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From Timesstar.com


America: Beyond the Color Line (angel mention)

Tuesday 3 February 2004, by Webmaster

Article Last Updated: Tuesday, February 03, 2004 - 7:04:18 AM PST

The best and the worst of times "America: Beyond the Color Line THANKS, KQED, for once again putting superior programming on at a time when few can watch.

Really. How many people will stay up until midnight two work nights in a row? Yes, there are VCRs, but when will this public television station take viewers into consideration? We might forgive tonight, with both "Nova" and "Nature" airing in the earlier time slots, but repeats of "Great Lodges of National Parks" and "Legendary Lighthouses" on Wednesday surely could have been reshuffled.

Soap box retracted and placed back into storage. Moving on.

Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. explored "Wonders of the African World" on PBS back in 1999, bringing a fresh perspective to an ancient land. This time, Gates explores the state of black America in this four-hour documentary.

The title, according to Gates, who talked to critics a few weeks ago about the documentary, comes from a statement by black intellectual W.E.B. DuBois, who said "The

problem of the 20th century will

be the problem of the color line."

Is the color line still important in America?

Gates talked to dozens of African Americans throughout the country, from the famous — such as Morgan Freeman, Colin Powell and filmmakers John Singleton and Reginald Hudlin — to everyday people such as those living in the Chicago projects and an interracial couple in Alabama.

The result is a fascinating look at black life in America.

Thirty-five years after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Gates sees an America with four black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. The black middle-class has quadrupled since that day in 1968.

"But on the other hand," Gates says, "the percentage of black children living at or beneath the poverty line is 40 percent. This is the conclusion, for black America — it’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times."

First up is "South: The Black Belt" followed by "Chicago: Streets of Heaven." Gates talks to blacks moving back to their Southern roots, including actor Freeman, who feels a connection to the South through his ancestors and reveals that he doesn’t think there is any less prejudice in other parts of the country. It’s just more up front in the South.

A look at the most infamous housing project in the United States, the Robert Taylor Homes in Chicago, reveals the abject poverty leading too many blacks to turn to crimes.

"They say it takes a village to raise a child," Jesse Jackson tells Gates. "Sick villages raise sick children."

Wednesday night, Gates moves to "East Coast: Ebony Towers" where he looks at wealthy blacks who have achieved the American dream.

"I’m not talking about a socialist republic (in the film)," Gates says. "I interviewed Franklin Raynes, the CEO of Fannie Mae, first black CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation. He said, ’All we want is for the percentage of black people who are poor to equal the percentage of white people who are poor, the percentage of black people who are rich to equal the percentage of white people who are rich, and the middle class, and so on.’ That’s all we want."

Gates also talks to Secretary of State Powell, who looks more relaxed in this interview than his general stiff demeanor in front of cameras.

Gates says the shorthand between people who share a common background allows them to cut through the formalities in an interview.

"I don’t have to talk about how hard it was growing up (black in America)," Gates says. "We know that."

In the final hour, "Los Angeles: Black Hollywood" looks at the powerful producers and actors who have some clout at the box office.

"These guys in Hollywood, they talked about the money, talked about how you get it, what it means," Gates says. "Race was there, but race is secondary to economic relationships, in all four segments of this film. And that was a big surprise to me."

The film surprises the filmmaker — and the audience as well — as it explores an issue too often glossed over or ignored.

Well, one good thing about PBS not airing "Beyond the Color Line" until 10 on Wednesday is that you can check out the 100th episode of "Angel" at 9 p.m. on Channel 13.

Creator Joss Whedon started out with "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer" to exorcise the demons of his high school experience. He moved on with the spin-off "Angel," which turned last season into his rant on corporate sell-outs.

Including himself.

Whedon, who caved to corporate pressure with his short-lived series "Firefly" on Fox, suddenly moved his series about the vampire with a soul into corporate territory.

Angel (David Boreanaz) and his pals made a deal with the devil. This comes under the spotlight tonight in an episode that has Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) awakened from her coma to discover her hero has slipped into bed with the bad guys at the law firm of Wolfram & Hart.

This episode ties up the Cordelia storyline, and we bid a fond farewell to Cordy — and perhaps welcome a new age of "Angel" as he gets back to kicking evil behinds.

"The Blackwater Lightship"

9 p.m. Wednesday

Channel 5

Lovers of Ireland, Angela Lansbury and the sentimental should have a grand time watching this film.

The movie centers on the rift between three generations of women played by Dianne Wiest, Gina McKee and Lansbury, who come together to care for a friend dying of AIDS.

Pretty scenery, good acting and a chance to clear the tear ducts.

Lansbury said what she loved about the role as the elder woman in the tale was that her character was sort of beyond caring how and why this person contracted AIDS.

"You come to a point in your life where a lot of those preconceived ideas just lose their importance," Lansbury says.

Lansbury, who has been aged for the film, looks great in real life. She says she’s eager to get back on TV, preferably in a sitcom.

"I don’t want to do another hour drama," she says, referring to her signature series "Murder, She Wrote." "I’m in great shape for a half-hour sitcom, and I love comedy."

CBS entertainment president Nancy Tellem says they are looking for the right vehicle for Lansbury, but that the network is definitely interested.