*On Friday, January 28 EURweb.com informed our readers of the new TV One series titled “Way Black When,” a month long initiative by TV One to celebrate Black History Month.
The centerpiece is “Way Black When: Primetime” and it is being described as a retrospective on black entertainment from the 70s, 80s and 90s and is slated to debut tonight January 31st at 10pm Eastern. The one-hour segment will air everyday for four-weeks and will conclude with a grand finale.
Veteran funnyman Sinbad will bring audiences on a funky ride through the 70s while voluptuous actress/comedienne Niecy Nash will cover the 80s. Former rapper turned television personality Christopher “Kid” Reid will showcase the talent of the 90s.
EURweb.com’s Lee Bailey recently chatted with Kid about his role in this offering and how it all went down.
“I had actually been approached by the head of programming for TV One, Toni Judkins,” he explained. “I was approached by her over 2 years ago. We had a great relationship. I originally started on TV One with the first episode of the show ‘Life After’ and we enjoyed a very positive and fruitful relationship. They brought me in early on and asked me was if I interested in doing it. Originally they brought me in to do the 80s but eventually they had me doing the 90s.”
“For me this is right up my alley with the talk show. I’ve been trying to do this for a long time,” said Kid. “I think it’s a real specific skill set that I’ve been working on for a long time and I thought I could bring something to the table.”
Apparently TV One thought he could bring something to the table as well. As you may know Kid is a member of the old-school rap duo Kid-N-Play, which was known primarily for party friendly songs, cutting edge dance moves and comic punch lines. The duo also starred in the “House Party” trilogy in which Martin Lawrence initially was allowed to showcase his talents. Reid also says, in addition to “Way Black When” he may have some other things in the works as well.
“There has been talk, not only for myself as an individual, but possibly for Kid-N-Play based potential projects,” Reid told Uncle Lee. “I think we both kind of fit into what TV One is trying to do with a celebrity-reality type of vibe. Moving forward, we know what we want to do. But, as networks tend to do, they’re going to take a wait and see approach to see how people are going to respond to “Way Black When” and this new kind of format. Moving forward, if they would consider this as a weekly or a daily I would love to be considered for it.”
So “Way Black When” could be the start of something grand for Kid and partner Play as well. In addition, there are whispers of behind the scenes works for him as well.
“Also we’re talking about shows that I may not the host of but more of a creator or producer,” he explained. “As you get older I think you always have to look at transitioning. Not only for in front of the camera but more so behind the camera as well. So I think they’re going to take a wait and see on ‘Way Black When’ and see how it does. People reacted well to the ‘LisaRaye show’ so they brought that back; people didn’t react so well to the Omarosa show so they probably won’t be bringing that back.”
Judging from what we already know, and from what our Lee Bailey has already seen, of “Way Black When” it sounds as if it’s going to be a high-quality offering. Reid says despite the show being based on talent that may not be considered relevant to younger audiences, its talk/variety show format is something that’s largely missing on evening television. Aside from Mo’Nique’s highly successful offering on BET there are no other shows of geared toward a grown and sexy late night audience.
“I think one of the things that’s been missing from a black talent point of view for at least the last few decades is the talk variety show,” said Kid. “We went from a time of plenty with ‘Arsenio’ and moved forward with Keenan and Sinbad and ‘Vibe’ with Chris Spencer, and Magic. Then it became like scorched earth. People were kind of off that format and maybe thought that black people were not interested in watching something like that.”
But we all know that’s not true. Just ask Mo’Nique. The difference between Mo’Nique’s offering and “Way Black When” is obvious as the latter looks to entertain and teach the masses about our beautiful culture over three decades while the former has a more traditional format.
“Then you bring in the format of the 70s, 80s and 90s and you bring in the artists from those decades and you may find out things you really didn’t know and find out whose working on albums and so forth,” he explained. “You’ve got somebody like Mario Van Peebles, who we know from movies, but there’s a lot of things that happen behind the scenes that I really didn’t know about before we talked to him.”
As of late Reid has been working more and more with TV One. OK, everybody needs a job and working for TV One ain’t a bad job to have. But Chris says for him it goes a little deeper than that.
“That’s why I work with TV One so much, because I really believe in their overall mission and goal and that’s celebrating and honoring black creativity in all forms and fashions,” he explained. “From the artists to politics to comedy. All the different facets that we are. Sometimes we think that a lot of white people don’t know these stories, but a lot of brothers don’t know these stories as well. I think it’s important to educate the world as to where we’ve been and to where we’re going as well.”
The hosting duties are by individuals who at one time where considered household names in their respective fields. There was a span during the 90s when it seemed like Sinbad was in everything, Kid-N-Play proved themselves as triple-threats in film and music for a span of ten years and Niecy Nash is Niecy Nash. Nuff said! With 3 celebrity hosts there could be some perceived hateration in the mix, but Kid said there was nothing of the sort. It was just about the task at hand, making a quality show.
“It wasn’t just about me. I came down when Sinbad did his show, and when Niecy did her show. Just the atmosphere was awesome. There were so many different great people from the 70s, like Jayne Kennedy. Bobby Brown from the 80s, Guy, Christopher Williams from the 90s and Mint Condition was the house band so I was able to do a lot of really cool things with them.”
In the past there have been talk/variety shows marketed towards African Americans that have not quite lived up to our high standards of entertainment quality, and there have been shows that went toe-to-toe with some of the big boys. Kid believes this show exudes quality.
“It’s such a great celebration that I have no doubt that it will be well received,” he explained. “One of things that people look for from a black talk show is quality. Does it look good on television or does it look cheap? I remember times when BET has tried to launch talks shows in the past. They had one with John Salley, they had Michael Collier. Those were great dudes and friends of mine, but I always had the feeling the shows were not quite as polished as Arsenio had been or as the Vibe show had been or as the ‘Tonight Show’ or ‘Conan’. With this one, it looked great while we were doing it. As a black person I know that’s what we look for. We’re looking to see if it looks cheap or not. We look to see if there’s a certain level of quality and when we see that quality we like that and we support that because we feel like that casts us in a very good light, and it’s entertaining. It looks like it could stand up against comparable shows on television, black or white.”
“Way Black When: Prime Time” debuts tonight, Monday, January 31. Celebrity guests will include the likes of Jayne Kennedy, Bell Biv Devoe, Larry Graham of Graham Central Station, Doug E. Fresh, Jody Watley, Cuba Gooding Sr, Kool Moe Dee and many, many others. If you miss its initial airing at 10pm EST you can catch again at 1am Eastern.
For photos, show clips, schedule of programs and more, go here: http://wayblackwhen.tvoneonline.com/tvone/.