If you ask your average resident of Los Angeles, or America for that matter, to name a black talk show host, you will likely get Oprah, Arsenio or even Wendy Williams. The name you are unlikely to hear is Ellis Haizlip aka Mr. Soul! – the first black host of a variety talk show. From 1968 to the early 70’s public television ran a variety show simply called “Soul!”.
Now, you have to understand that 1960’s television was far from being the wonderful world of color – few if any black people actually appeared on tv, at least not on the news. In 1964, the Civil Rights Act was passed, and for the first time in the history of the United States, black people could freely access places of public accommodations, such as hotels, restaurants and movie theaters. In 1965, a trickle of shows with black actors, entertainers or comedians started to appear on the public airwaves. By 1968, the 2001: A Space Odyssey had been released, the Vietnam war was in full swing and political and social activism happening on all fronts, including television.
In that pivotal year, 1968, Channel 13’s Soul! became a forum for young and not so young artists, poets, and entertainers who were among the guests: Singers Roberta Flack, Nicholas Ashford and Valerie Simpson; Actors Anna Horsford, Cicely Tyson, Ron O’Neal; Poets Amiri Baraka , Nikki Giovanni; bluesman Taj Mahal; and even Latin Bandleader Tito Puente.
Now comes a documentary film about the show. As the producers of Mr. Soul! have said: “SOUL! has been sitting in the vaults for over 40 years. It’s time to bridge the history gap, especially for our youth. The film is an incredible opportunity to revisit and reintroduce this critical moment in broadcast television that’s still relevant today, because it created a ripple effect that’s still evident in the entertainment world. We’re also telling the story of the advent of 20th century black pop music — pre-Soul Train, pre-Michael, and pre-MTV! It’s American history. It’s our history. Help us tell this story!”
To raise funds and celebrate the making of a documentary film about Mr. Soul, there will be a cocktail launch party as follows:
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
6:00pm – 8:00pm
Hollywood Casting and Film
6900 Santa Monica Boulevard
Hollywood, CA 90038
Suggested Admission Donation: $5.00
Find out more about the Kickstarter project here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mrsoul/mr-soul-the-movie