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‘Essence’ Music Fest Brings Cable Stars to N’awlins Stages

Comic-Con isn’t the only
July festival getting lots of attention from cable networks.
We TV, Disney Channel and TV One made sure their respective
on-air talent at this past weekend’s Essence Music
Festival in New Orleans were both seen and heard on the
festival’s grand stage.

Networks such as BET, CNN, TBS, VH1, Oxygen, Music
Choice, TV One, We TV and TBS were represented at the
18th annual confab. It was expected to draw more than
400,000 attendees, mostly African-American women, to
the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and the convention center.

R&B legends Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan and Mary J.
Blige were expected to perform during the four-day event,
but performers such as gospel duo Mary, Mary, stars of a We
TV reality show; Coco Jones, from Disney Channel’s original
movie Let It Shine; and Roshon Fagan of Disney’s Step
It Up
were also expected to take the stage to showcase their
musical talents and provide exposure for their respective
TV gigs.

Also, the stars of TV One’s new series R&B Divas — Faith
Evans, Nicci Gilbert, Monifah Carter, Syleena Johnson and
Keke Wyatt — were expected to perform a tribute to Whitney
Houston on July 8, the final day of the festival.

TV One taped musical performances to air in a special
next month.

Other networks scheduled their stars to participate in
panel sessions throughout the weekend, including CNN’s
Soledad O’Brien and Roland Martin; VH1’s Single Ladies
star LisaRaye McCoy; and Bravo’s Real Housewives of Atlanta
stars Cynthia Bailey and Malorie Bailey-Massey.

For cable networks looking to target African-American
female viewers — who, as a group, watch more TV
than any other demographic — the Essence Music Festival
remains the perfect venue.

“There are other conventions [where] we could present
ourselves; (Essence Music Festival) is a festival, and everybody
that’s there is positive about the programming,
the talent and We TV,” network senior vice president of
marketing Rosie Pisani told The Wire. “For us not to be
there would be slighting our audience.”

Starz Hangs ‘Boss’
Cast on Meathooks
For Season-Two Ads

Trying to find new viewers for the second season of Boss,
Starz is marketing it with an arresting image. Kelsey
, who stars as Chicago mayor “Tom Kane,” is in
a slaughterhouse meat locker, surrounded by colleagues
and family members, all hanging from hooks along with
sides of beef.

“We really wanted, obviously, to attract attention and
set Boss apart from other shows that have a political
backdrop, as this one does,” Nancy McGee, executive
vice president of marketing at the network, said. “It’s a
very raw psychological drama … There’s an emotional
edge and violence to it that, for us, made the slaughterhouse
metaphor perfect to try to achieve that marketing

The show, which the network said averaged 1.3 million
viewers per episode on a three-day ratings basis (3 million
throughout the week) in season one, returns Aug. 17.

To entice first-time viewers, Starz also is making all
eight episodes of season one available to affiliates on
demand, something the network typically doesn’t do,
McGee said.

Oh, and by the way, the image is a composite (by photographer
Mitch Jenkins and agency BLT & Associates)
for which the actors really were suspended in air. “It was
all very safe” and the actors enjoyed the experience, per

TCM Beats the Heat
With Cinematic Return
Of ‘Singin’ in the Rain’

Given the July heat, it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if
Wire correspondents had to walk through the rain to
check out a special screening of Singin’ in the Rain’ in
theaters this Thursday (July 12).

The Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald
classic will appear in 492 theaters nationwide
through NCM Fathom Event’s Digital Broadcast Network
at 7 p.m. (some matinees) on Thursday under the heading
of “Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Presents Singin’ in
the Rain’
60th Anniversary Event.”

Presented by NCM Fathom, TCM and Warner Bros.,
which is releasing a 60th anniversary edition DVD of the
film on July 17, the screening will feature a pre-recorded
original introduction by Robert Osborne. The TCM host
takes audiences behind the scenes of the film that was
nominated for a pair of Oscars and tops the list of the
American Film Institute’s 25 Greatest Musicals via an
interview with Reynolds that was recorded during TCM’s
Classic Film Festival in Hollywood last April.

Shelly Maxwell, executive vice president of NCM
Fathom Events, told The Wire that TCM brings to the
table Osborne’s behind-scenes anecdotes and other
special features, while Fathom provides the theaters that
“allow fans in every market to gather as communities at
their local cinema and experience these classics as they
were meant to be seen … on the big screen.”

Fathom and TCM teamed earlier on screenings marking
the 70th anniversaries of Casablanca and The Wizard
of Oz
and the diamond anniversary of West Side Story in

TCM — promoting the event with on-air promos, Web
banners, mentions in Classic Movie News updates and
with movie theater spots — sees the Singin’ event as
another chance to extend the brand beyond the original
small screen.

“This collaboration with Fathom Events is a great
opportunity for us to bring the magic of TCM to movie
theaters in neighborhoods across the country,” Dennis
, senior vice president of brand and digital
activation/general manager of festivals for TCM, TBS and
TNT, told The Wire.