T.J. Holmes’s late-night show on BET to be newsy, not comedy, despite the ads

The year of mandatory military service in Austria, during which he says he got his first regular taste of red meat and was given permission to pump iron while other soldiers had to clean tanks, gave Arnold Schwarzenegger the start in life he needed to become a world champion body builder, which launched his movie and political careers, according to an ESPN short documentary “Arnold’s Blueprint.”

“I would . . . use that as the blueprint for the rest of my life,” the Hollywood action star and former California governor said in a clip from that documentary, shown to TV critics at the Summer TV Press Tour 2012.

“Arnold’s Blueprint” will debut on ESPN’s Grantland.com Web site on Sept. 26, one of a series of short documentaries the sports network will make available online.

Schwarzenegger was the last act at the press tour. The Governator came to regale bleary-eyed TV critics with his story about how his father thought building your body for its own sake was a waste of time and he should instead “chop wood and shovel coal.” The critics, slogging through the final Q&A session of the tour, also heard the story of how his mother wondered, when she saw all those pictures of “naked men oiled up” on his bedroom wall, “Is something wrong? Is my son turning south?”

But, he said, things changed when he went into the military. Within a month of going through basic training, he was invited to compete in the Junior Mr. Europe competition in Stuttgart. Unable to get leave, he snuck out of camp, took a train to Germany and won the competition.

“By the time I came back, word had come back I’d won,” he told TV critics at the Beverly Hilton hotel.

But military officials “didn’t know what to do with me, so they put me in jail, where I was two or three days, and then they felt uncomfortable, so they let me out and . . . celebrated because I had this beautiful trophy.”

His army superiors wound up supporting his bodybuilding aspirations, creating a makeshift gym for him on the side of his tank, and helping him get the meals he needed to pack on 25 pounds of muscle in one year. When he left the military, he was on his way to becoming Mr. Olympia, Mr. Universe and, eventually, a Hollywood star.

“I had a very clear vision of where I wanted to go,” Schwarzenegger said, including a move to the United States and movie stardom.

His early military/body-building experience served him particularly well during his seven years in Sacramento, he said. “I never saw a ‘no’ as a ‘no.’ I always heard ‘yes,’ ” said Schwarzenegger, who’s resurrected his movie career with the soon-to-be released flick “The Expendables 2.”

“The lessons you learn in sports . . . are unlike anything else” in life, he said, adding, “They helped me the rest of my life.”

Particularly when he got into politics. “You hear no, no, no — it’s impossible . . . but I ignored those things and always thought back to the early days,” he said of his time in the governor’s office.

Holmes’s show to be newsy

T.J. Holmes says his new late-night show for BET will take on the news stories mainstream media largely ignores, that are of interest to the country’s black community.

“Something that drives me crazy is that we are not talking enough about the graduation rates of young black men in this country,” Holmes told TV critics as an example at Summer TV Press Tour 2012.

“We are literally losing a generation of young men. . . . When you talk about half of the African American men in this country aren’t graduating from high school, why that’s not a crisis and we are not in crisis level about that is beyond me.”

Holmes said he hopes President Obama and presumed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney will appear on the show, which is set to launch in October, as well as “big-time athletes,” actors and musicians, but also people in communities, like “a black dentist from Atlanta, a black surgeon from Los Angeles.”

Holmes was quick to shut down comparisons between his new show and Comedy Central’s late-night current-events comedies “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.”

“Absolutely not,” Holmes said when someone asked if his show would be similar. “They are studs at what they do,” he said, but “they are comedians, and they are serving a totally different purpose and a totally different audience.” He acknowledged, though, “There is some journalistic value in much of what they do.” The confusion was understandable, given that BET had run a promo in which Holmes’s show was called a “political comedy” moments before he began taking questions.

Holmes said he was glad the critic had asked the question, because he gets “Oh, you’re a comedian now” a lot since BET announced the show, to which he said he replies, “Whoa, whoa, whoa.”

And now, hopefully, he knows why.

“It’s credibility with personality,” explained BET’s president of music programming and specials, Stephen Hill, who had introduced Holmes and apparently oversees the show.

“We didn’t want to confuse it with a straight-ahead news show. . . . What’s important for our audience is that we have credibility, and T.J. . . . has all the credibility in the world.”

“Well, is the promo wrong then? It’s not a political comedy show?” the critic asked.

“There will be comedy in the show, and, you know, sometimes personality is comedy,” Hill said, adding, “I wouldn’t put a lot of weight on the comedy part. It really is about getting information out in a way that our audience will receive it well.”

Asked why he left CNN to come to BET, Holmes said it was an opportunity that “morphed into a bit of a responsibility” to “use my background and what I’d established for that purpose — for good, if you will.”

Holmes and Hill were a little vague as to exactly how the show will look, other than to say it will have a guest, a panel discussion and correspondents.

Snooki gets second season

MTV has renewed “Snooki & JWoww” for a second season, the network announced Friday to punchy TV critics crawling to the finish line of Summer TV Press Tour 2012, who agreed to act as though there had been some doubt about that and that the pick-up was big news.

Yes, the first season of “Snooki & JWoww” was no competition, ratings-wise, for mothership “Jersey Shore,” which opened with nearly 8 million tuned in January, to “Snooki’s” 2.4 million in in June. But Snooki is expecting, and MTV is expecting big things to develop there, speaking of motherships.

“Jersey Shore” will launch its sixth, and possibly final, season at 10 p.m. Oct. 4.

New scripted comedy “Underemployed” will launch at 10 p.m. Oct. 16. And when “World of Jenks” returns at 11 p.m. Nov. 12, it will be preceded at 10 by the launch of new docu-soap “Catfish: The TV Show” based on the hit indie flick, in which people in Internet romances will be introduced to their heartthrobs to see just how much truth-telling they have not been doing during their Web romance.

“MTV has been a beacon for each young generation throughout its history, and this millennial generation is no different,” the network’s head of programming, David Janollari, said in making Friday’s announcement.

TV critics were too tired to argue.

To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to washingtonpost.com/tvblog.

 
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