Multicultural Before Midnight

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Updated on

FX and BET hope to attract late-night viewers with
two new shows that bring a distinct multicultural
voice to the 11 p.m. time slot.

FX earlier this month launched Totally
Biased With W. Kamau Bell
, a new
30-minute news-and-talk show featuring the African-
American comedian. And BET in October will debut
Don’t Sleep, a cultural-themed news show hosted by
former CNN anchor
T.J. Holmes.

Executives with
both networks
said the two shows
would help fill a
late-night void of
issues-oriented entertainment programming.

“There’s nothing there focused on African-
Americans now, and arguably there hasn’t been anything
there since [the 1990’s] The Arsenio Hall Show
that brought African-American culture to the masses,”
Stephen Hill, president of music programming
and specials for BET Networks, said. Don’t Sleep
launches this fall.

Cable won’t have the exclusive on African-American late-night hosts as Hall himself will return
to the daypart this fall, with a new syndicated
talk show from CBS Television Distribution.

The Aug. 9 debut of FX’s Totally Biased, which is
taped hours before its airing and takes a comical
look at current events from an African-American
perspective, drew more than 500,000 viewers — a
strong start for the show, according to FX president
and general manager John Landgraf.

Landgraf said the network over-indexes on
African-American viewers, which bodes well for the
future of the six-episode series, produced in association
with Chris Rock.

“There isn’t anything like this on television today,
and Kamau Bell brings a unique voice and perspective
to late night,” Landgraf said, adding that the
network will make a decision on whether to renew
Totally Biased at the end of the run.

Totally Biased is FX’s second late-night series,
following the freshman season of Brand X With
Russell Brand
, which returns for a second campaign
this fall.

BET’s Don’t Sleep will represent the network’s
second attempt at a late-night series in recent
years, after the The Mo’nique Show in 2009-11.
That show was more of a variety talk show, whereas
Don’t Sleep will be more issues-oriented, especially
with its October launch in the heat of the
presidential campaign.

“It’s an African-American take on what’s happening
in the world with comedy and irreverence, and
it’s great that we’re coming up on the elections,” Hill
said. “T.J. Holmes is smart, witty and funny. It’s really
about his heart, and we thought what a great
opportunity to bring to late night something that’s
entertaining, funny and informative.”

Don’t Sleep
will air Monday through Thursday at
11 p.m. Hill said the network is already looking for a
companion show to air at 11:30, but would not disclose


A pair of new late-night
entries aim to fill a void
for topical entertainment
aimed at the African-American