'Out All Night' shows plenty of talent, energy

September 19, 1992|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Television Critic

The premise of characters in their 20s, fresh out of college and entering the workaday world, is not exactly new. There are only about half a dozen shows stroking that concept this season.

But in only one of those shows does the young graduate wind up working for singer Patti LaBelle -- she of the mighty hair, flying hands, impossible voice and regal carriage. And that show is "Out All Night," which premieres at 8:30 tonight on WMAR (Channel 2).

Part Earth Mother and part Queen of the Universe, moving like someone wired into a Walkman pumping out the hottest sounds you never heard, LaBelle is all over the place in tonight's pilot as Chelsea Paige, a former singing star who now owns a successful nightclub.

Morris Chestnut, from "Boyz 'N the Hood," plays Jeff Craswell, the earnest grad she hires to manage that club. For no extra charge, she gets (or is stuck with, depending on your point of view), Vidal Thomas (Duane Martin of "White Men Can't Jump"), Jeff's friend. Vidal is as flaky as Jeff is conscientious.

The premise of a real-life performer running a sitcom nightclub is as old as Ricky Ricardo's Tropicana Club. But producers Susan and Andy Borowitz -- who refashioned the premise of "The Beverly Hillbillies" into a hit called "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" -- make it seem like a new idea.

The pilot is short on laughs, but long on energy and acting talent. It's in a time period where NBC could have a much-needed hit with young viewers.

'Out All Night'

When: Tonight at 8:30.

Where: WMAR (Channel 2).

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