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Soledad O' Brien Obtains Rights To 'Black In America' Series (DAMN!)

Television
by Sergio
March 11, 2013 12:16 AM
42 Comments
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Soledad O' Brien

Just when I thought we would never have to see another one of those awful shows again. Now it looks like more are coming.

Of course I'm referring to those, as I called them a few weeks ago,  "let's-explain-to-white-people-how really-weird-and-f____d-up-black-people-are" Black in America specials hosted by Soledad O' Brien.

Since she recently left (or was pushed out) by CNN from her daily morning show, O'Brien has announced that she will be producing specials and documentaries to the network on a non-exclusive basis

But in an interview with Business Week last week she revealed that she has obtained the rights to the Black in America franchise (as well as the one for Latino in America too just in case she wakes up feeling especially Hispanic that day)

As she said in the interview: "We struck an unusual deal, I’ll get to leave CNN with my catalog and documentaries. We were able to create a brand at CNN — Black in America — that I now own. I can take that brand and extend it in any way I want. You have Netflix and all these channels that are looking for interesting and different ways to tell stories. To have ownership of Black in America and Latino in America is hugely important".

She went on: "I absolutely pushed for that — it was critical to me. I’m so affiliated with this brand that there wasn't a real struggle. I don't just own it, but I can now take it across other platforms".

Wonderful. Can't wait. What's up next? Black in America: Hair Weaves - Indian Hair or Yaki?

As I said before the big problem I have with these specials is that, sure, you can do a two hour documentary on a particular person or an event. But there isn't one single two hour special, or even 20 of them, that can fully, or partially, describe the experiences of being Black in America or even just one aspect of it. And since there are about 40 million black people in this country, there are about 40 million different experiences. 

Yet O'Brien (who only seems to "come out" as a black person when she has one of those specials to hype) thinks that it can be all neatly wrapped up for easy consumption in a two hour special. "Ooooh Look! Some black people have a problem with being dark skinned" Really? Who doesn't know that? 

Oh yeah white people.

I can see them now::"Harry look at that. Why I never. Had no idea those people felt that way about themselves. I thought they all looked alike to me."


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42 Comments

  • johnh | June 13, 2013 1:33 PMReply

    How about a weekly ? Waking up as screwed up as Soledad Obrien~!!

  • Anon | March 15, 2013 5:48 PMReply

    The racial ambiguity that the One Drop Rule has created within the black race, be it via identity or phenotype, creates a ripe opportunity for intra-racial leeching of more marginalized sub-populations.

  • Carl | March 15, 2013 5:53 PM

    Your tin foil hat is on too tight. Lol

  • Anon | March 15, 2013 5:46 PMReply

    Thank you for this article and calling out one of many who ambiguously identify as Black, only, when convenient.

  • Black Belt Jones | March 15, 2013 5:30 PMReply

    What kind of article is this? For starters, I'm proud she has ownership of her franchise, that's good news. Another thing, if you guys are looking for the one documentary or narrative film to finally tell the entire story of Black people, then pack a snack and wear durable shoes because you'll be searching for a long time. No one attempts to tell an entire story on one subject. The only one naive enough to do that is Ken Burns. Soledad sheds light on various Black people and their experiences in America that are actually real. You idiots are speaking like you can deny someone's actual experience that is being told on screen. Those are real people telling their story. To be honest with you, I have yet to see any Black storyteller that blatantly said "I'm the official storyteller of all Blacks!I speak for all Black folks!" It never happened.

  • AM | March 15, 2013 5:04 PMReply

    Wow! What a nasty article. Whoever wrote this must have a major chip on their shoulders. If you don't like documentaries, stick to fiction. And your digs at Soledad for being biracial were stupid and uncalled for. This article makes we never want to read your site again. I'm definitely removing you from my FB newsfeed. Bye bye, Shadow and Act!

  • sergio | March 15, 2013 5:07 PM

    See ya' later alligator!

  • Sad but true | March 14, 2013 10:22 AMReply

    A whole lot of biracial/light skinned/afro-latina/women haters of anything they do on this site.

  • TAZ | March 13, 2013 6:54 PMReply

    My comment isn't about the BIA series, as I have not seen it, but specifically about one 'funny factual statement' as seen by Sergio.

    ""Ooooh Look! Some black people have a problem with being dark skinned" Really? Who doesn't know that? "

    I can tell you. Many of the 40 million black folk that therefore equals 40 million different experiences..........because many of the 40 million has not had that experience. So technically, one can not say that BIA was only made for white people. It could be said that it was made for anyone who wants a perspective, a different perspective, cement their perspective or change their perspective. Again, I dunno what Soledad's intent or motivation was.....but I am not sure any of you do either.

    Now, I know that we are not dealing with real journalists - not that they would be much, much better -but damn. Balanced and fair should be the norm anytime an opinion is exposed to the masses. Some people take this shyt as gospel and many people don't know what a primary source is.

    That said, Kudos for anyone owning the work they created and produced. No one who knows the story of Prince and legions of others should ever get into their predicament.

  • LWWW | March 13, 2013 6:44 PMReply

    (sigh) Some people are just never satisfied. What's wrong with the "Black in America" series? What the h**l is wrong with giving other people perspective on a culture that they may otherwise have little to no idea about other that being the "best friend" to the action hero or being the generic gang banger? No, it does not encompass all the perspectives of being black in this country but I don't recall seeing a title card in the show that said "Well, this is it. This is all there is about being black. Now go off with the knowledge that you know everything." And as far as I know there weren't any other films out there attempting to tell these stories, so you know what? I think you should get over yourself.

  • Vanessa | March 13, 2013 6:13 PMReply

    P.S. Like the article. You spoke your mind. I agree with it. I have no idea where specials like that are headed, nor what they expect to do once they get there. Our story has still not been told in America--North or South, or any where else (for OUR future generations). BUT has been whittled down to a joke, a moneymaker, and is irrelevant in the eyes of this generation.

  • Vanessa | March 13, 2013 5:54 PMReply

    It is a tired subject. When anyone wants to make some money go pull out the Black people box. Open it up and throw us on the stage. It's annoying. The entire world makes money from exploiting Black people including black people. Yes, I'd like to see someone go to the White community and throw their dirty laundry and secrets into a prime time slot. But that's not the point is it. I think most of us are tired of all of it. The body of work out here is overwhelming and most of it is for entertainment purposes.

    If you want to know how to do the thing right and make the money, we now have Oprah and Soledad. Seriously, who has ancestors that climbed off of slave ships in any of these countries and believe any of this has any worth? It is and always was about entertaining a white audience in America. What's new about that?

  • CC | March 12, 2013 9:46 PMReply

    "I'm still waiting for a White in America series from CNN, guess now that will never happen since reporting on Black people is Soledad's calling card"

    In my best Arnold Horshack, raising my hand: OOO! OOO! OOO! OOO! I'm thinkin', yeah, how would THAT be received by "white" America? I mean, I've never understood the intent of the specials, and no one (black or white) has ever detailed what they received from viewing them. Sergio's assessment, on the other hand, although somewhat facetious, was the only one that really made sense. I had to laugh to keep from crying but look at his over-view--> " I'm referring to those "let's-explain-to-white-people-how really-weird-and-f_____-up-black-people-are" Black in America specials hosted by Soledad O' Brien".

    Hmmmm, as I said, that makes sense to me because I've never received an ounce insight, wisdom or anything new from watching the specials. So it must have been intended for the entertainment of white folks.

    So, as Blutopaz suggested, lets flip the script. Let get our jollies on, as white folks in American drop their pants, throw out their dirty laundry and show their ass. Surely it will be insightful, and exciting, to see the tears of someone whose been picked on and ostracized, solely because their facial feature are not "European". I'd love to see a discussion on the use of the words "honky" and "cracker" and "nigger lover". Who wouldn't want to listen to them discuss how many of their friends are closet bigots, racists and ghetto landlords. And to be politically correct, I believe a bi-racial couple and their children should be on the panel. You know, lets empathize with their struggles of being white, and black, in this " White In America" special. I am sure everyone will find rewards in that prime-time viewing.

    Yep, let's-explain-to-"black"-people-how really-weird-and-f____d-up-white-people-are. Yes sir, as Sergio said, this can be great entertainment... Ooooh Look! Some white people have a problem with other white people and black people too" Really? Who doesn't know that? Oh yeah, NOBODY.

    But of course, without question, some will hold hands with SAB and sing the melody "Wow, well I actually like the series".

  • Ray Dews | March 12, 2013 2:19 PMReply

    im 1/2 cherokee and african american, i dont get to choose which part im gonna be, im always both equally,which i enjoy being a hybrid;) it makes me take a different perspective in life. nobody can cover all the ages and stages, demographics,back grounds,and social statistics on any people in such a short time,but you can be more versatile going from one end to the other in social status,and then in the middle. theirs probably a better way to do it, but she's trying,and many of those complaining arent doing anything. whenever you start out something your gonna do some things that can be better,so you learn on the way,on the fly,and that's just life.

  • K | March 12, 2013 8:48 AMReply

    How is she black when she is convenient? What does that mean? Why do some people get butt hurt when there are people who cam claim multiple heritages'? Is that jealousy? If I am black, but I call myself American today, Haitian tomorrow, black on Wednesday am I choosing what culture is convenient for me? I don't think so. It's kind of cool to be many things, and if you are not limited to one, you can be whoever you want to be, whenever. This article is more hateful than informative.

  • frank E. boy | March 11, 2013 11:36 PMReply

    Stop hatin', Sergio!

    The fact that she actually retained ownership is good news.

  • Ebony | March 17, 2013 10:28 PM

    LOL, well Justin TimberFAKE does it, lol (even though he's white), he's down with black people when it makes him money and it makes him look and sound good but remember suprebowl 2004 when he left Janet Jackson hangin?

  • Gene | March 11, 2013 8:27 PMReply

    This site has become utter Bullshit. And has nothing much to do with Films or TV. Just a bunch of assholes who know nothing about being or working in the industry...

  • JMac | March 11, 2013 4:04 PMReply

    I can't believe some people are acting as though the BIA docs are the only documentaries out there and are actually "good." Those specials wouldn't pass muster to be shown on PBS - they could only be shown on CNN because they have no idea what they're doing when it comes to that medium. Agree with Sergio that she tries to shove too much in a 2 hour block instead of focus on specific issues and, even then, the shows don't feel authentic. I believe she admitted she never grew up around black people except for her mother so maybe that's why it feels like she's "learning" about black folks at the same time she does the shows... and tends to tell a partial story. I have little faith they would be more complete if she did focus specifically on one topic unless it was a doc on the progression of a news story, perhaps evaluating Trayvon Martin case? But Black in America? It's an insult to black documentaries. If you want to see good in depth, solid documentaries on the black experience in America they will not be shown on CNN or produced by Soledad. Check out S&A (for lesser known or upcoming docs), PBS, sometimes IFC, TVOne, and OWN. Just because black docs aren't shown on the more popular channels or in theaters doesn't mean they don't exist.

    She probably doesn't do the Latino in America series as much as the black one because her experience on that side is probably even more limited than the other. I never hear anyone talk about LIA. It's as though that special never existed. I'm sure Latinos are happy about that.

  • Isaiah | March 11, 2013 2:59 PMReply

    Man , I agree with you 100 % !

  • getthesenets | March 11, 2013 2:30 PMReply

    Quite a coup for her.

    Quite as kept, going forward,,the latino in america franchise has more legs, if you think about it.

    She either has a great agent or she's has incredibl negotiating skills.

    She's Black..she's Latina...even when those shows were being developed, she saw what the value of those franchise(s) would be...and she took full advantage of what her racial/ethnic background is to lobby to be the one putting them together.


    watched 5 minutes of some of the shows...and it was what I predicted they would be..

    wouldn't watch any of them in full or any future installments, but this is a boss move on Soledad's part.

  • ALM | March 11, 2013 2:26 PMReply

    Man, this thread turned hostile in record time.

  • bilal | March 11, 2013 1:46 PMReply

    yup, what they said. i usually dislike any kind of medium that tries to showcase black people....and i would not have liked these docs, except that they go on and on and eventually, i think she will be able to capture a broad spectrum of our complexity as a people. All peoples are complex. For example all whites are not the same. All Muslims are not the same. All american white Muslims are not the same. From what i have seen, she is trying to show diversity in America, not just one segment of society. I just hopes she eventually gets around to showing me and my kind of black.

  • Hassan Fvckry (@DLYDJ) | March 11, 2013 12:33 PMReply

    This is good. I just hope that it continues to create discussion and debate.

  • Haterz on deck | March 11, 2013 12:17 PMReply

    I don't even care for O'Brien, but I don't really see the value of this article. Seems like you're attacking her while thinly criticizing the medium. Perhaps she should blog to save the world like you do.

  • Donella | March 11, 2013 11:57 AMReply

    I think the hostility for Soledad is personal on Sergio's part.

  • sandra | March 11, 2013 11:32 AMReply

    LOL @Sergio - This is Soledad's bread and butter...her ticket to a Pulitzer so....yeah, get ready for a WHOLE LOT MORE. But shouldn't this be on the "Discovery Channel"? Is that channel still around or is it OWN now? I can't remember. Black people have been in N.A. for how many centuries now and we are still being analyzed. That's her hustle and I ain't mad!

  • jasmine | March 11, 2013 10:48 AMReply

    Looks like no love for sergio.

  • Mike | March 11, 2013 9:55 AMReply

    I listen to Sergio frequently on the Afronerd radio show and recently, he was decrying about how blacks are incapable of telling our stories (or at least the negative aspects of stories vis-a-vis our troubled history in America) because we're too damaged. So I'm trying to understand what the issue is here, or perhaps better stated, why should he or any of us be surprised? I haven't seen any of these Black in America specials, so I can't speak to the quality of them from a content level or a production level. But if took a white director to tell a story of a black hero set in the era of slavery (and by doing so, he wins an Oscar for best screenplay), as well as white producers back in the 70s to tell the story of a family set against the backdrop of slavery, why the indignancy against Soledad? I can't feel the hate for her. Isn't that on US?

  • jasmine | March 11, 2013 3:51 PM

    Please mike a link? Too damaged? Heck, I'm so damaged I could barely type this.

  • WHAT!? | March 11, 2013 10:23 AM

    Mike said: " I haven't seen any of these Black in America specials"

    STOP-RIGHT-THERE!!! CLOSE-YOUR-MOUTH and get out of line! Your just told us that you have absolutely no idea what the hell you're defending. So Mike-ette, just stop showing your hater-aid filled panties.

  • Aaron | March 11, 2013 8:28 AMReply

    Wow, look at all of the tragic mulattos, bed wenches and white liberals complaining about another person's opinion. Like it or not, he is telling the truth from his experience and Soledad can go to hell.

  • donnadara | March 11, 2013 12:28 PM

    Bed wenches? Wow. Did you really say that? What about the three women that Lil' Wayne impregnated in one year? Do they count as bed wenches or is this some anti-miscegnation term on your part? SMH

  • lauren | March 11, 2013 8:49 AM

    Oops, your misogyny and loathing for biracial people who didn't choose their parents is showing!

  • brinate | March 11, 2013 8:04 AMReply

    It really galls me to see articles like this that "hate" on women of color--any color--who are doing a good job at anything. As a parent of biracial children, your comments about Soledad are offensive and totally inaccurate. Look like, to me, you have a case of self-hatred and jealousy because someone is doing something that you obviously cannot.

  • CC | March 11, 2013 11:10 AM

    totally inaccurate!?... self-hatred!?... jealousy!?

    Excuse me... and don't take this wrong, but because you have bi-racial children, might you be expressing your own insecurities? Surely you could not have come to those conclusions, based solely on what Sergio said? -->"Yet O'Brien (who only seems to "come out" as a black person when she has one of those specials to hype) thinks that it can be all neatly wrapped up for easy consumption in a two hour special."

    Or maybe it's Sergio's opinion that the shows are awful, that has your knees jerking? Whatever, he did not make disparaging remarks about ALL who fall under the term "bi-racial". He merely expressed his opinion of Soledad O'Brien and those trite shows.

    Btw, I think it should be noted that he (Sergio) is not the only person who has questioned Mrs. O'Brien's "sincerity". I believe a well-known African-American politician also questioned her "authenticity". Self-haters?

  • Good | March 11, 2013 6:31 AMReply

    As editor you've sparked discussion so...congratulations...but you KNOW you couldn't produce a docu about the Black experience better than Soledad if you tried...which you won't...lol

  • BluTopaz | March 11, 2013 8:42 PM

    That's not even the point. Someone upthread mentioned how we have been in this country from the get go, but we are still otherized and placed under microscopes by docs like this. I didn't receive a call from Soledad requesting my input for any of these BIA shows, what about you? And I'm still waiting for a White in America series from CNN, guess now that will never happen since reporting on Black people is Soledad's calling card.

  • kid vid | March 11, 2013 2:59 AMReply

    The "Black in America" title needs to be changed to "The mainstream america guide to black pathology".

  • Helen Keller | March 11, 2013 2:51 AMReply

    You should do a special called "Being a Hack Unable to Proofread My Articles and Having an Incompetent Editor in America." The title of the article has a major error. Idiot.

  • sab | March 11, 2013 1:56 AMReply

    Wow, well I actually like the series. Someone is always gonna have something bad to say. So until someone else can come up with their own documentary/expose or whatever on the state of "minorities" in America, without doing too much damage, I'm on board. This goes a long way from back when there was nothing on television to address the complexities of the black community or any other ethnic community. Unless you like many people out there are hatin' because she's light-skinned/multiracial/whatever which is so typical of our community and ultimately counterproductive there are various ways to get your perspective out there. I am at a disadvantage because I don't know who wrote this article. You might be some WASP on here for all I know and just trying to sling it.

  • gwhiz4 | March 11, 2013 12:01 PM

    I haven't seen all of the Black in America shows, but I've seen a few of the early ones and I didn't mind them. Also, I've heard and seen O'Brien speak to her ethnic make-up often, so I don't know how she is still stuck with the rap that she's only black when it's "convenient". What does that even mean? I'm doubtful that the audience for the Black in America shows is mostly white, but I'd be curious to see the metrics.

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