NAACP urges NBC to renew 'Homicide'

April 22, 1993|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Television Critic

Barry Levinson's campaign to keep "Homicide" alive got a boost in the form of an endorsement from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Benjamin L. Hooks, outgoing executive director of the NAACP, sent a letter last week to NBC President Warren Littlefield praising the series for its "compelling rendering of today's multi-racial and multi-cultural urban society" and urging the network to renew "Homicide" for next season.

"With so few quality programs being aired on the television networks," Hooks wrote, "we are dismayed to learn that 'Homicide,' which we regard as a truly outstanding series, is going on hiatus and there is some doubt about whether it will return."

Hooks continued, "One of 'Homicide's' strongest points, and one which has particular relevance for this association, is its many positive portrayals of African-Americans."

The letter concluded: "On behalf of our more than 500,000 members, we urge NBC to retain 'Homicide' on its schedule. Such a meritorious program deserves continued exposure."

The series about homicide detectives in Baltimore has recently picked up support from a number of places.

TV Guide included it in its "Save Our Shows" campaign, an annual effort by the magazine to keep on the air low-rated shows that it considers worthy of renewal. "Homicide" also picked up the endorsement of Viewers for Quality Television.

The four broadcast networks --NBC, CBS, Fox and ABC -- are in the process of deciding which shows will be canceled and which will be brought back for next season.

They will announce their new fall schedules in the last week of May.

Despite bad ratings (it finished 97th out of 138 prime-time series), "Homicide" is still very much alive as a contender for next season, according to all parties involved.

Levinson and Tom Fontana, the series' co-producer, have been meeting regularly with NBC officials, according to Hali Simon, a spokeswoman for Reeves, the production company that makes "Homicide."

The producers have reportedly agreed to make some changes -- less complicated story lines and less exaggerated camera movement -- if the show is renewed.

NBC declined comment on its deliberations about the future of "Homicide" except to say that they are continuing. But an NBC executive, who asked that his name not be used, said the endorsement of the NAACP and the producers' willingness to discuss changes considerably improved chances that "Homicide" would be back next year.

The nine episodes of "Homicide" that NBC aired in January, February and March were filmed in Baltimore. It is estimated that each episode filmed here results in about $700,000 being spent locally by the producers.

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