Eric Deggans

Eric Deggans is NPR's first full-time TV critic.

Deggans came to NPR in 2013 from the Tampa Bay Times, where he served a TV/Media Critic and in other roles for nearly 20 years. A journalist for more than 20 years, he is also the author of Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation, a look at how prejudice, racism and sexism fuels some elements of modern media, published in October 2012, by Palgrave Macmillan.

In August 2013, Deggans guest hosted CNN's media analysis show Reliable Sources, joining a select group of journalists and media critics filling in for departed host Howard Kurtz. Earlier in the same month, he was awarded the Florida Press Club's first-ever Diversity award, honoring his coverage of issues involving race and media. He received the Legacy award from the National Association of Black Journalists' A&E Task Force, an honor bestowed to "seasoned A&E journalists who are at the top of their careers." Deggans serves on the board of educators, journalists and media experts who select the George Foster Peabody Awards for excellence in electronic media.

He also has joined a prestigious group of contributors to the first ethics book created in conjunction with the Poynter Institute for Media Studies for journalism's digital age: The New Ethics of Journalism, published in August 2013, by Sage/CQ Press.

Deggans has won reporting and writing awards from the Society for Features Journalism, American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Black Journalists, The Florida Press Club and the Florida Society of News Editors. In 2010, he made national headlines interviewing former USDA official Shirley Sherrod at the NABJ's summer convention in San Diego, leading a panel discussion that was covered by all the major cable news and network TV morning shows.

Named in 2009, as one of Ebony magazine's "Power 150" – a list of influential black Americans which also included Oprah Winfrey and PBS host Gwen Ifill – Deggans was selected to lecture at Columbia University's prestigious Graduate School of Journalism in 2008 and 2005. He has lectured or taught as an adjunct professor at Loyola University, California State University, Indiana University, University of Tampa, Eckerd College and many other colleges.

His writing has also appeared in the New York Times online, Salon magazine, CNN.com, the Washington Post, Village Voice, VIBE magazine, Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free Press, Chicago Sun-Times, Seattle Times, Emmy magazine, Newsmax magazine, Rolling Stone Online and a host of other newspapers across the country.

From 2004 to 2005, Deggans sat on the then-St. Petersburg Times editorial board and wrote bylined opinion columns. From 1997 to 2004, he worked as TV critic for the Times, crafting reviews, news stories and long-range trend pieces on the state of the media industry both locally and nationally. He originally joined the paper as its pop music critic in November 1995. He has worked at the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey and both the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Press newspapers in Pennsylvania.

Now serving as chair of the Media Monitoring Committee for the National Association of Black Journalists, he has also served on the board of directors for the national Television Critics Association and on the board of the Mid-Florida Society of Professional Journalists.

Additionally, he worked as a professional drummer in the 1980s, touring and performing with Motown recording artists The Voyage Band throughout the Midwest and in Osaka, Japan. He continues to perform with area bands and recording artists as a drummer, bassist and vocalist.

Deggans earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science and journalism from Indiana University.

When new CBS Entertainment President Glenn Geller faced TV critics in August to talk about the network's new fall shows, the first question he got was straight to the point.

"Why is it so difficult to get more inclusion for people of color in the top level of casting at CBS?" asked Maureen Ryan, chief TV critic for the trade magazine Variety. "And what message does it send that the leads of your shows are all heterosexual white men?"

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You know it from the first few notes of Thurl Ravenscroft's barrel-chested performance — singing "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" with the same flair he brought to playing Tony the Tiger in Kellogg's cereal commercials — Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a holiday classic.

The animated film turns 50 this year, airing on NBC about three weeks before its actual birthday. And it is, admittedly, a little weird to call a 26-minute cartoon about a green guy who learns not to steal Christmas presents an enduring masterpiece.

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(It should almost go without saying; there are going to be some serious spoilers in this piece about Sunday's pivotal, bruising episode of The Walking Dead.)

They finally did it.

I'm not talking about the decision by producers of The Walking Dead to kill two important characters in Sunday's gut-wrenching episode. Fans knew since the cliffhanger ending of season six back in April that super-psycho bad guy Negan was going to beat someone they cared about to death with his barbed wire-covered bat, Lucille.

Issa Rae knows she is committing a revolutionary act by simply creating a TV show centered on an average black woman's life.

And she can't believe it.

"Isn't it sad that it's revolutionary?" says Rae, whose new comedy Insecure, debuts on HBO Sunday night. "It's so basic ... but we don't get to do that. We don't get to just have a show about regular black people being basic."

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As protests over police shootings of black men top the news, Netflix debuts a show on Friday about a bulletproof black man. It's called Marvel's Luke Cage, and it's based on one of Marvel Comics' first black superheroes.

Step into executive producer and showrunner Cheo Coker's cramped office in Hollywood, and you face a wall plastered with comic books from the 1970s and '80s. "That's where my love of comics started." he says. "Because when I read those I mean I was, what, sixth grade?"

When our collective attention turns to the flood of new shows headed to network television each fall, the same question arises:

Does the fall TV season even matter anymore?

It's true that in the age of #PeakTV new shows drop all the time, so focusing on the fall seems a little old fashioned. But I think this time of year still matters, for a few reasons.

For Star Trek's George Takei, it was one of the worst predictions he ever made, and one of the best strokes of luck in his life: Takei, known to fans worldwide as helmsman Hikaru Sulu, originally thought the show would last only one season.

"When we were shooting the pilot, Jimmy Doohan [who played engineer Montgomery "Scotty" Scott] said to me, 'Well, George, what do you think about this? What kind of run do you think we'll have?'" says Takei. "And I said, 'I smell quality. And that means we're in trouble.' "

Constance Zimmer has built a long career playing tough, unsentimental women, including a shady operative on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and a hard-nosed journalist on Netflix's House of Cards.

And the role which earned Zimmer her first Emmy nomination this year — reality TV producer Quinn King on Lifetime's UnREAL — could be TV's most caustic villain.

So it's a little surprising that when you ask the actress how she feels about the meaning of her nomination, she almost cries.

Even before The Nightly Show debuted in Jan., 2015, host Larry Wilmore joked with me about what might happen if he failed.

"We ain't gonna let any other brothers [host a late night show] now... we gave him a chance," Wilmore joked, imagining the reaction of TV executives if his attempt to create a show that talks often and frankly about race — hosted by a black man in the mostly white world of late night television — didn't work out. "I'm following in the [George] Lopez, Mo'Nique footsteps? That's a lot of pressure right there."

Editor's note: As you'll see right away, this column includes a word that is offensive to many.

Ask star and co-creator Issa Rae about the many times the word "nigga" surfaces in her new HBO comedy Insecure — a wonderfully unassuming comedy about the life of a sometimes-awkward young black woman in Los Angeles — and she's got a simple answer.

This is how she and her friends talk to each other.

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(Be warned, intrepid reader: This story contains loads of spoilers regarding every episode from this season's run of Game of Thrones, including Sunday's season finale.)

This was the season that Game of Thrones seriously changed its game.

Nowhere was that more evident than in Sunday's season finale, the last of 10 episodes that pulled together far-flung storylines and characters spread across the show's mythical seven kingdoms — and beyond.

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There is a moment, a little ways into tonight's first episode of the Oprah Winfrey Network's new drama, Greenleaf, which sums up all the things that work — and don't — in this ambitious nighttime soap.

Merle Dandridge plays the show's heroine, Grace Greenleaf. Her father, Bishop James Greenleaf, and mother, Lady Mae Greenleaf, founded a powerful, predominantly black megachurch in Memphis, Tenn., where she preached as a child. After 20 years away from home, she has come back — for the funeral of her sister Faith, who killed herself.

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Summer is always a weird time for the TV industry.

These days, in a #PeakTV world where hundreds of scripted shows air every year, there is no downtime. Which means viewers will see a dizzying number of new and returning TV shows this summer on broadcast, cable and online — close to 100 series, by my count.

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From the moment you hear Laurence Fishburne's mesmerizing opening narration, intoned over sweeping visuals of a lush African forest, it's obvious History's new Roots miniseries has spared no expense to reinvent a TV classic.

But that also begs the question: Why do this at all? Why does the world need a new version of Roots?

There's an old adage in the television biz: stars don't make TV, TV makes stars.

Perhaps that's why seeing Late Late Show host James Corden face a Carnegie Hall audience packed with CBS advertisers on Wednesday, dancing and singing his way through a parody of the hit musical Hamilton, felt so appropriate.

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