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Veteran writer-producer Larry Wilmore has been having an exceptionally good year, first seeing his ABC comedy Black-ish picked up to series and then, a few days later, being tapped to succeed Stephen Colbert with his own Comedy Central show.
But Wilmore can’t do both. So when he appeared with Black-ish creator Kenya Barris and the series’ cast at a Tuesday Television Critics Association summer press tour panel, he shared his plans for what he hopes to be a helpful exit. “I’m going to be [here] until part of September to help break the first 12 stories,” said the showrunner. “I’m trying to get through the first half of the season with the writers. Once I’m done, other than being a visible cheerleader, I’ll be full-time over [at Comedy Central].”
The Minority Report With Larry Wilmore, which Wilmore referred to as “TMR,” is currently set to premiere on Comedy Central in January 2015. Wilmore’s track record with sitcom work is pretty solid. His last turn at showrunning was on The Bernie Mac Show, which stayed on the air for five seasons and won him an Emmy for writing.
Speaking about how TV has changed for black writers, producers and actors over the year — Wilmore also wrote for In Living Color, The PJs and The Office, among many others — he did note that the TV industry has come to a rather unusual place with black-fronted series.
“It does always change through the years,” said Wilmore. “There was a time when it was no big deal to have black sitcoms on network TV. Then they all got segregated with The CW or the UPN. I called it the Negro League. Now we’re a novelty all of a sudden.”
But that’s not to say Black-ish is intended to dwell on race. Though the pilot (and title) does focus heavily on the color of its cast’s skin, Barris insists that it is approaching the subject from more of a cultural perspective.
“We’re taught to give our kids more than what we had, and sometimes you lose a little of your own upbringing in that,” said Barris. “It wasn’t a show about a family that happened to be black, it was about family that was actually black.”
Barris also had some fond words for Wilmore, who came on board the project via star Anthony Anderson after the actor and Barris first developed the pitch.
“He was a writer, he wasn’t a black writer,” added Barris. “This was my dream team. Every point in the process we keep going, “Why is this going so well?’ “
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