Media Process Group is producing the Chicago Urban League’s new 13-week, half-hour entrepreneurship TV series «nextTV,» which airs Sundays on two local TV channels.
The show, hosted by the League’s executive director Cheryle Jackson, follows the experiences of local African American small businesspeople as they go through the Urban League’s Next One entrepreneur support program.
It’s part of Jackson’s «nextMEDIA» campaign, launched in February 2008 to promote African American empowerment through TV, radio, print and online programming.
«It’s a very fast-paced show,» said Bob Hercules, co-owner of Media Process Group. «It combines elements of documentary, which is our fort̩, with this quasi-reality aspect, which gives it some tension: you never know how well these people will do.»
The show airs Sundays at 8 a.m. for 26 weeks on Ch. 32 and Sundays at 12:30 p.m. for a year on Ch. 50.
«Since Cheryl took over at the Urban League two years ago, she wanted to reinvent it as an empowerment organization, rather than a service organization,» Hercules said.
«She’s trying to foster jobs and entrepreneurs in the black community, and this show is an extension of that project.»
Jackson brought on established Urban League supporters to sponsor the series: Com Ed, BP, Allstate, and the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.
Producer Michelle McKissack hosts field segments. Supervising producer is Tracey Scruggs-Yearwood, Urban League VP for multi-media.
«nextTV» is in production through April, with each episode shooting about four days. The Urban League is working with affiliate organizations nationally to duplicate the program’s model in other cities.
Hercules’ partner at MPG, Keith Walker, is DP of the series. Cynthia Castillo-Hill is production manager. Segment producers, Richelle Rogers, Milana Walter, and Ayana Bush. Ryan Meyers is editing at MPG.
MPG first worked with the Urban League one a fundraising video early in Jackson ‘s tenure. «It came out great and cemented the relationship,» Hercules said.
Hercules is also co-directing a documentary with Kartemquin Films’ Gordon Quinn, about New York choreographer Bill T. Jones’s Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial dance work, which will premiere at Ravinia this summer. The documentary is a Kartemquin/MPG co-production.