Essex CC channel puts spotlight on 'Another Kind of Hero'

January 14, 1992|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Sun Television Critic

Move over Michaels Jackson and Jordan. Make way for Elijah Cummings and Dr. Benjamin Carson.

That's the message of "Another Kind of Hero," a locally produced cable series that begins at 6 tonight on Essex Community College's Channel 17 in Baltimore County.

"The series is about men you never see in the movies or the sports arena," host Joseph Smothers Jr. tells viewers. "They are men the media seldom tell you about, because they are another kind of hero."

Along with the state lawmaker and Hopkins neurosurgeon mentioned above, those spotlighted include Mayor Kurt Schmoke and U.S. Representative Kweisi Mfume.

The six-hour program explores the types of African-American heroes mainstream TV tends to celebrate and then compares them with some hometown heroes from the Baltimore area. Instead of ballplayers and singers, the series celebrates educators, engineers, architects and ministers, as well as the state lawmaker and neurosurgeon mentioned above. In doing so, it provides something television desperately needs: a variety of positive role models for young African-American men.

The production is an uneven one. Tonight's first hour is at its worst when it tries to incorporate bits of poetry and characters directly addressing the camera. It is at its best when it sticks to the more traditional techniques of TV journalism -- interviews and reporting.

Overall, this is an ambitious effort that shows how much enlightenment a committed producer and camera crew can bring to an area mainstream TV has mainly failed us in. 'Bunmi Babarinde-Hall produced and directed the series, which first aired last February. Each week's show will repeat at 2 p.m. Wednesdays and 6:30 p.m. Saturdays.

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