Eric Deggans | KNKX

Eric Deggans

Eric Deggans is NPR's first full-time TV critic.

Deggans came to NPR in 2013 from the Tampa Bay Times, where he served a TV/Media Critic and in other roles for nearly 20 years. A journalist for more than 20 years, he is also the author of Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation, a look at how prejudice, racism and sexism fuels some elements of modern media, published in October 2012, by Palgrave Macmillan.

Deggans is also currently a media analyst/contributor for MSNBC and NBC News. In August 2013, he guest hosted CNN's media analysis show Reliable Sources, joining a select group of journalists and media critics filling in for departed host Howard Kurtz. The same month, Deggans was awarded the Florida Press Club's first-ever Diversity award, honoring his coverage of issues involving race and media. He received the Legacy award from the National Association of Black Journalists' A&E Task Force, an honor bestowed to "seasoned A&E journalists who are at the top of their careers." And in 2019, he was named winner of the American Sociological Association's Excellence in the Reporting of Social Justice Issues Award.

In 2019, Deggans served as the first African American chairman of the board of educators, journalists and media experts who select the George Foster Peabody Awards for excellence in electronic media.

He also has joined a prestigious group of contributors to the first ethics book created in conjunction with the Poynter Institute for Media Studies for journalism's digital age: The New Ethics of Journalism, published in August 2013, by Sage/CQ Press.

From 2004 to 2005, Deggans sat on the then-St. Petersburg Times editorial board and wrote bylined opinion columns. From 1997 to 2004, he worked as TV critic for the Times, crafting reviews, news stories and long-range trend pieces on the state of the media industry both locally and nationally. He originally joined the paper as its pop music critic in November 1995. He has worked at the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey and both the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Press newspapers in Pennsylvania.

Now serving as chair of the Media Monitoring Committee for the National Association of Black Journalists, he has also served on the board of directors for the national Television Critics Association and on the board of the Mid-Florida Society of Professional Journalists.

Additionally, he worked as a professional drummer in the 1980s, touring and performing with Motown recording artists The Voyage Band throughout the Midwest and in Osaka, Japan. He continues to perform with area bands and recording artists as a drummer, bassist and vocalist.

Deggans earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science and journalism from Indiana University.

Watching Elon Musk slouch his way through a stint hosting NBC's Saturday Night Live, I had one thought: Lorne Michaels, gentleman provocateur, has done it again.

Michaels, the sketch show's longtime executive producer and guru, does many things well. But his talent for poking the zeitgeist with attention-getting hosting choices may be one of his least appreciated talents — and his secret weapon for keeping SNL in the national conversation.

Nearly 140 documentary filmmakers have signed onto a letter given to PBS executives, suggesting the service may provide an unfair level of support to white creators, facing a "systemic failure to fulfill (its) mandate for a diversity of voices."

Let's get this out of the way first. Yes, Zack Snyder's Justice League is just over four hours long.

Four. Hours. Long.

Yet, somehow, it feels like the right length for a film that has moved mountains — and reportedly spent around $70 million beyond its original, blockbuster budget — to reinvent one of the biggest superhero movie bombs in recent memory.

And here's the thing: It actually succeeds. In more ways than I ever expected.

My first thought, when I heard about HBO's docuseries Allen v. Farrow, was that this moment was inevitable.

Something significant shifted in media this year — and it's not just about the pandemic keeping us inside, glued to screens. It's all due to a simple idea: cater to the will of the consumer.

Finally, after weeks of new episodes that felt like awkward dress rehearsals for a funnier show we never got to see, Saturday Night Live delivered a performance that met the moment.

But it didn't come from the place you might expect.

True enough, news that media organizations officially projected Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as America's next president and vice president lent a giddy energy to a show that, this season, often seemed unsure of what to say about all the real-life absurdity at hand.

When the real world is as crazy as five Saturday Night Live skits, the bar raises to an absurd height for the quality of satire you need to make sense of it all.

Which explains, in part, why SNL's 46th season opener last night felt so flat and uninspired. After the kind of week President Trump had in real life – contracting the coronavirus and getting airlifted to a hospital days after making fun of opponent Joe Biden for wearing a mask – there wasn't much Alec Baldwin could do to top that.

Since 1989, Cops has made riveting television from verité footage of arrests and emergency calls — often capturing scenes of police interacting with clueless suspects — filmed by riding along with police officers.

But the long-running unscripted show has been canceled after 32 seasons. The Paramount Network dropped it amid widespread protests nationwide about policing.

The show's 33rd season was scheduled to debut next Monday.

I nearly lost it when the number dropped from 50 to 10.

My mother's church pastor tried to be steady and consoling, but I could hear the emotion at the edges of his voice. His news: Instead of the 50 mourners we hoped to host, just 10 people would be allowed to attend her funeral on March 28, courtesy of the latest social distancing requirements laid down by state and local officials. Including church staff.

It's an old tradition that endures, even amid the year-round deluge of programming brought to us by the age of streaming. It is the fall TV preview.

Turns out fall is the perfect time to refocus on television after a summer filled with vacations and outdoor distractions. So our pop culture team collected the coolest TV shows coming your way over the next few months as a guide through the madness. We haven't seen all of these programs yet, but we've learned enough to know they're worth checking out.

Tim Conway built a career playing goofballs who rarely took center stage — but he often helped turn good television shows into TV classics. The comic actor, who appeared on shows ranging from The Carol Burnett Show to SpongeBob SquarePants, died Tuesday morning, May 14. The cause was complications from a long illness, according to his representative, Howard Bragman. He was 85.

HBO's Leaving Neverland is ultimately a tribute to the power of personal testimony.

Over four hours, the film slowly excavates the stories of James Safechuck and Wade Robson. The two men each met Michael Jackson as children in the 1980s and allege the pop star sexually abused them for years while showering their families with attention and gifts.

Pepsi should have chosen a different slogan for its ads during this year's Super Bowl.

The company's slogan was "More than OK." Well, not really. In fact, most of the high-priced commercials we saw between the football plays were just OK. They were so careful to avoid scandal and backlash that they felt leached of originality or bite.

That's pretty much what Greg Lyons, chief marketing officer of PepsiCo Beverages North America, predicted when I asked him last week what this year's spots would look like: nothing controversial.

Roseanne Barr has just given a master class on how not to apologize for a massive public flameout.

Appearing on Fox News pundit Sean Hannity's show Thursday, Barr claimed the backlash over a widely condemned racist tweet that led to ABC canceling her show was a huge misunderstanding.

The tweet implied that senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett was the offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood and an ape. Barr's defense? She didn't know Jarrett — who was born in Iran to American parents — was an African-American woman.

Disney has moved one step closer to purchasing a big chunk of 21st Century Fox. On Wednesday, the Justice Department announced it had approved the proposed deal, valued at a total $71.3 billion.

Finally, we no longer have to use the word "allegedly."

A court of law has delivered a verdict that the court of public opinion seemed to have already reached: Bill Cosby, 80, has been found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault, resulting from allegations first made by Andrea Constand back in 2005.

The public eventually saw more than 60 women accuse "America's dad" of sexual misconduct and assault, with many alleging he surreptitiously drugged them first. This is the first of those stories to get a verdict.

Be warned: The review below contains plenty of spoilers about past and present episodes of Billions.

The biggest problem Showtime's Billions has: It's a show that is way too easy to underestimate.

At a time when income inequality and the struggles of the middle class are front-page news, it's tough to lionize a show about a millionaire U.S. attorney in an all-consuming personal and professional grudge match with a billionaire hedge fund owner.

Critics tend to judge Olympics coverage by a few key metrics: How many mistakes did the commentators make, and how many people are actually watching the games in prime time?

When it comes to NBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics, the first category has a couple of doozies, such as the network declaring a winner of the women's super-G Alpine skiing event before all the competitors had skied, including the actual winner.

The cost was daunting: With well over 100 million viewers expected to tune in this year, NBC charged just over $5 million for each 30 second spot. So advertisers were careful about which messages they showcased on the biggest TV platform of the year.

Even so, many of the spots felt handcuffed or held back — so cautious about drawing a laugh or provoking viewers that the primary reaction was just, well, disappointment.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Today we are wrapping up our series of Highly Specific Superlatives. And this entry starts with a scene in a TV show.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "ONE MISSISSIPPI")

Like a lot of kids in high school, Sam worries that he doesn't fit in.

"I'm a weirdo. That's what everyone says," declares the 18-year-old character at the center of Netflix's new dramatic comedy series Atypical.

One reason Sam struggles to fit in: He has autism.

As his character explains at the start of the first episode, sometimes he doesn't understand what people mean when they say things. And that makes him feel alone, even when he's not.

Anyone hoping to get a sense of how former Fox News star Megyn Kelly might reinvent herself for her new role as NBC News' big hire didn't get a lot of clues from the rather conventional debut episode of Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly.

It was a program which came with some fanfare, particularly if you were watching NBC News platforms in the days leading up to Sunday's debut. MSNBC, Today and NBC Nightly News all broadcast previews of Sunday Night's big get, Kelly's sit-down last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Don't be distracted by the title of Netflix's latest, button-pushing TV series, Dear White People.

Because, one look at this insightful, irreverent examination of race and society at an Ivy League college reveals it really doesn't focus much on white folks at all.

Indeed, the title Dear White People is a bit of a head fake. This slyly assembled series is really about how a wide range of black and brown students at the fictional, predominantly white Winchester University deal with race, sexual orientation and other identity stuff in the modern age.

YouTube is launching a streaming TV service Wednesday. It's one of many — Sling, PlayStation Vue and local cable companies among them. But Google-owned YouTube TV offers several features the others don't.

They include a cloud-based DVR with no storage limits, allowing users to record as many shows as they want for later playback. Membership also gives access to original series and movies featured on its other subscription streaming service, YouTube Red. And customers can create up to six accounts on one membership, with up to three streams running at once.

FX's Legion is a superhero TV show that resists admitting it is one.

Which is both the most satisfying and frustrating thing about it.

Here's the setup: David Haller is a well-meaning guy who hears voices in his head. It's driven him to drugs, occasionally criminal behavior and a suicide attempt. (Alert TV fans will recognize the actor playing David as Dan Stevens, who was blue-eyed hunk Matthew Crawley on Downton Abbey).

Buzzed-about projects like the musical film La La Land and FX's TV comedy Atlanta won big at Sunday's Golden Globe awards. But the most powerful moment of the night belonged to Meryl Streep, who used her acceptance speech for the honorary Cecil B. deMille Award of the 2017 Golden Globes, to deliver a harsh rebuke of President-elect Donald Trump and to advocate for press freedom.

Here's the biggest understatement of the year: 2016 was the most disruptive moment the mainstream American news media have faced in a very long time.

That's not because so many media outlets misread the presidential election, although that is part of it. And it's not just because so-called "fake news" has become a genuine issue, prompting Facebook and other social media outlets to address fraudulent items formatted to look like legitimate news reports — a long-needed change.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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