Tavis Smiley announced a bevy of new projects, including a new television series, less than a month after being ousted by PBS amid allegations of “sexual misconduct.”
In a Facebook video posted Monday afternoon, Smiley said his new weekly online series “The Upside With Tavis Smiley” will “celebrate the spirit of resilience, the power to overcome that resides in each of us.” He said the show would be distributed by the Word Network, which bills itself as the “largest African-American religious network in the world.” The show is expected to debut in the spring.
“We are thrilled to have Tavis share his insightful programming with our vast audience,” Kevin Adell, the network’s chief executive, said in a statement.
Smiley is also planning a five-city town-hall-style tour called “The Conversation: Women, Men and the Workplace” in which he says he will discuss “how to create safe and healthy work environments.”
“The polling is all over the place regarding what women and men think about where the lines are, and what constitutes acceptable office protocol,” Smiley said, adding, “we need to have a national dialogue about these issues so women and men know how to engage each other in the workplace.”
PBS suspended distribution of the 53-year-old host’s program Dec. 13, citing “multiple, credible allegations” against Smiley. PBS said in a statement it had “engaged an outside law firm to conduct an investigation immediately after learning of troubling allegations regarding Mr. Smiley.”
Variety reported Smiley had engaged in sexual relationships with several subordinates and some “expressed concern that their employment status was linked to the status of a sexual relationship with Smiley.”
Smiley has aggressively denied any misdeeds since his show’s suspension in video and written statements on Facebook, saying that PBS “overreacted and they launched a sloppy investigation.”
He added that he has “utmost respect for women” and that he “never groped, coerced, or exposed myself inappropriately to any workplace colleague in my entire broadcast career, covering 6 networks over 30 years.”
“If having a consensual relationship with a colleague years ago is the stuff that leads to this kind of public humiliation and personal destruction, heaven help us,” Smiley said.
Smiley is the latest talk show host felled by sexual misconduct allegations attempting to salvage his career through a smaller distribution network. After being ousted by Fox News last April, for example, Bill O’Reilly focused on his website, which features articles, podcasts and videos.
Smiley’s statement also said his production company — TS Media — has partnered with Truli Media Group and Digital Content International to distribute nearly 3,000 episodes of “Tavis Smiley,” his talk show that was previously broadcast on PBS. And he’s writing a book, which he expects to be released this summer through his publishing company SmileyBooks.
Smiley told the Associated Press that he moved to launch a new show quickly, in part out of concern for his production company’s employees.
“You can only make decisions based on what’s in front of you. You can’t make decisions based on what might happen, on what may come,” he told the AP, adding that as a “black man in America,” he might not get a better offer.
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