NAMIC Looks to Future After Clearing Turner-Lee

The National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) said last week an audit found no evidence to support claims of improprieties that had been leveled, anonymously, against president and CEO Nicol Turner-Lee.

Two days after that, last Thursday (July 11), the organization she oversees, with more than 2,000 members, held its first live Vision Awards ceremony in two years, honoring the contributions of networks and individuals in providing diverse content across multiple platforms. For the past two years, winners of the awards had been announced online.

NAMIC’s board had said this past March it would conduct an independent audit after Turner-Lee, who has been on the job since April of 2012, of claims of improprieties levied against her in an anonymous email this past March. Board chairman Michael Armstrong’s statement went no further in discussing Turner-Lee’s performance or future with the organization, and Turner- Lee declined to comment on the situation in email exchanges with The Wire last week.

The Vision Awards ceremony — which was initially scheduled for May 23, but was pushed back beyond the television upfronts to make it easier for talent to attend — attracted more than 200 people, a turnout Turner-Lee described in an email to The Wire as “absolutely fantastic.” She cited celebrity appearances by actress Vanessa Bell Calloway and VH1 Hollywood Exes stars Sheree and Terrell Fletcher.

Ten cable networks received awards in a record 20 categories during the two-hour presentation held at the Pacifi c Design Center in Los Angeles.

Actor, producer, writer and director Bill Duke received a standing ovation in accepting NAMIC’s Creative Legacy award, Turner-Lee said. She also pointed to big media sponsors for the event, including Disney-ABC Networks, Warner Bros., Bright House Networks, Fox Deportes, Fox Audience Strategy, Time Warner Cable, Comcast and NBCUniversal.

NAMIC’s next big event will take place this October, when it will hold its annual diversity-focused conference in New York.

Paula Deen Retains Her ‘Female Force’ Comic Status

Former Food Network diva Paula Deen’s troubles over past racial comments will not derail an upcoming comic book bio based on her entrepreneurial story of building a multimillion- dollar brand.

Bluewater Productions president Darren Davis last week said his company is moving ahead with a comic book on Deen in its “Female Force” series.

“We do not condone her use of racial insensitivities, and think that intolerance has no place in a just society,” Davis said in announcing the book was still in the works for an October release. “But despite her recent failings, we also strongly believe she still has a powerful story to tell; one that fits the female empowerment model of our books.”

Other “Female Force” comic-book subjects have included Angelina Jolie, Ellen DeGeneres, former Rep. Gabrielle Giff ords (D-Ariz.) and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Davis assured The Wire that Deen’s diffi culties will be included in the comic book, but said it would not morph into a “rise and fall of Deen” story to capitalize on the issue. In fact, Davis, a former adsales executive with E! and USA Network, said one of the reasons the company announced it was still issuing the comic book to show support for Deen: “In my own personal little weird world, I want to show that we still support her … I think what she said was completely asinine, but I don’t believe that she is a racist.”

Deen will get no money from the book, and Davis said he has not heard from her, though he has reached out. Bluewater typically donates a percentage of the proceeds to a nonprofit of the subject’s choice.

— John Eggerton

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.