Mfume shoots pilot, slams nets


Is NAACP President Kweisi Mfume saying one thing and doing another?

Earlier this week, Mfume blasted the Big Four networks for a lack of progress on diversity and threatened boycotts and lawsuits if the climate in Hollywood doesn't change. In the NAACP's report on diversity at the networks, Mfume criticized ABC for a lack of network commitment on diversity issues and also decried NBC for making "little to no progress."

Meanwhile, Mfume is in the midst of developing a syndicated talk show for NBC. Mfume taped a pilot for a potential five-day-a-week talk show last month in Boston with Hearst-Argyle Television, a syndication division recently acquired by NBC Enterprises. Sources say the show is in the vein of former syndicated talker Donahue.

Mfume, a former congressman, is no stranger to TV and he's hosted a series of Heart-Argyle syndicated specials entitled Remarkable Journeys since 1994. He also has hosted a weekly talk show (The Bottom Line) in Baltimore for several years.

John White, an NAACP spokesman, says there is no conflict of interest and Mfume won't let the talk show compromise his stance on diversity at NBC or any of the networks. "He's been criticizing the networks for the last two years and taping a show for Hearst-Argyle for eight years," White reportedly told the AP on Friday. "If it's a choice between being on a show on NBC or criticizing NBC for lack of diversity, he'll take criticizing NBC.
- Joe Schlosser