Exclusive: @robinthede to Host @chrisrock-Produced BET Late-Night Talk Show https://t.co/l4trdz6ikF pic.twitter.com/qfmVY1WGZz
— Lesley Goldberg (@Snoodit) April 26, 2017
It seems that every other week, we’re speaking about the lack of Black women in late night television. And according to The Hollywood Reporter, apparently, BET is stepping forward to solve the problem. With Chris Rock serving as executive producer, Robin Thede, the former head writer and contributor for the “Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore,” will host a new late-night show called “The Rundown With Robin Thede”
The network has ordered 24 episodes for the show which is set to launch this fall. She will also executive produce with Chris Rock, Tony Hernandez , Lilly Burns, John Skidmore and Genevieve Aniello.
Thede is the first Black woman in history to serve as a head writer for a late night comedy show. In the second season she stepped in front of the camera as a performer and was eventually promoted to cast member. Thede also wrote for Wilmore for the White House Correspondents Association Dinner and worked on the “Queen Latifah Show.”
This is not the first time she’s worked with BET. She also wrote for the firs two seasons of “The Real Husbands of Hollywood.”
This will also be the second time Thede and Rock work together. They collaborated back in 2014 for the BET Awards.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Thede and Rock explained how this opportunity came together and what viewers can expect.
Thede: It’s a good sophomore album! Nightly Show got canceled in August and I took a vacation and wanted to get back to work. I got a lot of other job offers, but I had it in my mind that I was going to create something for myself. I took a general meeting at Jax Media and they asked if I was going to do a show, what that would be. I rambled out what would become The Rundown. They bought it in the room. I brought Chris Rock up in the room on a lark, and they’d produced Top Five with Chris. A couple days later, they called me back and told me Chris was in — I didn’t even know we were asking him! Chris got the quick rundown of the show — pun intended — and he signed on without seeing so much as a presentation or hearing the pitch from me.
THR: How much will race and racial politics be a part of the show? It’s a satirical show, but there’s just so much going on politically …
Thede: This is what’s so great and awful — there’s so much to talk about. We’re on Black Entertainment Television, this is going to be a show that is absolutely geared to a black audience and told from a black, female perspective. Does that limit it to only race issues? Absolutely not. It’s going to be things that matter to the community, but it’s also a recap of politics and pop culture from the week. It’s things that matter to my audience and to people who care what I think about things that happen during the week. If Bill O’Reilly calls a woman “hot chocolate,” this is definitely going to be a show you want to tune in to hear what we have to say about it. When that stuff happens and other shows comment on it, it’s always as an observer, not as a witness. As a black woman, I can tell you how that would make me feel and tell you the jokes that would make sense to me and the community that BET serves. Race will be a part of it because of who I am and where we are [as a country], but I didn’t set out to make a show about race.
THR: The late-night landscape is very competitive and hard to cut through. How will The Rundown differ and stand out?
Rock: You get the natural thing of there’s no other black woman in late night! But that’s not enough to carry a show — but it absolutely will help; it’s not going to be a hindrance, I’ll say that. You essentially have seven guys doing a version of the same show, so you have a handful of networks not addressing 55 percent of the audience. It’s odd. That’s not even counting color or ethnicity. I like all those guys, but find it really hard to believe. Here’s the weird thing — and it’s a network thing — all those guys are great, but are seven white guys funnier before you get to any woman or a Latino? I don’t think so. By the time they offer something to someone who is a minority, they’re too big for the job. That’s the problem. They never really take a shot with new talent when it comes to a woman or a minority. I’ll get an offer for a late-night show now, but the reality is I probably should have gotten it in 1995. That’s when Conan got it. That’s when white guys get it — on the ascension. But no one really makes that jump. So they’ll offer Ellen The Tonight Show now when reality is they probably should have offered her The Tonight Show in 1992. Take a chance. George Lopez, they gave him a talk show 10 years after they should have given him a talk show. They waited until he was the most famous Mexican guy in the world and then he gets an offer. Michelle Wolf is as funny as can be and should have her own show. So I have to hand it to the good people at FX for taking a chance with Kamau. It’s not the black thing, it’s that they took a chance — and that’s rare.
How is the show structured?
Thede: We’ll have occasional musical performances. We’ll start the show with an opening sketch that will spoof something from the week. Then we’ll do the in-studio segment with the live audience where we go through the rundown. We’re only going to hit topics with a couple of jokes because it’s a literal rundown on the massive screen that says the topics that we’re going to cover. We are not doing any 12-minute deep dives on why black lives matter. We can get into longer-form topics in the field pieces, which will be our third act. Those will either be longform sketches, field pieces or musical acts. Then the tag in the fourth act with a funny thing at the end. It’s a really well-rounded show that takes advantage of all the things I do. Viewers can expect a layered show that if you don’t like one thing, just wait 30 seconds because it’s going to change and move really fast.
Veronica Wells is the culture editor at MadameNoire.com. She is also the author of “Bettah Days.” You can follow her on Facebook and on Instagram and Twitter @VDubShrug.