Several cable networks this week will air special programming in remembrance of actor/comedian Bernie Mac and music legend Issac Hayes, both of whom died suddenly this past weekend.
Last night CNN’s Larry King Live remembered Mac, who died Saturday at the age of 50 from complications due to pneumonia, with a star-studded tribute show. Comedians D.L. Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer and Steve Harvey –who along with Mac appeared in the Original Kings Of Comedy tour and film – appeared on the show.
The 50 year-old Mac gained prominence as a standup comedian, but also won praise for his acting on the big screen in the Ocean Eleven franchise and on the small screen with The Bernie Mac Show – one of the few successful African-American based sitcoms launched in recent years – for which he won a Peabody award.
Tonight (Aug. 13) VH1 Classic and VH1 Soul will honor the memory of Hayes with a re-airing of its documentary Wattstax. The show highlights the August 1972 music festival at the Los Angeles Coliseum and features performances from Memphis-based Stax Records artists Albert King, The Staple Singers and Hayes, who was found dead in his home Sunday (Aug. 10).
It was at Stax where the pioneering Hayes created some of the most memorable hits in music history such as Hold On, I’m Comin and Soul Man, as well as his Grammy and Oscar award-winning theme song from the movie Shaft.
Tonight, TV One will air all three Shaft movies as part of its tribute to Hayes beginning at 8 p.m. Prior to the marathon, TV One will air two episodes of The Hughleys in which Hayes appeared.
Also, Comedy Central had previously scheduled for this week a South Park tribute to the animated show’s "Chef" character that Hayes voiced for nearly a decade. The shows air each night this week at 9:30, according to Comedy Central officials.
BET will also pay tribute to both entertainers later this week as part of its news/public affairs series The Truth With Jeff Johnson premiering Aug. 15.
Among the numerous tributes to both Mac and Hayes was from movie producer Malcom Lee who directed both Mac and Hayes along with actor Samuel Jackson in an upcoming move, Soul Men. Lee called the deaths of the two entertainment icons "surreal" in a recent USA Today story.
Indeed, both men left us way too soon and too suddenly, but they leave behind a treasure trove of indelible, timeless work — some of which will be on display this week — that will keep millions of faces smiling and feet taping for generations to come.