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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Black Producers Turn To Web For 'TV' Shows

By Holly Wood

Filmmakers, producers and writers are looking to the Web to make black shows on their own terms. Sites that focus on publishing black independent Web shows are cropping up as well, including Rowdy Orbit and BBTV (Better Black TV).

This month, BET.com will premiere its first original Web series, Buppies, starring Tatyana Ali, directed by up-and-coming director Julian Breece and produced by Ali and newcomer Aaliyah Williams. Buppies dramatizes the story of Quinci, a young socialite who is having a very bad day. She and two girlfriends, all black professionals in industries like law and journalism, deal with relationship issues, sexuality, pregnancy and career identity.

There are hundreds of original, scripted shows on the Web, and many of them have black characters, sometimes in lead roles, such as Jaleel White in "Road to the Altar" and Nichelle Nichols in "The Cabonauts."

Here’s a sampling of original Web shows that are trying to fill the black drama void online:

"The New 20s" is the brainchild of filmmaker Tracy Taylor and premiered recently at the New York Television Festival. The series explores the lives of a number of black professionals transitioning from the 20s to their 30s. The show tells its story in a semi-realistic way, forgoing one-liners and slapstick bits and focusing on intimate conversations.

"Johnny B Homeless" explores the comic adventures of a young man who migrates from couch to couch in New York City. It took the People’s Choice award at the New York TV festival, and Kenan Thompson, of Saturday Night Live, has joined the cast. Al Thompson, the series creator and star, also has another series, "Lenox Avenue." (the Root, 10/14/09)
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