I got a call a couple weeks ago from Tavis Smiley’s people. They wanted me to promote a television show on my blog. I’ve heard about this as the latest marketing trend, and I’m not sure what to think of it. On the one hand, I like to preserve this space as a place to write whatever’s on my mind, and I don’t want to serve as a tool for someone else’s marketing strategy. On the other hand, this television series is something I’d like to promote. So, at least this once, I’m playing along.
Here’s the e-mail follow-up they sent me. This sounds like good television, and I’d encourage my friends around the country to check it out tonight, and each night this week.
My name is Brian Steffen. I am currently working for KCET in Los Angeles and the television show “Tavis Smiley” that airs nationally every week night on Public Television. Currently in production is a five part series in which Tavis Smiley is joining forces with director Jonathan Demme to present series of short films on post-Katrina New Orleans called “Right to Return: New Home Movies from the Lower 9th Ward.” The five films examine the efforts of a group of New Orleanians who braved unimaginable adversity after the floods and in an attempt to reclaim their lives-primarily in the Lower 9th Ward. The residents presented in the documentary include teachers, ministers, a retired chef, volunteer workers, the owner of the legendary “Mother-In-Law Lounge,” librarians and other workers from all walks of life. “Right to Return” will air nightly for a week, beginning Monday, May 28th on the “Tavis Smiley” late-night program on over 200 PBS affiliates nationwide.
“This American story of lives lost, souls shattered and uncommon courage must be told, even though the waters have subsided,” stated Tavis Smiley. “I’m pleased and honored to have the opportunity alongside an iconic director like Jonathan Demme to tell that story.”
“This is an extremely personal project for me,” stated Jonathan Demme. “We started filming four months after the floods. I felt drawn, as an American film maker, to contribute somehow to the audio-visual record of what these people were going through in their heroic efforts to jump start their lives in the face of this epic, tragic event. I wanted to be a part of getting these stories out, and I am so thrilled and proud to be doing so with Tavis Smiley.” Jonathan Demme added, “It’s really wonderful that Tavis Smiley is providing a window into the lives of these amazing people — the spirituality, courage, imagination, tenacity, and humor that fuels their commitment to restore their homes is truly inspiring and moving to me.”
Each night, Jonathan Demme will join Tavis Smiley on location to introduce the people featured in each episode. The main individuals profiled will have the opportunity to talk about their current situation at the end of each program.
Everyone here at KCET and “Tavis Smiley” would appreciate your help in letting people know that the program is going to be aired. We would like to have a post on your blog about the program. We believe with your help more people will be able to see and hear these amazing individuals.
Read the full copy of the press release.