Tuesday, September 2, 2014
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Keyshia Cole's Reality 

And “The Way It Is”For Show Producer James DuBose

By Stephanie Frederic
Sentinel Entertainment Editor
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I called my mother the other night and inquired what she was doing. To my surprise, she said, “I’m watching Keyshia Cole on BET.” I said you mean you’re watching a music video? She responded, “No, her reality show.” I couldn’t believe it.

My highly-educated sixty-year old mother, a kindergarten school teacher in Central Louisiana, was spending her precious spare time glued to the big screen because she is “so vested” into the R&B singer’s real life drama playing out before the world with cameras rolling. “This is very interesting,” my Mom said.

“My biggest concern with the show was trying to find some laughter, some comedy to offset all the drama and all the conflict - usually it’s just the opposite.”
James DuBose 

Truly - that’s just the way it is. From six to sixty, it seems like everyone is watching the BET hit docudrama, Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is. Give much credit to Keyshia and her compelling life story and how she was able to rise from a very rough and tough beginning in Oakland, CA, dealing with a drug addicted mother, and sister and lots of other drama to become a critically-acclaimed, platinum-selling R&B superstar.

But most of the accolades should also go to the show’s LA-based executive producer James DuBose of DuBose Entertainment. It’s Dubose who each week keeps the series from becoming another reality show embarrassment a la “Flava Flav and Flava of Love” and instead he delivers a compelling and cleverly produced series that shows the real side of this young lady’s life - which is ironically a rarity in reality TV. In doing show, DuBose shows he really cares about Keyshia and her seemingly hard-to-love-at-times family.

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Veteran TV Producer James DuBose

For the 40-year old DuBose, the owner of the highly successful Dubose Entertainment, this isn’t his first time dipping into the reality show pool. He helped produced other hit shows like “Blind Date”, “Fifth Wheel” and most recently MTV’s “Run’s House,” but this time he’s come up with pure gold and he knows it.

“I’m most proud of this show,” he says. “In terms of pure story telling and just reality, it’s a real organic, heart-wrenching story that everyone, black, white, brown and otherwise can take and learn something and apply it to their own difficult situation they may be going through. There really hasn’t been a show that has done that and it happens in every episode of this series.”

The first season gave viewers insight into Keyshia early life’s and how she got to the top of the music charts which was an amazing story all by itself. Keyshia Cole was created for reality TV. She appears so real, so unaware of the cameras and like her or not, she’s just being who she really is and her fans get to watch the “realness” or some say “ugliness” in her life unfold on national TV.

This season, Keyshia has invited several members of her family to live in her multi-million dollar Atlanta mansion, including her mother, recently released from prison after serving three years for drug-related charges, and her sister, Neffie, who suffers from alcoholism. As you might imagine, no good can come out of this especially since the star is also trying to deliver her next CD.

This is also the first time Keyshia, her mom and her sister have all lived under one roof.
“If I were writing a script I wouldn’t have been able to do what happened naturally in each of these shows,” says DuBose.

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“She’s like a little sister,” Dubose says of Keyshia Cole.  Pictured here (l-r) James Dubose, Keyshia Cole, and her manager Manny Halley.

The show could have been called “Keyshia and her kin and all their issues” because that’s what everyone in the star’s life seems to have. “The issues the mother still has and the sister still has and Keisha having to bear this on her shoulders while trying to put out a new album and still trying to advance her career – it’s phenomenal.”

Interestingly in the first show, Keyshia’s mom and sister have to play by her rules -- one of which includes no men in the house. Their response: "No company? Are we just going to look at each other? Are we in prison? We don't get no conjugal visits?" Neffie complains. "I still feel locked up," says her mother Frankie. "That's not a good way to feel, especially since I'm free. I don't want to feel locked up, so I gotta do me."

Keyshia soon questions whether her efforts to provide her family with such a cushy existence are really worth the toll it is taking on her personally. When she realizes that she cannot balance the pressures of her career with trying to help her mother and sister adapt to their new surroundings and sobriety, she seeks professional help.

Who’s idea was it to bring in counselors? You guessed it: executive producer James DuBose. (Any other Hollywood producer would have just let the train wreck pileup every week hoping for blockbuster ratings). Starting with this week’s show, the family is in therapy. “They were willing to do it and I was happy about that,” says the Wake Forest University graduate. “They all agreed it was best and even said people can learn from us and what we’re going through.”

Executives from BET and Interscope Records approached DuBose Entertainment a few years ago to produce the show. After working with P. Diddy and Bad Boy Entertainment overseeing “Run’s House,” Dubose went down to Atlanta to meet with Keyshia and her manager Manny Haley. While the execs may have anticipated “train wreck TV,” DuBose says he saw so much more substance and went for it.”

If you’ve seen the show, you know it does get pretty heated - lots of screaming, lots of tears and lots of conflict. “My biggest concern with the show was trying to find some laughter, some comedy to offset all the drama and all the conflict - usually it’s just the opposite. I’ve never been in this kind of situation.”

What makes Keyshia likable? DuBose with his team of producers have managed to soften her image and help everyone get to know the pint-sized singer with the giant-sized attitude. “She’s been hardened by her circumstances. I understand her. Any young woman who’s had to endure what she’s had to endure – you’d have a greater appreciation of her and why she acts the way she does sometimes,” DuBose says. “Deep down, she’s a very loving, caring individual. She wants to have the best life for herself and her family and she has forgiven her mother.”

How Keyshia and the fam cope with all the cameras in the house and on them most of the time – well – that’s something that will play out in future episodes (you’ll have to watch, I don’t want to spoil it for you). Obviously, there’s more drama to come for Keyshia. “I’m thankful that she trusted me enough to allow me in her life and for them to open up like that.” DuBose says.

BET must be thankful for DuBose as well. Right now, the savvy producer and his company are responsible for two of the network’s highest rated shows. In addition to “Keyshia,” DuBose is also producing the hit “Hell Date” and a new comedy show is on the horizon.

For the Greensboro, North Carolina native who came to LA in 1992, he’s living out a dream. “I wanted my name on the door” and now he’s got that and more.

So will there be a Keyshia Cole 3? “Absolutely,” DuBose says. “We’re talking about it right now. I would love to do a spinoff with Keyshia’s mom and her sister and show their growth, show them changing their lives after battling all their demons.”

Well, I know one person will be watching and that’s my mother. She’s hooked and “That’s the Way It Is.”

Keyshia Cole 2: The Way It Is airs Tuesdays at 10:30pm on BET.

Do you watch the show?  Be heard!  Voice your feelings abou tthe show.   {mxc}

Category: TV


 

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