Folks have been talking about the rumored bleak future of CW’s hit show “The Game.” The show’s creator, Mark Brock Akil, and its cast are not going out without a fight. They have called upon a million fans to flood the network’s site with signatures before April 15, with hopes of salvaging the show before Akil meets with network execs to learn the fate of her beloved series. Actress Wendy Raquel Robinson, who stars as a football momager Tasha Mack, weighs in on the future of the show and the plight of African-American images on television.
I was a part of two flagship stations. When FOX started, they had a lot of urban programming, and then they crossed over and did what they needed to do. Then there was the birth of the WB with its flagship shows like “The Steve Harvey Show,” “Sister, Sister,” and “The Jamie Foxx Show.” As they began to build the network and gain momentum, then ” Dawson Creek” and other similar shows came along; the Black shows slowly began to vanish. I’m clearly seeing a blatant pattern here: we build the networks, they crossover, get the promotions, advertising, sponsors and we are discarded and swept over to the curb. So they needed us to help build their brand but now that they’ve built their mainstream audience they no longer need the African-American viewership?
In regards to whether or not “The Game” is over (no pun intended), well, we won’t know anything until May 21. My understanding is that the CW is moving toward hour-long programs and will no longer have half-hour, formatted shows. That’s when Mara [Brock Akil], the giant and big dreamer that she is, decided to be a part of the solution and not the problem and came up with the idea of making it an hour-long dramedy. It would alleviate the thought that there is no longer room for our show. Perhaps, the show will be a little more diverse, bringing more of our White counterparts to the forefront, but still maintaining the same integrity. The reality is that we’ve done one-hour season premieres and finales, so it’s not as if we haven’t done that format before, so not much has to change and we’ve proven we can handle that and still do it on a shoe-string budget. So it sure isn’t the money because we are substantially underpaid compared to our White counterparts. I’m not disgruntled, crying racism or trying to put the CW on blast because they’ve been great to me for three years, but it’s a fact. We are not robbing the bank compared to programs such as “Gossip Girl” and “90210.”
I’ve read reports that our ratings are allegedly subpar, but that’s not true. Besides, do you know any Black folks who have Nielsen boxes in their homes? (Laughs.) As of late we’re averaging 2.2 to 2.3 viewers per household, which is a high for the CW, which averages between 2.2. and 2.4 for its mainstream programming. Unlike their flagship shows, “The Game” does not receive billboards or advertising like they do. When you consider how the show’s time slot has been shuffled around and we’re still able to get those numbers with very little promotion, that’s great. I just don’t believe that they think Blacks are as marketable as their White counterparts, and that’s truly sad.
We are all praying and I’m hoping for the best. I’ve seen a tremendous outpouring through the media and fans who have visited the CW lounge Web site and left messages. It’s been an overwhelming response. If we are going to be the sacrificial lamb, then what images for our kids will we have on television? Of course, there’s Tyler Perry—bless his heart—but his show is on cable. You’d think with a Black President we might have more. There have been talks about BET as a possible, but who knows? Anything can happen or maybe the show’s fate has already been predetermined. I do so many interviews and everyone is always offering me apologies that the show is off the air. Maybe I’m in denial, but I quickly correct them and tell them nothing is final. I’m holding on to that hope. Just call me optimistically realistic: yes, I know there’s a great chance the show might be cancelled, but there’s an even greater chance that it won’t be. All I can do is continue to put out good work and just pray that the powers that be have a level of consciousness and diversity that will make them understand why this show is important, valued and loved. The cast—we love each other to death, and together we create a flavor and pulse of energy that can’t be denied.
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