Color by Fox: The Fox Network and the Revolution in Black Television

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Oxford University Press, 1999 - Literary Criticism - 148 pages
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Following the overwhelming success of "The Cosby Show" in the 1980s, an unprecedented shift took place in television history: white executives turned to black dollars as a way of salvaging network profits lost to videocassettes and cable TV. Not only were African-American viewers watching disproportionately more network television than the general population but, as Nielsen finally realized, they preferred black shows. As a result, African-American producers, writers, directors, and stars were given an unusual degree of creative control over shows such as "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air," "Roc," "Living Single," Martin, and "New York Undercover."
Locating a persistent black nationalist desire--a yearning for home and community--in shows produced by and for African Americans, Kristal Brent Zook shows how these productions revealed complex and contradictory politics of gender, sexuality, and class. Incorporating interviews with such prominent executives, producers, and stars as Keenen Ivory Wayans, Quincy Jones, Robert Townsend, Charles Dutton, and Yvette Lee Bowser, this study looks at both production and reception among African-American viewers. Zook provides nuanced readings of the shows themselves as well as the political and historical contexts in which they emerged.
Though much of black television during this time was criticized for being "trivial" or "buffoonish," Color by Fox reveals its deep-rooted ties to African-American protest literature, autobiography, and a collective desire for social transformation.

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COLOR BY FOX: The Fox Network and the Revolution in Black Television

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Zook, a television and film columnist with the hip-hop magazine The Source, details how in American television, ethnicity, gender, and race are marketable commodities just like beer and apple pie ... Read full review

Color by Fox: the Fox network and the revolution in Black television

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Zook, a TV and film columnist, began this well-written, extensively researched study as her dissertation. African American television programming has been recently explored in Robin Means Coleman's ... Read full review


Color and Caste
Gender and Sexuality
Social Movement

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About the author (1999)

Kristal Brent Zook, Ph.D., has written about culture, race, feminism, and politics for publications including The New York Times Magazine, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, The Washington Post, The Village Voice, The L.A. Weekly, Vibe, Emerge, and The Source.