Hillary Clinton for president.

"I make my choice for political candidates based on how the policies are going to impact me, my family and the people I serve," said Jones, on issues such as "equal pay for equal work, protecting women's health care and insuring the rights and freedoms bestowed upon us by the Supreme Court."

Jones is also appalled by how Republicans are vilifying Planned Parenthood, the first place she received a gynecological exam as a teenager in Trenton, N.J. Many politicians are accusing the organization of selling fetus body parts for profit, something the group denies. While Jones said investigation is warranted, she supports the group "100 percent," noting that "they're there to serve women every day."

She is nearly a decade removed from her nine-year run on ABC's "The View" and no longer follows the chat show closely. "The View" is struggling to find a consistent cast and voice while rivals have stolen its thunder.

"If I answer a question from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that implies I watch a daytime talk show, my shareholders would not be happy," she said, noting that the Chicago-based Professional Diversity Network is a publicly traded for-profit organization. "I just think the show has grown in a different direction. We were a little more serious."

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 15, 2004: "The View" hosts Meredith Vieira (L), Star Jones Reynolds and Joy Behar (far right) with (L-R Center) Beyonce Knowles, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams of Destiny's Child appear on The View to promote the November 16 release of their album "Destiny Fulfilled" in New York City. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)

The Professional Diversity Network, which Jones took over a year ago, provides online networking and job opportunities for minorities. She said people who qualify could fit into one or more of seven categories: women, LGBT, blacks, Asians, Hispanics, disabled and veterans.

"Diversity is something we as a country needs to embrace," Jones said. "Diversity inclusion only makes us all better. It's not just the right thing to do but a smart business savvy thing to do."

The Professional Diversity Network job fair will be held Monday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Crown Plaza Atlanta Perimeter at Ravinia near Perimeter Mall, followed by a two-hour networking event sponsored by its subsidiary the National Association of Professional Women. Employees offering jobs include Google, Country Financial and State Farm.

Jones plans to be there the entire time hobnobbing with attendees.

The former attorney does not miss the daily TV grind of "The View" but said she still gets plenty of TV exposure representing her organization. "I did Fox News this morning," she said Thursday. "I'm scheduled for CNN Saturday. Every time there's a women's issue, there's a diversity issue, the media calls me for comment."

I asked her about the Matt Damon controversy after he tried to school a black female producer about diversity on his HBO show "Project Greenlight" where people compete to make a movie.

Producer Effie Brown ("Dear White People") said she wanted a directing team consisting of a woman and an Asian man as best equipped to handle a sensitive role of a black prostitute in the film.

"I just want to urge people to think about, whoever this director is," Brown said, "the way that they're going to treat the character of Harmony, her being a prostitute, the only black person, being a hooker who gets hit by her white pimp."

Damon told her didn't believe the director's race mattered when it came to the characters in the film.

"When we're talking about diversity, you do it in the casting of the film not in the casting of the show," Damon said. Brown? She looks flabbergasted.

When I told Jones about this, she not surprisingly supported Brown. "My work is not just about getting a brown face in front of the camera," she said. "The real work is done in the writing, the producing, the cameras, the grips, the make-up artists... The real work of diversity is done around the table when you are actually writing a script."

In fact, Jones is actively involved turning her 2011 fiction best-seller "Satan's Sisters" into a VH1 film. It's a thinly disguised take on her time on "The View." She's working with Suzanne de Passe, a movie and TV producer who helped discover the Jackson 5.

"The initial script is outlined," she said. "We're moving forward. It's very glam. Think 'Sex and the City' meets 'Dynasty.' "

EVENT PREVIEW

Diversity Career Fair with appearance by Star Jones

2 to 8 p.m., Monday,. Sept. 21

Free

Crowne Plaza Atlanta Perimeter at Ravinia

4355 Ashwood Dunwoody Rd., Atlanta

Register here.

 

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About the Author

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

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