Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
HBO Seeks Diverse, Emerging Writers for HBOAccess Writing Fellowship HBO Seeks Diverse, Emerging Writers for HBOAccess Writing Fellowship Films & TV Series That Are Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix's Streaming Library Next Month (March) Films & TV Series That Are Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix's Streaming Library Next Month (March) Check Out These Photos of Mo'Nique, Queen Latifah, Khandi Alexander & Michael K. WIlliams From HBO's Bessie Smith Bio + Premiere Date Set Check Out These Photos of Mo'Nique, Queen Latifah, Khandi Alexander & Michael K. WIlliams From HBO's Bessie Smith Bio + Premiere Date Set Oscars Telecast Ratings at 6-Year Low. So Was Nielsen Right About Correlation Between Black Nominees & Viewers? Oscars Telecast Ratings at 6-Year Low. So Was Nielsen Right About Correlation Between Black Nominees & Viewers? Here's the Story That the Denzel Washington/Antoine Fuqua 'Magnificent Seven' Remake Will Tell Here's the Story That the Denzel Washington/Antoine Fuqua 'Magnificent Seven' Remake Will Tell Ava DuVernay Won Ava DuVernay Won Watch Footage From Marlon Wayans' Richard Pryor Audition Tape Watch Footage From Marlon Wayans' Richard Pryor Audition Tape Mike Tyson Went to Algeria to Make the Country's "First Martial Arts Film"... Here's a First Look at the Results Mike Tyson Went to Algeria to Make the Country's "First Martial Arts Film"... Here's a First Look at the Results If You Missed PBS' August Wilson Documentary, 'The Ground on Which I Stand,' Watch It in Full Now! If You Missed PBS' August Wilson Documentary, 'The Ground on Which I Stand,' Watch It in Full Now! Here's One Reason Why Eddie Murphy's 'SNL' Appearance Was So Awkwardly Brief... Here's One Reason Why Eddie Murphy's 'SNL' Appearance Was So Awkwardly Brief... Now You Can Watch All 10 Oscar Nominated Short Films (Live Action & Animation) Online Now You Can Watch All 10 Oscar Nominated Short Films (Live Action & Animation) Online Jill Marie Jones Scores Female Lead Role in Starz Original Series Based on 'Evil Dead' Film Franchise Jill Marie Jones Scores Female Lead Role in Starz Original Series Based on 'Evil Dead' Film Franchise Mo'Nique's Decision to Not "Play the Industry Game" Gets Her Blacklisted. The Actress Speaks... Mo'Nique's Decision to Not "Play the Industry Game" Gets Her Blacklisted. The Actress Speaks... For the First Time, the Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards Will Be Broadcast on TV - on OWN For the First Time, the Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards Will Be Broadcast on TV - on OWN Former 'Living Single' Castmates, Erika Alexander and Kim Coles, Launch New Web Series 'The BFF Chronicles' Former 'Living Single' Castmates, Erika Alexander and Kim Coles, Launch New Web Series 'The BFF Chronicles' Here's One Reason Why 'Selma' Probably Won't Win the Best Picture Oscar... Here's One Reason Why 'Selma' Probably Won't Win the Best Picture Oscar... What Critics Are Saying About 'The Book of Negroes' Miniseries, Which Premieres Tonight on BET What Critics Are Saying About 'The Book of Negroes' Miniseries, Which Premieres Tonight on BET Growing Resentment Of Oscar Campaigns Recalls Mo'Nique's Controversial 'Precious' Choice Growing Resentment Of Oscar Campaigns Recalls Mo'Nique's Controversial 'Precious' Choice Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Apparently, Hosting The Oscars Isn't As Coveted A Gig As I Previously Assumed... Apparently, Hosting The Oscars Isn't As Coveted A Gig As I Previously Assumed...

Sam Pollard, Melissa Haizlip Teaming For 'Mr. SOUL!: Ellis Haizlip & The Birth Of Black Power TV'

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act September 21, 2012 at 11:00AM

The short story goes... In 1968, they asked him to produce the first "black Tonight Show." Instead, he started a revolution by bringing the real black experience to the national stage... SOUL! was one of the most controversial, successful and socially significant black-produced TV shows in US history.
2
Mr Soul

The short story goes... In 1968, they asked him to produce the first "black Tonight Show." Instead, he started a revolution by bringing the real black experience to the national stage... SOUL! was one of the most controversial, successful and socially significant black-produced TV shows in US history.

On the heels of the Civil Rights Movement... He was hip. He was smart. He was innovative and political. In his personal fight for social equality, this man ensured the Revolution would be televised.

And that man was Ellis Haizlip; while the revolution he led was known as SOUL!, described as the first “black Tonight Show,” launcehd in 1968 as a local, New York broadcast, which would eventually become a nationwide phenom.

By 1973, Haizlip had produced over 130 hour-long shows featuring a dazzling array of A-list guests like Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, James Baldwin, Stevie Wonder, Maya Angelou, Ashford and Simpson, Nikki Giovanni, Al Green and Muhammad Ali - even a 16-year-old Arsenio Hall doing magic tricks.

And now, Haizlip's niece, Melissa Haizlip, along with director Sam Pollard, have teamed to produce the feature documentary Mr. SOUL!: Ellis Haizlip and the Birth of Black Power TV.

The film provides a behind-the-scenes look at the show, from its initial conception to its final broadcast, including the very public battle to keep it on the air despite a shifting political landscape, asking and answering questions like: 

Who was this innovator, determined to fight for liberation and acceptance through cultural expression? Why did this Emmy Award-winning show lose funding at the height of the Black Arts Movement? How is SOUL! relevant today, when diversity in media remains a paramount issue?

Mr. SOUL!: Ellis Haizlip and the Birth of Black Power TV aims to engage new conversation about what it refers to as a critical moment in American broadcast history, while offering a nuanced and fascinating portrait of the soul behind SOUL!, Ellis Haizlip.

And to that end, next month Monday, September 24, Melissa Haizlip will launch a month-long Kickstarter campaign at the Black Programming Consortium in Harlem, seeking to raise $100,000 to match a National Endowment for the Arts grant - and money from the Consortium. She hopes to complete the film in 2013.

If you're not familiar with SOUL!, you can a few episodes on the WNET Thirteen's website HERE.


Shadow & ActNewsletter