Roots Miniseries: A Cultural Phenomenon

In the simpler media landscape of the late ‘70s, networks considered a show a blockbuster if it was watched in three of every 10 households. When “Roots,” a 12-hour miniseries exploring the multi-generational story of an African-American family, made its historic premiere on ABC during the last week of January in 1977, it could be found on more than half of the nation’s televisions (that night in Los Angeles, the share was 67 percent).

When putting the estimated audience of 130 million into perspective, one network executive said, “it’s like millions of people reading the same book simultaneously.”

Author and journalist Alex Haley made his name exploring different chapters of the African-American story, from Malcolm X to Miles Davis, and the blockbuster miniseries adaptation of his best-selling 1976 masterpiece “Roots” was a prologue to them all. Haley’s family story tells “the symbolic saga of a people,” a tale far more universal than even the most compelling celebrity interview.
Chasing the answer to a simple question of origins, which required the author to spend 6,500 hours in 57 libraries and archives, led to profound answers.

Review: ‘The Girlfriend Experience’

The Girlfriend Experience” is a show about selling flesh, but its true fetish is for glass.

Set in the law offices, restaurants and pricey hotels of Chicago, this half-hour drama is in love, or lust, with glass-walled dining rooms, translucent office partitions, shimmering skyscraper exteriors. It relishes the gleaming curve of fine stemware; there are more crystal goblets filled with red wine than on “The Good Wife,” “Scandal” and the fourth hour of “Today” put together

That aesthetic — seductive and cool and expensive — captures both the tone and the subject of this icy but intriguing limited series, beginning on Sunday on Starz, about a law student who becomes an elite prostitute. (The full 13-episode series will be available to subscribers the same day, online and on demand.)

“The Girlfriend Experience” is “suggested by” the 2009 Steven Soderbergh film of the same title, but although Mr. Soderbergh is an executive producer, it’s no remake. Mr. Soderbergh’s slice of life was set amid the financial collapse of 2008, with the porn star Sasha Grey as an escort contemplating the next stage of her career. It was a moody, flat-affect film about money having its way even as money was losing its way.

For TV, Mr. Soderbergh handed off the title to the indie filmmakers Lodge Kerrigan and Amy Seimetz, who shared writing and directing duties. They’ve kept some of the art house sensibility but reconceived the story as a business-of-pleasure bildungsroman.

Christine Reade, played by Riley Keough (“Mad Max: Fury Road”), starts an internship at a law firm, where she’s quickly caught up in office politics involving two ambitious partners, David (Paul Sparks, “Boardwalk Empire”) and Erin (Mary Lynn Rajskub, “24”). Her law school friend Avery (Kate Lyn Sheil) has taken an alternative career track in the sex trade, specializing in a “girlfriend experience” or “GFE”— the temporary, bespoke semblance of a relationship.

American Crime Story: People vs. O.J. Simpson

Tuesday’s finale of “American Crime Story: The People vs. O. J. Simpson” on FX wrapped up an addictive, multifaceted look at “the trial of the century” and how its lessons on race, gender, celebrity and social class still haunt the country more than 20 year later. It also brought a blessed end to the weekly torments visited upon Christopher Darden, the co-prosecutor who, along with Marcia Clark, fails to convict Mr. Simpson of double homicide in the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

[Recap: “The People v. O.J. Simpson” Finale]

As Mr. Darden, the actor Sterling K. Brown has been the agonized face of a sure-thing prosecution gone horribly awry. Mr. Brown exposes the raw emotions of a man whose commitment to justice was answered by setbacks, ridicule and, finally, a “not guilty” verdict after only four hours of deliberation.

Though Mr. Brown has found consistent work in television and film for more than a decade, his performance stands to be the one true breakthrough in a cast loaded with familiar faces. On the weekend before the finale, Mr. Brown chatted on the telephone about Mr. Darden’s terrible poker face and the experience of being part of a water-cooler show. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

First Look At ‘Downton Abbey’s’ First Black Cast Member Played By Gary Carr (Teaser Trailer)

www.indiewire.comAs you may recall last year, Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes announced that he intended to introduce a black character to the show’s cast for its fourth season. And what better way to attract more diverse  viewers? And it was later announced that the character will be played by Gary Carr, who many of you will know from his role as the young ambitious cop Fidel Best on the BBC series Death in Paradise. In the upcoming season 4, Carr will play a singer at an exclusive night club. The character he plays has been described as “a charming and charismatic young man.” One of the producers of the series said that Carr’s addition to the cast “will bring interesting twists to the drama which we can’t wait for viewers to see in series four.Hmmmmmmmmmm… What could that mean? I think I have a guess.

Here’s the first trailer for season 4, which premieres in the U.S. on PBS in January 2014:

Are you watching: Real Husbands of Hollywood?

ImageWe’ve been hearing about it for months but tonight Kevin Hart’s latest project, Real Husbands of Hollywood, finally makes its debut tonight on BET.

What can we expect?

While it’s not a spoof show, the comedy which was inspired by Hart’s 2011 BET Awards show skit-turned-series will mock fun at the ever popular, all-female reality shows that have taken over.

“I’m a genius so I came up with this idea to do a show within a show,” Hart told The Insider. “Everybody watches [reality shows] and we all gossip about it. So I said, why don’t I put a group of men together that can be a version of what those women are but in a comedic form?”

Fair enough.

All playing “versions” of themselves, the cast includes Hart, Nick Cannon, Robin Thicke, J.B. Smoove, Nelly, Boris Kodjoe and Duane Martin. Fun ensues when the guys crack jokes about …well, being husbands and living in Hollywood. For the record,

With the Los Angeles Times calling the show a “(mostly) black Curb Your Enthusiasm (indeed, Curb executive producer Tim Gibbons is an executive producer of RHH as well), there seems to be a pretty hefty amount of anticipation for the show.