Oxygen Series Puts Choirs in Tune

The recently rebranded Oxygen network this week premieres a new reality series, Fix My Choir, which premieres Nov. 5 and stars gospel artist and pastor Deitrick Haddon — star of Oxygen’s top-rated series, Preachers of L.A. — and Destiny’s Child singer Michelle Williams. Multichannel News programming editor R. Thomas Umstead spoke with the two last week about the show and how the idea of assisting community choirs around the country fits the network’s new “very real” theme.

MCN: What was the inspiration forFix My Choir?

Deitrick Haddon: Oxygen brought it to us, and it’s a perfect idea, because choirs are everywhere and it’s an interesting concept.

MCN: Why did you feel Oxygen, with its young female-targeted audience, was the right fi t?

DH: Oxygen has the finger on the pulse of what their viewers want. They were the ones who brought Preachers of L.A. to air when no other network would. I can say that Oxygen was on the cutting edge of this genre and of what the community wants. It was a natural progression to bring Fix My Choir on Oxygen.

MCN: Michelle, given your musical background with Destiny’s Child, how easy or diffcult was it for you to transition to acting in a television reality series?

Michelle Williams: The only thing I had to get used to was the scheduling of it. People give reality TV a hard time, but it’s really hard work filming five or six days a week for one episode. It’s really hard, so I applaud the Kardashians and Nene [Leakes, of Bravo’s Real Housewives of Atlanta], because it’s hard work.

MCN: Who are you trying to reach with this series, religious believers or nonbelievers?

DH: Everybody. Choirs are everywhere in the communities. When you think of Fix My Choir don’t just think church: think much bigger. There are high-school and college choirs, community choirs, barber-shop choirs — there are all different styles and different cultures. This is not just about the black church.

MCN: You mentionedPreachers of L.A.Were you surprised at its success?

DH: No, I knew it was going to blow up, because it was the first of its kind. For preachers to open up like that, I knew it was going to take off. When the trailer was released and everyone went crazy, I calculated everything that church folks would say. Preachers are loved, but they are also hated, because some people think that they are taking the [church’s] money. When we put that on-air, I knew people would say the preachers are about to show off the Bentleys and whatnot. But the show wasn’t about that.

MCN: Do you two get to sing at all inFix My Choir?

MW: We weren’t asked to sing, but every now and then we sneak it in. Our jobs were to simply mentor and inspire, but if we could hum a note in a situation that called for it, we would do it; but it wasn’t a lot.

DH: It was all about the choirs, and there is a lot of singing on there, but it wasn’t about us, and that’s the good thing about it.

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.