By Bill Vaughan
The television networks unveiled their plans for the 2018-19 season in New York last week and Tasty Clips was there to witness the many offerings.
Fox kicked off our coverage with an afternoon presentation at the venerable Beacon Theatre.
Returning shows include “Lethal Weapon,” with Seann William Scott replacing alleged bad boy Clayne Crawford; a final season of “Gotham” allowing Master Bruce to suit up; “9-1-1,” last year’s breakout hit with Angela Bassett; Seth McFarlane’s “The Orville;” Marvel’s “The Gifted;” Lee Daniels’ “Empire;” “The Love Connection;” at least three Gordon Ramsey series; and that longtime Sunday animated bloc of “Bob’s Burgers,” “Family Guy” and “The Simpsons.”
“The Cool Kids, a retirement community sitcom starring David Alan Grier, Vicki Lawrence, Martin Mull and Leslie Jordan; “The Passage,” based on the best-selling trilogy with Mark‐Paul Gosselaar and newcomer Saniyya Sidney; and legal drama “Proven Innocent,” are new to the schedule, along with a revival of Tim Allen’s “Last Man Standing.”
After Meghan Trainor ended the proceedings by performing “No Excuses,” it was on to Central Park’s Wollman Rink, where head turners like the lovely Shaunette Renée Wilson, so fierce as Dora Milaje in “Black Panther,” could be seen slaying in a colorful African-patterned dress that fit like a glove.
She may have inspired Jamie Foxx as he revved things up at the post party to fever pitch as hypeman with daughter Corinne Foxx, who joins his musical game show “Beat Shazam” as DJ when it returns May 29.
Sean “Diddy” Combs, of the renewed music competition “The Four,” entered the room with a phalanx of bodyguards, surveyed the packed dance floor and exited before he could be called to the stage.
Foxx could be heard shouting “Wakanda” on the other side of the huge tent where “Rel,” starring hot comic actor Lil Rel Howery (“Get Out”), was touted as an addition to the Sunday lineup. “Sounds like somebody needs to take that drink away from Jamie,” joked Sinbad, who is the father on the series.
On the way out, we ran into the charismatic Ryan Destiny of “Star” entering its third season, dropping bombshells about whose biopic she most desired to do: Lauryn Hill! The 23 year-old Detroit native, who had to turn down the role of Tiana on “Empire,” would be perfect in that part.
Testimonials from news anchor Jorge Ramos, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Shakira, Danny Trejo, J Balvin and others cemented the theme of Culture Unbound at the Univision Upfront, which broke tradition by splitting into three presentations and eschewing midtown Manhattan for Soho’s Spring Studios.
Chief Revenue Officer Tonia O’Connor informed of their focus on news, entertainment, music, food and soccer programming. Through digital holdings like The Root, Deadspin, The Onion, Gizmodo, Jezebel, Lifehacker, Splinter and many more, a compelling case was made for their impressive outreach capabilities beyond broadcast.
DJ Khaled, who is so big now he has his own DJ, performed his hits before the gathering moved on to three floors including one with themed games representing series like “Tijuana,” “Mi Marido tiene Familia” and “La Piloto,” while serving sliders and liquid nitrogen popcorn. A magnificent view provided backdrop for a rooftop lunch serving empañadas, salsas, chocolates and specialty cocktails.
Turner also has a diverse portfolio with its various networks. The morning presentation at Madison Square Garden began with a performance by “Hamilton” star Daveed Diggs, who will lead a TNT series based on the 2013 cult sci-fi film “Snowpiercer.”
It joins an anthology from the maker of “Alien” and “Blade Runner” called “Ridley Scott Presents;” “One Day She’ll Darken,” a mystery mini-series reuniting “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins’ with Chris Pine; TBS’ “Miracle Workers,” imagining Steve Buscemi as God and Daniel Radcliffe as an angel; and a revival of “Michael Moore’s TV Nation” as most anticipated programs. They join a roster of renewed shows like “Claws,” “The Detour” and “The Alienist.”
Newsman Anderson Cooper followed with appearances by President and Chief Creative Officer Kevin Reilly; talk show vet Conan O’Brien; “Inside The NBA” foil Shaquille O’Neal; NBA hall of famer turned soccer commentator Steve Nash; CNN primetime newbie Chris Cuomo and “Full Frontal” host Samantha Bee, who is spearheading a game to get 18-24-year-olds to the polls for the mid-term elections.
“The Last O.G.” power duo Tracy Morgan and Tiffany Haddish did brief sets prior to “The Joker’s Wild” MC Snoop Dogg closed it down with a medley of his classics.
““White people, y’all gonna learn so much about us,” said Haddish about the second season of cable’s No. 1 comedy. “And I’ma learn a lot about y’all too. That’s what I’m excited about, too. I’ve been reading a lot of books.”
CLIPPETTES: Sirius/XM’s “Richard Pryor: Still Outrageous” is unveiling three previously unreleased recordings starting with “Live at the Roxy” on May 25 at 6 a.m. The gems, produced between 1976 and 1983, will air on the Comedy Greats channel …
The farewell tour continues for George Clinton on the bill as a special guest with headliners War at the Greek Theatre May 26. The funkster just dropped a surprise digital-only Parliament album called “Medicaid Fraud Dogg” — the group’s first since 1980 …
Spike Lee‘s “BlacKKKlansman,” starring John David Washington, Corey Hawkins and Adam Driver in the fact-based story of the African-American cop who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan, won the Grand Prix Award at Cannes. It hits U.S. theaters in August timed to the one-year anniversary of the Charlottesville march and demonstrations …
Let’s see if we can make you shake your head. In interviews, “Solo: A Star Wars Story” father-and-son co-writers Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan suggest that Lando Calrissian, originally played by Billy Dee Williams and now Donald Glover, is pansexual. Which means he’ll … Oh nevermind …
Tickets are now on sale for “The Stevie Wonder Song Party: A Celebration of Life, Love & Music,” which the legend is staging during stays in Las Vegas (Aug. 3-11), Atlantic City (Aug. 25-26), and the D.C. area (Aug. 29-30).
DISC-OVERY: Standout British teenage cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason and The Kingdom Choir conducted by Karen Gibson are featured on “The Official Recording of The Royal Wedding” of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle now available on Decca Records with a donation per album sold supporting the charitable work of The Royal Foundation.
TC ON TV: May 27 – “Comeback Kitchen: Reheat or Reinvent” (Food): Fan favorites Jernard “The Chef of Love” Wells of Atlanta and 6-foot, 9-inch San Francisco Chef Yaku Moton-Spruill vie for another spot on “Food Network Star.” “Unsung” (TV1): Special Ed.
May 29 – “Queen Sugar” (OWN): The Bordelons are back in a premiere spanning two-nights. The grateful network along with the Cinema Society threw a bash for the cast and Ava DuVernay at Manhattan’s Laduree Soho last weekend. Celebrants included the fashionable André Leon Talley, Anna and Pat Cleveland; actors Michael K. Williams and Katie Holmes; hip MSNBC host Ari Melber and Maxwell. Series composer Meshell Ndegeocello entertained.
TASTY QUIP: “Kanye used to be like our Marvin Gaye, he was like our Basquiat, so it’s been a disappointment to me [for him] to give a thumbs up to that [Make America Great Again] hat and what it stands for and the other people representing it. It was just a bummer to me.” – MACY GRAY to the NY Post
As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment newspaper columns on the West Coast, serving nearly one million weekly readers. To reach Bill Vaughan, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @tastyclips.