By Bill Vaughan
Over the last decade, you could always rely on seeing Tim Reid in a holiday film. That this year’s “A Welcome Home Christmas,” premiering on Lifetime Nov. 7, even got made was a bit of a miracle.
As one of the first movies to be shot under the new COVID-19 guidelines, the cast and crew were really what Reid referred to as “the guinea pigs of production.”
“I had to be under quarantine for a full week in a hotel in the middle of a place I think people go to live in the witness protection program,” Reid told Tasty Clips. “We weren’t in a bubble; we were in a vault!”
Despite the constant monitoring, masks and even a delay due to one positive test, the delightful military-themed story (re-airing Veterans Day) with Jana Kramer, Brandon Quinn, country music artist Craig Morgan and Charlene Tilton (of “Dallas” fame) was finished.
Until this, the veteran comic/actor/producer/director was locked down between his media center and home in Virginia creating a new network streaming content around the world.
LGCY of a People Network was born out of Reid’s travels doing master documentary classes in Nigeria, Ethiopia, South Africa, Cape Verde, England and Trinidad, which he calls literally the mecca for animation by people of African descent.
Young filmmakers, some of whom Reid mentored, implored him to put some of their product up and so the service has arrived with original weekly content and a South African-based talk show on the horizon.
“That’s the kind of thing I’m trying to do. Not reinvent the wheel, but just put on the wheel from a different garage,” he said before citing incredible little known stories such as the Ethiopians who won the first battle in the war of 1776 and centuries later, were the major battle force behind South Korea maintaining its independence. “We need other cultural points of views if we are going to grow and prosper as people.”
Reid learned that lesson the hard way when he followed a string of successful supporting roles on hit 1970s and ’80s TV series “WKRP in Cincinnati” and “Simon and Simon,” with the self-produced CBS show “Frank’s Place” in which he starred.
Though critically acclaimed, the New Orleans-based dramedy was quickly canceled and he “was pissed.”
“How it went out was ugly business, but it was business,” he said. “You’ve got to be able to have complete control of your propaganda and I was told that by William Paley. who created the Columbia Broadcasting System in the early 1950s. He brought me to his office to say he would have been proud to have the show on the network when he was running it. I took that to heart.
“You got to realize until recently the majority of the sitcoms were written primarily by white writers. You weren’t getting a true depiction of culture. ‘Frank’s Place’ was one of the first sitcoms in the history of television to delve into the culture of Black America in a way that was so rich and so unique that it frightened people,” Reid added.
“If that show stayed on for 6 or 7 years, race relations in America would be different because when you expose people to a certain amount of cultural truth, they have to be sociopathic to walk away from that and not alter their lives.”
Reid is currently enjoying new recognition with his ’90s series “Sister, Sister,” co-starring Jackée Harry and twins Tia and Tamera Mowry, achieving the largest response of any show taken to Netflix since its inception.
“The Z generation, who were not even born when we were doing ‘Sister, Sister’ have discovered the show and what’s interesting, I discovered the show,” he said admitting that he’d only seen about five episodes and almost left during the third year due to being in the midst of building New Millennium Studios in Petersburg, Virginia, with his wife, actress Daphne Maxwell-Reid.
“Tyler Perry used to come to my studio and hang out,” Reid recalled. “I tried to work with him on something back in the day when he was thinking about converting his plays into film, but we had a falling out. I didn’t know he’d be a billionaire, or I wouldn’t have cursed him out. I’m sure I put him in shock.”
The Virginia native attributes his tenacity to having been raised by tough women, including a grandmother who owned a boarding house selling whiskey and the numbers illegally; and an aunt who owned the largest whorehouse at the time.
“I come out of segregation,” he added. “I didn’t speak socially to white people until I was in college during the civil rights movement. I am of a different breed. A dying breed. I never saw myself as a victim but as a warrior.”
When he decided he wanted to direct, he shadowed the greats, including John Frankenheimer (“The Manchurian Candidate,” “Ronin”) who took him under his wing.
Reid’s own films “Once Upon A Time When We Were Colored” and “Asunder” followed, as well as a documentary on unheralded heroine Elizabeth Keckley.
The 75-year-old, working on a treatment about the gentleman who left America and helped Emperor Haile Selassie defeat the Italians in the first blow of World War II, says he gets on young people a lot about wanting to be stars or successful without studying the masters.
“I didn’t think that just because I owned an iPhone I could direct,” Reid said. “Get into their world, their mind, their concept. It’s not stealing. It’s looking at composition. Then you go and do your thing and pretty soon, you will develop and become that master. Before all these elders die, go sit down with them. Get a feeling for what life was like.”
CLIPPETTES: Nikki Giovanni, Kimberly “Museum Mammy” Drew, Yusef Salaam of The Exonerated Five, Peacock host Zerlina Maxwell, Tiffany D. Cross and many more are participants in the WRBG Festival (Nov. 6-8) with the theme of Black Political Power: Past and Present. Free advanced registration is required at wellreadblackgirl.org …
To celebrate its 25th anniversary, GZA of Wu Tang Clan fame is performing his classic album “Liquid Swords” in its entirety with his all-star band — led by ODB‘s brother Ramsey Jones on drums on Nov. 6 at lpr.tv …
Activist and scholar Angela Davis joins artist Isaac Julien in the Zoom Room for a conversation about the influence of Frederick Douglass on contemporary movements for racial justice on Nov. 11. Check events at www.moadsf.org for free registration …
Gloria Gaynor (“I Will Survive”) is presented in concert by AARP at 2 p.m. Nov. 12 at summerstageanywhere.org. Later that evening, rappers T.I. and Jeezy face off in the next Verzus IG battle.
TC ON TV: Nov. 6 – “Citation” (Netflix): The remarkable Jimmy Jean-Louis stars in this fact-based Nigerian film about a bright student (Temi Otedola) who takes on the academic establishment when she reports a popular professor who tried to rape her.
Nov. 7 – “The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2020 Inductions” (HBO): Inductees including Whitney Houston, The Doobie Brothers and The Notorious B.I.G., will be honored by Sean “Diddy” Combs, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Adam Levine, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Bruce Springsteen, Charlize Theron and more. “Behind Every Man” (OWN): Host Melody Holt (“Love & Marriage: Huntsville”) kicks off the new series by profiling Jonnetta Patton and her son Usher. “Austin City Limits” (PBS): “John Legend & The Roots: Wake Up!” “Saturday Night Live” (NBC): Dave Chappelle
Nov. 8 – “By Whatever Means Necessary: The Times of Godfather of Harlem” (Epix): A four-part docuseries looks at the New York neighborhood and its music during the 1960s with Forest Whitaker, Giancarlo Esposito, Ilfenesh Hadera, Martha Reeves, Herbie Hancock, Nile Rodgers, A$AP Ferg, Joe Bataan, Al Sharpton, Sonia Sanchez, Chika and more.
Nov. 9 – “Miss USA 2020 Live” (FYI): The reigning Cheslie Kryst passes the torch in this year’s ceremony from Elvis Presley’s Graceland mansion in Memphis.
Nov. 11 – “Eater’s Guide To The World” (Hulu): Maya Rudolph finds the most unexpected places to score an epic meal, while drinking and dining with the locals along the way. “Trial 4” (Netflix): Charged as a teen in the 1993 killing of a Boston cop, Sean K. Ellis fights to prove his innocence while exposing police corruption and systemic racism in this limited series.
Nov. 12 – “Station 19” (ABC): Shonda Rhimes’ firehouse drama starring Jason George, Boris Kodjoe and Jaina Lee Ortiz returns with a crossover episode leading into the “Grey’s Anatomy” season premiere. “The Paley Center Presents Law & Order: Before They Were Stars” (NBC): Apparently, “This Is Us” stars Ron Cephas Jones and Susan Kelechi Watson, Leslie Odom Jr. (“Hamilton”) and S. Epatha Merkerson (“Chicago Med”) got their starts here.
TASTY QUIP: “I hate all civil rights movies. Don’t get me wrong, I applaud the effort and they should exist. The problem is they only show the back of the bus and the lunch counter. They actually make racism look very fixable. They don’t get into how dysfunctional the relationships were. This s**t is so much … dirtier than any movie ever shows.” – CHRIS ROCK on the “How Neal Feel” podcast.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, via Twitter @tastyclips, or Instagram @tasty_clips.