*TV One’s upcoming original drama “MEDIA” is a passion project for business mogul and television personality Cathy Hughes, founder of the #1 African-American media company, Radio One. This film is a riveting story about a wealthy family battling the competitive challenges of keeping their status and position in the communications industry.
“Mrs. Hughes is such a visionary in terms of what she has done with her own career and translating it, even though this is fiction, and really showing what it is to be on the inside of a media company. There are a lot of things to gleam from that,” executive producer Sheila Ducksworth explained to EUR/Electronic Urban Report during the “Media” presentation at the Television Critics Association’s 2016 Summer Tour.
“I think part of the passion behind doing a show like this is to show that black people can own and operate their own entities and represent themselves to the media in ways that other outlets do not. Which is what (Cathy) does,” said executive producer Susan Banks, who is also Mrs. Hughes production partner.
“I think the way we represent this family and this company — although there’s a lot of murder and intrigue and affairs and stuff like that going on — the juicy stuff that sells the story — when you look at them and look at what they’ve obtained, when you look at who they are and how they respond to the community, I think it’s really a positive image. And I think it’s a really good look for who we are as a people,” Banks added.
READ RELATED STORY: Beyoncé’s 2017 Grammy Performance is Already One for the Ages (WATCH)
Directed by Craig Ross Jr., “Media” stars Penny Johnson Jerald (Castle, 24), Brian White (Scandal), Gary Dourdan (Being Mary Jane), Pooch Hall (The Game), and Stephen Bishop (Being Mary Jane). The film explores the drama and secrets behind a powerful family dynasty, as well as “the radio industry and what’s going on in the radio industry, “ Banks said.
“There’s a political twist to it as well (and) a lot of twists and turns that I think will speak to what is going on in today’s world,” she added.
Craig noted some of the themes explored in “Media” are “loyalty, love and second chances.”
“There’s a drug abuse angle,” said Banks. “But there’s also this sense of pride and dignity that I think carries throughout the entire piece.”
One of the strong elements in “Media” is the “whole idea of family coming together and sticking together despite the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows, and that’s an important through line to everything that’s going on with all the intrigue,” said Sheila.
When Radio One went public in 1999, Cathy Hughes became the first African-American woman to head a publicly traded corporation. In January 2004, Radio One launched TV One, which targets African American adults with a broad mix of original lifestyle and entertainment-oriented series, documentaries, movies, concert performances and reruns of sitcoms from the 1970s through the 2000s.
Banks and Hughes have for years been talking about doing a show about a “black media cooperation that owns all of these different entities in the media business and all the drama that can be had out of it and the intrigue and twists and turns.”
“About the time we were talking about putting it into production, ‘Empire’ came on, and we said, ‘Oh no, is this too similar?’ ”
“We thought about it for a minute and then we decided this show is completely different. It has so many wonderful avenues to pursue. It’s such a different story to tell and we just decided to move forward with it,” Banks revealed.
She said Cathy Hughes wanted “Media” to have the type of edge that gets people “caught up with the storyline.”
“We want to start this show off with a bang,” Banks enthused. “We want people to turn this show on and not be able to turn it off.”
Tune in to TV One’s newest original film “Media” when it premieres Saturday, February 25.