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Kathleen McGhee-Anderson

Television producer Kathleen McGhee-Anderson was born on June 11, 1950 in San Antonio, Texas to Christine McGhee and Reginald McGhee. McGhee-Anderson earned her B.A. degree in English from Spelman College in 1972. She then received her M.F.A. degree in film directing and criticism from Columbia University in 1974.

From 1974 to 1980, McGhee-Anderson worked as a film editor at WMAL-TV in Washington, D.C. and KABC-TV in Los Angeles, California. While in Washington, D.C., she also spent a year as an assistant professor of film at Howard University. In 1980, McGhee-Anderson joined the Warner Brothers Women and Minority Writers Workshop and her work was brought to the attention of Michael Landon. She then began writing episodes for Little House on the Prairie, Gimme a Break!, 227, Amen, and The Cosby Show. McGhee-Anderson’s television credits also include Touched by an Angel, Any Day Now, and The Fosters. While at Warner Brothers, McGhee-Anderson served as an executive producer as well. She was a producer for the fifth season of Soul Food, for four seasons of Lincoln Heights, and the second season of Greenleaf. McGhee-Anderson was involved in writing for films and theater productions as well. Her films include Sunset Park and The Color of Courage, which dealt with her grandparents’ landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases. McGhee-Anderson’s writings for stage productions were done in collaboration with The Crossroads Theatre Company, The Vineyard Playhouse, and L.A. Theater Works. Her stage productions include Oak and Ivy, Freedom Riders, and Mothers.

In addition to her writings for film, television, and theater, McGhee-Anderson was also the author of two published novels. Zora in Bloom was published in 2013 and A Martha’s Vineyard Love Story was published in 2014.

McGhee-Anderson received an NAACP Image Award, the Ruby Slipper Award for Children’s Programming for her television drama, The Story of Blind Tom and was selected twice as a Eugene O’Neill Playwright by the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. McGhee-Anderson was also the recipient of an honorary doctorate of fine arts from her alma mater, Spelman College.

McGhee-Anderson has one son, Khalil McGhee-Anderson.

Kathleen McGhee-Anderson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 18, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.134

Sex

Female

Interview Date

08/18/2017 |and| 8/24/2018

Last Name

McGhee-Anderson

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Pattengill Elementary School

McMichael Intermediate School

Cass Technical High School

Spelman College

Columbia University

First Name

Kathleen

Birth City, State, Country

San Antonio

HM ID

MCG10

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

6/11/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Santa Monica

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Greens

Short Description

Television producer Kathleen McGhee-Anderson (1950 - ) wrote for television, film and theater. She also served as executive producer for several television shows and the film, <em>The Color of Courage</em>, which she wrote on her grandparents’ landmark U.S. Supreme Court housing battle.

Favorite Color

Blue

Dianne Hudson

Television producer and executive, Dianne A. Hudson was born on July 13, 1954 in Georgetown, South Carolina to William Atkinson and Pansye Atkinson. Hudson attended St. Cyprian’s Elementary School in Georgetown and, after her family moved to Baltimore, Maryland in 1963, she attended Our Lady of Lourdes Grade School. In 1972, she graduated from Bishop Walsh High School in Cumberland, Maryland. Hudson earned her B.A. degree in broadcast journalism from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio in 1976.

Hudson began her career in 1976 as a broadcast news writer for the Associated Press at its Detroit Bureau. In 1977, she served as a news bureau coordinator for the J.L. Hudson Company. Hudson went on to become a television producer at several stations in Detroit, Michigan, including WXYZ-TV, WDIV-TV, and the PBS affiliate, WTVS-TV. She then became a producer for the Detroit Black Journal in 1984. In 1986, Hudson joined The Oprah Winfrey Show in Chicago as an associate producer, where she was later promoted to supervising senior producer. In 1994, she began serving as The Oprah Winfrey Show’s executive producer. Hudson helped create, and was in charge of implementing Oprah’s Book Club, as well as the viewer-driven public charity, Oprah’s Angel Network. She was the executive producer of ChristmasKindness, during which Oprah Winfrey distributed Christmas gifts of toys and clothing to children in South Africa. Hudson also served as vice president of Harpo Productions and as president of The Oprah Winfrey Foundation and Oprah’s Angel Network, where she negotiated an agreement with the South African government and supervised the building of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, a boarding school for underprivileged girls in grades seven through twelve. In 2005, Hudson served on the board of Howard University. In 2010, Hudson co-founded Andre Walker Hair, LLC, selling beauty products to women.

During her eighteen-year career with Harpo Studios, she received nine Emmy Awards by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Hudson also received two Emmy Awards from the Detroit Chapter of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Hudson has one son, William “Burk” Hudson.

Dianne A. Hudson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 6, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.037

Sex

Female

Interview Date

03/06/2017

Last Name

Hudson

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

St. Cyprian's School

Our Lady of Lourdes School

Bishop Walsh School

Frostburg State University

Ohio University

First Name

Dianne

Birth City, State, Country

Georgetown

HM ID

HUD07

Favorite Season

Summer

State

South Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere tropical and warm, with a beach and calm water.

Favorite Quote

Life Rewards Action.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Date

7/13/1954

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Miami

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Crab

Short Description

Television producer and executive Dianna A. Hudson (1954 - ) was a television producer for several Detroit news stations and served as executive producer of The Oprah Winfrey Show, president of The Oprah Winfrey Foundation and Oprah’s Angel Network.

Employment

Andre Walker Hair

Harpo Studios

WXYZ-TV

Favorite Color

Orange

Sidmel Estes

Media consultant and executive television producer Sidmel Estes was born on November 27, 1954 in Marysville, California, to Emellen Estes and Sidney Estes. Estes attended elementary and high school at public schools in Atlanta. She earned her B.S.J. degree in 1976, and her M.S.J. degree in 1977, both from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in Chicago, Illinois.

In 1979, Estes returned to Atlanta and was hired at WAGA-TV/Fox 5, where she served as the executive producer of numerous programs. She was the co-creator and executive producer of Good Day Atlanta, which became the number one show in its market, and won seven Emmy Awards under her direction. In 2006 Estes left WAGA-TV in order to found and serve as CEO of BreakThrough Inc., a media consulting firm whose clients include the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation, the McCormick Tribune Fellows Foundation, the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation and the Atlanta Center for Creative Inquiry. She has also taught as an adjunct professor at Emory University and Clark Atlanta University.

In 1991, Estes was elected the first woman president of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). Under her leadership NABJ increased its membership to over 2,000 journalists and was included in Ebony’s list of Top 100 Black Organizations. In 1994, she was a leader and co-creator of the first Unity Conference, an alliance of journalists of color, and was instrumental in the release of their report Kerner Plus 25: A Call For Action, which outlined steps the media industry should take to improve racial diversity.

During her prolific career in television and journalism, Estes has been recognized numerous times. Atlanta’s Mayor Andrew Young proclaimed “Sidmel Estes-Sumpter Day” on November 18, 1988 after she was named Media Woman of the Year by the Atlanta Chapter of the National Association of Media Women. She was featured in Ebony’s 100 Most Influential Black Americans in 1993, and in More Magazine’s book 50 Over 50. Estes was honored with the Silver Circle Award from the Television Academy and has won several Emmy Awards. She received Northwestern University’s Alumni Service Award after being elected as president of the Northwestern Black Alumni Association in 2004.

Estes married B. Garnett Sumpter in 1983, and they had two children, Joshua and Sidney.

Sidmel Estes was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 17, 2014.

Sidmel Estes passed away on October 6, 2015.

Accession Number

A2014.065

Sex

Female

Interview Date

2/17/2014

Last Name

Estes-Sumpter

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Karen

Schools

M. Agnes Jones Elementary

Northside High School

Northwestern University

Frank L. Stanton Elementary School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Sidmel

Birth City, State, Country

Marysville

HM ID

EST02

Favorite Season

Spring

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

New Orleans, Louisiana; Miami, Florida; Beaufort, South Carolina

Favorite Quote

Everybody Needs A Breakthrough

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

11/27/1954

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Honey Baked Ham

Death Date

10/6/2015

Short Description

Media consultant and television producer Sidmel Estes (1954 - 2015 ) was the founder and CEO of BreakThrough Inc. and the first woman president of the National Association of Black Journalists. She worked as an executive producer at WAGA-TV, where she created Good Day Atlanta.

Employment

BreakThrough, Inc.

WAGA-TV (Television station: Atlanta,Ga.)

KUAM-TV

Chicago Daily News

Chicago Defender

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sidmel Estes' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sidmel Estes lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sidmel Estes describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sidmel Estes remembers her maternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sidmel Estes talks about the Collier Heights neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sidmel Estes describes her mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sidmel Estes remembers her first experience of racial discrimination

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Sidmel Estes describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Sidmel Estes lists her siblings, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Sidmel Estes describes her likeness to her father

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Sidmel Estes lists her siblings, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sidmel Estes talks about her siblings' professions

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sidmel Estes describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sidmel Estes talks about her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sidmel Estes remembers the advice of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sidmel Estes talks about the community organized busing in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Sidmel Estes recalls her decision to become a journalist

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Sidmel Estes describes the community on Auburn Avenue in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Sidmel Estes remembers the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Sidmel Estes recalls her decision to attend Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Sidmel Estes remembers the student activism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sidmel Estes talks about her internship at the Chicago Defender

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sidmel Estes remembers prominent black journalists from the start of her career

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sidmel Estes recalls her experiences as an intern at the Chicago Defender

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sidmel Estes remembers her internship at the Chicago Daily News

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sidmel Estes describes her experiences at the Medill School of Journalism in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sidmel Estes remembers becoming a television reporter in Guam

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Sidmel Estes describes her experiences at KUAM-TV in Guam

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Sidmel Estes remembers joining WAGA-TV in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Sidmel Estes talks about the Atlanta Missing and Murdered Children cases, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sidmel Estes talks about the Atlanta Missing and Murdered Children cases, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sidmel Estes talks about the changes in Atlanta, Georgia during the 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sidmel Estes describes her reaction to the Janet Cooke scandal

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sidmel Estes remembers meeting her former husband

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sidmel Estes talks about her involvement in the National Association of Black Journalists

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sidmel Estes talks about her civic engagement in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sidmel Estes recalls the major events of the late 1980s in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Sidmel Estes talks about the FOX takeover of WAGA-TV

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Sidmel Estes remembers developing the 'Good Day Atlanta' morning news show

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Sidmel Estes remembers her election as president of the National Association of Black Journalists

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sidmel Estes describes her tenure as president of the National Association of Black Journalists

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sidmel Estes talks about FOX's management of WAGA-TV in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sidmel Estes talks about Paula Walker Madison

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sidmel Estes remembers founding BreakThrough Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Sidmel Estes describes her book projects

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Sidmel Estes talks about the future of journalism

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Sidmel Estes describes the services offered at BreakThrough, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Sidmel Estes talks about her teaching activities

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Sidmel Estes describes the documentary 'Kerner Plus 40: Change or Challenge'

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Sidmel Estes describes her hopes and concerns for African American journalists

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Sidmel Estes remembers her proposal to buy Ebony and Jet

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Sidmel Estes talks about the UNITY: Journalists of Color organization

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Sidmel Estes describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Sidmel Estes reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Sidmel Estes reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Sidmel Estes talks about her family

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Sidmel Estes describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Sidmel Estes narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Sidmel Estes narrates her photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

4$1

DATitle
Sidmel Estes remembers the advice of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Sidmel Estes describes her tenure as president of the National Association of Black Journalists
Transcript
Now, you had an incident when y- when you were in, I guess the third grade [at M. Agnes Jones Elementary School, Atlanta, Georgia], when you were eight?$$Um-hm.$$You took ballet--$$Um-hm.$$--with Yoki King [Yolanda King], you were telling us.$$Right.$$There's an historic moment that you experienced here. Tell us what happened.$$Well, like I said, Yoki and I were both sort of the little chunky girls in ballet, because they like you to be (gesture) this thin, being a ballerina. But to Atlanta Ballet's credit, they were trying to reach out to the community. So, they would send their top teachers. And I will never forget, a woman named Madame Hildegarde [Hildegarde Bennett Tornow] would always come to Spelman College [Atlanta, Georgia] to teach. And so, we were taking ballet. Like I said, we did 'The Nutcracker' [Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky] every Christmas. But these little skinny girls decided to make fun of me, and they pulled a chair out from up under me. And fortunately, we were practicing in the gym, so it was a wooden floor, not a concrete floor. So, I wasn't seriously hurt, but my feelings were hurt more. So, Yoki and I after class were outside waiting on our ride. And here drives up Dr. King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] in a, I will never forget it, a black, big black car. And when he--I sat in the back seat, and I was just crying, crying. He said, "Child, what's wrong with you?" And I told him what had happened. And to this day, I will never forget. He said, "Child, if that's the worst thing that's going to ever happen to you, you are a blessed child." And I never forgot that. And I had--my tears went away then, because I just sat there and I would think about it: that wasn't really that bad, especially some of the things that I have faced later on in life. But he was being prophetic to me then, at eight years old, that I was going to go through stuff in life, and I had to get used to it.$$Hm, okay. So, what kind of car did he have? Do you remember?$$It was a Buick. I remember the big, black Buick.$$Now, this is 1962, I guess, right, when you were eight?$$Yeah, something like '61 [1961], '62 [1962].$$Did he have a new car, or it was an old, older car?$$It was sort of used, it wasn't brand new. It wasn't fancy. It wasn't huge. You know, it was a regular old car.$$Okay, okay. And do you remember the color? I'm just, I'm just thinking--$$Black.$$Black, okay. I'm thinking it was black in my head, but I don't--$$Um-hm, um-hm. Yeah, black on black. I will never forget that (laughter).$$Well, that's something. So, that's, that is--now he's picking her up himself from--$$Yeah, and that was the only time I ever remember him picking her up. And very rarely did he make our recitals. Because we're now talking, you know, the height of the Civil Rights Movement. So, he was never there.$$Yeah, things really got--$$Yeah, '62 [1962], '63 [1963] (simultaneous).$$--(simultaneous) involved. Yeah, '63 [1963], Birmingham [Alabama], '64 [1964] was, you know, leading into Selma [Selma to Montgomery March] and all that.$$He was never home, never home.$$Yeah, the March on Washington was the next year.$$Right, right.$$So, he was very busy. And, did your parents [Emellen Mitchell Estes and Sidney Estes] know him, I mean, know Dr. King?$$They knew him cursorily, they were not close to him. But they trusted him enough to pick up their daughter and get me home. And then we did, you know, vice versa. So, I guess it's a mutual trust society going on there.$Well, tell us. What was your agenda as president of the National Association of Black Journalists, what--in 1991? What--where were you going to take the organization?$$Well, people tease me. The night I was inaugurated and they announced that I had won and tears were just streaming down my face, I stood up and I told the industry, I said, "You have never dealt with a black woman from the South before." And I meant that, you know, because sometimes they would take advantage of NABJ, a lot of these big news organizations. So, my agenda--$$In what way? What do you mean?$$Well, people who were supposed to get promoted weren't getting promoted.$$Okay.$$Our numbers were not very high at the time (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Not organizationally, but as individual black people working in the--$$Right, in the newsroom.$$The members of NABJ.$$Now, remember I had from two to three thousand members across the country. It started out at two thousand. By the time I finished, it was up to three thousand. But one thing I did do, we had what we call the Pierre summit. And it was at The Pierre hotel in New York City [New York, New York]. And it was me and every president of journalists of color organizations. There was four of us. And I'm the only woman. But we sat down with the CEOs of every major media company and told them what we had--from Knight Ridder, to the president of the Newspaper Association of America [News Media Alliance], to you know, the Tribune Company [Tribune Media Company], to the Gannett Company [Gannett Company, Inc.], to The New York Times, Washington Post [The Washington Post]. These guys came to that meeting. And for two very long days, and very difficult days, we sat down and we told them why we have a problem in the industry--how the stories aren't being told properly--because your people don't know how to go into these communities. So, that was a major accomplishment. I also think that we did have a significant number of people who entered the business. I even have people now who run up and tell me, kind of embarrasses me, and say, "I remember you when I was in college, and you came to speak. And you inspired me so much." I was like, "Thank you." And now, they're in--they're working journalists, or they're on the air, and doing things like this. So, that was number one, was jobs. Number two was justice in terms of telling the story like it is. And number three was fair representation of the community, because that was not being shown. Merv Aubespin [Mervin Aubespin] used to say that, "Unless people see themselves in the newspaper, they can't use it." And most newspapers, you don't see yourself, you don't see your neighbors, you don't see people of achievement out there. So, people aren't going to buy the papers. And they wonder why there's a problem. So, and we were very, very successful. People were scared, as they put it, of Sidmel [HistoryMaker Sidmel Estes].$$Okay, okay. So, did you get, you know, compliance generally from--I mean were they, did things change any?$$Yeah, it changed. And it--and we did have--even though it was a different administration--we did have the power of the law. You know, the fairness doctrine was still very strong. Equal opportunity and equal hiring was still very strong. People were actually talking about racial issues in the community. And so, that's what I think made the big difference from then, and as--instead of right now.$$Okay. So, anything else from your tenure? Did--as president?$$Well, we created the Ethel Payne scholarship [Ethel Payne Fellowship], which is a scholarship where journalists can go to Africa and spend time there and follow stories from there. And that was a big accomplishment. We su- supported and strengthened the Ida B. Wells Award, which is still being given out to- today. We also put the organization--not only in terms of the number of members, but the--our financial position was tremendous. We were giving out scholarship money right and left. I remember we did one at The Kennedy Center [The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C.], where we gave out scholarships. So, the fact that--and we started both broadcast short courses during my administration--one at FAMU [Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Tallahassee, Florida] and the other one at North Carolina A and T [North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, North Carolina]. And those two programs just celebrated their twentieth anniversary. I'm very proud of that.$$Okay, okay. So, you were president from '91 [1991] until--$$Ninety-three [1993].$$Okay.$$And then I was the immediate past president. I was on their board longer than (laughter) than I ever knew.

Susan Fales-Hill

Author, television writer and producer Susan Fales-Hill was born on August 15, 1962 in Rome, Italy to Timothy Fales and Haitian-American actress, Josephine Premice. Fales-Hill was raised in New York City, and graduated from the Lycee Francais de New York in 1980. In 1985, she graduated with her B.A. degree in history and literature from Harvard University.

Upon graduation, Fales-Hill began an apprenticeship as a writer on The Cosby Show. In 1987, she transferred to the show’s spin-off, A Different World, where she worked as a story editor. In 1990, Fales-Hill was promoted to co-executive producer and head writer. Then, in 1995, she became executive producer of the CBS sitcom, Can't Hurry Love. In 1996, Fales-Hill served first as executive producer of the family-oriented situation comedy, Kirk, then as a consulting producer on the television series Suddenly Susan. In 1998, she co-created with Tim Reid the Showtime original series Linc's, and served for two seasons as its executive producer and head writer.

In 2003, Fales-Hill published Always Wear Joy: My Mother Bold and Beautiful, a critically acclaimed memoir about her mother. The book was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award and the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award for Nonfiction. It was an Atlanta Daily Choice Awards winner, and received a starred review from Kirkus. Fales-Hill has authored two other books: 2010’s novel, One Flight Up, and 2013’s Imperfect Bliss. She has also written several magazine articles that have appeared in Town & Country, Vogue, Glamour, American Heritage, Ebony, Essence, Avenue, and Travel and Leisure.

From 2003 to 2006, Fales-Hill served as an elected director of the Harvard Alumni Association, and from 2003 to 2010 as a member of Harvard University’s Committee on University Resources. She also served on the boards of the Studio Museum of Harlem and the American Ballet Theatre. From 2004 to 2007, Fales-Hill co-chaired the American Ballet Theatre Spring Gala.

Fales-Hill has also received many honors and awards. Under her leadership, A Different World was nominated for the prestigious Humanitas Award. The episode she wrote on AIDS, "If I Should Die Before I Wake," received the 1991 Maggie Award from Planned Parenthood, the 13th Annual Media Access Award from the California Governor's Committee for Employment of Disabled Persons, and the Nancy Susan Reynolds Award. Fales-Hill has also received the the Producer’s Guild of America’s Nova award, a “Special Recognition Award” from the Friends of the Black Emmys, and the Excellence and Heritage Award from Dillard University. In 2001, she was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame.

Susan Fales-Hill was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 13, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.321

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/13/2013

Last Name

Fales-Hill

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Harvard University

Lycee Francais de New York

First Name

Susan

Birth City, State, Country

Rome

HM ID

FAL01

Favorite Season

Spring

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France

Favorite Quote

Tomorrow Is Another Day.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

8/15/1962

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

Italy

Favorite Food

Bread

Short Description

Television producer Susan Fales-Hill (1962 - ) was a writer on the Cosby Show and A Different World; executive producer of Can’t Hurry Love and Kirk; and co-creator of the Showtime original series Linc’s. She also authored three books: Always Wear Joy: My Mother Bold and Beautiful, One Flight Up and Imperfect Bliss.

Employment

NBC

CBS

Warner Brothers

Showtime

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Susan Fales-Hill's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Susan Fales-Hill lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Susan Fales-Hill describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Susan Fales-Hill describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Susan Fales-Hill talks about her Haitian heritage

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Susan Fales-Hill describes her father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Susan Fales-Hill describes her father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Susan Fales-Hill talks about her father's heritage

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Susan Fales-Hill describes the social scene of her parents' youth

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Susan Fales-Hill recalls how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Susan Fales-Hill describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Susan Fales-Hill remembers her early home on the Upper West Side of New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Susan Fales-Hill describes the sights sound and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Susan Fales-Hill recalls her early household

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Susan Fales-Hill remembers her everyday routine as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Susan Fales-Hill describes her interests and pursuits as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Susan Fales-Hill recalls attending Lycee Francais de New York in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Susan Fales-Hill talks about her early understanding of racism, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Susan Fales-Hill talks about her early understanding of racism, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Susan Fales-Hill describes the role of racial discussion in mixed race homes

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Susan Fales-Hill talks about her parents' emphasis on embracing racial and ethnic identity

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Susan Fales-Hill recalls the role of race in her early life

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Susan Fales-Hill describes the struggles of successful African American actresses

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Susan Fales-Hill recalls the importance of etiquette in her early years

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Susan Fales-Hill talks about the selfie controversy at Nelson Mandela's funeral

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Susan Fales-Hill recalls childhood visits to her paternal grandparents

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Susan Fales-Hill remembers her paternal grandmother

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Susan Fales-Hill describes her favorite subjects in school

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Susan Fales-Hill remembers being accepted to Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Susan Fales-Hill recalls her classmates at Harvard University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Susan Fales-Hill remembers her first impression of Harvard University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Susan Fales-Hill recalls how she was treated by her fellow Harvard University classmates

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Susan Fales-Hill remembers working for the Legal Aid Society in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Susan Fales-Hill describes her work during her summers in college

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Susan Fales-Hill talks about her major at Harvard University

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Susan Fales-Hill talks about her father's affair

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Susan Fales-Hill recalls meeting Bill Cosby

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Susan Fales-Hill remembers working with 'The Cosby Show' writing team

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Susan Fales-Hill describes the work environment in the writing room

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Susan Fales-Hill recalls her family's sense of humor

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Susan Fales-Hill talks about television consultant Dr. Alvin Poussaint

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Susan Fales-Hill remembers her experiences on the writing staff of 'The Cosby Show'

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Susan Fales-Hill describes the characters in 'A Different World'

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Susan Fales-Hill talks about the creation of 'A Different World'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Susan Fales-Hill recalls writing the character Whitley Gilbert

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Susan Fales-Hill remembers advice from Diahann Carroll

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Susan Fales-Hill recalls her mother's response to her work

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Susan Fales-Hill remembers her favorite episodes of 'A Different World'

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Susan Fales-Hill talks about life in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Susan Fales-Hill recalls the camaraderie on the set of 'A Different World'

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Susan Fales-Hill remembers the cancellation of 'A Different World'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Susan Fales-Hill remembers working on the television show 'Can't Hurry Love'

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Susan Fales-Hill recalls shooting the pilot episode of 'Kirk' in Paris, France

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Susan Fales-Hill talks about black television series in the 1990s

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Susan Fales-Hill recalls working on the television series 'Linc's'

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Susan Fales-Hill remembers her decision to leave the entertainment business

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Susan Fales-Hill talks about her transition from television production to novel writing

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Susan Fales-Hill describes her process in writing 'Always Wear Joy'

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Susan Fales-Hill remembers how she chose her novel topics

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Susan Fales-Hill talks about her writing process

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Susan Fales-Hill describes the themes in her novel 'Imperfect Bliss'

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Susan Fales-Hill remembers her work with arts and culture organizations in New York City

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Susan Fales-Hill describes her views about her community involvement

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Susan Fales-Hill reflects upon her life

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Susan Fales-Hill talks about her future aspirations

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Susan Fales-Hill describes her concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Susan Fales-Hill describes her hopes for the entertainment industry

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Susan Fales-Hill reflects upon her legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$6

DAStory

7$2

DATitle
Susan Fales-Hill describes her father's family background, pt. 2
Susan Fales-Hill recalls shooting the pilot episode of 'Kirk' in Paris, France
Transcript
And, when my father [Timothy Fales] started seeing my mother [Josephine Premice] and, you know, was going to marry her, my grandfather [DeCoursey Fales, Sr.] was not pleased. My grandmother [Dorothy Mitchell Fales] said, "I'm gonna meet her, and make my own decisions." And, this was a woman who, I mean, she was from--when people watched 'Downton Abbey' she was from the American equivalent of that. People think of the American equivalent of that as, you know, Newport [Rhode Island] and that's not it. Those were the more sort of to be, blunt, nouveau [nouveau riche] Haiti people. It was more of the people that you read about in 'The Age of Innocence,' the Edith Wharton novels; the old, old families. That's really the equivalent in terms of the mentality and the lifestyle. They went fox hunting. It was, anyway, so, she didn't even have black help. And, certainly, she was from a very class bound caste. And, so, she met mother, she took her to lunch at the Colony Club [New York, New York], down the street here (laughter). Where I think that they--I don't think they had black help there either. They're probably Irish ladies who probably dropped their trays in the shock. But, she liked my mother and that was that. And, my parents moved to Italy when they first got married because they experienced so much backlash and hatred. And, father lost his job, and name expunged from the Social Register, and they were getting hate mail. Their parents were getting hate mail. My grandmother interestingly, again, with a sense of history kept all the hate mail she got. Even the letters from illiterate people in the South. Every single piece of mail. Ugly letters from friends, mentioned friends who wrote her letters of condolence when my father married my mother. And, she kept it all. And, it's all in the family archive. I'm grateful to her for that when I wrote my book about my mother ['Always Wear Joy: My Mother Bold and Beautiful,' Susan Fales-Hill], I saw all of this for the first time. And, again, I thought how remarkable for someone to be aware that this was worthy of being kept. That it was important. That it would be a fascinating artifact, happily (laughter). This is not the--what the reaction would be today, probably. So, and then, when my parents moved, my grandmother would come and see us in Italy when we were living there. And, then when we came back when I was two, my grandfather finally said, "All right, what am I doing?" (Laughter), "I'm gonna get myself together," and so he embraced us. And, the rest of the family had always--part of them felt, well, the poor children. I mean, the usual attitude to all those tragic mulattos, they'll never fit in anywhere (laughter). They're gonna be, you know, like Pinky [Pinky Johnson] (laughter). So, but, they never harbored any resentment and actually a member of the Chubb family, you know the famous insurance, only they're old friends of my father's family. And, I was working on a project in Hollywood and one of them was working out there and we were on the phone and I said, "Oh, I think our families know each other." And, he said to me, "Yes, when I saw your name, I asked." And then, I can tell he, he didn't, he didn't wanna say, but he didn't, he said, "But, then I--I didn't think you would be related." And, it was obvious 'cause I was black. So, we met and he--took him a long time to sort of process, you know. So, your father married your mother and then finally he looked at me and he said, "Oh, but then again, your family was so ancient, they could afford it." And, it was almost like, they could afford the blow (laughter). You know what, a more social climbing family who were trying to establish themselves, who didn't have this history wouldn't've been able to (air quotes) afford (laughter) the blow to their status of having black relatives. But, you know, it was like you're old nobility so you can, you know, you just get absorbed in it. It was very funny. It was such an interesting reflection. So, anyway, it's all, for me more than anything, historically fascinating. And, you know, when I read an Edith Wharton novel, that's, that's, my father's family's world. As again, particularly something like 'The Age of Innocence,' which really talks about that set, that, that came here in the 17th century. And, all associated together and had a certain noblesse oblige attitude. And, worshiped down at Grace Church [New York, New York], where my family still has a pew. And, so, I wanna meet Julian Fellowes, the createor of 'Downton Abbey,' 'cause I know he's doing again, the American version and I wanna say, "It's not Newport," (laughter). Go to Middleburg [Virginia]. Go to Gladstone, New Jersey [Peapack and Gladstone, New Jersey], that's, that's where you'll find the counterparts to the Crawleys.$Then you go with Warner Bro- [Warner Brothers Television], or?$$ Warner Brothers, exactly. I made a deal with Warner Brothers and I did Kirk Cameron's show ['Kirk'], which was a family oriented show. So, that I enjoyed more just because the messages were positive. It was a sweet little show. I can't even quite remember the premise. But, oh, and, we got to shoot our season opener in Paris [France], which was a blast. Because--$$You love Paris? You love Paris?$$ I love Paris and also they, they produced 'Family Matters;' the same company.$$I see.$$ And, so, they were gonna have these two characters get married. And, it was cheaper to go to Paris with the 'Family Matters' cast, who were already shooting over there and piggyback on all their stuff. Than it was to take Kirk Cameron and Chelsea Noble to Las Vegas [Nevada]. So, (laughter) we went to Paris. So, that was, I mean, to go a shoot on the streets of Paris, what greater experience is there? We had a hilarious incident where we were supposed to, they were supposed to do a scene where they were splashing around in the fountain. And, they had booked the Trocadero [Paris, France] and the fountain was being cleaned the day that they had booked. And, of course, you know, being French bureaucracy, there was no one at work, that person was on strike. So, it was like, how are we gonna do this fountain in a dry fountain? So, we're going around Paris trying to basically do a gorilla shoot 'cause we have no permit. And, we show up at one fountain in the 6th arrondissement, and of course a policeman comes along. And, he was African and I could tell he was Senegalese. So, I started speaking to him in French. And, I said, "You're Senegalese aren't you?" And, he said, "Yes." And, I said, "So, am I. I'm half Senegalese." And, so, I'm chatting and chatting and meanwhile they get to get this shot. (Laughter) But then I--$$(Laughter) They got, they got the shot (simultaneous)?$$ (Simultaneous) They got the shot. They got the shot (laughter). Anyway, it was, it was hysterical.$$(Laughter) That's--that's cute itself.

Sheila Gregory Thomas

Writer, producer and consultant Sheila Gregory Thomas was born on November 11, 1938 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Her mother was Hugh Ella Hancock-Gregory, and her father was Thomas Montgomery Gregory, a well-known educator and dramatist. Thomas graduated from Howard University with her B.A. degree in Spanish in 1961.

Upon graduation, Thomas was hired as a Spanish teacher in the Washington D.C. public school system, where she taught until 1969. Thomas then created, produced and began hosting the educational children’s television program The Magic Door on WMAL-TV in Washington D.C. The show aired from 1969 until 1973. In 1974, while working as an independent writer and consultant, she was engaged as media coordinator for the vice chairman of the D.C. city council. In 1976, Thomas was hired as a public affairs specialist for the National Park Service. She then accepted the position of cultural education specialist in 1977, remaining in that position until 1979, when she worked as an independent writer and consultant. In 1988, Thomas was appointed director of public relations for Diversified Engineering and Architecture. Then, in 1996, she was featured on PBS’s Frontline, in her interview of producer and writer, June Cross. That same year, Thomas began serving as vice president of Diversified Environmental, Inc.

Thomas has published a number of articles relating to her family’s history. In 1984, she wrote an article about her great-grandmother entitled “Margaret Mahammitt of Maryland,” which was published by the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History. Thomas also authored an article in 2002 about her father, Thomas Montgomery Gregory. In 2008, three family biographies she wrote for the African American National Biography project were published by Oxford University Press. Thomas has received the MAMM Award from the American Association of University Women, the Action for Children’s Television Award, the Capital Press Club Award, and the Ohio State Award.

Sheila Gregory Thomas was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 25, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.270

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/25/2013 |and| 10/26/2013

Last Name

Thomas

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Gregory

Schools

Atlantic City High School

Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

Howard University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Sheila

Birth City, State, Country

Atlantic City

HM ID

THO20

Favorite Season

Fall

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

Oceans, Beaches

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

11/11/1938

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Scallops

Short Description

Television producer and writer Sheila Gregory Thomas (1938 - ) created, produced and hosted the television program The Magic Door. She also wrote about her family history for the African American National Biography project.

Employment

Diversified Environmental, LLC

Diversified Engineering & Architecture P.C.

WGBH TV

Delete

Universal Studios

National Park Service

WMAL TV

District of Columbia Public Schools

Favorite Color

Turquoise

Timing Pairs
0,0:301,18:840,26:1225,32:3458,147:7231,229:7693,258:8155,265:9002,280:17087,421:17472,427:22600,437:26902,494:27434,502:27738,508:32602,571:33362,599:33666,604:34654,621:35870,642:36782,657:37086,662:37618,670:38150,679:39518,697:40126,708:41874,738:43014,754:44154,774:45218,789:55475,853:55839,858:61026,936:62300,957:69124,1015:69476,1020:71852,1066:72732,1079:73172,1085:74404,1104:74756,1109:75988,1129:80542,1145:80866,1150:83620,1198:84106,1206:87741,1228:88632,1239:91849,1263:92197,1268:92806,1277:93241,1285:96112,1330:96460,1335:98287,1363:98809,1370:100636,1400:101245,1409:101680,1415:102550,1432:108995,1477:109611,1528:117388,1608:117803,1614:118218,1620:119214,1630:120293,1647:120708,1653:122534,1684:125356,1741:125688,1746:127016,1792:127348,1797:128095,1809:129838,1840:135130,1850:136290,1863:139014,1878:148074,1955:148800,1963:153570,2000:154290,2012:155090,2023:155650,2032:156770,2047:157410,2056:158610,2072:159890,2093:164830,2137:165235,2143:167179,2173:169447,2208:173130,2223:173739,2238:174870,2254:176001,2279:176523,2287:177045,2294:179568,2333:180177,2341:182160,2353$0,0:3240,68:4896,84:5632,96:8944,126:9496,133:10140,162:11336,176:11980,184:13360,204:14188,214:19867,253:20668,263:22626,307:23516,320:25029,346:25474,352:28920,366:29395,373:29965,380:31010,394:34240,434:42265,502:44266,539:45136,548:45745,556:54097,699:54706,707:58800,724:59208,732:61180,768:62404,792:63084,813:71924,1032:72264,1038:72740,1046:73284,1058:73896,1070:82310,1140:83282,1152:85658,1177:94170,1241:94490,1246:94810,1251:95290,1259:95610,1264:95930,1269:96410,1276:97210,1289:97850,1299:98650,1310:101934,1342:102473,1351:103551,1364:104629,1383:105168,1391:105784,1402:106554,1413:107093,1421:110670,1435:111175,1441:112084,1451:116908,1493:120386,1532:121138,1541:121514,1546:122454,1560:123018,1590:128628,1646:129316,1658:130176,1669:130778,1677:138432,1805:145298,1901:145942,1910:147138,1926:148242,1940:155240,2001:156220,2020:157900,2053:158320,2061:158810,2069:159510,2087:160140,2099:165552,2135:173340,2230:175925,2243:177575,2278:178325,2289:179525,2310:180650,2347:181400,2361:181775,2367:182900,2388:183650,2406:185450,2432:186425,2443:186950,2451:187475,2460:189500,2490:193210,2496:193594,2503:194042,2511:199764,2619:200820,2636:202932,2664:206980,2756:213140,2931:213756,2939:218575,2972:219127,2984:219817,2996:221266,3019:221542,3024:222232,3037:222784,3049:223957,3075:224992,3096:228216,3111:228997,3123:234020,3182:238420,3249:239380,3264:240020,3274:240580,3282:244260,3350:245780,3377:250293,3397:251372,3419:251787,3425:252119,3430:252451,3435:254609,3485:255439,3500:255937,3507:260004,3576:263420,3590:264848,3613:265604,3624:266276,3635:266612,3640:267116,3648:268544,3666:268964,3672:269384,3678:270140,3688:273580,3710:273928,3715:274624,3725:274972,3731:276625,3762:278626,3798:279409,3808:282300,3832:284823,3867:285345,3875:288738,3934:289086,3939:291000,3962:291609,3970:301910,4089:302400,4098:302820,4105:304290,4128:304850,4137:305130,4142:306880,4176:307580,4192:308350,4205:314690,4257:315894,4284:319420,4345:321398,4383:321914,4390:322516,4399:322946,4405:330906,4491:331403,4500:331687,4505:332539,4520:334630,4534
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sheila Gregory Thomas' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sheila Gregory Thomas lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sheila Gregory Thomas describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sheila Gregory Thomas talks about her mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sheila Gregory Thomas describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sheila Gregory Thomas describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sheila Gregory Thomas talks about her paternal family's origins in Madagascar

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Sheila Gregory Thomas talks about her paternal great-grandmother, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sheila Gregory Thomas talks about her paternal great-grandmother, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sheila Gregory Thomas describes her paternal grandfather, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sheila Gregory Thomas describes her paternal grandfather, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sheila Gregory Thomas talks about her father's upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sheila Gregory Thomas talks about her father's time at Harvard University

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Sheila Gregory Thomas talks about her father's career, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Sheila Gregory Thomas talks about her father's career, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sheila Gregory Thomas talks about the Howard Players

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sheila Gregory Thomas describes how her parents met

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sheila Gregory Thomas talks about the Fort Des Moines Provisional Army Officer Training School

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sheila Gregory Thomas describes her parent's personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sheila Gregory Thomas lists her siblings

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sheila Gregory Thomas remembers her sister, Yvonne Gregory

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Sheila Gregory Thomas talks about her siblings' careers, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Sheila Gregory Thomas talks about her siblings' careers, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Sheila Gregory Thomas describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sheila Gregory Thomas talks about her family's move to Atlantic City, New Jersey

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sheila Gregory Thomas describes her community in Atlantic City, New Jersey

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sheila Gregory Thomas remembers Atlantic City High School in Atlantic City, New Jersey

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sheila Gregory Thomas talks about the nightclubs in Atlantic City, New Jersey

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sheila Gregory Thomas talks about segregation in Atlantic City, New Jersey

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sheila Gregory Thomas talks about the home front of World War II

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sheila Gregory Thomas recalls her influential teachers

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Sheila Gregory Thomas remembers her early love of camping

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Sheila Gregory Thomas remembers Rosalind Cash

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Sheila Gregory Thomas remembers June Cross

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Sheila Gregory Thomas talks about her decision to attend Howard University

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sheila Gregory Thomas describes her experiences at Howard University

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sheila Gregory Thomas recalls her foreign language courses at Howard University

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sheila Gregory Thomas remembers her honeymoon tour of Europe

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sheila Gregory Thomas reflects upon her time at Howard University

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Sheila Gregory Thomas talks about her husband

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Sheila Gregory Thomas remembers teaching immersive Spanish courses

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Sheila Gregory Thomas talks about segregation in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Sheila Gregory Thomas reflects upon her teaching experiences

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Sheila Gregory Thomas remembers developing 'The Magic Door'

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Sheila Gregory Thomas talks about the contributors on 'The Magic Door'

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Sheila Gregory Thomas talks about the availability of children's television programming

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Sheila Gregory Thomas recalls working with the District of Columbia Public Schools

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Sheila Gregory Thomas remembers the cancellation of 'The Magic Door'

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Sheila Gregory Thomas talks about the public television industry

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Sheila Gregory Thomas recalls the political opposition to 'The Magic Door'

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Sheila Gregory Thomas talks about her paternal ancestors, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Sheila Gregory Thomas talks about her paternal ancestors, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Sheila Gregory Thomas remembers the documentary film 'Spanish Spoken Here'

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Sheila Gregory Thomas describes the aftermath of the cancellation of 'The Magic Door'

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Sheila Gregory Thomas remembers working for Sterling Tucker

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Sheila Gregory Thomas describes her career with the National Park Service

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Sheila Gregory Thomas recalls publishing 'Margaret Mahammitt of Maryland'

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Sheila Gregory Thomas recalls appearing in 'Jaws: the Revenge'

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Sheila Gregory Thomas recalls teaching Spanish at the Nathan Mayhew Seminars

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Sheila Gregory Thomas remembers interviewing June Cross

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Sheila Gregory Thomas talks about 'Secret Daughter'

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Sheila Gregory Thomas talks about her son's environmental contracting firm

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Sheila Gregory Thomas describes her family history projects

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Sheila Gregory Thomas reflects upon her family's legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Sheila Gregory Thomas reflects upon her life

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Sheila Gregory Thomas describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Sheila Gregory Thomas reflects upon her work with the District of Columbia Public Schools

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Sheila Gregory Thomas talks about children's television programming

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Sheila Gregory Thomas reflects upon her professional legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Sheila Gregory Thomas talks about her children

Tape: 8 Story: 11 - Sheila Gregory Thomas describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Sheila Gregory Thomas narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Sheila Gregory Thomas narrates her photographs, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Sheila Gregory Thomas narrates her photographs, pt. 3

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$6

DAStory

8$1

DATitle
Sheila Gregory Thomas talks about her paternal great-grandmother, pt. 1
Sheila Gregory Thomas remembers developing 'The Magic Door'
Transcript
You've written an article about Margaret Mahammitt [Gregory Thomas' paternal great-grandmother, Margaret Mahammitt Hagan].$$Yes.$$And she did some special things, right?$$She was a fan- fascinating woman. Quite a character. My father [Thomas Gregory, Sr.] stayed with her for a period of time--he--with her in her home in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, because she eventually left Frederick, Maryland. And there's even a story about her departure. She left at a time--I'd forgotten there were certain laws, black laws I didn't know in Virginia. But evidently, she felt that it was wise to get out even though she was a free person--she was born free--and just decided that she should not remain there, and certainly she would have been stymied and not able to do what she ended up doing later on. So she left Frederick, Maryland, on a train. And it said that she hid underneath the skirts of some white ladies who were traveling so that she wouldn't be seen. The threat, even for free blacks at that time, was such that she evidently felt if they saw her, they might try to claim that she was not a free person and make her remain there in that area, in Frederick. That's all I know. So she went to Pennsylvania, and she operated a laundry there. But she also tried to enter a school there, I remember. She wanted to get some training there, and she was turned down. And so she demanded to have her money back. She was a strong willed, feisty person. And they--she insisted, because she had already paid, evidently, that they give her her money back, so they did. She opened a laundry employing about forty people in Pennsylvania. I think that was in Williamsport. She eventually settled in Williamsport, but I know she spent some time in Philadelphia [Pennsylvania]. And she also ended up in Washington, D.C. Now, at that time, her grandson, my father, was in Washington, D.C. Margaret was born in about 1825, do believe, okay. So she came to Washington, D.C., and again, through research, I discovered that she opened a shop, downtown Washington on F Street, in which she said, "You must come and visit the--see the magic scale, the dressmaker's magic scale." And she had a dressmaking business. And also, while in Washington, she attended the school, and this is really fascinating, of a Dr. Hosford [ph.] in medical electricity.$I guess it's the time to talk about 'The Magic Door.'$$Okay. Well, after I stopped teaching at that time to give birth to my second child [Joel Thomas], another little boy, I decided that I wanted to do something different and thought I would look for something else to do where I could use the language. That was the first thing I thought of, using Spanish. And then a friend called me and told me about auditions at a television station for a program. And so I said, "Ha, well, might as well try that. Why not." And so, I called. That was Channel Seven, WMAL [WMAL-TV], it was known at that time. Now it's WJLA-TV [Washington, D.C.]. But then it was WMAL. So I called and I spoke to the program director, and he told me that auditions were closed. He was very sorry, and then he must have asked me a question or two, and we went on talking and talking and talking. And so, finally, he said, "Well, look," he said, "I'd like to have you come and do an audition." So even though he had considered the auditions closed, after talking with me, he asked me to come in and audition and I did. I was the one who got the job. So I started out with a talk show being a producer or co-producer, I can't remember, on a talk show. And then they told me that they really wanted me to develop a children's program. So then I knew, well, that was actually why they had hired me, because they had a children's program then that was quite different from the one I went on to develop. But I said, of course. I went ahead and put together some ideas, and my mother [Hugh Hancock Gregory] actually thought of the name 'The Magic Door,' and so I started the children's program called 'The Magic Door.' And I was--$$Now, what is the magic door? It may seem obvious to people, but what did you intend the name, 'Magic Door' (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) 'The Magic Door' is to open a door onto all kinds of experiences and exposures for children, and also it was because--really what we did was to make the door look magic. I can remember there was sort of special effects that were used in the beginning (gesture) (laughter). It really made it look magic. And I was by myself for some time and eventually got a Muppet-like character we named Jellybean. In fact, I had a contest so children in the D.C. area [Washington, D.C.] could submit names, and we chose Jellybean. He was a green Muppet-like character. I used him--I integrated Spanish into the program. It was an hour live show, Monday through Friday. And--$$That's--that would be--that sounds like something that would really be daunting to a lot of people today, to think of doing an hour live show--$$But--$$--five days a week.$$--it was done. And--$$Was it interactive?$$Um-hm.$$Did people call in?$$Um-hm.$$No, it wasn't like that?$$No. I was just me (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) What was the format? What was the format of the show?$$You know 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood'? Okay. I had the pleasure of meeting him eventually, but it was more like 'Mister Rogers.' Me talking to the child--the children through the television and introducing them to things as, just as I'm speaking to you. And I had certain things--I did certain kinds of projects, science projects, simple science projects; reading stories; I had the Muppet; I taught Spanish. I was about to say, I incorporated that into the program. Two brief segments and then the first half hour another one. I mean, one in the first half hour, another in the second half hour. And Jellybean helped with that. I would teach Jellybean Spanish. And also, I, at one point, decided it would be a good idea to have the children learn about different cultures; ways of not only speaking, like, Spanish, but different ways of eating, different ways of dressing, different customs; and so I did a program on India. And I used--was able to make use of--people at the University of India [sic.] were very supportive. And I had someone come on, and I wore a sari and there was a lady who came on and she wore a sari, and we talked about the foods and all kinds of things just on the level that children from three to six could appreciate and understand; not anything too complicated. And I was asked to do one for Japan. Someone, after they'd seen India, a woman who was associated with the embassy of Japan, contacted me and asked me if we would please think of doing something on Japan. And an African embassy, I've forgotten which one now. But I was going in that direction at a certain point.

Charles Hobson

Television producer Charles Hobson was born on June 23, 1936 in Brooklyn, New York to Charles Samuel and Cordelia Victoria Hobson. He grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights neighborhoods in Brooklyn, and, in 1960, he graduated from Brooklyn College. From 1962 to 1963, Hobson served in the United States Army as a private first class.

In 1963, Hobson was hired to host a radio show at WBAI, New York’s Pacifica station. He went on to be promoted to production director at WBAI, where he produced a variety of programs until 1967. Hobson was then hired as a producer for ABC-TV, WABC-TV in New York, and WETA-TV in Washington D.C. In 1968, he produced the television programs Inside Bedford-Stuyvesant and Like It Is, which won seven New York-area Emmy Awards. After attending Emory University from 1974 to 1976, Hobson was promoted to senior vice president of WETA and became a consultant for the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1980, he produced the PBS series From Jumpstreet: A Story of Black Music, and, in 1986, he was the producer of the nine-part series The Africans. In 1988, Hobson was hired as a consultant for the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation. The following year, in 1989, he was hired as the director of market planning for WNET-TV. Hobson also worked on the six-part series Global Links, and the science series Spaces.

In the 1980s, Hobson launched the production company Vanguard Documentaries, where he served as executive producer and artistic head. Vanguard has produced a number of documentaries and shows since its inception, including Porgy and Bess: An American Voice, Model U.N. For Everyone, Global Classrooms, Negroes with Guns, and Harlem in Montmartre: Paris Jazz. Hobson has also lectured at several schools including Harvard University, Yale University, Vassar College, the State University of New York, and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. In 1996, he became a Fulbright Scholar and taught film in Munich, Germany.

Hobson has received multiple awards for his work in film. He has been awarded an Emmy, the Japan Prize ‘Special Citation,’ and the Golden Eagle Award from the Council on International Nontheatrical Events. Millimeter magazine has ranked Hobson as one of the fifty top producers in the film and television industry, and, in 2010, he was named a Black Media Legend by the McDonald’s Corporation. Hobson has served on the boards of the America the Beautiful Fund, the National Black Programming Consortium, and the Museum of Modern Art.

Charles Hobson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 23, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.267

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/23/2013

Last Name

Hobson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Brooklyn College

Emory University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Charles

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

HOB02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France

Favorite Quote

Soon come.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

6/23/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken

Short Description

Television producer Charles Hobson (1936 - ) , founder of Vanguard Documentaries, has produced a number of television programs including Like It Is, Harlem in Montmartre: Paris Jazz, Inside Bedford-Stuyvesant, From Jumpstreet: A Story of Black Music, Negroes with Guns, Porgy and Bess: An American Voice, and The Africans.

Employment

WBAI

ABC

WABC TV

WETA TV

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)

Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation

WNET TV

Vanguard Documentaries

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Charles Hobson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Charles Hobson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Charles Hobson talks about the origin of his middle name

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Charles Hobson describes his father's family background.

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Charles Hobson describes leaving Brooklyn, New York to attend school in Jamaica when he was eleven years old

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Charles Hobson describes his father

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Charles Hobson describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Charles Hobson describes his childhood experience in Jamaica and his desire to identify as an American

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Charles Hobson describes both his family's view on African Americans from the Unites States and not the Carribean

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Charles Hobson describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Charles Hobson talks about his siblings and how he has not seen his sister in thirty years

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Charles Hobson describes his childhood experience at Ten Downing Street in Brooklyn, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Charles Hobson describes his childhood eating habits and his tendency to identify with immigrants

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Charles Hobson describes his Brooklyn family life and being in the boys' choir at Concord Baptist Church

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Charles Hobson talks about his attraction to African American family life and his fondness for family gatherings

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Charles Hobson describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Charles Hobson talks about his affinity for the Dodgers and his hero, Jackie Robinson

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Charles Hobson talks about his experience in middle school at PS3

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Charles Hobson describes his formative encounter with African American literature as a youth.

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Charles Hobson talks about Brooklyn gangs and the cultural diversity on his neighborhood block

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Charles Hobson talks about his first social encounters with white women as a teenager

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Charles Hobson talks about his athletic ability and being on the Brooklyn College track team

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Charles Hobson talks about his childhood friends and his college job at Brooks Brothers

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Charles Hobson describes the diversity of his neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Charles Hobson talks about his social life at Brooklyn College.

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Charles Hobson talks about his love of music and jazz culture

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Charles Hobson talks about his interest in magic

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Charles Hobson talks about his experience in the National Guard in 1962

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Charles Hobson talks about his first radio show for WBAI

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Charles Hobson talks about getting a position as a producer for ABC in 1967

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Charles Hobson talks about Bill Greaves and his role on the program 'Like It Is'

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Charles Hobson describes his professional relationship with Gil Noble, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Charles Hobson describes his professional relationship with Gil Noble, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Charles Hobson talks about joining the Writer's Guild and Mal Goode, the first black correspondent on ABC

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Charles Hobson talks about becoming a writer for the first African American television program, 'Inside Bed-Stuy'

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Charles Hobson discusses meeting Earl Graves and Senator Bobby Kennedy's assassination

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Charles Hobson talks about his second wife, Cheryl Chisholm

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Charles Hobson talks about his father's stroke and graduate school at Emory University

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Charles Hobson talks about his talent for raising money

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Charles Hobson talks about his work at WETA TV in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Charles Hobson talks about producing his first major documentary series, 'Jump Street' for PBS

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Charles Hobson talks about producing 'The Africans' for PBS

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Charles Hobson talks about the documentary series 'The Africans'

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Charles Hobson talks about the production of and fundraising for 'Harlem in Montmartre'

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Charles Hobson talks about the nature of fundraising

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Charles Hobson talks about producing the television project, 'Porgy and Bess', and a project on Black Germans

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Charles Hobson talks about his battle with cancer

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Charles Hobson talks about what differentiates him from other producers

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Charles Hobson talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Charles Hobson describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Charles Hobson describes the essence of the black experience and the election of President Barack Obama

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Charles Hobson reflects upon his legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

9$7

DATitle
Charles Hobson talks about becoming a writer for the first African American television program, 'Inside Bed-Stuy'
Charles Hobson talks about the documentary series 'The Africans'
Transcript
So, so why don't you talk about 'Inside Bed-Stuy', can you do that for me? And not, not do it in reference to the articles, the many articles that have been written.$$'Inside Bed-Stuy' was a tactic started by the Kennedys, Bobby Kennedy was going to run for President, and part of his machinery was to have a good reputation in--he had a--there was a--the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation was a kind of poverty a--poverty agency that was inspired or you know by, by Kennedy. And Kennedy ran, really, he had his people. You know I got to meet, you know people, Kennedy people. So and they wanted to start the first black television program and in America, right. And they ended up with--they had put a team together and they had a producer, a guy named--well he was a writer, a very--Leslie Lacy, he's written several books. A brilliant guy. I don't know where--what he's doing now. And he was a friend, you know, brilliant--he wrote about being, living in Africa and all. And I remember we had a drink and he said Charles [Hobson], you know, I can't work with these guys, you know you, you can work with white people, I can't, you know. He said I'm going to, I'm going to tell them to hire you. He didn't have any TV experience either, he was a--and I came out of radio. But I knew Bed-Sty and he knew--so I went and they hired me. He gave me the job, you know, Leslie. So then I became the writer. So I can see--so again we did things like the Persuasions, I remember we had--it was very eclectic, which I sort of like as you can guess. So we had like we had one of the high school, boy's high basketball star cause they'd won the championship that year. And--or a, you know the Persuasions, who I discovered, the group called the Persuasions, doo wop group. The guys went to the projects to interview them and they sang for me, you know and in one of their apartments and I thought this is amazing. So I booked them on the first show. And so we did everything--I'll tell you a story. We were talking about an old man that lived in the neighborhood, he had retired from entertainment world and you might want to put him on the show, you know this is about Bed-Sty. We put him on the show, it was Eubie Blake. You know he was about 79 at the time and because of that, he ended up having a--he lived to 100 and performed to 100, so that was a little--that was some of the--Bedford-Sty was a--was such a rich community, you know this was larger than, you know, 400,000, I think it was at the time 400,000 people. So this show looked at--we had no budget, you know we, we would put a camera in the middle of a house, a park and if it rained, we would--the guests had to use umbrellas. But we captured, you know, an amazing part of, of Brooklyn, you know. Of, of, of a black community. It's never done, never been done. So that, that was 'Inside Bed-Sty'. I was--I was honored at Lincoln Center, Morgan Meade Festival as a producer. And some of the--a couple of the people are still alive. So but most of them aren't, you know.$$So you--what's the--that was hosted--was Roxie Roker--$$Roxie Roker and Jim Lawry.$$Which is, you know he talks about that. I know him from Chicago and--$$He worked for McKenzie, right?$$Right, he worked for McKenzie, that's right.$So what did--how does this--how does it come about? Tell, tell us about not only what you did, but how you did it. We know that the BBC's [British Broadcasting Corporation] involved and you're saying that this was the legitimate co-production with the BBC. So as opposed to you were saying, you know, where BBC does it and you just are happy to slap your name on it as the co-producer. So tell, tell me about--cause I, I, I really think in terms of the, the, the subject matter and the research that went into it, and the information. You know as a viewer, you know who wasn't--I was viewing it. I'm not in production, really, I [unclear]. You know I was, I was struck. I mean I was learning all kinds of new things. And so my question is how did this--was it the, was it the BBC that first approached you, or vice versa, or who is doing what with this?$$I can tell you the story. They're, they're two very distinguished filmmakers, Albert, and I forgot his brother's name, Maysles, and they were, they were working with developing this with the, with the BBC. And then one of the brothers--German guys. One died, I forgot which one, but I said--they told PBS [Public Broadcasting Service], you know you really have to find a black producer, you know. Cause you know we, cause we, we want to do it but you know, it's Africa, everything. So they ended up recommending me and Susan Wild who is the Vice Pres--so that's how I got into 'The Africans'. Again, I, I've had some of the greatest things I've ever gotten into when someone said, you know, handed it to me, basically. You know like 'Like It Is' [unclear]. I, I, there was so many people involved with, with 'The Africans', and I couldn't say it's me, it's not me. It's David Harrison who was the BBC, British equivalent, Executive Producer. Brilliant, brilliant producer. He was about ten years older than me and he was very--and we--when it's a whole bunch of people, you know, it was--we did a book, we had various producers. You know we had three or four film crews. Two crews going at the same time in different parts of Africa, the world, yeah. So it was--they were different. And Ally Mesruley [ph.], you know. Oxford educated, Ally had, you know Ally--so a lot of people were involved. But you have to kind of keep as an Executive Producer, keep your eyes on the ball. Keep, keep the goal in sight, you know as things, you know as things move, move forward. So I think, I think we did that fairly well. So Ally--so it's, it's--film is a cooperative thing. You know like a big--like a documentary, a big thing. There's so many people involved. So yes, it wouldn't happen without me and--but there were a lot of people who, you know who I'd say even played greater roles doing execution of it. So--I like to look for things that were never done and, and even--like we're doing a much smaller--a smaller film crew for PBS on the Flat Iron, which is a wonderful building, Chicago [Illinois] influence. But no one's ever made it. Building on the most photographed--perhaps the most photographed building in New York [City], or in the world. One of the--you know, and with a great history. So we got the opportunity to do--and not even necessary--there was black stories in it, you know which you'll see. So that's kind of my motive.

Valerie Norman-Gammon

Media executive and television producer Valerie Norman-Gammon was born on May 14, 1951 in New York City, New York to Irene Robinson and Edmund Greene. Norman-Gammon attended P.S. 166 Elementary School in New York City and graduated from Brandeis High School in 1968. She went on to receive her B.A. degree from Baruch College in New York City in 1979. Norman-Gammon received her M.A. degree in journalism and broadcast management from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1981. She worked as a legal secretary for Cravath, Swaine & Moore before working in several successful broadcasting positions.

In 1980 Norman-Gammon worked as a talk show host for WYTV TV in Ohio. From 1981-1988 she worked as senior producer for WBBM TV in Chicago, Illinois. While with WBBM TV, Norman-Gammon produced the weekly talk show The Lee Phillips Show for which she won a Chicago Emmy award in 1983. During this time, she also served as executive producer for various documentary specials, including The Sounds of Soul, the fifth installment of the Time Warner syndicated series, The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll. In 1988, Norman-Gammon became president and CEO of Amethyst Entertainment Inc., a television, music festival production, and media company. She has produced a number of mega music events, most notably, the Essence Music Festival from 1995 to 2002. From 1994 to 2007, Norman-Gammon served as the executive producer for FOX Chicago and My Network TV’s six time Emmy nominated, Christmas Glory.

Norman-Gammon is the recipient of three National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Image Awards for her work with The Essence Awards on the FOX Network. Norman-Gammon has also served as an adjunct professor in television, film, speech communications, and media relations at Johnson & Wales University. Norman-Gammon’s expertise in media management, television and mega event production make her one of the top executive producers in the entertainment industry. She is a long time member of numerous media related and professional organizations, including the National Association of Television Arts and Sciences. Norman-Gammon lives with her husband, Parker Gammon, in Miami, Florida.

Valerie Norman-Gammon was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 22, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.233

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/22/2012

Last Name

Norman-Gammon

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

P.S. 166

Louis D Brandeis High School

Baruch College

University of Michigan

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Valerie

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

NOR06

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

New York, New York

Favorite Quote

It has to be fabulous.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Date

5/14/1951

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Miami

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pasta

Short Description

Media executive and television producer Valerie Norman-Gammon (1951 - ) had over thirty years of experience in mass media management, television, and mega event production. She worked with Amethyst Entertainment, Inc.

Employment

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP

WYTV TV

WBBM TV

Amethyst Entertainment, Inc.

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:12890,146:15900,178:16846,191:17362,198:18824,228:22737,251:58830,656:59180,665:69080,837:75966,906:86788,1102:99804,1263:185315,2455:197550,2687:234998,3233:235406,3241:241380,3305$0,0:16454,142:17690,162:22676,210:23036,216:23828,229:24548,241:28724,324:29372,335:30236,349:32180,381:32684,401:33332,412:34052,425:35492,451:35780,456:36356,466:37076,481:37508,488:39596,539:39884,544:40532,554:40964,561:46590,575:47565,594:48165,603:48690,611:50865,646:51165,651:51465,656:56720,694:57040,699:60642,753:61846,775:62448,784:63308,796:64684,812:65114,818:65802,827:68468,883:70016,906:81792,1040:82122,1046:82716,1058:83310,1067:83838,1076:85356,1123:85686,1129:86346,1145:86874,1156:87336,1166:89184,1187:90042,1202:96672,1275:97870,1281:98638,1296:99470,1316:99726,1321:100302,1331:100750,1340:101070,1346:101582,1356:103502,1405:104718,1430:104974,1435:108622,1510:113634,1548:113999,1554:114291,1559:116919,1612:117941,1628:123927,1769:124292,1775:124803,1784:125168,1790:130030,1812:130270,1817:131650,1847:132070,1855:132790,1870:134890,1935:136810,1979:137350,1992:139450,2045:143617,2069:144565,2084:144960,2090:146856,2124:147962,2142:148594,2151:149147,2160:157074,2268:157578,2279:157866,2284:160458,2328:160746,2333:161394,2348:162114,2365:162474,2371:166824,2399:167300,2404
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Valerie Norman-Gammon's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her maternal great grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Valerie Norman-Gammon remembers picking tomatoes with her grandmother in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Valerie Norman-Gammon shares her great grandmother's stories

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Valerie Norman-Gammon describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Valerie Norman-Gammon describes the foods that her grandmother made in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about meeting her father for the first time

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about seeing her father for the last time

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about the brief period in which she knew her father and his occupation

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her mother's occupations and ice skating at Rockefeller Center

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Valerie Norman-Gammon describes the building where she grew up in the Upper West Side, New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Valerie Norman-Gammon lists her favorites

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Valerie Norman-Gammon describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Valerie Norman-Gammon describes her mother's move to New York City at a young age

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her mother's sacrifices for their Manhattan apartment

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about starting grade school, her love of reading, and Christmas as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Valerie Norman-Gammon remembers her high school, Louis D. Brandeis High School, and the teacher that influenced her the most

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Valerie Norman-Gammon compares racism in Manhattan and the south

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Valerie Norman-Gammon describes how she understood race as a child in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her church in Harlem and its pastor, Adam Clayton Powell

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Valerie Norman-Gammon describes being in a cotillion

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her extracurricular activities in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her first boyfriend

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about working while going to school at Baruch College

Tape: 2 Story: 15 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her scholarship to go to the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her first marriage to Marvin Norman

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about working in the World Trade Center towers

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about TV anchors that she admired and an internship at NBC

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about balancing work and college

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about the skills that she gained working at a law firm, and the individuals who influenced her

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about leaving her job at law firm to attend graduate school at the University of Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Valerie Norman-Gammon reflects upon New York City's black culture in the 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her maternal family's reaction to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about meeting Cindy Walker, who helped launch her television career

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about becoming cohost of Good Morning Youngstown in Youngstown, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about moving to Chicago, Illinois and becoming a producer at WBBM-TV

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about producing the show "Common Ground" in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about producing television shows at WBBM-TV in Chicago, Illinois and her friendship with Lee Phillip Bell

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about Chicago politics and culture, and Harold Washington becoming mayor, in the 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks her struggle to achieve balanced political representation WBBM-TV

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about how she coped with the stress of working in television

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about some close friends from Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about writing a book with Dr. Terry Mason

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about producing the second Essence Awards show in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Valerie Norman-Gammon reflects upon meeting John H. Johnson at the Essence Awards

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about the Chicago entertainment and journalism community

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about producing the Essence Awards for a decade

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about how she became connected with the Essence Awards

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Valerie Norman-Gammon describes the process of producing the Essence Awards

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about producing the Cancun Jazz Music Festival

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about producing music festivals throughout Mexico and the Caribbean

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about developing and producing Sinbad's Soul Music Festival

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about Apostolic Church of God and convincing Bishop Brazier to go on television

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about Bishop Brazier and the conception of Christmas Glory

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Valerie Norman-Gammon describes the Christmas Glory television event

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her community outreach goals in creating televised church events

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about the awards that she won for Christmas Glory

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about working with Quincy Jones on "The History of Rock n Roll"

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her contributions to the Essence Music Festival

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Valerie Norman-Gammon describes meeting and marrying her husband, Parker Gammon

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her husband's occupation

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about moving to Miami, Florida with her husband, Parker Gammon

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about winning three NAACP Image Awards

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about some of her current projects

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her parents' deaths and her relationships with family members

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her brothers

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her step sons

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her regret of not having children

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Valerie Norman-Gammon comments on her future aspirations

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about how she would like to be remembered and shares some advice for young adults

Tape: 6 Story: 13 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about the women that she has admired over the years

Tape: 6 Story: 14 - Valerie Norman-Gammon reflects upon the importance of paying it forward and helping others

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Valerie Norman-Gammon narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$6

DAStory

1$1

DATitle
Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about producing television shows at WBBM-TV in Chicago, Illinois and her friendship with Lee Phillip Bell
Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her contributions to the Essence Music Festival
Transcript
I came to Chicago in September of 1981 over the Labor Day weekend. I drove my little car through the "S" curve and found my way to the hotel and then realized that CBS WBBM was actually two blocks down and so I would just walk down there to work. I came here during a time when Bill Curtis was here and Walter Jacobsen. WBBM was number one for everything for everything so it was exciting to be here and be a part of that whole collection and group of people; winning awards like crazy and everything. When I--after I worked on 'Common Ground' for so many months and then the 'Lee Phillip Show' became available because Bruce Dumont left. Cindy Walker made the decision to give me the show which then gave me two shows, 'Common Ground' and Lee Phillip. And the Lee Phillip show was really a prize possession. There were many other producers who wanted to have her show but I got it. It was a lot of work but I loved it. I was reading all the time because I had a two hour show in 'Common Ground' where you had to have a lot of material and you had to really delve into what was going on in the city and the community. But then I also had Lee Phillip who had a half hour day time Sunday magazine show with three segments that had all the biggest names in entertainment that came to town. So I was always going to plays, I was always going to big entertainment events, I always going to celebrity parties, I was always going to everything that was very high brow for her show and very community and local for 'Common Ground.' So I met everybody. I was being interviewed, I got numerous awards because I was everywhere doing everything and it was crazy but I loved it, I absolutely loved it. My relationship with Lee Phillip [Bell]--I did not know who she was obviously before I came here. I was unaware of the fact that she was married to Bill Bell and that she actually was Lee Phillip Bell and that they owned 'The Young and Restless' and also 'The Bold and the Beautiful.' So I didn't know that they were a powerhouse couple living over on Lake Shore Drive and that every afternoon Bill was on a conference call with his LA [Los Angeles, California] team executive producing 'The Young and the Restless.' I had no idea until I met her and we started working together and she and I actually shared a huge office. So we would look each other every day. We became very close. I remember she invited me to dinner one night and I went over there. She lived in one of the apartments, I've forgotten the actual address but it looks out on the lake, beautiful entire floor. And her daughter was there and her sons who now are big stars in television and we just had a good family time. Because they were just regular, family oriented people and it was phenomenal, it was just phenomenal.$$Now you mentioned that her sons are now big names in television.$$Her daughter is Lauralee Bell who is on 'The Bold and the Beautiful' and her sons have been working in the business so they are something. The father, Bill Bell has passed on but recently Lee ran into someone, a mutual friend and she called me to say hello. So she is out in LA now doing her thing and they say that--she says that she is over there a couple of times a week.$$On the set?$$On the set that's amazing, that's wonderful.$So Valerie in 1995 to 2002 you were a producer for the main stage of the Essence Music Festival?$$Yes, I am proud to say that I'm part of the team with Ed Lewis, Clarence Smith, Susan Taylor, Karen Taylor, and Terry Williams who created the actual Essence Music Festival. We created the concept; we went around the country working on selecting the right venue. We decided on New Orleans [Louisiana] because we could do two things at once. Have the main stage and then have that second level with the four quadrant rooms. We could have four different things going on. We created that and I actually decided that the main stage should be more than just another concert venue and I loved the fact that Essence, to my knowledge today, with the Essence Music Festival is the only one that has an actual produced stage presence when the performers are not on. And I created that for them and I created the designs for the quadrant rooms. So I asked a set designer that worked with me at CBS to come in and to meet us in New Orleans in the first year and to create a backdrop that was Essence because Essence [Magazine] is first class, it's all about, you know, the significance and the admiration and respect for African American women. And I didn't want us to just have a black curtain in the back. We needed to have something that was first class and lovely. So we did that, I brought her in and we created that and then we went around and created the themes for the different rooms and designed them so that they would like the blues or the disco ball hanging for the seventies or whatever. And so I was responsible for designing and creating all of that. Then I said to Clarence [Smith] and Ed [Lewis] and Susan [Taylor] that I thought there was money on the table that was being left by virtue of the fact that when we normally go to a concert they play some music between acts, right we'll be back, you know, and now we're back, you know, want to the stage so and so like in that little block; we should be something that's going to generate revenue. So I created all of these little moments where a host could come on stage and interact with the audience and they could be sponsor driven and they could sell them. So, since we've done that they now, in fact, have been able to increase the revenue for Essence in ways that we didn't start out in the first year. So I'm very proud of that.

June Cross

Television producer and journalism professor June Cross was born on Month Day, 1954 in New York to Norma Greve and Jimmy Cross. Norma Greve was an aspiring white actress and Jimmy Cross was a black vaudeville entertainer, known for playing “Stump” as a part of the black song-and-dance team “Stump and Stumpy”. At the age of four, when June could no longer “pass” as “looking white,” she was sent to live with her mother’s black friends, Peggy and Paul Bush, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Cross spent her holidays and summers visiting with her mother in New York and later in California, after she married Larry Storch, well-known actor of a number of 1960’s sitcoms. Given the racial tensions of the time and the Hollywood spotlight of Norma Storch’s world, June Cross would always be introduced as a niece or an adopted child.

June Cross became interested in reporting at a young age, thrilled by the aspect of asking strangers questions. She attended Radcliffe College and received her B.A. degree in 1975. After graduating, she worked at a number of prominent news sources, including the Boston Globe, CBS News, the MacNeil/Lehrer Report, and Frontline, covering various stories. In 1983, she won an Emmy for Outstanding Coverage of a Single Breaking News Story about the U.S. invasion of Grenada. Cross received senior producer credit for Living on the Edge, Mandela, and School Colors, which won the DuPont-Columbia Journalism Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism.

June Cross is best known for her documentary about the trauma of her childhood, Secret Daughter: A Mixed Race Daughter and the Mother Who Gave Her Away, released by PBS in 1996. This was the first time it was publicly revealed that June Cross was the daughter of Norma Storch. The documentary won an Emmy as well as a DuPont-Columbia Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism. A few years later, Secret Daughter was turned into a memoir. In 2000, June Cross accepted a teaching position with Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in New York. She continued to produce a number of captivating reports, including The Old Man and the Storm about a family living in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. She lives in New York with her husband Waldon Ricks and their two cats.
June Cross was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 30, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.159

Sex

Female

Interview Date

7/30/2012 |and| 4/8/2014

Last Name

Cross

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

Indiana Avenue Elementary School

Harvard University

Atlantic City Friends School

Atlantic City High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

June

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

CRO08

Favorite Season

Fall

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Favorite Quote

Give me a break.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

1/5/1954

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Television producer and journalism professor June Cross (1954 - ) won a number of awards for her captivating news reports, including her documentary Secret Daughter, about the trauma of her childhood.

Employment

MacNeil/Lehrer Report

Frontline

Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

Favorite Color

All Colors

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of June Cross' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - June Cross lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - June Cross describes her maternal family's history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - June Cross talks about her mother, Norma Greve Storch

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - June Cross talks about her mother's first pregnancy

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - June Cross talks about her mother's relationship with Larry Storch

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - June Cross talks about her paternal family history

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - June Cross talks about her father, James "Jimmy" Cross' dancing career

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - June Cross describes how her parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - June Cross talks about her parents' relationship

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - June Cross describes the end of her parent's relationship

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - June Cross talks about being taken in by Paul and Peggy Bush in Atlantic City, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - June Cross talks about her birth

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - June Cross describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - June Cross describes childhood memories and her move from New York to Atlantic City, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - June Cross describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - June Cross talks about her relationship with the Bush and Gregory families in Atlantic City, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - June Cross describes her memories of Atlantic City, New Jersey and visiting her mother in New York

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - June Cross describes her personal connections to Atlantic City, New Jersey and New York

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - June Cross describes the family background of Peggy Bush, who informally adopted her

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - June Cross talks about the Bush family, who informally adopted her

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - June Cross describes her childhood education

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - June Cross describes her love for reading and writing

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - June Cross talks about learning about the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - June Cross describes her relationship with her mother, Norma Greve Storch

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - June Cross describes her mother and Peggy Bush's roles in her upbringing

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - June Cross describes the experience of having "black hair"

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - June Cross talks about Larry Storch's eyelid surgery and its impact on his acting career

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - June Cross talks about her Dominican perm and a Clorox pool

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - June Cross describes puberty and having to wear a girdle

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - June Cross talks about her mentor/teachers at Atlantic City High School

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - June Cross talks about her senior year at Atlantic City High School

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - June Cross talks about a photo she took with her mother, Norma Greve Storch and her new husband, Larry Storch

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - June Cross describes her relationship with her father, James "Jimmy" Cross.

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - June Cross describes her decision to apply to Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - June Cross talks about graduating from Atlantic City High School and her summer jobs

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - June Cross describes her experience at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - June Cross talks about her difficulty adjusting to Harvard University

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - June Cross talks about getting rejected by the Harvard Crimson

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - June Cross talks about racial discrimination and academic challenges at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - June Cross talks about her college internship at WGBH with "Say Brother" producer Topper Carew

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - June Cross describes why she decided to become a journalist

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - June Cross describes being nurtured by black professionals in journalism after graduating from Harvard University

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - June Cross talks about getting hired as a reporter for the MacNeil/Lehrer Report

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - June Cross describes her work at the MacNeil/Lehrer Report

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - June Cross describes the deaths of her father and her adopted mother and her work at the MacNeil/Lehrer Report

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - June Cross talks about her promotion to producer

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - June Cross describes her coverage of the 1983 Invasion of Grenada

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - June Cross talks about winning an Emmy in 1983

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - June Cross briefly describes her experience with sexual violence at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts and her ability to handle adversities

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - June Cross talks about a failed attempt to start a union at the McNeil/ Lehrer NewsHour and working on the 1984 presidential campaign

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - June Cross describes her journalistic philosophy

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - June Cross describes her work on CBS' "West 57th" and correspondent Connie Chung

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - June Cross describes her brief tenure at CBS News

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - June Cross describes being hired to work on Frontline

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - June Cross describes her work at Frontline

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - June Cross talks about the story "A Kid Kills" and her work leading up to "Secret Daughter"

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - June Cross talks about her efforts to document white perspectives on race

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - June Cross talks about recruiting her mother to interview for "Secret Daughter"

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - June Cross talks about "The Confessions of Rosa Lee"

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - June Cross talks about the production of her documentary, "Secret Daughter"

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - June Cross talks about interviewing her mother and learning of her past as a prostitute

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - June Cross talks about meeting her half-sister Candace Herman after the airing of "Secret Daughter"

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - June Cross reflects upon how "Secret Daughter" changed her life

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - June Cross talks about meeting relatives on her father's side

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - June Cross recounts how she started teaching at Columbia University in New York City

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - June Cross talks about her memoir and her mother's death

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - June Cross talks about Henry Hampton's death and working at Blackside, Inc.

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - June Cross talks about Blackside, Inc.'s financial difficulties

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - June Cross talks about her documentary, "This Far by Faith"

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - June Cross describes the impact of creating her book and documentary

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Slating of June Cross' interview

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - June Cross talks about her maternal grandparents

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - June Cross describes her paternal grandparents

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - June Cross talks about finishing her documentary "This Far by Faith"

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - June Cross describes finding the ending to her book following her mother's death

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - June Cross talks about producing a documentary about Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - June Cross describes her film on HIV in the rural South

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - June Cross talks about the religious community's response to HIV

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - June Cross describes the conservative culture of rural South Carolina

Tape: 9 Story: 10 - June Cross talks about how the field of documentary production has changed

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - June Cross describes the research process for making her documentary on HIV in South Carolina, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - June Cross describes the research process for making her documentary on HIV in South Carolina, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - June Cross talks about the high production costs of documentaries

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - June Cross describes producing "Showdown in Haiti" for Frontline

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - June Cross describes the crew needed to produce one of her documentaries

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - June Cross talks about her documentary, "Secret Daughter"

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - June Cross talks about her documentary, "Confessions of Rosa Lee", pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - June Cross talks about her documentary, "Confessions of Rosa Lee," pt. 2

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - June Cross June Cross talks about her documentary "Confessions of Rosa Lee", pt. 3

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - June Cross shares her views on journalistic credibility

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - June Cross talks about the line between fiction and nonfiction in filmmaking

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - June Cross describes her journalistic philosophy

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - June Cross describes the economic hardships faced by some people in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - June Cross talks about her choice between pursuing a documentary on Detroit, Michigan and the Romare Bearden exhibit at Columbia University

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - June Cross talks about her interest in the Black Power Movement and lack of funding for documentaries on controversial topics

Tape: 11 Story: 8 - June Cross talks about the lack of funding for documentaries on controversial topics

Tape: 11 Story: 9 - June Cross shares her regret for not allowing her book "Secret Daughter" to be made into an HBO movie

Tape: 11 Story: 10 - June Cross compares her struggle for identity to President Barack Obama's life story

Tape: 11 Story: 11 - June Cross describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - June Cross talks about why the role of Peggy Bush was minimized in her documentary "Secret Daughter"

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - June Cross comments on the lack of diversity in media representations of people of color

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - June Cross talks about the difficulty of archiving and preserving online data and images

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - June Cross talks about legal and ethical issues with documentary subjects

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - June Cross reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - June Cross talks about her desire to produce a documentary on Pakistan

Tape: 12 Story: 7 - June Cross talks about her family

Tape: 12 Story: 8 - June Cross talks about being a black professor at Columbia University in New York City

Tape: 12 Story: 9 - June Cross talks about generational differences in black college students

Tape: 12 Story: 10 - June Cross talks about her involvement with organizations

Tape: 12 Story: 11 - June Cross describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$2

DATape

6$9

DAStory

1$7

DATitle
June Cross describes her coverage of the 1983 Invasion of Grenada
June Cross describes her film on HIV in the rural South
Transcript
[President Ronald] Reagan invaded Grenada, I think it was that Sunday night, Sunday night. It was definitely night because I remembered jumping out of bed and running to the Pentagon. And they said that these students had been endangered somehow, these medical students had been endangered.$$Right.$$And so we sent in the Marines to save the medical students.$$Now, had you ever interviewed Maurice Bishop on the [MacNeil/Lehrer] NewsHour?$$No, I had not, un-un. Well, I'm sure he had been, he must have been on, but I don't remember, I don't remember--it wasn't my--the Caribbean wasn't part of the beat (laughter), and so--(simultaneous)--$$Okay, 'cause he was the--$$--I don't know who had that part, and that would have been foreign affairs.$$Yeah, he was the Prime Minister of Grenada, right?$$Yes.$$Maurice Bishop.$$Yes. That was somebody else's beat, but I do remember, I got to the Pentagon, and they were telling the story about the medical students. And I called Charlayne [Hunter-Gault, HM], and I said, this is the story they're floating. And I told her where the medical students were supposed to be. And she got, managed to get one of them on the phone or several of them on the phone. And they're like, we're fine. We've been, you know, the Marines arrived and locked us in our room and told us to stay here. And we ended up sending Charlayne down there. I stayed in Washington [D.C.], and Charlayne went down with one, I think it was with Mike Masetic (ph.). And they found the medical students who swore they were fine the entire time, and we basically undid the chronology, the story that the Pentagon was trying to run by everybody, which was that they were trying to save these students, these U.S. students, you know, the pretext that somehow U.S. citizens were in danger, and therefore, that called for the invasion and the--of the country and the assassination of its prime minister. And that went on for like a week. I did a much better job on that than I did on Lebanon. Now, I'm not quite sure--and I was at the Pentagon pretty much every day. I no longer quite remember all the details of this. I guess I should for a HistoryMakers' interview, but it was like, what, '83 [1983]. What is that? Thirty years ago?$$Yes.$I'm currently working on a film about HIV in the rural South. The rural South has become--the South, in general, is the new frontline in the United States in the battle against AIDS, in the rural South in particular. And African American men and women are forming 80 percent of the new cases. And a large part of this--so these are also the states that are eschewing the expansion of Medicaid for the Affordable Care Act. So you've got a population--and it's also the area where most of the African Americans in the country live 'cause we've mostly moved back again. So you've got a situation where those who are most vulnerable are least, getting the least amount of help. And I've been following a family there that has about five family members living with this, living with HIV.$$So you're working on this one?$$Yeah, I'm in the middle of it, yeah. It's in the middle of me at this point (laughter). I'm still, I'm in the money raising phase.$$Okay.$$I had raised a fairly sizable amount from the foundations, but at the moment it's--foundations have a trope of the hero or heroine who takes on the establishment and wins. That's born from the Civil Rights Movement, but also it's, it's a way to get--they call it in social justice movement. And how do you inspire action through film. And while very often journalists tell stories--we have a thing here, "Flick the comfortable and comfort the afflicted", you know, we very often tell stories that fall under the social justice cover. The idea that I want to inspire people to action with the story I tell is somewhat anathema to me. So, and this family doesn't actually quite lend itself to that. There are populations in the world, and there are populations in the American South that have been beaten down for so long that the idea of getting up and fighting just isn't--not only is it not ingrained in them, there's literally--there's no support there. So how do you fight, how do you fight when you're living in a town of 2,000 and you're one of three people who are living with HIV. You know, and it's actually--there's way more than that, but nobody will come out of the closet. I mean it's a much, it's a very difficult story to tell. And I have, you know, I have a nineteen-year-old who did finally, after some gentle encouragement from me and her grandmother, go to a rally in Atlanta [Georgia] and speak out. And she came back home, and the next day because--you know, she'd gotten all this attention, you know, she was shamed on a slut-shaming page on Facebook, and, you know, had signs in her yard, you know, "Die HIV bitch", and that. So it's a very delicate, it's a very delicate thing. You know, I have to include that in the documentary (laughter), so how do I explain my role in both initiating it and deal with my own guilt in having initiated it, really. So it's a, there's a reason why reporters don't like to make something happen in a film. We can make little things happen, but when you make big things happen, sometimes it comes back and bites you on the butt.

Jennifer Lawson

Senior vice president, producer and general manager, Jennifer Karen Lawson was born on June 8, 1946 in Fairfield, Alabama. Her father Willie D. Lawson was the owner of a repair shop and her mother Velma Lawson, was a retired school teacher. She is the second of five children, Willie Dee, Frankie and James and Schuyler. Lawson attended Tuskegee University briefly before dropping out and dedicating her time to the civil rights movement. She has worked with the Student Nonviolent Coordination Committee (SNCC) and the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) where she has worked on self-empowerment programs for rural women. She has also worked as deputy director for an adult education program in Mississippi’s Quitman County. Lawson eventually relocated to Washington, D.C. where she worked as art director for, Drum and Spear, a bookstore and publishing company. In 1970, Lawson moved to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania as coordinator of a joint publishing project, it was here that she decided to study film.

In 1974, Lawson graduated with her M.F.A degree from Columbia University in New York City. After graduation, Lawson worked as publicity director on a fundraising campaign for the United Church of Christ. She also worked as assistant editor for a small film company, William Greaves Productions. Lawson taught film at Brooklyn College for three years and worked as the executive director for the Film Fund, a grant making organization. In 1980, she worked as program fund coordinator for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in Washington, D.C. and attended Harvard University for an executive management program. She later became director of the Television Program Fund at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In 1989, Lawson was hired by PBS as their first chief programming executive, making her the highest ranking black woman to have served in public television. During her time at PBS she was responsible for the scheduling and promotional strategies that resulted in PBS’ most successful series, Ken Burns’, “The Civil War” and “Baseball”. Lawson also developed children’s series, “Barney and Friends”, “Lamb Chop’s Play-Along”, and “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?”

In 1995, Lawson resigned from PBS and founded Magic Box Mediaworks. Her company produced the eight part series “Africa”, in partnership with National Geographic and WNET, which was aired on PBS in 2001. In 2004, Lawson was hired by WHUT-TV at Howard University as general manager and co-produced, “Security vs. Liberty: The Other War”, for a PBS series, “American at the Crossroads”. She has been named one of “101 Most Influential People in Entertainment Today,” Entertainment Weekly, and was named to the Power 50 List by, Hollywood Reporter. Among her other awards are ones from the International Film and Video Festival, a Gold Camera Award and Cine Golden Eagle, for episodes of the “Africa” series. Lawson is married to Anthony Gittens, an arts administrator and film festival director. They have two sons, together Kai and Zac Gittens.

Jennifer Lawson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 1, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.066

Sex

Female

Interview Date

5/2/2012 |and| 6/29/2012

Last Name

Lawson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Tuskegee University

Columbia University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Jennifer

Birth City, State, Country

Fairfield

HM ID

LAW03

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

Herb and Sheran Wilkins Media Makers

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Barcelona, Spain

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

6/8/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Paella

Short Description

Television producer Jennifer Lawson (1946 - ) Senior vice president, producer, and general manager, the highest ranking black woman to have served in public television.

Employment

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)

National Council of Negro Women (NCNW)

Whitman County, Mississippi

Drum and Spear

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Government

United Church of Christ

William Green Productions

Brooklyn College

Corporation for Public Broadcasting

PBS

Magic Box Mediaworks

WHUT TV

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Jennifer Lawson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Jennifer Lawson lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Jennifer Lawson talks about her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Jennifer Lawson talks about where her mother grew up

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Jennifer Lawson talks about her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Jennifer Lawson talks about her paternal grandparents' memories of slavery

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Jennifer Lawson talks about her father's family home

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Jennifer Lawson talks about her father's childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Jennifer Lawson talks about her father's work in coal mines and his entrepreneurial spirit

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Jennifer Lawson talks about her father's repair shop and his experiments

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Jennifer Lawson remembers the fire at her father's repair shop and learning how to build a motor

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Jennifer Lawson talks about her parents' civic activities

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Jennifer Lawson talks about the company towns in Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Jennifer Lawson talks about Phenix City and its criminal element in the 1950s

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Jennifer Lawson talks about her likeness to her parents

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Jennifer Lawson talks about her family's first television

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Jennifer Lawson talks about the demographics and segregation of her childhood communities

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Jennifer Lawson talks about her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Jennifer Lawson talks about naming conventions in the South

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Jennifer Lawson talks about her siblings and family trips

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Jennifer Lawson talks about her siblings and traveling as an African American in the 1950s

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Jennifer Lawson describes the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Jennifer Lawson describes the role of church in her childhood, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Jennifer Lawson describes the role of church in her childhood, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Jennifer Lawson talks about the reading material in her childhood home

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Jennifer Lawson talks about how the Emmett Till case affected her childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Jennifer Lawson talks about the ethnic make-up of Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Jennifer Lawson talks about starting elementary school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Jennifer Lawson talks about learning to read from her parents and her precociousness in school

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Jennifer Lawson discusses her favorite subjects in school

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Jennifer Lawson talks about her teachers in high school and her father's eccentricity

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Jennifer Lawson talks about her father's eccentricity and creativity

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Jennifer Lawson talks about her father's influence

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Jennifer Lawson talks about her popularity and activities in high school

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Jennifer Lawson talks about her decision to go to college

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Jennifer Lawson talks about winning a scholarship to Tuskegee University

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Jennifer Lawson talks about the Civil Rights Movement demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Jennifer Lawson discusses her first connections to the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Jennifer Lawson remembers first seeing the Imitation of Life and the dialogues about race that it triggered

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Jennifer Lawson discusses why she chose Tuskegee for college and the 1963 events in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Jennifer Lawson talks about becoming involved with a student activist group at Tuskegee

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Jennifer Lawson talks about some of her teachers at Tuskegee

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Jennifer Lawson talks about balancing college and her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Jennifer Lawson talks about her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Jennifer Lawson talks about the murder of one of her classmates at Tuskegee, Sammy Young, Jr.

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Jennifer Lawson discusses discontinuing her scholarship at Tuskegee and dedicating to the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Jennifer Lawson talks about her late father's endorsement of her decision to leave college and join the Movement

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Jennifer Lawson talks about becoming a member of SNCC and working in Gee's Bend, Alabama

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Jennifer Lawson talks about encouraging voter registration as a member of SNCC

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Jennifer Lawson talks about her promotion within SNCC and her move to Lowndes County

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Jennifer Lawson talks about working in Lowndes County

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Jennifer Lawson talks about designing billboards for SNCC and tension between North and South movements

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Jennifer Lawson talks about being jailed for demonstrating and a near confrontation with the Ku Klux Klan

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Jennifer Lawson talks about Montgomery, Alabama and her promotion to the SNCC headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Jennifer Lawson talks about working at the SNCC headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Jennifer Lawson talks about being arrested in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Jennifer Lawson discusses the role of women in SNCC

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Jennifer Lawson talks about Ella Baker and Bob Moses

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Jennifer Lawson talks about her departure from SNCC and her work in literacy and adult education

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Jennifer Lawson talks about working in Washington, D.C. and her trip to West Africa

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Jennifer Lawson talks about the Hebrew Israelites and traveling in West Africa

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Jennifer Lawson talks about returning to the United States from West Africa and moving to Washington, D.C.

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Jennifer Lawson talks about lecturing at the Museum of African Art

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Jennifer Lawson talks about Drum and Spear Bookstore, their Press, and working in radio

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Jennifer Lawson talks about Drum and Spear Press' books

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Jennifer Lawson discusses independent black presses, Ralph Featherstone's death, and being investigated by the FBI

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Slating of session two of Jennifer Lawson's interview

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Jennifer Lawson discusses the FBI's investigation of SNCC and being considered a subversive

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Jennifer Lawson talks about whether she considered herself a subversive

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Jennifer Lawson discusses the demand for African American history and the founding of Drum and Spear Press

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Jennifer Lawson talks about the publications of Drum and Spear Press

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Jennifer Lawson talks about her invitation to go to Tanzania and the Sixth Pan African Congress

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Jennifer Lawson talks about Tanzania in the 1970s

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Jennifer Lawson talks about the historian, Walter Rodney

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Jennifer Lawson talks about the cultural figures in Tanzania in the 1970s

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Jennifer Lawson talks about how her experience in Tanzania inspired her to produce audiovisual media

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Jennifer Lawson talks about her return to the United States from Tanzania in 1972

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Jennifer Lawson talks about earning her MFA in Film at Columbia University, New York

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Jennifer Lawson talks about working as a film editor and at Brooklyn College

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Jennifer Lawson talks about the filmmakers that she met in New York

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Jennifer Lawson talks about working with the United Church of Christ

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Jennifer Lawson talks about working at the Public Television Station, New York

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Jennifer Lawson talks about the performance artists, filmmakers, and television hosts in New York

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Jennifer Lawson talks about the emergence of Blaxploitation and her fiction writing

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Jennifer Lawson talks about writing a script for a "B" movie, "Teammates"

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Jennifer Lawson talks about leaving "B" movies to work as the executive director of the Film Fund

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Jennifer Lawson discusses her accomplishments as executive director of the Film Fund

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Jennifer Lawson talks about her job offer from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in 1980

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Jennifer Lawson talks about organizations around the country that supported independent filmmaking, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Jennifer Lawson talks about organizations around the country that supported independent filmmaking, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Jennifer Lawson talks about her colleagues at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Jennifer Lawson talks about "Matter of Life and Death," "Crisis-to-Crisis," and other series she worked on

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Jennifer Lawson talks about her favorite projects in her nine years at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Jennifer Lawson talks about CPB shows that were produced at Howard University

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Jennifer Lawson talks about becoming vice president for International Public Television

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Jennifer Lawson talks about TV production in Africa

Tape: 9 Story: 10 - Jennifer Lawson talks about attending International Public Television conferences around the globe

Tape: 9 Story: 11 - Jennifer Lawson talks about the distinctions between public television and state television internationally

Tape: 9 Story: 12 - Jennifer Lawson talks about the success of Sesame Street

Tape: 9 Story: 13 - Jennifer Lawson talks about news restrictions in some countries and the restructuring of PBS in 1989

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Jennifer Lawson talks about the restructuring of PBS and how it led to her job as its Chief Program Executive

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Jennifer Lawson discusses the difference between CPB and PBS

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Jennifer Lawson talks about the reception of her appointment as Chief Program Executive of PBS

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Jennifer Lawson discusses PBS's decision to discontinue voting and to appoint a sole executive, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Jennifer Lawson discusses PBS's decision to discontinue voting and to appoint a sole executive, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Jennifer Lawson talks about Ken Burns and the "The Civil War"

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Jennifer Lawson talks about "Lamb Chop's Play Along," Sherry Lewis, and children's programming

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Jennifer Lawson talks about Fred Rogers

Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Jennifer Lawson talks about "Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?" and "Reading Rainbow"

Tape: 10 Story: 10 - Jennifer Lawson talks about being one of the fifty most influential women in entertainment by the "Hollywood Reporter"

Tape: 10 Story: 11 - Jennifer Lawson talks about Bill Moyers

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Jennifer Lawson talks about Bill Moyers' interview with Joseph Campbell

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Jennifer Lawson discusses her controversial decision to air "Tongues Untied" by Marlon Riggs

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Jennifer Lawson talks about content regulation on television in the 1990s

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Jennifer Lawson talks about why, as a social activist, she chose to air "Tongues Untied"

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Jennifer Lawson discusses her decision to leave PBS

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Jennifer Lawson discusses leaving PBS to work on her documentary, "Africa"

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Jennifer Lawson talks about the research and preparation for her documentary, "Africa"

Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Jennifer Lawson talks about securing partnerships to make the documentary, "Africa," pt. 1

Tape: 11 Story: 9 - Jennifer Lawson talks about securing partnerships to make the documentary, "Africa," pt. 2

Tape: 11 Story: 10 - Jennifer Lawson talks about the reception of the documentary, "Africa"

Tape: 11 Story: 11 - Jennifer Lawson talks about being in New York on September 11, 2001 for the "Africa" media tour

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Jennifer Lawson talks about the success of "Africa" despite 9/11

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Jennifer Lawson talks about the narration and the music for "Africa"

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Jennifer Lawson talks about her favorite moment from "Africa"

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Jennifer Lawson talks about other series on Africa and other projects from Magic Box

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Jennifer Lawson talks about transitioning WHUT of Howard University to digital, pt. 1

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Jennifer Lawson talks about transitioning WHUT to digital, pt. 2

Tape: 12 Story: 7 - Jennifer Lawson talks about the programming changes she made at WHUT

Tape: 12 Story: 8 - Jennifer Lawson talks about community support for WHUT

Tape: 12 Story: 9 - Jennifer Lawson talks about WHUT's support of student work and leaving WHUT in 2010

Tape: 12 Story: 10 - Jennifer Lawson talks about going back to work for CPB

Tape: 12 Story: 11 - Jennifer Lawson talks about "Nature" and the successful "Downton Abbey"

Tape: 12 Story: 12 - Jennifer Lawson discusses the future of CPB

Tape: 13 Story: 1 - Jennifer Lawson talks about how she personally read all the viewer mail for WHUT

Tape: 13 Story: 2 - Jennifer Lawson discusses Henry Hampton and Blackside Productions

Tape: 13 Story: 3 - Jennifer Lawson describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 13 Story: 4 - Jennifer Lawson reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 13 Story: 5 - Jennifer Lawson talks about what she might do differently

Tape: 13 Story: 6 - Jennifer Lawson talks about her family

Tape: 13 Story: 7 - Jennifer Lawson talks about how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$2

DATape

3$9

DAStory

8$1

DATitle
Jennifer Lawson talks about her father's eccentricity and creativity
Jennifer Lawson talks about her job offer from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in 1980
Transcript
Did, did his ideas embarrass you in front of your classmates sometimes?$$Yes, yes. And because everything that you had we--I just wanted a regular bicycle, you know just an--cause he--I'd wanted a bicycle and that he made a bicycle for me out of plumbing pipes. It worked, but it was the heaviest bicycle known to humankind. The thing was made out of lead pipes. I mean it was heavy as all get up. I mean now I would probably have it hanging, you know, over the sofa or something as a work of art. Same was true where he decided that, that our front yard, that the flowers looked so beautiful to him that he thought that he would make some permanent ones. So he got out his welding tools and just welded up a whole, you know, sort of slew of bed of flowers, metal flowers that then we proceeded to paint. We helped him paint them and so we had these flowers and of course the whites driving through the neighborhood would stop and want to buy them cause it was folk art. It was like folk art.$$Okay.$$But you didn't want that when you were [laughs], you just wanted to be a normal person.$$Okay. All right so, so yeah this is, yeah he was interesting.$$Yeah.$$It's an interesting thing.$$And there's an article that I have not been able to find, but in family lore they swear that there was an article about him in Life or Look Magazine. I have not been able to find any reference to it. But that he in 1945 I guess it was, apparently drove from Birmingham to Toronto and back using one gallon of gas because he had created an engine where he only needed gas to start the car. And he could really burn low grade fuels like kerosene, all you know, for the actual trip. And so they apparently did a story of Birmingham man goes to Canada on one gallon of gas, you know. And that he then did--moved towards applying for either applied for the patent for this, for this engine that he had created to do that. So as you can see, the bottom line is that my father looms large in my life because of the approach that he took towards his own life and towards encouraging us to do things. So he would, if he was going to add a room to the house, he'd say you kids design, you know, give me your thoughts about a design. And so we'd start sketching out designs. And that many cases he'd use them. So we actually had then a, a floor added to our house where--to our design. We had one room which was my room, the boys had another room in between us, in between us we had a giant playroom with skylights for our train set where you could go up under. We had the whole Lionel trains and so you had a nice, raised platform where you could then do the landscaping. I was big into the landscaping for the trains.$Okay, so this is exciting stuff here. So we're going into the early '80's [1980s] now. And so you were with the--$$I was with the Film Fund until 1980. And we continued to raise money, give grants to filmmakers. The films were award-winning films, and we gave the grants through, we had a peer review process involving other independent producers. And the work that we were doing came to the attention of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in Washington [D.C.]. The, at that time, Congress had mandated that the Corporation [Corporation for Public Broadcasting] would change its process, would alter its process and whereby its grants had been given through their board of directors. And the public had felt that that was not as transparent as it should be for an organization that, where the money was appropriated from Congress even though the Corporation itself is not a federal agency. So the Corporation, having heard about--when they talked about, well, how could we give these grants, how should we give them, people kept saying, you should do it the way the Film Fund does. So that led to, one day this group of men showing up at my doorstep at the Film Fund who then were representing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and asking if they could learn more about how we did our grant making. After that conversation, a few weeks later, I then received a job offer from CPB [Corporation for Public Broadcasting] asking if I would consider moving to Washington [D.C.] to work for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and managing their efforts with independent producers. So this was now 1980, and I thought, gee, I'd been with the Film Fund for three years. And I thought this would be interesting to take this on. So I moved to Washington in 1980 and began work that fall with CPB.

Hamilton Cloud, II

Television producer and talent agent Hamilton Cloud, II, was born on November 30, 1952, in Los Angeles, California. His father, Hamilton Cloud, Sr. was one of a few African Americans trained at the Northwestern University Dental School at the time of his graduation. Cloud grew up in Los Angeles but pursued his education at Yale University, where he earned his B.A. degree for his studies in “Communications: Mass Media and Black America,” a concentration that he originated.

Working with radio programs in Los Angeles for fifteen years, Cloud established himself within the media industry. His interests then turned to television programming, producing children’s and public affairs programs. In 1978, Cloud joined the network programming department at the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), and he became the vice president of Current Comedy Programs in 1982. In this role, he supervised the weekly production of a number of well-known comedy series, including Cheers and Family Ties. Cloud began his work in producing the NAACP Image Awards in 1987. The 19th Annual NAACP Image Awards, when broadcasted on NBC, marked the first time the show was aired on a national television network. Cloud served as the producer of the annual show for fourteen more years.

In 1990, Cloud supervised and developed programming for Playboy Entertainment Group’s cable, home video and television divisions. Within three years, he was chosen serve as the vice president of Quincy Jones/David Salzman Entertainment (QDE), supervising first-run television, special events and interactive programming. After creating Thundercloud Productions in 1995, Cloud became the senior vice-president of Letnom Productions the following year. He continued to produce television shows such as The Montel Williams Show and events like Game of the Century<./i>, a baseball event to recognize the legacy of the Negro Baseball Leagues.

Cloud has served on a number of boards, including the Hall of Fame and the Prime Time Emmy Award Committees of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He has also been a member of the WGA and The Caucus of Producers, Writers and Directors.

Cloud is married to Fukue Yamaguchi. The couple has one daughter.

Hamilton Cloud was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 29, 2011.

Accession Number

A2011.036

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/29/2011 |and| 4/30/2011

Last Name

Cloud

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

S.

Schools

Yale University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Hamilton

Birth City, State, Country

Los Angeles

HM ID

CLO03

Favorite Season

Fall

Sponsor

Herb and Sheran Wilkins Media Makers

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

Maui, Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Everything's going to be alright.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

11/30/1952

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Peanut Butter

Short Description

Talent agent and television producer Hamilton Cloud, II (1952 - ) produced the NAACP Image Awards from 1987 to 2000. In 1987, the Image Awards were broadcast on a national television network for the first time. Cloud has worked with a number of other companies, including NBC, Playboy Entertainment Group, and QDE.

Employment

NBC

Imaginary Entertainment

Quincy Jones/David Salzman Entertainment

Letnom Productions

Thundercloud Productions

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Hamilton Cloud's interview, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Hamilton Cloud lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Hamilton Cloud describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his maternal grandmother's Moravian cookies

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his mother's aspirations, and how his parents met and married

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Hamilton Cloud describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Hamilton Cloud talks about tracing his paternal ancestry to Nashville, Tennessee, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Hamilton Cloud talks about tracing his paternal ancestry to Nashville, Tennessee, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Hamilton Cloud talks about meeting a relative in Knoxville, Tennessee, and visiting his great-grandparents' graves

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his paternal great-grandfather, Peter Cooper Cloud's death

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his paternal grandparents, Lillian Strawbridge and Frank Herman Cloud

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his father's service in World War II and the Korean War and his training to become a dentist

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Hamilton Cloud talks about HistoryMaker Leo Branton, who was his father's friend

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his father's and African American service in the Korean War, and his father's anti-war sentiment during the Vietnam War

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his birthplace home of Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his siblings, and his likeness to his parents

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his family's interest in music and dance

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his favorite memory of his maternal grandfather

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his paternal grandfather's photography

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Hamilton Cloud talks about the neighborhood where he grew up in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his home and neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Hamilton Cloud describes his experience in school in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Hamilton Cloud talks about race relations in Los Angeles, California while he was growing up

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Hamilton Cloud talks about the Los Angeles Police Department's (LAPD) reputation in the black community in the 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his interest in television and radio, and his parents exposing he and his siblings to the arts

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his parents' involvement in the Civil Rights Movement and playing football near Ray Charles' home in Los Angeles

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his mentors in school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his favorite movie as a child, 'The Magnificent Seven'

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Hamilton Cloud talks about high school and his decision to attend Yale University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his extracurricular activities in high school and graduating in 1970

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Hamilton Cloud describes his experience at Yale University in the 1970s

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Hamilton Cloud talks about prominent African Americans who studied at Yale University while he was there

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Hamilton Cloud describes his experience working at WYBC radio station at Yale University and the programming that it offered

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Hamilton Cloud talks about Yale University's radio station, WYBC, as a cultural focal point in New Haven, Connecticut

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Hamilton Cloud talks about how he got his first job at a mainstream radio station in New Haven, and later in television at NBC in Los Angeles

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Hamilton Cloud talks about taking a semester off from Yale University, his father's skill and income as a dentist, and paying his way through college

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his experience working at radio stations and teaching in Los Angeles, and his move to television at KABC, Channel 7

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his experience at NBC in Los Angeles, California and his involvement with the production of 'Shogun'

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Hamilton Cloud talks about the Japanese American community's reception of the television mini-series, 'Shogun'

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Hamilton Cloud describes his involvement in the production of the television movie, 'Grambling's White Tiger'

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his mentor at NBC, Brandon Tartikoff, and his experience as Vice President of Current Comedy

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Hamilton Cloud talks about the popular sitcoms that aired on NBC in the 1980s

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Hamilton Cloud talks about why he left NBC in 1984

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Hamilton Cloud describes how the NAACP Image Awards began, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Hamilton Cloud describes how the NAACP Image Awards began, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Hamilton Cloud describes his experience producing the NAACP Image Awards

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Hamilton Cloud talks about the honorees of the NAACP Image Awards

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Hamilton Cloud talks about planning a tribute to Oprah Winfrey as part of the NAACP Image Awards

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Hamilton Cloud talks about introducing 'Name that Tune' at the NAACP Image Awards

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Hamilton Cloud talks about why he left the NAACP Image Awards, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Hamilton Cloud talks about why he left the NAACP Image Awards, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his responsibilities as the producer of the NAACP Image Awards

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Hamilton Cloud discusses some of his proudest moments as the producer of the NAACP Image Awards

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Hamilton Cloud talks about the NAACP Image Awards demographics

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his production and personal management company, Imaginary Entertainment

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Slating of Hamilton Cloud's interview, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Hamilton Cloud talks co-founding Imaginary Entertainment, and having Miriam Makeba as a client

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his work with Paul Simon's 'Graceland' tour, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his work with Paul Simon's 'Graceland' tour, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Hamilton Cloud talks about Paul Simon's 'Graceland' tour, and the initial reception that it received from anti-Apartheid activists

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Hamilton Cloud talks about Paul Simon and other prominent artists giving credit to artists who worked with them, and inspired their work

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Hamilton Cloud talks about Miriam Makeba and Nelson Mandela's birthday concert in London

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Hamilton Cloud talks about Nelson Mandela's release from prison, and working with Stevie Wonder to create the Martin Luther King Day Holiday

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Hamilton Cloud talks about working with Jon Hendricks of the vocalese group, 'Lambert, Hendricks and Ross'

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his radio show, 'Innervisions', pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his radio show, 'Innervisions', pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his radio show, 'Black Spectrum'

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Hamilton Cloud talks about going to Bob Marley's concerts in California in the 1970s and honoring him posthumously at the NAACP Image Awards

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Hamilton Cloud talks about organizing a gala for President Bill Clinton and the Heads of States of the western hemisphere, with Quincy Jones, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Hamilton Cloud talks about organizing a gala for President Bill Clinton and the Heads of States of the western hemisphere, with Quincy Jones, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his work on the mockumentary, 'The Compleat Al'

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his work with Quincy Jones/David Salzman Entertainment (QDE), pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his work with Quincy Jones/David Salzman Entertainment (QDE), pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his decision to work at Playboy Entertainment

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Hamilton Cloud describes his experience working at Playboy Entertainment

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Hamilton Cloud talks about how he met his wife, and their marriage

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Hamilton Cloud talks about working with Montel Williams, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Hamilton Cloud talks about working with Montel Williams, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Hamilton Cloud talks about Montel Williams and Montel's struggle with multiple sclerosis (MS)

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his former assistant, Stacy Milner, her husband Ted Milner, and their business

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his work with 'Game of the Century', a salute to the Negro Baseball Leagues at Dodger Stadium, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his work with 'Game of the Century', a salute to the Negro Baseball Leagues at Dodger Stadium, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Hamilton Cloud talks about organizing a beauty pageant show for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs)

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Hamilton Cloud talks about the success of the beauty pageant show for HBCUs and the step-dance competition, "Stomp"

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Hamilton Cloud talks about producing a tribute to Maynard Jackson at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Hamilton Cloud talks about producing a tribute to African American organizations at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Hamilton Cloud talks his interest in producing a record album with the artist, D Knowledge

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Hamilton Cloud talks about producing a record album with the artist, D Knowledge, and working with him on other projects

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his involvement in the opening of the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Hamilton Cloud describes his role as the Director of Special Projects for Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Hamilton Cloud talks about age discrimination in the entertainment industry

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Hamilton Cloud talks about the shortsightedness of attempts to abolish unions, and age discrimination

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Hamilton Cloud talks about Congressman Maxine Waters

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Hamilton Cloud reflects upon his life and career

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Hamilton Cloud reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Hamilton Cloud reflects upon the African Americans community

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Hamilton Cloud reflects upon African American ownership of their community, pt. 1

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Hamilton Cloud reflects upon African American ownership of their community, pt. 2

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Hamilton Cloud reflects upon dwindling African American representation in Hollywood

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Hamilton Cloud talks about not having political ambitions

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his staff's role as Congresswoman Maxine Waters' media representative

Tape: 12 Story: 7 - Hamilton Cloud describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 12 Story: 8 - Hamilton Cloud describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 13 Story: 1 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his family

Tape: 13 Story: 2 - Hamilton Cloud talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 13 Story: 3 - Hamilton Cloud describes his photographs

DASession

1$2

DATape

4$6

DAStory

2$1

DATitle
Hamilton Cloud describes his experience working at WYBC radio station at Yale University and the programming that it offered
Hamilton Cloud talks about introducing 'Name that Tune' at the NAACP Image Awards
Transcript
My favorite professor is still there [Yale University], a gentleman by the name of Willie Ruff who you guys should interview cause he's, he's a treasure trove. He--yeah he's fantastic, music professor and jazz musician. Spends half the year teaching at Yale and the other half traveling the world as a jazz musician. And he exposed us to so many things. I, I literally got to, to meet Duke Ellington and I hosted a radio broadcast of a concert that Willie Ruff organized with Ellington and his orchestra. He, he funded the Ellington Fellowship at Yale, and that was the kickoff of that and I actually hosted the radio broadcast of it. Just brought through Honi Coles and B.B. King and, and, and just incredible folks that you know, I was exposed to while I was there. And, and yeah, great time, great time to, to be there. And so I, I fell in love with radio. I walked in the radio station and it was like the lightning bolt. I knew that's what I wanted to do and ended up--Yale had a commercial FM license. And so we broadcast to all of New Haven [Connecticut], and it was a very rare for a college radio station to have a commercial license. And so we could sell commercials and support the radio station that way. And we weren't paid but we were able to you know keep the electricity on and, and all of that. So the university didn't pay for the radio station, it was self supporting. So we had a program called 'Black Spectrum' that was on the air five hours a day and then most of the weekends. I forget what the total number of hours were per week. And I became the program director of Black Spectrum and it was the number one radio station in New Haven at, at the time. Because New Haven had this sizable African American population that didn't have its, its own radio. So we became that and before Black Spectrum there was a, a, a group of pioneering folks who did a program called 'Soul Sessions'. And they created that programming in the '60s [1960s] and then we carried forward with Black Spectrum and we were so far ahead of our time in terms of mixing genres of, of black music and, and Latin music. Because back then you know, you couldn't mix R&B [rhythm and blues] with jazz or gospel or Latin. But that's what we did. And--$$I've always found that curious that, that black people will, will you know--$$Yeah, well, well--$$--well that's not you know--$$Exactly.$$R&B was all you heard on most of the black radio stations around the country.$$Yes.$$And that was it and if you put jazz or anything else on it--$$Which, that always struck me as very strange too because it, it all comes from the same roots. And you know I suppose there are purists, but we created a format where we did mix all the music and it worked. And we were really proud, and we were following the lead of WHUR in, in Washington, D.C. [District of Columbia] which is again, a very pioneering--$$I was going to mention them as that's the only other station I've heard that mixed the genres like that.$$Yes.$$WHUR.$$And, and we were following their lead. And I got to meet Tony Brown and, and, and go to some conferences in D.C. and, and we were really inspired by what they did. And so we did this programming in New Haven that people still remember and, and you know I, I've met and heard from people who you know, still remember the programming that we did and, and the show, Black Spectrum, lived on for many years.$$Did you intersperse some political content as well?$$Yes.$$Like Malcolm's [Malcolm X] speeches and Dr. [Martin Luther] King.$$Yes, yes, yes. That's exactly what we did. So we would play snippets of King and of Malcolm and there was a great album called "Guess Who's Coming Home?" about black fighting men in Vietnam [war] that we would pull snippets out of that. I'm glad you mentioned that cause again, that's what WHUR was doing. And so we--it was, it was really culturally rich and sophisticated and, and musically, and we were very, very proud of it.$All right. Now, we were talking about the [NAACP; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] Image Awards, some of the stories, and you have a Roger Ebert story.$$Yes. And what made me think about it was when--I feel that throughout my career and my life I've been really blessed with a higher power, you know, looking out for me. And in the Image Awards, during the fourteen years that I did them, we put a lot of time and energy into thinking about how we would honor people. And, as I said, we try to do it in a way that would be very memorable. But I also know that we had some great luck along the way, because some things broke our way that you just couldn't have predicted. So, one example is we were going to honor the Isley Brothers one year, and we were in the production office with--I had a large writing staff, and the reason I did that is that the brainstorming process in my mind was as valuable as the actual writing. And so, I made sure to have a diverse writing staff; you know, age-wise, experience-wise, background-wise. And so, my policy was that any idea was welcomed and--which I learned from Brandon Tartikoff--and that anybody could throw out an idea and we would bat it around. And I always felt that my skill was determining the good ideas from the bad ones, and then maybe taking the good ideas up a notch. So, we were in the office and we were brainstorming about what could we do to pay tribute to the Isley Brothers. And we were just--I had bought a 'Greatest Hits' package, and we were bouncing through 'The Greatest Hits' package, and I'd play the first fifteen seconds of a song, and my writers would shout out the name of the song, you know, just naturally, because it would bring back so many memories for us. So, I said, "Wow, what if we did 'name that tune,' you know, and did it with the audience?" And so, one of the members of the staff said, "Well, why don't we use Steve Harvey to do this segment?" And we said, "Okay. Let's have Steve Harvey go into the audience and we'll play 'Name that Tune' with the audience, and we'll see if it works. And if it doesn't work, that's okay," because then the Image Awards wasn't live, it was videotaped. So I knew that if it didn't work, you know, I could cut it out. But, we picked, you know, four or five songs, and we told Steve, who was going to be in the audience, but we didn't tell him necessarily who to pick. And we didn't' tell the audience it was going to happen. So, he goes down into the audience, and I remember Chris Rock was one of the people that he asked, and you know, you could tell they were reluctant because he was literally picking him up out of the audience and they didn't know what was going to happen. So Chris Rock got all of the answers correctly, and then we picked somebody else, I can't remember who it was. But Steve was doing a great job with it. And he--by the way, before we did it, he wasn't even sure it was going to work. He said, "You're sure you want to try it?" And I was like, "Yeah. And you're so good on your feet that, you know, you'll make it work even if the person doesn't get the right answer." So, I don't what made him decide to go to Roger Ebert. And, you know, I guess he thought Roger Ebert, who has this image of being, you know, pretty square. And none of us knew that Roger happened to be married to an African American woman and that she was sitting next to him. But none of us knew that at the time. And so, Steve goes over to Roger Ebert and we play the song and we'll all thinking, "Oh, boy. He's never going to get this." And Roger turns to his wife and, of course, she gets the answer right away. And Steve turned it into a really funny bit. So that to me was an example of how, you know, pure luck, and sort of, I guess, good karma would be the best way to describe it. Things almost always worked for us on the Image Awards.$$Okay.