BET Introduces Robin Thede, Late Night’s Only Black, Female Host

Robin Thede earned her first writing credit at the 2014 BET Awards, crafting jokes for show host Chris Rock. The gig sparked a fast-paced career in the entertainment industry—a career marked by firsts.

As head writer for Comedy Central’s Nightly Show starting in 2015, she became the first black woman to hold that position for any late-night show. One year later, Thede became the first black woman to serve as head writer for the 2016 White House Press Correspondence Dinner.

Now, Thede has come back to BET. This time, as the host of her own show: The Rundown With Robin Thede, where she’ll reunite with Rock, an executive producer for the program.

She’ll also be the only late-night host currently on air who is black and female.

“It’s a quality that Ms. Thede knows will immediately set her apart from her many competitors,” wrote Dave Itzkoff in The New York Times.

Thede’s “Who Dis?” segment on The Nightly Show was a hit with viewers.

Thede’s irreverent comedic style is a natural fit for late-night, the programming block characterized by acerbic hosts and borderline-offensive skits.

“I purposely put my name in the title so no one can replace me,” Thede quipped in an interview with Essence.

Watch the trailer:

The Rundown will be Thede’s chance to share her charismatic and hilarious style with a wider audience, who may not be familiar with her as a TV personality (although viewers will recognize her humor if they’ve watched any of the daytime, late-night and scripted TV shows where she’s credited as a writer.

“Some people only know me as a comedian, and some people only know me as a writer,” Thede told Variety. “This show blends field and studio comedy and plays to my strengths as a writer and performer. I want to create a (show) that is unlike anything else on the market.”

BET has the same goal. Connie Orlando, BET’s head of programming, told The New York Times that the network was looking to shake up its programming with late-night comedy.

“It was something that made sense for the direction we’re going in,” said Orlando. “We realized our real prime time starts at 10, and our audience loves to laugh. It felt like the perfect moment to add the voice of an African-American female to the conversation.” Orlando also believes the show has potential to go viral and reach viewers outside BET’s demographic.

How? Late-night talk shows are fueled by current events, relying on the daily news cycle for their commentary. Race relations and women’s issues heavily focused on. Thede is in a unique position as a black woman to provide commentary on these topics from her own experience—adding a level of genuine credibility to the late-night set that, until now, hasn’t existed for black female viewers.

In an interview with The New York Times, Thede predicted this credibility would help her show gain traction. “I’m speaking to stories that matter to us,” said Thede, referring to black women. Members of her community will tune in to “to get an authentic opinion about stories they’re not going to hear anywhere else.”

But The Rundown has great potential to engage viewers from every demographic, according to Orlando.

“The show’s going to cover anything from Cardi B to what’s happening in the White House,” Orlando told The New York Times. “I think all kinds of audiences will be interested to know and listen to what Robin has to say.”


Thede and her team have made it clear that their show will embody diversity behind the scenes, as well, with a staff comprised of women, people of color, and LGBT individuals.

The late night is about to wake up.

The Rundown With Robin Thede airs Thursday, October 13 at 11 p.m. on BET.

Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish Signs Open Letter From Leaders of American Industry Defending Dreamers

In 2012, the Obama administration passed a new policy called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA, sometimes called the “Dreamers” program, protects eligible young immigrants from being deported. The “Dreamers” are kids who emigrated to the U.S. with their parents. Many moved here as young children or infants, and some did not even know they were not Americans until later in life.

DACA opened the door for these kids to legally apply for their first job, to get their driver’s license, attend college and ultimately join the workforce as adults, contributing to the American economy.

Now, there is a movement in Washington to end this policy. If this happens, the lives of nearly 800,000 young Americans will be irrevocably altered. By March, they’ll be at risk of being forced to leave everything behind and move back to their native country—which many of these kids have no memory of.

On August 31, Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish joined President Barack Obama, dozens of university presidents, and a multitude of CEOs from major American tech and media companies in signing an open letter to the government leaders expressing their concerns about the devastating effects changing the immigration policy would have on the Dreamers living productive and happy lives in America, as well as the severe consequences it would have for the economy.

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Petals, Pizzazz and Politics—How the Season Finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race Sashayed to the Mainstream

A 29-year-old drag queen from Brooklyn, New York known as Sasha Velour is lip syncing to Whitney Houston’s So Emotional. She’s gliding across the stage; a graceful avant-garde, bald ballerina.

Arms clad in opera-length bronze gloves, Velour vogues alongside fellow queen Shea Couleé, sauntering her hips and moving her lips soundlessly. Then, she craned her neck and began tugging at her wig. Pantomiming a seizure, she grabbed each scarlet lock to unleash a cascade of rose petals—just as Houston’s ballad reached its dénouement.

Watch the performance:

It was the season 9 finale of VH1’s RuPaul’s Drag Race. Nearly 9 million people watched as Velour won the coveted title of America’s Next Drag Superstar, making Drag Race history for the most-watched finale. It was, in the eternal words of Whitney Houston, “So emotional.”

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The Daily Show with Trevor Noah: Where Fake Correspondents Become Real Stars

The Daily Show With Trevor Noah puts a surrealist spin on American politics with its daily takedowns of all that is obscene, absurd and inexplicable in Washington, D.C. By doing so, the satirical news source not only fills a vital role in U.S. entertainment and media, but it also incubates a steady stream of rising on-air talent. Lately, those correspondents who report alongside Noah have been showing up all over the place, re-affirming the show’s role as one of the premier talent incubators on TV today.

The Daily Show’s Jordan Klepper is breaking out into a new role as host of a late-night show of his own, which will air weeknights following The Daily Show, while Hasan Minhaj entertained a constellation of elite journalist, celebrities, and politicians at the 2017 White House Correspondents’ Dinner (WHCD), an event typically attended by the president.

But Trump opted to skip the dinner in favor of holding a rally in Harrisburg Pennsylvania, after announcing in February that he would be the first president to skip the event since Ronald Reagan (who was recuperating after being shot) in 1981. Journalists predicted this year’s soirée would be unconventional. And it was.

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Daily Show Correspondent Hasan Minhaj to Perform at White House Correspondents Dinner

While President Trump is skipping April’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner (the first time a president has done so in 30 years), The Daily Show With Trevor Noah senior correspondent Hasan Minhaj will be featured entertainer for the hundreds of Washington journalists in attendance.

“It is a tremendous honor to be a part of such a historic event even though the president has chosen not to attend this year. SAD!” Minhaj quipped in a statement. “Now more than ever, it is vital that we honor the First Amendment and the freedom of the press.”

With his Daily Show pedigree, Minhaj is no stranger to political satire—especially when it comes to our commander in chief:

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What Is the Greatest Trump Tweet of All Time? Trevor Noah Explores the Art of the Tweet

NCAA’s March Madness basketball extravaganza wasn’t the only bracket tournament captivating Americans last month. Third Month Mania, orchestrated by Comedy Central’s The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, waded through the nearly 35,000 Donald Trump tweets to identify his greatest Twitter post of all time.

Trump Tweet

Courtesy of Comedy Central.

Third Month Mania was a truly “unpresidented” contest, yet its turnout was “yuge.” More than 6 million viewers delved into Trump’s Twitter archives to find the most outlandish tweet, and Noah announced the winner on Wednesday night’s episode.

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BET Sends Obama Family Out with a Flourish

With a flourish of pride and patriotism, BET celebrated Barack Obama’s eight-year run as president with an emotional send-off on his last day in office. Through the Fire: The Legacy of Barack Obama followed a month-long series of BET documentaries and specials honoring the first couple and their many achievements.

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BET Celebrates Black History Month With a Brilliant Nelson Mandela Biopic

It’s never felt more relevant to watch a film that brings truth to one of the world’s most stirring leaders.

On April 26, 1964, Nelson Mandela addressed the court in Rivona, South Africa.

“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination,” said Nelson Mandela. “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

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Open Your Eyes: MTV’s Elect This Virtual Reality Experience Lets Fans Step Inside the Art of Change

On Nov. 8, 2016, Viacom employees got the chance to open their eyes to the most important issues of this election season—through an incandescent virtual reality (VR) art show at Viacom Headquarters.

gumshoe

One of the VR works presented on Nov. 8 2016 about gender equality. Photo courtesy of MTV Elect This and Gumshoe

MTV’s Elect This campaign promised its audience substance over scandal. It succeeded in highlighting issues that matter most to their millennial audience such as climate change, social justice, national security, immigration, and health care— in a stunning marriage of innovation and artistry.

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