Smiley gigs: AEG projects, PBS hosting


Talk show host and commentator Tavis Smiley has struck a deal with events giant AEG to develop projects to focus on arts, culture, education and social advocacy. He also has been tapped by PBS to host two forums with presidential candidates this year.

The first venture of the Smiley-AEG partnership will be the TV special "Living the Dream: A Night at the Apollo" awards show and tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. Starting next year, the partnership will shepherd a touring museum exhibit examining "the African-American imprint on our country and culture."

Another project in the works is dubbed "Table of Free Voices USA" and will be staged in October in Philadelphia, with more than 100 leaders in "the world's largest social discourse" discussing a range of issues and topics with an audience in a Q&A-style setting that will have a Web simulcast.

"Without question, Tavis Smiley is a leading voice for social change and bringing people together to discuss important issues of our time and solve problems," AEG president and CEO Tim Leiweke said. "This strategic alliance will bring two like-minded creative forces together for some significant work."

Added Smiley, "This project promises to be one of the most thought-provoking events we've ever done."

Smiley, who hosts an eponymous talk show based out of PBS' Los Angeles affiliate KCET-TV, will host a forum with Democratic presidential candidates to air June 28 at Howard University in Washington. A similar session with Republican candidates will be held Sept. 27 at Morgan State University in Baltimore.