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[05/21/03 - 12:00 AM]
Trio Revives More Series with 'Uncensored'
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) - Trio will once again revive several short-lived series next month under the theme "Uncensored Comedy." Like its December umbrella "Brilliant But Canceled," the cable channel will use its new acquisitions to highlight its original documentary of the month, in this case "Uncensored Comedy: That's Not Funny!" (premiering Sunday, June 8 at 9:00/8:00c). Among those featured during the period: NBC's "God, the Devil and Bob," FOX's "The PJs" and UPN's "The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer," all of which have several episodes still unaired from their original network runs.

Here's a breakdown of what to expect in June from Trio as the network examines the boundaries of comedy:

TRIO ORIGINALS

UNCENSORED COMEDY: THAT'S NOT FUNNY! -- is a 90-minute documentary that takes an unflinching look at "offensive" humor, emphasizing first person accounts from comedians on how they deal with the line between what's funny and what's unacceptable in issues of race, religion, ethnicity, sexuality and gender in their work. The line up includes Colin Quinn, Jon Stewart and the staff/writers of The Daily Show, DL Hughley, The Smothers Brothers, Robert Klein, Joy Behar, Scott Thompson, Bill Maher, Sarah Silverman, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, Jimmy Kimmel, Bill Bellamy, Craig Kilborn and the staff/writers of The Late Late Show. Produced by Robert Small Entertainment, Inc., Robert Small (creator, MTV's Unplugged) and Eileen Katz serve as executive producers. Uncensored Comedy: That's Not Funny! premieres on Sunday, June 8, at 9:00 p.m., ET/PT.

SICK HUMOR -- is a half-hour exploration of jokes derived from tragic and current events (ex. 9/11, the Challenger disaster.) Deemed horrible, tasteless, but somehow funny, these grotesquely comic takes on breaking news or perennial social issues spread like wildfire, yet people are loath to admit that they find them funny even as they pass them on. Sick Humor tells the jokes and examines where they come from and why they exist. The special is Executive Produced by Vikram Jayanti of Vixpix Films (Oscar-winning documentary When We Were Kings) and Jonathan Stack of Gabriel Films. The special premieres on Sunday, June 8, at 10:30 p.m., ET/PT.

OUTLAW COMIC: THE CENSORING OF BILL HICKS -= hosted by comic actress Janeane Garofalo, covers the life and career of the late "rock 'n' roll comic," beloved by fellow comedians, but unfamiliar to most Americans. Often compared to Lenny Bruce, Hicks used stand-up comedy to provoke his audiences to think, often crossing the line of what some consider 'decent' in matters of politics, religion, and sexuality. Devout fans included Jay Leno, Dennis Miller and David Letterman. Letterman was a champion of Hicks' work and the comic appeared 12 times on his show � while continually wrestling with re-formatting his act into something appropriate for Letterman's TV audience. The program includes a nightclub performance by Hicks which features the same material he used in his infamous 12th and final Letterman appearance, which was completely edited from the show due to its controversial content. The comedian succumbed to cancer shortly afterwards at age 32. Told mainly through the comic's own words and stand up rants, the program is presented in a visually provocative style created by the award-winning Digital Kitchen (Six Feet Under show open). Produced by Big Shoe Productions, Andy Schatzberg (MTV's Zoo TV, PBS' Mosaic) is the Executive Producer. The special premieres on Sunday, June 15, at 9:00 p.m., ET/PT.

ACQUISITIONS

WITHOUT YOU I'M NOTHING -- Sandra Bernhard unleashes her singing, dancing, and comedic talents in this feature film performance of her many signature comedy routines and characters in this 1990 feature film. The film premieres on Tuesday, June 3 at 9:00 p.m., ET/PT.

THE COMEDIANS -- This BBC production of Trevor Griffith's landmark play, starring Tony Award winner Jonathan Pryce, examines the dark pain that lies behind stand-up comedy. The film makes its U.S. premiere on Thursday, June 5 at 9:00 p.m., ET/PT.

THE P.J.'s - Using "foamation" puppets, this FOX-TV animated series was co-created and voiced by comedian Eddie Murphy who portrayed the gruff inner-city building superintendent Thurgood Stubbs. Considered politically incorrect for finding humor in such hot-button issues as welfare, medicare, drugs and other aspects of slum living., the 1999 series was short-lived. The series premieres on Monday, June 9 at 9:00 p.m., ET/PT.

GOODNESS GRACIOUS ME - This series of six, 30-minute episodes from the BBC is a "skitcom" in which Asian comedians skewer British and Asian stereotypes. The series make its U.S. television premiere on Monday, June 9 at 10:30 p.m., ET/PT.

GOD, THE DEVIL AND BOB - This animated NBC-TV comedy series, set in Detroit, focuses on the battle between God and the Devil for the soul of Bob Alman, an average guy who tries to live a decent life but often gets sidetracked. The series premieres on Monday, June 9 at 11:30 p.m., ET/PT.

DO THE RIGHT THING - This classic 1989 comedy/drama film, starring, written and directed by Spike Lee, exposes racial tensions simmering beneath the calm surface in Brooklyn's Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood. The film confronts sensitive racial issues that erupt during one stifling hot summer day in New York City. The film premieres on Tuesday, June 17 at 9:00 p.m., ET/PT.

CHECK AND DOUBLE CHECK - Hoping to capitalize on the runaway success of the Amos �n' Andy radio show, RKO Radio Pictures signed the white radio actors Charles J. Correll (Andy) and Freeman F. Gosden (Amos) to portray their African-American characters on screen. Shocking to modern sensibilities, with Gosden and Correll performing in blackface against an African-American cast, the film became RKO's biggest hit of the 1930-31 season. The film premieres on Sunday, June 22 at 10:00 p.m., ET/PT.

SCRUB ME MAMA WITH A BOOGIE BEAT - This animated short from 1940, directed by "Woody Woodpecker" creator Walter Lantz, is considered one of the most racist cartoon shorts of the early 20th Century. Lazy black folks in Lazy Town are napping and attracting flies. A riverboat arrives with a sexy, light-skinned mama on board. Faster than you can say "Jim Crow" she has everyone moving to a Harlem boogie beat, dancing, scrubbing clothes and eating watermelon. Lantz intended this cartoon as a comic homage to black culture in America. The short will run at various times throughout June.

JAILS, HOSPITALS & HIP-HOP - This feature film, produced in 2001, is based on Danny Hoch's (Def Poetry Jam) one-man satiric comedy performance. A commentary on urban culture's staggering influence over mainstream America, the film consists of a series of short scenes involving eight different characters (all played by Hoch, in an electrifying display of versatility). Each character describes his own unique situation in the modern world. The film jumps quickly in and out of film locations and performances at theaters and prisons. The film makes its world television premiere on Sunday, June 1 at 10:00 p.m., ET/PT.

LENNY BRUCE UNCENSORED - (formerly listed as The Lenny Bruce Performance Film) This 1963 raw concert film (shot with a single camera) captures Lenny Bruce's penultimate nightclub performance. This black & white film includes comedy material based on the comedian's experiences at his obscenity trial. The film makes its world television premiere on Monday, June 2 at 9:00 p.m., ET/PT with several repeat dates including Sunday June 15 at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT, immediately following the premiere of Outlaw Comic: The Censoring of Bill Hicks.

AN AUDIENCE WITH JACKIE MASON - This special spotlights legendary New York comedian, Jackie Mason, as he entertains a star-studded London audience of peers with his very dry Jewish humor. Mason's droll humor has a disarming effect on star guests from the world of film, television and music including Hugh Grant, Jane Seymour, Barrie Humphries and the female pop group Bananarama. The one-hour film premieres on Monday, June 2 at 10:30 p.m., ET/PT.

THE SECRET DIARY OF DESMOND PFEIFFER - This 1998 series follows the adventures of Desmond Pfeiffer (Chi McBride of Boston Public), a black British gentleman who was run out of England after being accused of cheating at cards. He takes a job as butler to a perpetually horny Abraham Lincoln in the White House during the Civil War. The notorious, short-lived UPN series was considered a victim of political incorrectness and tastelessness. The program premieres on Monday, June 2 at 11:30 p.m., ET/PT.

MORT SAHL: THE LOYAL OPPOSITION - Written and directed by Robert B. Weide, co-executive producer of Curb Your Enthusiasm, this two-hour footage-packed Mort Sahl profile was originally produced for the PBS series American Masters in 1989. The documentary covers Sahl's long career as a thinking man's comedian. Mainly political, it contains material about earlier political administrations that remain funny, topical and fascinating in the context of today's superheated political climate. The documentary premieres on Friday, June 6 at 9:00 p.m., ET/PT.

I'M GONNA GIT YOU SUCKA - This 1989 feature film marked the directorial debut of Keenan Ivory Wayans. An outrageous satire of "Blaxploitation" films, it features some of the genre's heroes in self-parodying roles. Wayans stars as Jack Spade, a man who returns home from the army to find that his brother has died of an overdose of gold chains -- all provided by the nefarious Mr. Big. Jack then embarks on a mission to gather all the most famous 1970's action heroes (all accompanied by heroic theme music) to wage war against Mr. Big. However, things don't go smoothly for Jack and his makeshift commandos, and eventually Jack finds that he must face Mr. Big alone -- and earn his own theme music. The film premieres on Monday, June 16 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT.

PUTNEY SWOPE - This controversial 1969 film, by famed director Robert Downey, Sr., follows the exploits of a token black advertising executive who unexpectedly becomes head of the agency. Artfully filmed in black & white with color segments (depicting the agency-produced TV commercials), Putney Swope premieres on Friday, June 20 at 9:00 p.m., ET/PT.

AMOS 'N' ANDY: ANATOMY OF A CONTROVERSY - This one-hour documentary (produced in 1986) features Redd Foxx and onscreen narrator George Kirby, a popular African-American actor whose own style grew out of the black minstrel tradition. Kirby explores the TV series, its actors, and the show's controversy in the context of that tradition. The film also includes a full Amos 'n' Andy episode. The documentary premieres on Sunday, June 22 at 9:00 p.m., ET/PT.

UNCENSORED COMEDY SHORTS

MR. WONG - This animated series of un-PC shorts, produced by Icebox, and created, written and voiced by Pam Brady (co-writer, the South Park movie, Bigger, Longer and Uncut) and Kyle McCulloch (writer, South Park), follows the adventures of a society girl and her eighty-five year-old Chinese houseboy. The series makes its U.S. television premiere on TRIO in June and airs throughout the month.

THANK YOU MASKED MAN - is a seven-and-a-half-minute animated color short of a Lenny Bruce routine involving local townspeople who are upset with the Lone Ranger because he won't stay around to be thanked after doing a good deed. Co-written and co-directed by Lenny Bruce and Jeff Hale, Bruce also provides all of the voices. The short film airs throughout the month immediately following The Lenny Bruce Uncensored.

In addition, Trio will offer extra footage and clips of the above series on its web site, www.triotv.com.

The above is partially taken from Trio's press release about its June 2003 schedule.





  [may 2003]  
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· GOD, THE DEVIL AND BOB (NBC)
· PJS, THE (WB)
· RUSSELL SIMMONS PRESENTS: DEF POETRY (HBO)





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