``Generations' enjoys wide range of viewers


September 28, 1990|By Steve McKerrow

Working in the studio every day as cunning-but-sensitive Doreen Jackson of the NBC serial "Generations," actress Jonelle Allen says "you really don't know if your product is getting across."

But on promotional tours such as the one that brought her tBaltimore yesterday, Allen finds that, "believe me, people know me and they know the show."

And Sally Sussman, creator, head writer and executive producersays that "Generations" seems to be finding a somewhat non-traditional audience in its second season, comprised of black and white viewers of a wide age range.

When it made its debut in March, 1989, the serial (seen here a12:30 p.m. daily on WMAR-Channel 2) broke daytime ground by making a multi-generational black family its principal focus. Set in Chicago, the show features the Marhsalls, who are black, in interaction with a white family, the Whitmores.

Yesterday in Washington NAACP Executive Director BenjaminHooks formally commended the show for its accurate portrayals of African American family life and urged NAACP chapters to support the show. Later in Baltimore, Mayor Kurt Schmoke made Allen and Sussman honorary Baltimoreans, and today on Capitol Hill in Washington Sussman was to participate in a panel discussion on minority media images at annual Black Caucus Week activities. Allen, meanwhile, is headed for a weekend African American Heritage Festival in Roanoke, Va.

"I think we're reaching both audiences (black and white)," saiSussman in an afternoon interview at Channel 2, although she said "Generations" has the largest black audience of any NBC soap.

Yet there are reports the show is in some jeopardy ocancellation by the network unless ratings improve. Sussman said such national honors as the NAACP recognition "surely can't hurt" efforts to keep the show on the air.

SINGING FOR DOLLARS -- It's been a good fall season so far fosinger/songwriter Randy Newman, have you noticed?

Newman's "I Love to See You Smile" is the theme of NBC'Saturday sitcom "Parenthood," and that was also his voice singing the premiere theme of ABC's "Cop Rock" on Wednesday.

Even better -- at least in commercial terms if not in artistiintegrity -- did anybody else notice that the weekend's edition of "Parenthood" moved smoothly, after the theme and credits, into a commercial for a certain toothpaste? And that the same song, "I Love to See You Smile" (also crooned by Newman himself), was the jingle for the ad?

Hmmmm. A series theme, pop song and ad jingle all in one. Mabe a new huckstering trend here.

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