Briefs: 11Alive’s news director goes to Gray; Honey Boo Boo’s boyfriend arrested; Marlon Wayans’ HBO Max special in Atlanta



11Alive’s long-time news director Jennifer Rigby has departed to work at Atlanta-based Gray Television for its recently launched in-house news research and consulting team.

Gray owns 180 TV stations nationwide including the CBS affiliate in Atlanta (WANF-TV) that Gray took over in December 2021 and was previously called CBS46. It also now owns Peachtree TV.

The Atlanta NBC affiliate (WXIA-TV) has been struggling in fourth place in ratings, often falling behind Atlanta News First. Gray has funneled millions of dollars into its hometown affiliate, formerly owned by Meredith. greatly expanding its newsroom and has seen a boost in ratings as a result.

In the meantime, the owner of 11Alive, TEGNA, is in the midst of being acquired by Standard General. But the Federal Communications Commission has delayed its closure.

Rigby took over the station in 2014 and while 11Alive has won by far the most Southeast Emmy awards of any Atlanta news station in those years, it has not been able to consistently compete with leaders Fox 5 (WAGA-TV) and WSB-TV for viewers. It has shuffled anchors around with its most experienced anchor Brenda Wood retiring in 2017. It lost two of its most prolific Emmy winners in the past couple of years: Matt Pearl left in 2021 for Scripps as a national correspondent and investigative reporter Brendan Keefe departed for Gray’s ANF last summer.

Before working at WXIA-TV, Rigby led digital and content initiatives as vice president of live programming at the Weather Channel, also based in Atlanta.


Credit: Eric McCandless

Credit: Eric McCandless

TMZ reported that the boyfriend of Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson, now 17, was arrested earlier this week in Georgia on charges of driving under the influence, fleeing from the police and outstanding warrants out of Wilkinson County.

The website said 21-year-old Dralin Carswell was arrested in Monroe County in middle Georgia and Thompson was in the car with him. The police put the sirens on his Dodge Charger after they found outstanding warrants attached to the owner of the vehicle.

But Carswell drove away, leading the cops on a three-mile chase until a pit maneuver forced him to stop.

Thompson was not arrested, according to the Monroe County News, which broke the news.


Credit: HBO MA

Credit: HBO MA

Marlon Wayans shot his newest HBO Max special at Center Stage in Midtown Atlanta. The special came out on Thursday and is now available for subscribers.

“That’s why I came down to Atlanta to film my special,” Wayans opened on stage after the applause died down. “‘Cause you all make me feel special.”

The entire hour focused on the Oscar “slap” Will Smith delivered a year ago to presenter Chris Rock after Rock cracked a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith. Smith has since apologized and is now banned from the Oscars for ten years. Rock is planning his own live Netflix special on Saturday and is expected to address the incident in more detail than he has up to this point.

Wayans made jokes about all three of them during the special, spending the opening portion revealing how Rock heckled him while he was doing stand-up at age 19 so badly, he didn’t touch stand-up for years. He then noted how much he had a crush on Pinkett-Smith but accepted being friends with her. Later, he lightly roasted Smith for being super acceptable to white people — until the slap.

“You mean the ‘Man in Black’ is actually Black?” Wayans said, pretending to be a shocked white person.

But he did get serious for a moment.

“I know all three of them so well and I was hurt when I saw that happen because I love all the parties involved,” he said. “I’m a Black man. I’m a Black actor. I’m a Black comedian. Watching Will slap Chris was like I slapped myself on stage. We work so hard to be better and we always want to blame white people. But sometimes we just got to be better... We had a Black producer, we had Black hosts and we do this [expletive]? Turn the Oscars into The Source Awards? What the [expletive]?”

Wayans said if he had been slapped by Smith, it would have gotten physical and he might have used an actual Oscar as a weapon. (Rock kept his cool and continued to present awards.)

“I’d fight this [expletive] after every commercial break!” Wayans said.