I love late night public television for its simplicity and straightforwardness. Compared to primetime broadcasting, especially during sweeps week, it’s significantly less frenetic. I’m particularly fond of Tavis Smiley and Charlie Rose. They’ve nailed the formula-- timely and relevant guests, simple backdrop without the bells and whistles (nor audience that claps or laughs on cue) and a focused line of questioning.
Wednesday night I watched a re-run on the Tavis Smiley show where he interviewed the Stars of the Heart of the City Tour; none other than Hip Hop entrepreneur Sean “Jay-Z” Carter and the Queen of R&B Soul Mary J. Blige. Smiley was obviously giddy at the opportunity to interview with Jay, and spent much more time engaging him than long time friend Mary. But he was particularly interested in the way themes of struggle and growth played out in their careers. And is particularly interested to hear from Jay what they can do to debunk help the myth that “it's easy; you get a record deal and you rich.” They don’t come to a conclusion, but talk about what distinguishes the millions of folks with deals from those who are actually successful; highlighting the work ethic and diligence it really takes.
Later they talk more about the entrepreneurial side of their work, the branding even without using those terms. Jay talks about how much he pays attention to his audience, and how that lead him to Rocawear. Later they discuss the branding of Mary’s image, the dark sunglasses and black lipstick that signals the point in the show where Mary’s about to perform the Waiting To Exhale classic “Not Gon’ Cry.”
If there is anything they’ve both branded, it’s their own paths of evolution. Jay for better or for worse has been able to keep his game tight. Whether you dig Jigga (lyrics or otherwise) or not, there is no denying the man’s entrepreneurial prudence.
Unfortunately Mary’s lyrical content suffered at the expense of her happiness. She profited greatly from the sad songs that she made, because… well… as the saying goes, “Misery loves company.” But it’s a good thing that she’s happy now (she talks about this in another interview), because if she didn’t grow or learn from her past, she’d still be dangerously depressed, her fan base in tow.
I’m glad they are doing this tour together. I’m happy they both seem to be happy and successful, are married appear to be content with their success.
“Contentment has to be defined by your SELF" – Sarah Jessica Parker
Last night I watched as Charlie Rose sat with Sarah Jessica Parker and Michael Patrick Smith as they talked about Sex and the City, the movie which hits theaters today. Charlie quizzed them on everything from what the production process looked like, and how they got everyone back on board, to the impetus behind developing the movie after the television series wrapped so well.
It got interesting when Rose queried Smith on how he manages to know women’s emotions so well. Even I got uncomfortable as I watched Smith; visibly a little skittish as he tried to logically explain:
“I grew up with three sisters… they were my friends… I didn’t think boys were better than girls… people are just people…”
Some might view his response as progressive, anti-sexist even. But I can help but wonder if it reveals some thing deeper. I think I got uncomfortable because I as listened, I wondered if in being so direct, Rose unwittingly and perhaps innocently may have pushed Michael into a familiar and unpleasant space. It doesn’t seem far fetched that as some point he’s had to defend his, arguably less than apha-male, masculinity, lest he be thought gay. It’s a narrative of male identity that I hope more an more men will be comfortable in resisting. If Smith is gay, I hope he is out, or will come out soon. If he isn’t I hope he will grow more comfortable with himself, especially in situations such as this.
Toward the end I think Charlie tried to squeeze a spoiler out of Jessica, asking “Are you happier than Carrie” to which she cleverly replied “I’m very happy” working not to reveal anything before folks get a chance to judge for themselves.