TV One Draws on Area Talent
"Part of the mission of the network is to take people who have toiled away, who worked on the staffs of other people's shows and give them a chance," Gaither said. "Three years from now, we want there to be 50 companies around that didn't exist before."
Last year, TV One tapped the relatively-inexperienced Fort Washington-based production house Krosslink Management to produce a music special called "StarJamz."
Krosslink is a family business, consisting of Wilma Kilgo; her husband Keith Kilgo, who is a musician; and Wilma Kilgo's sister, Lydia Cole, a former BET executive. Krosslink came up with the idea for and put together "StarJamz," an hour-long show featuring different generations of musical artists performing together. The pilot, which aired April 29, starred Peabo Bryson and Ruben Studdard. Krosslink recruited a local director and shot the show at Atlantic Video, in downtown Washington.
With Krosslink, TV One was willing to go the extra mile to work with local talent. Network executives worked closely with Krosslink for more than a year to hone the concept before greenlighting it. "We had to jump through a lot of hoops" to prove the idea for the show could be executed, said Wilma Kilgo. "The night we premiered, our supervising producer said we made it because of our tenaciousness. When people told us 'no,' we didn't listen."
Krosslink is in the middle of pitching a reality series to TV One, Kilgo said.
TV One is introducing Washington as a nonfiction filmmaking hub to television industry pros from out of town.
Whritner said that initially, he was wary of leaving his network of established contacts in New York. "To be honest with you . . . we had some reservations about working in Washington," he said in a phone interview.
Logistically, however, working in Washington made sense. The stars of the show, Radio One personalities Russ Parr and Alfredas had to be in Lanham to do their national syndicated show, the Russ Parr Morning Show.
Whritner came down with a bare-bones crew and hired the rest of the crew in Washington.
Washington, he said, turned out to be New York's equal in television production resources in almost every way except for the supply of contestants and audience members.
"We discovered that in Washington, a lot of folks work in government jobs and have difficulty leaving jobs during the weekdays," said Whritner.
Since the show aired May 31, Whritner said, that problem has vanished. He said he has received upward of 5,000 requests for tickets and several hundred requests to be a contestant.
"It made perfect sense to be in D.C.," he said in hindsight. "It would have been tougher in New York."
© 2004 The Washington Post Company