BC DC

Cohen: Comcast's Diversity Efforts Are Getting On Up

Talks about staffing, casting percentages at D.C. screening 7/23/2014 01:30:00 PM

Comcast executive VP David Cohen got a chance to showcase some of his company's diverse content at a premiere screening of Comcast's Universal Pictures biopic, Get On Up, about the life of the Godfather of Soul, James Brown.

At the screening at the Newseum in Washington Tuesday night (July 22), Cohen spoke to the audience about the company's diverse hiring and casting practices—which drew applause from the crowd—and its addition of four new, diverse cable channels including Revolt and Aspire.

While expounding on Comcast's diversity efforts, Cohen also said he knew "how much farther we have to go" to achieve its diversity goals. He also said that the company's proposed merger with Time Warner Cable would allow it to do more.

Cohen had high praise for the Rev. Al Sharpton, who Cohen  said he had known for some 25 years. He called him someone with a big heart and a commitment to fairness.

Cohen also pointed out that Sharpton was a former manager and friend for Brown's and said he was proud that Sharpton was "a member of the Comcast/NBCU family"—Sharpton hosts PoliticsNation on MSNBC.

Sharpton joined Get On Up director Tate Taylor (The Help) and Chadwick Boseman (42), who played Brown, in a panel discussion before the screening hosted by Touré.

Neblett asked Tate jokingly given his work on The Help and Get On Up, whether he was "trying to get a 'black' card."

Touré drew a groan when he joked that the film was great, though "he dies in the end." He quickly followed up with "but he still lives on."

Touré then continued on the resurrection theme. Turning to Boseman, who played Jackie Robinson in 42, he said that given he had played two iconic figures whose names began with J, perhaps Jesus was next.

"James will get you crucified and I will resurrect you," Sharpton joked, a reference to an earlier remark about perhaps doing a sequel to the Brown story in which his part in Brown's life was included.

Asked about having to play the "darker" side of Brown’s life—drugs, domestic violence—Boseman suggested that nobody's life was perfect: "You're going to be a villain in somebody's story," he said.

Sharpton relayed the story of when Michael Jackson met Brown backstage after a concert and Brown had Jackson demonstrate the moon walk. Brown was also famous for his moves on the floor, including the camel walk. Brown joked that the difference was that he had black folks moving forward, while Jackson had them going backward.

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