Tony Rose, CEO of black nonfiction publisher Amber Communications, has teamed up with independent film producer Rosette Union to produce Literary Living, a TV show that profiles African-American authors and publishing figures. The show began airing on the Black Family Channel, which reaches about 16 million viewers, in October.
Rose, who is executive producer of Literary Living, said plans for the show took root in 2005 at BookExpo, while he and Union were videotaping authors and publishers visiting the African-American Pavilion. "We thought we could make a show out of it," said Rose. Amber Communications is the principal sponsor of the show right now, said Rose, although commercials have run for Proctor & Gamble and BFC sponsors like Toys "R" Us. Rose said he is negotiating with retailers, technology firms and other black indie publishers for advertising support. The half-hour program airs every Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. Amber Communications author Heather Covington is the host.
The show is based and produced in New York, Rose said, and while it will cover the New York book trade, it will also spotlight books, authors and publishers around the country. Rose said the show has already featured authors Hill Harper, Wendy Williams, actress Ruby Dee, Lynette Khalfani and Relentless Aaron. The show focuses on African-American publishing, Rose said, but non—African-American authors and professionals working in the category will also be featured.
"We'll be out walking the streets of New York, going to small houses and the corporate towers," said Rose. The show has also profiled industry figures such as marketing and self-publishing guru Earl Cox, publisher Haki Madhubuti, the Harlem Book Fair's Max Rodriguez, and Wade and Cheryl Hudson of Just Us Books. In the coming weeks, former president Bill Clinton, Warner Books' Karen Thomas, author Tavis Smiley and Kassahun Checole of Africa World/Red Sea Press are scheduled to appear.
Union said the program also previews a book each week and airs a segment called "Something Special for the Kids," with a contest that requires kids to read certain books to find the clues needed to win. The segment has featured singer Roberta Flack, and comedian Chris Rock and actor Denzel Washington are slated to appear. "We're not a celebrity show," said Union, "but we do have celebrities on who want to talk about literacy."