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.

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Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Television critics are slogging through hour after hour of new shows to help guide our eyeballs through the busy fall season. And that includes NPR's own Eric Deggans, who's gotten off the couch long enough to talk with us. Thanks, Eric.

It seems some TV networks have gotten the message on late-night diversity and others have not.

Friday's news — that Saturday Night Live hired comic Michael Che to join Colin Jost behind the anchor desk on its popular "Weekend Update" segment — shows NBC's venerated late night comedy franchise may, finally, stand among those in the first group.

[Note: This post discusses plot points and story lines from previous seasons.]

The first episode of the final season for FX's biker drama Sons of Anarchy begins with a familiar scene: gang leader/hero Jackson "Jax" Teller brutalizing a man in jail, interspersed with images of his gang and family living life — including his mother caring for his sons — with a mournful tune playing in the background.

The View just made history in naming Rosie Perez as a new co-host of ABC's daytime chat show.

ABC revealed Wednesday that Perez would join former GOP strategist Nicolle Wallace, teaming with stars Rosie O'Donnell and Whoopi Goldberg when The View's new season debuts Sept. 15.

In hiring Perez, a Brooklyn-born daughter of Puerto Rican parents, ABC did something new: It named the first Latina as a regular co-host in The View's 17-year history.

Which raises an important question: Will it matter?

How much football is too much for TV?

That's the question CBS and the NFL may face Sept. 11, when the curtain rises on their ambitious experiment to build a new broadcast television home for pro football on Thursdays.

When it comes to original TV series, it's tough to understand exactly where Amazon is going.

At first, its strategy seemed simple: It went where big-ticket competitors like Netflix and HBO didn't, greenlighting comedies like Garry Trudeau's political satire Alpha House and the Silicon Valley series Betas, along with a raft of kids' shows.

For TV critics, last night's Emmy Awards show was a bit like seeing an old flame promise to treat you better, only to slide right back into the same old disappointing behavior.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

TV's longest-running science fiction program is about to get a new hero ... sort of.

In keeping with its recent tradition of drawn-out, publicly humiliating anchor switches, NBC has finally admitted it is replacing Meet the Press host David Gregory with the network's political director, Chuck Todd, on Sept. 7.

The switch had been rumored for months, as it became increasingly obvious that the Gregory-led Meet the Press was sinking in the ratings and failing to set the news agenda in ways it did when the late Tim Russert was at the helm. Gregory took over the show in 2008 after Russert's sudden death.

Breaking Bad's Walter White was a liar, killer and the biggest meth cook in New Mexico. But he always insisted his bad acts were for a good cause: helping his wife and kids survive after he was stricken with cancer.

Then White went on the run, after his actions led directly to the death of his brother-in-law, and had to admit the truth: "I did it for me," he told estranged wife Skyler, in an emotional scene from the show's finale. "I liked it. I was good at it. ... I was alive."

For many years, Robin Williams seemed like a talent who had no off switch.

From his standup comedy work to TV roles to talk show appearances to Oscar-caliber movies and performances on Broadway, Williams was a dervish of comedy — tossing off one-liners, biting asides and sidesplitting routines in a blizzard of accents, attitudes and goodhearted energy.

Cinemax's The Knick is an amazing bit of TV filmmaking: a gritty look at a turn of the century hospital, with explicit scenes showing how brutal early discoveries in surgery and medicine must have been in the year 1900.

But as much as I savored director Steven Soderbergh's innovative way of making a period drama feel modern, alongside Clive Owen's masterful take on a gifted, driven surgeon who is secretly a cocaine addict, my eye was drawn to a different character: Andre Holland's Dr. Algernon Edwards.

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Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

If it were real, it might be the worst natural disaster in recent memory - a tornado filled with man-eating sharks.

(SOUNDBITE FROM ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Look out, more sharks.

The voice came from over my shoulder, a shouted greeting in a room crowded with journalists, publicists, network executives, producers and stars.

I tuned to see David Boreanaz, star of the Fox TV show Bones, calling out to me like a long-lost friend. I knew he had mistaken me for someone else — in a party held by Fox at the exclusive Soho House club, where everyone from Kelsey Grammer to David Tennant was sipping cocktails and talking shop, it wasn't hard to make that kind of mistake.

I didn't know, watching Isaac Hayes push James Garner around on The Rockford Files, that I was seeing a special character continue an important television legacy.

All I knew, as a devoted fan of Garner's put-upon private eye, was that Jim Rockford seemed like a kind of hero you never saw anywhere else on television.

It may be the toughest task of all at a press tour in Los Angeles packed with TV critics from across the nation: How to ask a celebrity a tough question about her bad reputation without looking like a jerk yourself.

That moment surfaced for me Sunday, when trying to ask star Katherine Heigl about longstanding rumors in Hollywood that she and her manager/mother have been difficult to work with across many projects.

There are things you could quibble about in the array of nominations announced today for the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards.

No best drama series nomination for CBS' The Good Wife, though several stars got acting nods. No acting nomination for Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany, though she plays about eight different roles on BBC America's clone-focused adventure drama. No best variety show nod for John Oliver's increasingly stellar Last Week Tonight on HBO. And a best TV miniseries nod for Lifetime's dreadful Bonnie and Clyde?

At first glance, Adam Richman and Anthony Cumia might not seem to have much in common.

True enough, they are media stars who took a hard fall thanks to untoward comments on social media. Richman, a host on the Travel Channel, saw the debut of his new show delayed indefinitely after an online spat led him to suggest one critic commit suicide.

Diane Sawyer will leave her job as anchor of ABC News' flagship program, World News, during the last week of August, capping a five-year run at the show and kicking off an anchor shuffle at the network.

As part of NPR's "Book Your Trip" series, TV critic Eric Deggans looks at a different kind of summertime journey, described in two books that became TV shows: PBS's documentary Freedom Summer, debuting tonight, and The Hallmark Channel's The Watsons Go to Birmingham.

With Iraq spiraling out of control in a conflict where everyone involved has a compromised and troubling past, there's no better time for a TV series about the son of a brutal Middle Eastern dictator who returns home from America ready to oppose his father's tactics.

HBO's True Blood, which returns for its final season Sunday, is a prime example of a TV show that kept going long after it should have ended. It's not alone, though: Other shows have stayed too long at the party, including Dexter and Law & Order: SVU. Why is it that some shows stay on air well after they've run out of creative juice?

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Emmy nominations are a tough time for a TV critic.

That's because much of the work involved in choosing the best achievements for television's highest award is done in the nominating process.

Tatiana Maslany, the talented Canadian actress who plays a multitude of clones on BBC America's mind-bending sci-fi drama Orphan Black, found that out the hard way. She wasn't even nominated for an Emmy last year, despite nailing the most difficult role in one of TV's most challenging new series.

Even the snobbiest entertainment fan has got to admit it: Television is pretty good these days.

So it's easy to get distracted by talk of big-ticket dramas like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead or Orange Is the New Black. But the fact is, there's a whole wide universe of TV shows out there that aren't trying to top critics' best-of lists, make the short list at the Emmys or get recapped on Vulture.com.

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