“In the early part of the past decade, I wrote biographies of two famously deceased actors from Saturday Night Live, John Belushi and Chris Farley,” Tanner Colby wrote this month for Slate. “Having exhausted the dead, fat comedian genre, I decided to write a somewhat humorous but mostly serious history of racial integration in post-Jim Crow America. So, in the wake of SNL’srecent diversity controversy, and this week’s casting of actress Sasheer Zamata, I seem to find myself uniquely positioned to write a history of racial integration at Saturday Night Live.”
Colby’s piece appeared Jan. 9, after Zamata was added to the cast following protests over lack of an African American woman on the show. Colby expanded on his essay Friday on “News One Now” with Roland Martin, which airs on TV One. Martin, referring to his own tenure in mainstream television, told viewers the essay had not received enough attention.
“The fact that a history of racial integration at Saturday Night Live can fit within the confines of a Slate article is, in itself, a pretty clear indication of the problem at hand,” Colby’s piece continued. “And the current struggles with race in Studio 8H offer us a sadly useful illustration of what’s wrong with ‘diversity’ in this country generally.
“The entire roster of black performers from the show’s 39-year history can be quickly broken down into three simple groups:
“a) The disgruntleds, the washouts, and the walk-offs.
“b) The ones who stuck around.
“c) Eddie Murphy. . . .”
Colby, author of ‘Some of My Best Friends are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America,” also wrote, “Unfortunately, this is hardly a problem confined to America’s pre-eminent sketch comedy show. SNL’s current predicament is a perfect example of why our national conversation about diversity spins in place and never actually goes anywhere. For years now, from our television screens to our corporate boardrooms, we’ve been watching a tug of war take place: racial-justice advocates demanding more and more diversity and exasperated hiring managers exclaiming, We can’t find any diversity! We’re looking hard, we promise!
“One reason these two factions keep talking past each other is that they’re talking about two completely different things. When racial-justice advocates call for more diversity, what they’re saying is that the hiring pipelines into America’s majority-white industries need to be expanded to include a truly multicultural array of voices and talents from all ethnic corners of America; they want equal opportunity for minorities who don’t necessarily conform to the social norms of the white majority.
“When exasperated hiring managers use the word diversity, what they really mean is that they’re looking for assimilated diversity — people like [Maya] Rudolph and Zamata. More Bill Cosbys. More Will Smiths. Faces and voices that are black but nonetheless reflect a cultural bearing that white people understand and feel comfortable with. . . .”
Colby noted that the largest category of black talent hired for “SNL” ended up in the “disgruntleds, the washouts, and the walk-offs” category.
He continued, “Maya Rudolph, for instance, has no shortage of talent, but her success on the show probably had as much to do with her ability to form relationships with white people as it did her ability to land a joke. Because that’s what working at Saturday Night Live is. It’s not performing live on television at 11:30 on Saturday night. It’s hanging out with a peer group of mostly white writers, producers, and crew members and forming the relationships necessary to be given the opportunity to perform live on television at 11:30 on Saturday night — something Garrett Morris learned only in hindsight. . . .”
Colby also said, “To talk about assimilation takes the onus off of NBC’s human resources department and puts it squarely on the shoulders of the rest of us. In other words, it’s not just SNL that needs more racial integration. Comedians do, in their personal lives. Which will require a greater commitment on the part of government to create housing, education, and other policies that allow for greater social mobility for minorities, a willingness on the part of white people to learn how to share their toys, and a willingness on the part of black people to jettison romantic notions of multiculturalism and ethic nationalism and to jump in the melting pot with the rest of us … a fundamental reordering of society, in other words. . . .”
Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVIII will be the first played outdoors in a cold-weather city, the first to be televised in Spanish, and will boast 104 stations broadcasting live from Super Bowl Radio Row in New York.
“Not only do you have stations from Denver, Seattle and New York, the cities that have the most interest in this year’s Big Game, but you have also have stations from as far away as Australia that will beam their shows live to their listeners back home,” Ken Fang reported Friday for awfulannouncing.com.
According to research by the MediaVest media agency, 52 percent of Super Bowl television viewers plan to use their mobile phones during the Denver Broncos-Seattle Seahawks matchup and another 23 percent will be using their tablets, Broadcasting Cable reported on Friday.
With all the talk about the weather for Sunday’s game, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell lamented that the two teams playing should have the spotlight instead of the Doppler radar, Tim Baysinger wrote for Broadcasting Cable. “People seem to be overlooking the great teams that we have here,” Goodell said Friday at a State of the League news conference. “I think the game itself is going to carry the day and it should.”
For Pam Oliver, Fox Sports veteran sideline reporter, this Super Bowl could be her last, Bob Raissman reported Wednesday for the Daily News in New York
” ‘Look, it (that Sunday could be her last game for Fox) has entered my mind. I’m a realist,’ she said. ‘My husband cautioned me, admonished me really, not to treat this as a farewell tour.’
“Easier said than done.”
Raissman also wrote, “All season long, Oliver, who has been with Fox for 19 years, 12 working as sideline reporter with the No. 1 team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, watched the Foxies continue treating Erin Andrews like a queen, giving her a major push on college football and NFL telecasts. Andrews has joined Oliver on the sidelines during the postseason. The Foxies all but fit Oliver for a second-team jersey.
“Or were they just greasing the skids for her exit? . . .”
Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos will face off against Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks in MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. EST.
“Fox Deportes, formerly Fox Sports en Español, is airing the game Sunday for the first time with three commentators and a sideline reporter,” Bianca Prieto reported Wednesday for the Denver Post.
” ‘It’s about time the Spanish-speaking people get to watch a Super Bowl without having to hit the SAP button on the remote,’ said Fox Deportes broadcaster John Laguna. ‘All the Super Bowls have been broadcast (in parts of Latin America), it’s surprising it has taken so long … this should have happened 10 years ago. . . .’ “
Jerry Brewer, sports columnist for the Seattle Times, wrote Thursday, “For a change, the matchup is worthy of the hype.
“The Seahawks and Denver Broncos are true dominant teams with dissimilar styles. It’s the league’s best defense (Seattle) against its best offense (Denver). And for only the second time in 20 years, the No. 1 seeds in each conference have made it to the big game. . . .”
Tony Castro, writing Tuesday for voxxi.com, noted another milestone. “It may be historic — the first time three Hispanics have been starters on a Super Bowl team. The National Football League says it does not keep those kinds of statistics, but an unofficial check of former Super Bowl teams suggests this is unprecedented,” Castro wrote.
Castro quoted Broncos guard Louis Vasquez, “I don’t think there’s ever been two Hispanics on the same team.” His Hispanic teammates are running back Knowshon Moreno and center Manny Ramirez.
As reported earlier this week, among the commercials will be “another 30-second parable about diversity,” during the year’s biggest showcase for advertising, Stuart Elliot wrote for the New York Times.
“The brand is Cheerios cereal, which introduced in May a commercial featuring an interracial family that unexpectedly generated an outpouring of vituperative online remarks. Instead of shying away from the controversy, the maker of Cheerios, General Mills, has decided to bring out a sequel during this Sunday’s championship game, probably in the first half.
“The new Cheerios commercial represents the first time that the brand, introduced in 1941, will be advertised in a Super Bowl. The sequel features the same cast members portraying the same contemporary family as in the original: black father, white mother and biracial daughter. . . .”
Some viewers will be tuning in to see Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, whose brash talk in a post-game interview with Andrews lit up the Internet with disparagements of the African American Stanford graduate as a “thug.”
Brewer interviewed Sherman on “Media Day” Tuesday. “It felt like a normal chat with Sherman at his locker. He was engaging and eloquent,” Brewer wrote. “He gave thoughtful answers to every question, even the dumb ones. If Richard being Richard is how people explain his passionate, unsportsmanlike conduct after the NFC Championship Game, then what was Tuesday’s performance?
“Richard being Richard, too.
“Richard being the best of Richard. . . .”
“A Media Matters review of the Sunday morning political talk shows finds that white males largely dominated the guest lists in 2013. Rob Savillo reported Thursday for Media Matters for America.
“MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry and Up with Steve Kornacki achieved greater ethnic and gender diversity than the broadcast shows or CNN’s State of the Union. Overall, conservatives outnumbered progressives on the four broadcast Sunday morning shows.”
The subheads tell the story: “White Men Represented The Largest Proportion Of Guests On Every Show,” “White Men Represented The Largest Proportion Of Solo Interviews,” “White Men Were Overrepresented On Broadcast And CNN,” “More Than 70 Percent Of Broadcast And CNN Guests Were Men,” “White People Were An Overwhelming Majority Of Broadcast And CNN Guests,” “Top Ten Solo Interview Guests Are All Men, Only One Person Of Color,” “White, Conservative Men Were the Largest Demographic Group On The Broadcast Sunday Morning Shows,” and “On Broadcast Shows, Republicans And Conservatives Hosted More Often Than Democrats And Progressives Overall.”
“MSNBC President Phil Griffin apologized to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Thursday for a tweet suggesting conservatives ‘hate’ interracial marriages and ‘dismissed’ the staffer who authored it to me,” Dylan Byers reported Thursday for Politico.
” ‘The tweet last night was outrageous and unacceptable. We immediately acknowledged that it was offensive and wrong, apologized, and deleted it. We have dismissed the person responsible for the tweet,’ Griffin wrote in a statement.
” ‘I personally apologize to Mr. Priebus and to everyone offended,’ he continued. ‘At msnbc we believe in passionate, strong debate about the issues and we invite voices from all sides to participate. That will never change.’
“Earlier on Thursday, Priebus sent a letter to Griffin announcing that he would ban all staff members and surrogates from appearing on the liberal news network until Griffin personally and publicly apologized. Priebus also said he had ‘asked Republican surrogates and officials to follow our lead.’
“Following Griffin’s apology, RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer sent a memo to staff informing them that the chairman had accepted Griffin’s apology.”
Byers also wrote, “The tweet, which MSNBC posted on Wednesday night, directed readers to an MSNBC article about a Cheerios Super Bowl ad that features a biracial family. ‘Maybe the rightwing will hate it, but everyone else will go awww: the adorable new #Cheerios ad w/ biracial family,’ the tweet read.“
Erik Wemple added Thursday for the Washington Post: “Note, too, the wording in the apology regarding the firing: ‘We have dismissed the person responsible for the tweet.’ It doesn’t say that they’ve dismissed the person who wrote the tweet, merely the person ‘responsible’ for it. As argued earlier on the Erik Wemple Blog, ‘responsibility’ for that tweet could well encompass many different folks at the network. . . .”
“The United Nations has expressed concern about the ‘increasingly severe clampdown and physical attacks’ on journalists in Egypt, singling out three Al Jazeera reporters held for more than a month,” Al Jazeera reported on Friday.
“In a statement released on Friday, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said the clampdown on the media by Egyptian authorities was hampering the ability of journalists to operate freely.
” ‘In recent months, there have been numerous reports of harassment, detention and prosecution of national and international journalists as well as violent attacks, including several that led to injuries to reporters trying to cover last weekend’s third anniversary of the Egyptian revolution,’ ” said Rupert Colville, the commissioner’s spokesman.
“The UNHCR said it was concerned about the Egyptian Prosecutor-General’s intention to bring to trial 16 local and three foreign journalists working for Al Jazeera, on charges including ‘aiding a terrorist group’ and ‘harming the national interest. . . .”
“Next to Latinos, the Asian-American community is the second-largest demographic group likely to be impacted by the expected changes in the nation’s immigration policy,” Ana Gonzalez-Barrera and Mark Hugo Lopez reported Thursday for the Pew Research Center. “President Obama and Democrats in Congress are pushing for reform this year, and Republicans are expected to offer specific proposals in the coming weeks.
“Asian Americans comprised five percent of the U.S. population in 2012. The largest Asian origin groups are Chinese (24%), Indian (20%) and Filipino (18%). Eight-in-ten (79%) of the nation’s 12.2 million Asian-American adults are foreign born, a share greater than that among Hispanic adults (50%). Asian Americans also make up a larger share than Hispanics of new immigrants arriving in the U.S., making the topic of immigration reform an important one to the Asian-American community.
“When it comes to evaluations of how well the current U.S. immigration system is working, Asian Americans are split. 45% say the system ‘works pretty well and requires only minor changes’ while 47% say the system ‘needs to be completely rebuilt’ or ‘needs major changes,’ according to a recent survey of Asian-American adults from the Pew Research Center. . . .”
“More networks than ever before covered the State of the Union address Tuesday night, but the total audience still came in lower than any year since 2000,” Bill Carter reported Wednesday for the New York Times.
“President Obama’s speech was seen by 33.3 million viewers, according to figures published by Nielsen. That was down just a touch from the 33.5 million who watched last year, but far off Mr. Obama’s initial ‘SOTU’ in 2009, when he was seen by 52.3 million viewers. . . .”
Asian American groups reached agreement with ABC Television officials last week after meeting about an October “Jimmy Kimmel Live” show in which a child joked about killing Chinese people to avoid paying down U.S. debt to the country.
Kimmel asked a group of children how the United States should pay back the $1.3 trillion it owes to China, the world’s second-largest economy.
A 6-year-old said, “Kill everyone in China.” Kimmel replied: “That’s an interesting idea.”
OCA leaders identified the ABC executives present as Paul Lee, president, ABC Entertainment Group; Hope Hartman, vice president of corporate communications; Steve Milovich, senior vice president of global human resources, talent and workforce diversity; Olivia Cohen-Cutler, senior vice president of broadcast standards and practices; and Tim McNeal, vice president of talent development and diversity.
The Asian Pacific American Media Coalition also participated.
“This morning, my colleague Travis Waldron published an important and exhaustive account of how the term ‘Redskins’ turned into a slur and became deeply intertwined with the growth of football in America, and of the forty-year campaign to end the Washington, DC football team’s use of the name,” Alyssa Rosenberg wrote Thursday for Think Progress. It’s a fascinating history. And in the course of reporting it, we asked the team for comment.
“What we got was more revealing than the team intended. Travis was copied on a series of emails between Tony Wyllie, the organization’s vice president of communications, and a group of men he’d consulted about Travis’s question. They included Republican messaging consultant Frank Luntz, former Virginia governor and Senator (and son of a former Redskins head coach) George Allen, and former George W. Bush administration White House press secretary Ari Fleischer.
“Travis was asking basic questions about the origin story the team relies on to justify its use of the name — the organization says they chose ‘Redskins’ to honor a coach who may not have been Native American at all — and the organization’s reaction to a pending trademark case and public criticism. In response, Bruce Allen, the team’s executive vice president and general manager, called those queries ‘ignorant.’ . . .”
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