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Oprah's OWN Weighs Targeting Black Viewers

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

"Sweetie Pie's" Reality Show Is Network's Most Highly Rated

T.J. Holmes Foresees "Huge Role" in News Coverage at BET

Cosmo Aims "Cosmopolitan Latina" at Bilingual Latin Women

Number of Imprisoned Journalists Highest Since Mid-1990s

Steve Kroft Interviews Obama Again for "60 Minutes"

Cain Says "Doors Are Open" to Radio and TV

Reporter Grills Team CEO Using Fake Transcript

Blacks More Sympathetic Than Whites on Immigration

Short Takes

Robbie Montgomery, in red, onetime backup singer for Ike & Tina Turner, took her mother's soul food recipes, passed down through generations, and created the empire known as "Sweetie Pie's," St. Louis' popular soul food restaurant run by Montgomery and her family. (credit: (video)

"Sweetie Pie's" Reality Show Is Network's Most Highly Rated

"Executives at OWN think they may have found a way to salvage Oprah Winfrey's struggling network: by catering more to an African-American audience. That may help ratings, but it would mean a dramatic shift, and one that could put the channel at odds with Winfrey's own brand," D.M. Levine wrote Thursday for Adweek.

"According to OWN president Erik Logan and Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav, the silver lining in an otherwise bleak performance record for the network since its launch last January is that it's performing particularly well among its African-American audience members — especially with a reality show called 'Welcome to Sweetie Pies' that premiered in October.

" 'Anytime you have a program that pops like 'Sweetie Pies' did, you start looking at what drove it,' Logan told Adweek. 'And we saw that the African-American audience really had a connection with that show. . . . We’re going to look at ways to nurture and grow that.'

"Since 'Welcome to Sweetie Pies' premiered, OWN has enjoyed an average prime-time viewership of around 216,000 people. 'Sweetie Pies' has seen an average audience of around 418,000, making it the highest rated show on the network by far in that period."

The show's website offers this introduction: "When Robbie Montgomery, a 1960's backup singer and former 'Ikette' of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, suffered a collapsed lung and had to stop singing, she decided to pour her talents into another creative venture — a soul food restaurant called Sweetie Pie's. At her family-oriented eatery, which she runs with her son, Tim, both hilarity and drama are offered in equal measure."

T.J. Holmes Foresees "Huge Role" in News Coverage at BET

T.J. HolmesIn an interview with Akoto Ofori-Atta of, CNN weekend anchor T.J. Holmes said Thursday that BET "brought me on because of my news background and for my news chops" and that he hopes to play "a huge role" in presenting "news coverage about things that matter" to the black community.

BET announced on Wednesday that it has hired Holmes and was developing projects for him. The announcement did not come from BET's news division, and Holmes' role was still being decided, the network said. Stephen G. Hill, president of music programming and specials at BET Networks, said in the release, "It's now upon us to develop vehicles that capture his intelligence, curiosity about the world, warmth, humor and compassion. It’s a challenge that we are happy to have."

Ofori-Atta asked Holmes, "What would you say to people who are wondering why you're leaving an established news channel for BET, which is not known most for its news programming?"

Holmes replied, "I would say wait until 2012. You have to start somewhere. BET certainly has a foundation in news programming and information programming. I think [beefing up its news programming] was a big part of BET wanting me to come on board, and a big part of me wanting to come on board. BET is saying, 'Here is what we're trying to do, and we're taking it so seriously that we went to go get this guy with this [news] background.'

"I could have stayed at CNN. I had the opportunity to do so. This wasn't about me looking for a job. I chose BET for a reason, for the opportunity that I did not have at CNN just because [they have] a different type of audience. I don't know when this opportunity would come along again, so I couldn't pass it up."

Michelle Herrera Mulligan, editor of Cosmopolitan Latina, left, and Don

Cosmo Aims "Cosmopolitan Latina" at Bilingual Women

"With the Census Bureau counting nearly 25 million Latin women in the United States, marketers and media companies have started getting excited about the potential to reach them," Tanzina Vega reported Thursday for the New York Times.

"Among the most recent initiatives is a new publication, Cosmopolitan Latina, that will start publishing in May and will be aimed at American-born Latin women who are bicultural and bilingual.

". . . Hearst, which owns Cosmopolitan, plans to start with one issue in the spring and one in the fall, and at first, it will publish 545,000 copies that will be made available in states like Texas, California, Florida and New York, which have large Latino populations.

"Latin women represent a 'core Cosmo brand,' accounting for one in every four subscribers," said Donna Kalajian Lagani, senior vice president, publishing director and chief revenue officer at Cosmopolitan. "The core subscriber base for the print edition of Cosmopolitan is 1.45 million in the United States."

Number of Imprisoned Journalists Highest Since Mid-1990s

"The number of journalists imprisoned worldwide shot up more than 20 percent to its highest level since the mid-1990s, an increase driven largely by widespread jailings across the Middle East and North Africa, the Committee to Protect Journalists has found," the committee said Thursday. "In its annual census of imprisoned journalists, CPJ identified 179 writers, editors, and photojournalists behind bars on December 1, an increase of 34 over its 2010 tally.

"Iran was the world’s worst jailer, with 42 journalists behind bars, as authorities kept up a campaign of anti-press intimidation that began after the country’s disputed presidential election more than two years ago. Eritrea, China, Burma, Vietnam, Syria, and Turkey also ranked among the world’s worst."

President Obama in Osawatomie, Kan., with Steve Kroft of "60 Minutes." Sunday's broadcast will mark Obama's 12th interview with Kroft. (Credit: CBS News)

Steve Kroft Interviews Obama Again for "60 Minutes"

President Obama believes the U.S. unemployment rate could drop to 8 percent before the 2012 elections next fall, he told Steve Kroft in an interview conducted Friday at the White House, CBS said.

Obama will appear on "60 Minutes" in an interview with Kroft to be broadcast Sunday from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific time, CBS said.

Kroft interviewed the president Tuesday in Kansas after he delivered an economic speech in the small town of Osawatomie, and again Friday the White House.

Kroft asked the president, "Did you overpromise? Did you underestimate how difficult this was going to be?"

Obama replied, "I didn't overpromise. And I didn’t — underestimate how tough this was going to be. I always believed that this was a long-term project…And —you know, for individual Americans, who are struggling right now, they have every reason to be impatient. Reversing structural problems in our economy that have been building up for two decades, that was going to take time. It was going to take more than a year. It was going to take more than two years. It was going to take more than one term. Probably takes more than one president."

According to Peter Ogburn of FishbowlDC, "This is Obama’s 12th interview with Kroft, including the times he sat down with him as candidate Obama. We confirmed with Mark Knoller via twitter that this was Obama’s sixth interview with Kroft since being elected President."

Knoller, a CBS News radio reporter who covers the White House, maintains a database of statistics about the president’s daily life.

Cain Says "Doors Are Open" to Radio and TV

"With the news that former GOP Presidential candidate Herman Cain is no longer in the race, the door is open for the next logical step in the political machine: TV news analyst," Alex Weprin reported Friday for TVNewser. "Cain appeared on Sean Hannity's Fox News program last night, and acknowledged that a TV or radio gig could very well be in his future:

" 'I have no doubt that there is a TV, radio future if you wanted one,' Hannity told Cain.

" 'Well obviously the doors to radio or TV, those doors are open,' Cain replied. 'What I am doing over the next several days is considering all of these options.' ”

Daralene Jones, right, questioned Bob Vander Weide, CEO of the Orlando Magic, at his retirement news conference. (Credit: TVSpy)

Reporter Grills Team CEO Using Fake Transcript

In Orlando, "When WFTV general assignment reporter Daralene Jones arrived at a news conference held by the Orlando Magic on Wednesday, she presumably thought she was armed with some damaging information: a transcript of a late night phone conversation between the team’s CEO, who had been drinking at the time, and star player Dwight Howard," Andrew Gauthier wrote Thursday for TVSpy.

"The only problem was that the transcript was actually a complete fabrication, concocted by a writer at Deadspin.

"When it came time for reporters to ask questions at the news conference, which was called to announce the resignation of the team’s CEO Bob Vander Weide, Jones pressed him on allegations that he had recently drunk dialed Howard."

Blacks More Sympathetic Than Whites on Immigration

"Nearly half of the public (48%) thinks an illegal immigrant who went to high school in their state and is accepted to a public college should be eligible for the in-state tuition rate, while 46% disagree," according to a report [PDF] released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

"About three-quarters of Hispanics (77%) say illegal immigrants should be eligible for in-state tuition, compared with 66% of non-Hispanic blacks and just 40% of non-Hispanic whites.

". . . Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, fully 82% of Hispanics think an illegal immigrant should be eligible for in-state tuition. Smaller majorities of non-Hispanic blacks (65%) and whites (51%) agree."

Overall, "The public continues to support tough measures to crack down on illegal immigration, but also a path to citizenship for those in the country illegally. A plurality (43%) says the priority should be better border security and enforcement, as well as creating a way for illegal immigrants to become citizens if they meet certain requirements.

"Fewer say the priority should only be better security and stronger enforcement of immigration laws (29%), or only creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants in the U.S. (24%). These opinions have not changed substantially over the past year."

Short Takes

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Why I stopped my Oprah magazine subscription two years ago ...

I much appreciate Oprah's good works and the rainbow of folks toward whom her good is directed.

I could, though, no longer stomach the run-on of stories written by frequently white, frequently plugged-on, marquee-named white writers ... the run-on of stories on white do-gooders making "the" difference in Africa, when I know too many black folks working in Africa, been working in Africa, etc. ... But that's the story(ies) you get when too few blacks, too few people of color are making decisions at a magazine owned by a black woman.

The rollout of OWN? You could count the black producers on half-a-hand. For real. SMH. I understand the desire for a rainbow world. But a comparative black out? From a black woman's empire? Well, SMH ... And wondering why we're, including me, only now broaching that subject. (Thank you, Roland, for the tweets on whether Oprah will take a lesson from Sweetie Pie's success. Will she? And if she does, why at this juncture?)

Blacks folks now matter

It never fails when from OJ to Obama to now Oprah when it is crunch time only then will Black folks matter. Perhaps we should ignore the pleas of powerful Black folks maybe once ignored they will learn that Black folks should always be in the center of the room, the front of table and first in line.....

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