Tonight, Wednesday, March 26th, TV Land will broadcast the LIVE season premiere of its half-hour comedy series The Soul Man, which stars Cedric "The Entertainer" and Niecy Nash, and follows R&B superstar-turned-minister Reverend Boyce "The Voice" Ballentine (Cedric) after he relocates from Las Vegas to St. Louis with his wife Lolli (Nash). While learning to adjust to their new humble life, they have plenty of obstacles in their way. One of these is Boyce's brother Stamps (played by Wesley Jonathan), who seems to have taken up permanent residence in their house - and that's only made worse when Stamps sparks a new relationship with Lolli's sister, Kim (Kellee Stewart).
Martin Lawrence will appear in the LIVE episode as Rudy, Boyce's (Cedric "The Entertainer") scatterbrained drummer pal who helps to bring Boyce's band back together. At the end of the night, B.o.B hits the stage live to close out the show with a performance that will include "The Soul Man" himself, Cedric "The Entertainer." In the LIVE season premiere episode, Brandy Norwood will play Rita, one of Boyce's old back-up dancers who's hiding an obvious secret; and Betty White will appear as Elka Ostrovsky, her Hot in Cleveland character whom Boyce counted as a former parishioner.
Did I mention it'll be a LIVE broadcast (so, no laugh track, no edits)?
It reminds me of the season of Roc, when the Fox network agreed to air each episode of the second season as a live performance. Virtually every episode from season two began with a prologue, where one of the cast members directly addressed the home viewers for a few minutes. A current events item from the past week (or even that very day) would be mentioned to prove that (East Coast) viewers were indeed watching a live performance, and current events from the previous week were frequently incorporated into the dialogue. Roc is the only prime time scripted American series since the late 1950s to broadcast each episode of an entire season live! But they could pull it off because the 4 principal cast members (Charles S. Dutton, Ella Joyce, Rocky Carroll and Carl Gordon) were all accomplished stage actors, and had become acquainted with each other while appearing in various August Wilson plays.
Can Cedric, Biecy, Wesley, Kellee, Martin, et al do the same tonight? Tune in at 10:30pm ET/PT to find out. And if it works, they just might follow the same path Roc took 20 years ago, and broadcast the entire second season of The Soul Man live.
In addition, stars of TV Land's Hot in Cleveland will join the cast of The Soul Man will participate in LIVE commercials during both show season premieres tonight, the network announced today.
"First, we decided to do two live episodes. Then, we decided to have Betty and Cedric crossover in to each other's shows. Then, we decided to do LIVE commercials. Are we crazy? Yes!" said Larry W. Jones, President, TV Land. "Can't wait until tonight to see how it all works out!"
Indeed! I don't watch either series, but I'm familiar enough, and I must admit that I'm curious to watch how all of this will play out (although I won't be able to, since I don't have cable).
If you do have cable, tune in on tonight - Wednesday, March 26th at 10pm and 10:30pm ET/PT - to see the live episodes with live commercials.