Friday after business hours: That’s usually when the powers-that-be quietly dump bad news in the media’s lap, so it cannot be followed up and quickly gets lost in the shuffle toward the weekend’s more leisurely pursuits.
And yet! The 7 o’clock hour Friday wrapped up 24 hours of incredibly great headlines for Larry Wilmore. On Thursday night, ABC ordered the sitcom pilot Black-ish to series this fall — starring Anthony Anderson in his generation’s take on The Cosby Show‘s upper-middle-class social-racial struggle, with Wilmore brought on board as showrunner. Only to be topped tonight by an offer to not only run but host his own late-night show on Comedy Central! Wilmore will replace Stephen Colbert’s The Colbert Report in January 2015 with The Minority Report with Larry Wilmore.
Wilmore, like Colbert, was promoted from within Comedy Central’s ranks, having appeared on-air as a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart since 2006. Wilmore was The Daily Show‘s “Senior Black Correspondent.” Not only did the promotion have Stewart’s blessing — but more importantly and perhaps key to the deal: Stewart created Wilmore’s show and his Busboys Productions will produce it.
The Minority Report with Larry Wilmore will take “a comedic look at news, current events and pop culture from unique perspectives not typically on display in late-night television.” See: Previous sentence, title word, Minority. Moreover, Comedy Central’s announcement of the series promises to “feature a diverse panel of voices currently underrepresented in comedy and television.”
Executive producers Stewart and Wilmore traded basketball barbs in their press-release quotes. Said Stewart: “While Larry Wilmore is a brilliant comic and showrunner, this is all just a complicated ruse to get him to move to New York and turn him into a Knicks fan.” To which Wilmore replied: “I’m beyond excited to have this chance to continue my relationships with Comedy Central and the brilliant Jon Stewart. I love the city of New York and promise to only wear my Laker t-shirts when I’m layering.”
For her part, Comedy Central President Michele Ganeless said she’s “looking forward to the world getting to know Larry Wilmore even better. He’s a spectacular talent in front of and behind the camera.”
When I spoke with Wilmore in 2009 (for his book, I’d Rather We Got Casinos (and Other Black Thoughts)), I asked him why so many Daily Show correspondents move on to front and develop their own shows. He told me then: “It’s just one of those things that attracts really bright people…so you know sometimes you get in those situations where you’re really lucky, and it makes you stay on your game. I just always feel fortunate to be a part of it. Because it can be the opposite. Where you feel like you’re the only one who cares about something.”
Here’s his most recent appearance on The Daily Show, from April 29, 2014:
To see how Wilmore pitches TV shows in a hot minute, check this out:
Last year, Wilmore also was working on adapting Issa Rae’s webseries “The Misadventures Of Awkward Black Girl” for HBO. In 2012, he presided over two town halls for Showtime on Race, Religion & Sex (one in Utah; the other, Florida).
For a lot more, please spend an hour with Wilmore in 2012 at the Chicago Humanities Festival, recorded the day before his Florida town hall special:
In 2011, Wilmore delivered the address to the Congressional Correspondents Dinner:
He also co-created both The Bernie Mac Show and The PJs, acted and produced on The Office, and wrote for In Living Color, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and The Jamie Foxx Show. Wilmore won an Emmy for writing the Bernie Mac pilot. His other on-screen credits include Dinner For Schmucks on the big screen and a character arc on TV’s Happy Endings.
He’ll run the show launching Black-ish for ABC this fall before launching his own The Minority Report for Comedy Central come January. How’s that for a happy ending.