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The Baltimore Sun from Baltimore, Maryland • Page 68

The Baltimore Suni
Baltimore, Maryland
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THE SUN ARTS ENTERTAINMENT 7E 'Living Single' has potential for hit status SUNDAY, AUGUST 22, 1993 0l 1 1 T'f A i v. U7 i 0 ''i (liA jL 1 j. 41' i A 'mi X'gjfL -4 Wr, rr? 1 I SINGLE, from IE "Living Single" Is the kind of show that has made Fox No. 1 with young black viewers. Scheduling: "Martin" was one of only two rookie shows on any network last year that could be considered a hit.

jOBS' "Dr. gulnn. Medicine Woman" was the other.) "Martin" achieved its success by scoring first with young black viewers, and then crossing over. "Living Single" will follow "Martin" at 8:30 Sunday nights on WBFF (Channel 45). Many believe scheduling Is the single most important factor In the making of a hit show.

"Living Single" has one of the best spots on all of network television, between "Martin" and "Married With Children." Themes: The pilot Is about Re-glne falling for a rich, handsome man who she thinks is going to be her ticket to happily-ever-after. But the man Is married and not likely to leave his wife for Regine. While Regine's gold-digging is overplayed, the premise makes for some savvy commentary on gender and the roles of women: "Why does this keep happening to me?" Regine wonders aloud after she finds out that the man Is married. "Because you keep looking for someone to carry you," Maxine says. "What's wrong with that?" Regine replies.

"Because they keep dropping you," Khadljah says. During a group discussion of gender, Synclalre tries to put in a good word for men by saying, "Did you ever wonder what the world would be like without men?" "Yeah, a bunch of fat, happy women with no crime," Khadljah says. Lines like those have led some critics to call the series a black "Designing Women." I would rather think that "Living Single" has the potential to be a TV sitcom version of Terry McMillan's best-selling novel "Waiting to Exhale." A series that achieves even part of the insight of the book about four African-American women -ji Li I iiTiI2 ii I LmiMiiilllA BY MICHAfcL GHbOCO The cast of "Martin" enjoyed success in the show's first season, last year. "waiting for that man who will take their breath away," In the author's words, will be a welcome and valuable addition to the network landscape. It Is, at any rate, one of the only TV series with an African-American woman as executive producer, Yvette Denise Lee, who formerly produced "A Different World" and "Han-gin' With Mr.

Cooper." New stars: These are four very talented actresses. Coles Is one of the best physical comedians on television. But It's Latlfah who gets most of the best lines and commands viewer attention with her presence. As an actress, Latlfah Is a little tight and tense in a couple of key moments during the pilot. But television Is more presence than acting.

Latlfah could just be the next Rose- FOX BHOADCASTNG CO Channel 45 tonight, is about four CBS sitcom 'Tall Hopes' looks at an African-American family with Kx A But it also offers a loving, intact family (rare for TV, whether black or white), kid actors not soaked In saccharine and a willingness to tackle more than petty family problems. In one scene, bright young Ernest (Kenny Blank), the aspiring director, tries to convince brother Chester (Terrence Dashon Howard) that he can't Ignore his schoolwork even If he plans on NBA stardom. "You know about Arthur Ashe, right?" Ernest says, referring to the late black tennis star. "He said it's hard enough being black In America. But without an education, It's close to impossible.

"For you to have a chance at an education and blow it, that's unforgivable," Ernest says passionately. Rich Eustus, executive producer of the series with Michael Ellas, says they took the series idea to CBS because word had it the network was In "the mood to buy some 8 o'clock shows" for the family viewing hour. Network executives also were Interested in a black show "that was not too silly," he says. Give credit to CBS where it's due: When critics complain about how blacks are treated on television, they often condemn the Jive-talking stereotypes found on so many anne a blunt, no-nonsense persona on-screen and off who says In a humorous way what many viewers are thinking. Fox is smart to try to separate "Living Single" from the new-season clutter with an early launch.

For one thing, the overwhelming majority of TV critics are white, middle-aged men (this writer included) whose culture Is likely to limit their understanding and appreciation of a twentysomething, female, African-American sensibility. For the most part, critics are probably not going to lead viewers to this show. The pilot of "Living Single" is more promise than payoff. But the promise Is worth a second look In coming weeks, along with the hope that there's a place for young, black women to talk smart and crack wise on prime-time TV. under way in sic at lunch and the Rapping Rabbi into the small hours.

Organizers say it would take one year, 1 1 months and nine days to see every show on the fringe, which boasts a record 571 amateur and professional groups from 30 nations. "It's not Just an arts festival; it's a lark, an ordeal, a drlnkathon, a holiday, a lot of hard work, a talent contest, a love-in, a rite of passage, an enduring test," says Tim de Lisle, arts editor of the Independent newspaper. Churches, school halls, circus tents and pubs vie with theaters and concert halls to hold shows from as far afield as Beijing and Bosnia. A fire damaged one of the city's main theaters, so a sports hall has 1 By Lynn Elber Associated Press LOS ANGELES In recent seasons, CBS seemed content to let the other broadcast networks bring some measure of racial diversity to television. Series with predominantly black casts could be found on ABC, Fox Broadcasting and, to a lesser extent, on NBC.

But CBS went without Not by design. CBS President Howard Stringer reassures us. In attempting to explain, his remarks took on a kind of "Where's Waldo?" quality you knew there was an answer buried within, but It was tough to find. In television's changing, expanding world, networks also must craft a distinctive identity, Mr. Stringer told a recent gathering of television critics.

Then it got confusing. "I think CBS needs to define Itself directly as the network of Letterman and the network of Rather and the network of Connie Chung. A thoughtful I don't want to use the word because that's an ugly word but I think a sort of quality, for want of a better word. "And that's the way we define ourselves," he said. But, he added, "that's still a broad-based audience, and I would like our audience to Include more minorities, and I would like our shows to Include the same." We know Mr.

Stringer couldn't possibly be suggesting that It was harder for minority-oriented programs to meet CBS' standards of thoughtful quality. That would be an ugly notion, with or without the word elitist attached. And as If to prove Mr. Stringer's intentions are only honorable, along comes an engaging new CBS comedy, "Tall Hopes." about a working-class black family in Philadelphia. It stars comedian George Wallace and Anna Maria Horsford as the parents of a 6-year-old girl and two teen-age boys, one a high school basketball star and the other a budding, Spike Lee-like filmmaker.

"Tall Hopes." debuting at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Includes the same airy silliness that permeates so many sitcoms. young, single, African-American high hopes "After that. It fell Into place because they liked the premise," Mr. Eustus says.

Each member of the Harris clan Is striving for a dream, sometimes stumbling as they try to keep sight of what's Important Although Mr. Eustus Insists the show is a family show, not a black family show, a number of behind-the-scenes jobs were given to blacks to help ensure an authentic tone, he says. The executive story editor, a staff writer and a director are black, and two of the scripts were written by outside writers who are black. "We wouldn't presume to know if something's OK or if It's offensive." says Mr. Eustus.

"They black staff members will say, 'Well, my family, no one would ever do that' CBS Is covering Its bets this season by ordering a limited number of episodes for many new series: it has approved only six episodes of Tall Hopes." Mr. Eustus figures the show has three airings before CBS decides whether to ask for more. "I think it's got a chance, it's good. I've got my fingers crossed. But I never like to count on anything because it's a wacky business," he said.

fcTH 13 WJZ-TU nrummiiwn AtlHt INNER HARtfOR service by The Baltimore Sun. I I I i pI "Living Single," premiering on Fox professional women. BY CUFF UPSON Maria Horsford as the parents of Edinburgh now Joined an agricultural show ground as one of the most unusual venues ever for major dance and opera. Culture vultures can also sample 13 concerts Juxtaposing the music of Schubert and Janacek and a controversial U.S. production of the ancient Greek drama "The Persians" updated to the Gulf War with Iraq.

The mainstream festival has a strong German flavor, with theater director Peter Stein's spectacular version of "Julius Caesar" featuring 200 extras and a visit by the Berlin Deutsches Theater. Scandinavian and Mexican cinema is feted at the film festival the longest continuous film festival in the world. i 1 j'r Annual Hard Travelers Friends Concert For The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation 'Tall Hopes' premieres Wednesday, starring George Wallace and Anna two teen-age sons and a 6-year-old daughter. Mammoth arts festival is Presented By Welcomed By Your Greater Baltimore If II The Baltimore Sun Midas Dealers 11 II FM 93 WPOC i3 ORDER YOUR TICKETS TODAYl By Jill Serjeant Reuter EDINBURGH, Scotland Three weeks of non-stop entertainment featuring dancers, musicians, actors and filmmakers from around the world kicked off Sunday when the curtain rose on the world's biggest arts festival. Forty-six years after the first festival of music and drama put the genteel Scottish capital firmly on the arts map, the Edinburgh spectacle and Its associated fringe and film events were set for one of their biggest years to date.

Ticket sales for the main festival have passed the $1.5 million mark, up 15 percent on the start of last Call Cystic Fibrosis 410-771-9000 or telecharge 4 1 0 -625 -1 400 All Area Hecht Company Stores Limited VIP Tickets Incl. Private Reception: $100 Reserved: $22.50 Lawn: 1 2.00 year's event, while hotels and guest houses report brisk business. Other festivals may boast more art, newer films or bigger stars, but none can rival the annual Edinburgh Jamboree for size and variety. Like the Cannes film festival, London's Covent Garden and New York's Comedy Store rolled Into one, Edinburgh's attractions this month range from a master class with U.S. film director Martin Scorsese to Canadian Opera's production of "Bluebeard's Castle" to hours of laughter from the best comics from Britain, Europe and the United States.

Some 1.235 shows on the fringe alone offer round-the-clock entertainment, starting with Shakespeare at breakfast, Macedonian gypsy mu- TIIEBALTIMOHESUN This space is provided as a public.

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