EntertainmentSnob, MediaSnob, Obamarama, PopCulturalist

Mara Brock Akil and Bill Cosby on TV’s “Obama Effect”

TV producer/writer Mara Brock Akil and successful old coot/comic, Bill CosbyBoth “Girlfriends” and “The Game” creator, Mara Brock Akil and comedian, TV pioneer, resident “Old Man Who Doesn’t Care What YOU Think Anymore” Bill Cosby both gave their takes on how Barack Obama’s presidency would affect the number of African Americans on scripted television.

Naturally, the recently screwed over, but resilient Akil and the “screwed over in the past,” but once highly successful Cosby had very, very different outlooks.

“(T)hese people are stupid,” (Cosby) says, referring to network bosses. “Look at how NBC is struggling. You would think they would make some changes and be talking about trying to get another ‘Cosby’ kind of show. But they would probably die before putting another show on about a black family and black pride.”

Brock Akil, however, has a bit more hope for the network that also aired the groundbreaking show “Julia” (1968-71), with Diahann Carroll; and “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” (1990-96), with Will Smith. NBC recently bought from her a script based on a book by Nick Adams called “Making Friends With Black People.” It’s a buddy comedy that focuses on the state of race relations in the U.S.

“In our pitch to NBC, we referenced Obama,” says Brock Akil. “We talked about how he has gotten us to the table to talk about race in a meaningful way and it’s time to continue the discussion. So our new president has already had an impact.”

(Source: Kansas City Star)

You know what? They’re BOTH right! The executives are idiots, but TV is always changing! The sun will come out tomorrow! And hey, does this mean Akil will get another shot at producing a new show? Bully for her!

Now, would someone give Kasi Lemmons a break? What’s the point in being a brilliant filmmaker if you can’t get one or two “money jobs” to pay for your pet projects? She’s obviously beyond “hack” level as a competent director. They couldn’t have picked HER to make the stupid Twilight sequel? She might have actually rendered the damn original watchable for me.

I mean, “Eve’s Bayou” totally could have been about vampires. Totally.

Or maybe she doesn’t want to do genre films for the cash?

What am I saying? Black people are desperate for work in Hollywood. OF COURSE she’d take a non-shitty genre fiction job to pay for the next “Caveman’s Valentine.” I get wanting to be an artist, but no one should have to be a starving artist. There must be some sappy Reese Witherspoon Rom-com she could shepherd until the next great vanity project comes along.

That said, once again, Barack Obama is not some magic salve you can wipe on your TV show pilot and get it magically green lit.

Or is he? I wonder if I can get the president to “lay hands” on my laptop? Someone has to buy my romantic comedy that I wrote to star nothing-but-Negroes — all-based on the Snob family — and a hot Asian American guy, and turn them all into white people named “Becky” and the hot Asian dude to Taye Diggs. Gah! Taye Diggs!

What am I saying? That part is totally a Will Smith-worthy thing to rewrite-and-ruin. (Dream big, little Snob!) Will, call me. I’ve got a rom-com you can butcher for cheap! You and the wife could actually star opposite of each other, but … warning, you spend the first 100 pages of the script fighting and Jada would be the “star.” Is that cool?

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17 thoughts on “Mara Brock Akil and Bill Cosby on TV’s “Obama Effect”

  1. canuck says:

    seriously Dont know how black actors effing do it. I bow down to them surviving in that environment. I wish I can say I believe that Hollywood will take the hint, but I seriously doubt it. Really how do you justify a world where Angela Bassest can’t get a job, and Julia Roberts keeps getting nominated for Oscars.

  2. cdf says:

    Heck, it’s "their" playground for whatever programing they want shown. I’ll co-sign Cosby’s view in that these network cats are silly and probably insane with the stuff that gets green-lighted.

  3. Nisha says:

    I totally agree! Did you see the mess that was Ryan Seacrests’s "Momma’s Boys"??? How is it okay to promote crappy reality TV where blacks are lowered to the position of unwanted and inevitably discarded contestants in a battle against still-pubescent men and their deranged mothers??? Don’t even get me started, lol! On a positive note, the Game is doing well, and I’m seeing consistently growing rolls from black actors/actresses in prime time drama (Grey’s Anatomy, House).

  4. Grey’s is not about black people, neither is House. It is the same formulaic stuff with a black writer to throw us off. lolGirlfriends was good but how about a serious drama about african americans that has nothing to do with drugs (The Wire) or poverty. Something quirky without being overly comedic.

  5. Lady M says:

    I agree with Cosby, as well. If only there was another Cosby family show, something with the right mix of humor and realism to project what black people actually go through in today’s world, for this generation. Perferably middle class blacks, and not the cliche "going to college to escape the ghetto" thing.

  6. Danielle keep writing. I was venting to my manager last week. He told me not to give up. I believe there is an audience for the type of movies you’re writing.What is going on in Hollywood? Remember in the late 90s/early 2000’s there were a bunch of commercial "black" movies that made money. Best Man, Love and Basketball, hell even Two Can Play That Game. It’s like we’re going backwards. Good point about Kasi and Twilight. Was her name even on the list? grrr

  7. lincolnperry says:

    Can you say TYLEEEEEEEER Perry, he should get to gether as executive producer, and turn a couple of his novels into films, as long as it doesn’t offend his church going base.

  8. We all know this is about money. Advertising dollars, backers, producers …. money, money, money.If you want more African American shows, movies, actors/actresses, boycott advertisers who don’t hire African Americans … boycott Theatres, Movie Studios, etc. who don’t hire African Americans or produce movies with African American content. I challenge you. It takes sacrifice and guts to change the world. Show me you have both!

  9. Noelani says:

    I agree with just about everything that’s been said here. The last person that commented, ,b.Clevelands Secret Club,/b., is right … but I’d also say, instead of waiting on Hollywood to change, why not try to build our on. If we build it they will come, right? What about our daughters,. had a great series a couple of weeks ago, about this very issue and a lot of great ideas was thrown around. We could make our own films, like what Oscar Micheaux did back in the day. He did that between 1919-1948, in the heat of Jim Crow. If he could get films made during that time that did not place Blacks in roles where they were portrayed as caricatures … then sure as hell in 2009 those of us with the, talent, power, influence, money and connections to make it happen, can too. We weren’t getting put on by Hollywood back then, but it was still possible, it can be today too, with or without the fact that we have a Black President.either

  10. Noelani says:

    I agree with just about everything that’s been said here. The last person that commented, is right … but I’d also say, instead of waiting on Hollywood to change, why not try to build our on. If we build it they will come, right? What about our daughters had a great series a couple of weeks ago, about this very issue and a lot of great ideas was thrown around. If we could make our own, films, like what Oscar Micheaux did. He did that between 1919-1948, in the heat of Jim Crow. If he could get films made during that time that did not place Blacks in roles where they were portrayed as caricatures … then sure as hell in 2009 those of us with the, talent, power, influence, money and connections to make it happen, can too. We weren’t getting put on by Hollywood back then, but it was still possible, it can be today too, with or without the fact that we have a President Obama.

  11. Buck says:

    Nothing can change until each representation in the broad spectrum of our viewing tastes proves viable. Why complain about the abandance of movies with black men in drag when they are so successful? When movies are made with universal themes that HAPPEN to star black leads, we don’t support them (unless it’s a Will Smith joint, and even then, only if it’s not too serious). Remember City of Angels on TV? No, but during that time period Bob Johnson was making a mint from booty videos on BET. His rationale? I’m only broadcasting what the audience wants. And then Viacom wanted a piece of the action so they made Johnson a billioniare.Akeelah and the Bee, Traitor (a great recent film with Don Cheadle), and the aforementioned Eve’s Bayou were movies of three different gneres, three stories that involved black characters, but weren’t about the "black struggle" per se. Combined they made less than money than "Soul Plane". Even when narrowing the scope to Tyler Perry movies for instance… Daddies Girls, Why Did I get Married, and The Family That Preys all got less support than the Madea films. Do we REALLY want more than chitlin’ humor? Really?Regardless of mainstream support, whose fault is it that WE don’t demand and support well rounded depctions of ourselves? TV and movie execs may not have our best interest at heart, but why should they be our concious and our saviors? They follow the money, and we continue to rewarded them for financing only the sterotypical fare.

  12. ezparz says:

    I’m so bored of watching white people and white culture on TV. It’s not just about skin color. There’s plenty of whites, myself included, who interact with, absorb and seek out Black and diverse culture and want it in media. The Matrix series was so refreshing in its diversity. Why can’t other movies follow suit???It’s like the auto companies refusing to build hybrids and efficient cars. It eventually will drive them into the ground. As America becomes more diverse, TV will only fail if it refuses to acknowledge this diversity.

  13. Knoxus says:

    I agree with the previous commentor…You know…the GLBT community has done wonders on that front in recent movie history. They saw that there was room for entertainment where gay characters were more than the funny neighbor or best friend with the great fashion sense. So you get you and your friends/associates together and you make independent movies about things that matter to you. You cannot tell me that their arent enough blacks in hollywood to finance independent movies that sweep film festivals and get picked up by major distributors. You can’t wait on hollywood to recognize you, you have to build your audience, educate it if you have to, and make it work for you. Black people spend too much money for black actors or us for that matter to simply call them ignorant and ignore them,…because corporate America, has nothing to lose by catering to the and bleeding them dry for true culture.

  14. Lady J says:

    Cosby is on the money, but I doubt any of the 4 networks will get on board with what they now consider "niche" audiences. I hope Akil’s buddy comedy is of better quality than "Girlfriends." Ugh.If only this was just about money….

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