BILL VAUGHAN’S TASTY CLIPS: Omar Benson Miller riding high on CBS’ ‘The Unicorn’

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By Bill Vaughan

Entertainment Writer

For actor Omar Benson Miller, who counts “CSI: Miami,” “Ballers,” “8 Mile,” and Spike Lee’s “Miracle of St. Anna” among his credits, it is about telling great stories. A mission he feels is being fulfilled on CBS’ sitcom “The Unicorn” airing Thursdays.

“We’re telling a wonderful story about a man [Walton Goggins] who’s trying to put pieces of his life back together,” said Miller, who co-stars as friend Ben. “He’s doing that with the help of the family that he’s chosen because he’s lost a key member of his.

“Right now, in the world dealing with all the grief and the loss and everyone who’s dealing behind the COVID pandemic and the American failure to contain this thing, it’s just super relevant. While we are telling the story, it’s a great time,” Miller continued.

“We have a tremendous episode [this week] beautifully written by a brother, Howard Jordan, dealing with race and the conversations that need to be had with Black and white folks. The hard conversations that we all have to have within our circle. An upcoming episode will be directed by Oscar winner Matthew Cherry [“Hair Love”].”

Of CBS’ newly announced diversity guidelines promising 50/50 casting of people of color in reality programming such as “Survivor,” and “Big Brother,” Miller believed it was a start.

“You have to recognize there’s a problem before you believe you can fix it,” he said. “I believe that now the world has recognized how much of an issue race is. In America, in particular. The onus is on us to actually move forward from here. Politically, you are seeing it and in a lot of different ways what it is that people care about.”

“Some people are so committed to inequality and racism that they’re willing to hurt, maim, kill other people to maintain that status quo,” he said. “Others of us, on the other side, are so committed to progress that we’re willing to expose ourselves, our livelihoods to risk it to change things for the better for the future generation. We have to determine who we are as a people in the United States. Nobody can figure that but us for us.”

As for his “Ballers” co-star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s rumored political future, Miller said, “You can’t count the big fella out on anything, but given this last entertainer presidency and even the one before that with Ronald Reagan, I think we can do without actors being presidents. We’ve had our fair share of that.”

The L.A. native is now enjoying additional success as a voice-over actor with his most recent foray as Finn in “The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special” for Disney+.

“I guess John Boyega was busy,” he joked. “So, they hollered at the kid and I picked up the flag. This world of voice over is such a different animal. Now I’m immersed in it. I’m doing the voice of Raph on the ‘Rise of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.’ I must have done a thousand voice-over auditions before I got one job. I couldn’t get arrested. Now I’m out there. You check your boy’s voice on all kinds of stuff.”

DINE ONLINE: The Food & Wine Classic at Home: Holiday Edition will take place virtually on Dec. 5 at 2 p.m. with cooking demos and interactive wine tastings with experts including chefs Kwame Onwuachi, Brooke Williamson, Douglass Williams and Alexander Smalls (sharing his recipes for deviled crab-stuffed mini muffins and bourbon tea julep). Tickets may be purchased at foodandwine.com/classicathome.   

For dinner, join stars Christian Serratos (“The Walking Dead”), Ricardo Chavira (“Desperate Housewives”) and Seidy Lopez of Netflix’s “Selena: The Series” for an exclusive Tex-Mex-inspired meal from chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken (Socalo, Border Grill). Make your arrangements for the Project Angel Food fundraiser at Eventbrite.com.

CLIPPETTES: Spend “An Evening with Keith David” in a stream (Dec. 4–11) of his recent show with guests Maria Howell and Noel Friedline. The “Greenleaf” actor, who will next be seen in the movie thriller “Horizon Line,” can be enjoyed for a $5 minimum donation at middlecjazz.com

Vernon Reid, Greg Tate, Faith, Corey Glover, Stew, The Family Stand and David Ryan Harris, Van Hunt and Jackie Venson are set for the 35th anniversary of the Black Rock Coalition Dec. 4–7.  Tickets for the stream along with a 10th anniversary screening of “Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone” with the filmmakers and Angelo Moore are available at Eventbrite.com

D.L. Hughley has been tapped as keynote speaker for the free Dec. 5 virtual event “The Black Man: Survival In America.” To register for the activities, including panels featuring singer Howard Hewett and producer/director Reginald Hudlin, visit kjlhradio.com    

Later in the day, saxophonist Mike Phillips is in concert from City Winery Atlanta at 5 p.m.; while Vanessa Williams is streaming live from New York’s Shubert Virtual Studios as part of the Women of Broadway concert series with advanced tickets at scfta.org

Tony, Grammy, and Emmy award-winner Audra McDonald performs in an intimate digital Gala presentation on Dec. 9. Visit goldstar.com for tickets

The Jazz Foundation of America’s “Bird Calls,” a livestream celebrating the centennial of saxophonist, composer, and legendary musical innovator Charlie “Yardbird” Parker is set for Dec. 10. The two-hour show with Danny Glover, Sonny Rollins, Roy Haynes, Kenny Barron, Gary Bartz, Steve Jordan, Patrice Rushen, Tom Scott and more may be viewed at Fans.live/birdcalls.

TC ON TV: Dec. 4 – “Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special” (Apple TV+): A soundtrack album is also released this day for the show with guests Tiffany Haddish, Snoop Dogg, Jermaine Dupri, Jennifer Hudson, Misty Copeland, Mykal-Michelle Harris, Billy Eichner and Ariana Grande. “Sound Of Metal” (Amazon): Riz Ahmed portrays a punk-metal drummer who begins to suffer hearing loss in this film expected to be an awards magnet. “The Hollywood Christmas Parade Greatest Moments” (CW): Montel Williams and Dean Cain host two-hours of previous highlights. “Macho: The Hector Camacho Story” (SHO): Looks at the rise, fall and untimely death of one of boxing’s most colorful champions.

Dec. 5 – “A Christmas Surprise” (BET): Wendy Raquel Robinson (“The Game”) and Keesha Sharp (“Lethal Weapon”) lead the cast of this original holiday comedy. “Behind Every Man” (OWN): Gia Casey and her husband DJ Envy

Dec. 6 – “Challenge Accepted! Disney Channel’s Epic Holiday Showdown” (Disney): Santa and Mrs. Claus, portrayed by “Entertainment Tonight’s” Kevin Frazier and Nischelle Turner, enlist the help of the network’s stars to save the holidays from Ebenezer Scrooge. “Christmas Dilemma” (TV1): Essence Atkins (“Marlon”) makes her directorial debut with this confection starring BJ Britt (“Being Mary Jane”) and Carl Anthony Payne II (“Martin”). “The Real Housewives Of Atlanta” (Bravo): The cast minus NeNe Leakes are back with singer/actor Drew Sidora joining the cast. “Rock Legends” (AXS): Doo-Wop with The Drifters, The Cleftones and The Ink Spots representing. “Euphoria” (HBO): Rue (played by Emmy-winner Zendaya) returns in this Christmas-themed episode with Colman Domingo, who appeared in season one. “Your Honor” (SHO): Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”) is a judge over his head in this 10-episode limited series with Blair Underwood, Carmen Ejogo, Isiah Whitlock Jr. and Lorraine Toussaint.

Dec. 8 – “Lennox Lewis: The Untold Story” (Crackle): Dr. Dre narrates the story of the three-time world heavyweight boxing champion with observations from some of his greatest competitors including Mike Tyson, George Foreman and Evander Holyfield. “A Christmas For Mary” (OWN): Vivica A. Fox is executive producer and guest stars with Jackée Harry in a holiday tale of rediscovery and renewal. “40 Years A Prisoner” (HBO): Common, John Legend, Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson are producers of this chronicle of one of the most controversial shootouts in American history: the 1978 police raid on the radical, back-to-nature group MOVE by the Philadelphia Police Department.

Dec. 9 – “The Masked Singer” (Fox): “The Holiday Sing-a-Long” features the final three singers performing never-before-heard holiday songs and the already unmasked celebrities joining together to perform their favorite holiday jingles.  “The Challenge” (MTV): With last season scoring the highest ratings in eight years, the reality competition returns with “Double Agents” filmed entirely in Iceland.

Dec. 10 – “Silent Night – A Song For the World” (CW): A musical film documentary about the creation and cultural impact of the world’s most famous Christmas carol with Kelly Clarkson, Joss Stone, Randy Jackson, Sheléa and many more. “One Night Only: The Best of Broadway” (NBC): Has special performances from the casts of “Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations” and “Chicago” for starters.

TASTY QUIP: “If you cut your chains, you free yourself.  If you cut your roots, you die.” – GHANAIAN PROVERB

As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment columns in the nation, serving nearly one million weekly readers. Bill Vaughan may be reached at tastyclips@yahoo.com, via Twitter @tastyclips, or Instagram @tasty_clips.