Good friends, Tina Lawson and Cathy Hughes share a moment at the screening of new TV One series “MEDIA” during the Pan African Film Festival. (Photo by Brittany K. Jackson)
(l-r) Cast and crew Blue Kimble, Jillian Reeves, Stephen Bishop, Cathy Hughes, Penny Johnson Jerald, Brian White, Denise Boutte, Finesse Mitchell, Chrystee Pharris, and Stelio Savante pose for a picture on the red-carpet screening of “MEDIA” set to air February 25, 2017 on TV One. (Photo by Brittany K. Jackson)
The new TV One series “MEDIA” features a striking tale of “more money more problems” for a Black-owned entertainment company in Atlanta called JUMP. In an intricate twist of affairs, “MEDIA” explores the perks of a family placed in multifaceted positions of power, and the not so pleasurable aspects of the entertainment business and the intricate “office” politics taking place behind the scenes.
The genius behind the production is media mogul Cathy Hughes, who penned the show’s concept as a means to showcase Black people in roles of influence. The cast includes a lively mix of actors to bring the characters to life, including Pooch Hall, Denise Boutte, Stephen Bishop, Chrystee Pharris, Finesse Mitchell, Blue Kimble Jillian Reeves and Stelio Savante.
The show follows the life of an elegant, yet fierce woman who’s built an entertainment empire and her adult offspring, who each play an integral role in the family business. Once the family endures a public tragedy, the course of the company is changed as increased opposition knocks on the family’s front door. When the white sheep of the family is forced to assume an unanticipated rise to power and abandon his political career, the family is shown going to great lengths to keep the business afloat.
“Star Trek” actress Penny Johnson Jerald stars as JUMP’s CEO and matriarch of the family empire, a woman who’s not afraid to make tough decisions to protect her family and her billion-dollar entertainment business. Johnson says the show is a mark of family strength, unity and “about having a dream and keeping that dream alive and believing in yourself.”
Johnson says the series delves into the many facets of media and what strides those in power will take to stay on top. The actress says today, it’s important for the media to use their voices as a platform to communicate, educate and share knowledge in a society daunted by “fake news”.
Hughes says it took over eight years to get the green light to produce the series, cycling through the tide of new producers, writers and directors until it eventually became produced as a series. Hughes says that we can expect the series to bring “true stories” to the forefront, offering some substantial insight.
One story is set to include a salacious spin on a three decade-old international scandal concerning a Black journalist who claimed to have witnessed a heroin dealer shooting up an eight year-old child, from which she won a Pulitzer Prize. With suspicions that the story was completely false, Hughes conducted some first-hand research into the matter, until the journalist eventually admitted to fabricating the story and returned the prestigious prize.
Hughes says it happens far too often that we compromise our integrity to cast ourselves or other Black people into an unfavorable light. “Why is it that White people love to give awards to the portrayal of us in our lowest form, lower than dogs, and we win awards for that, we win Oscars for it?” Hughes says that while the show is by no means a documentary it is “entertainment with truth as the basis”.
Actor and “MEDIA” cast member Brian White says that the script offers a unique narrative rarely seen on television. “It’s a billion dollar industry and this show shines a light or exposes us to what the real world of fortune 500 companies is, what big business is with a black face on it. We haven’t seen in to a big boardroom, especially one run by a black female ever on TV, and there are hundreds of black billionaires,” White noted.
White hopes that the show will encourage Black youth to understand their value and diversify their career options as a means to attain true wealth. “Young people can’t replicate what they don’t see. Nobody on our show became wealthy by rapping or playing a sport,” he said.
White says “Howard School of Communications is now the Cathy Hughes School of Communications. So all of the little boys and girls that watch “MEDIA” can follow directly in Cathy’s footsteps, create a media company and become wealthy just like her, like Bob Johnson, like Oprah Winfrey, like Tyler Perry, and that’s a different kind of TV and inspirational type of TV, a TV that honors the American dream being live and well in our community and pushes kids to be a part of it,” White added.
Johnson also extolled Cathy Hughes’ creative genius as the mastermind behind the production. “I think she is a phenomenal woman. She is a woman of God, a woman of purpose, a woman of integrity and a woman of perseverance, so that’s the role model that we need, she’s certainly my role model,” Johnson affectionately declared.
The “MEDIA” series is set to premiere February 25, 2017 on TV One. For exclusive interviews with the cast, be sure to visit lasentinel.net.