Local hero Motown Maurice debuts talk show really late tonight
Or perhaps unrealistic is a better word for a twentysomething guy with no real professional TV experience who thinks he can be the next Conan O'Brien or Arsenio Hall.
But "Motown Maurice" Jeoffroy, a local notable whose old school high top fade haircut and determination have sparked a number of interesting projects over the years, wouldn't let my skepticism discourage him when he first asked me about the possibility of creating his own TV talk show in Tampa.
I'm a huge fan of the genre myself, and have seen a lot of hosts up close. I sat in the audience at a taping of the Arsenio Hall Show in 1991, and have seen tapings of David Letterman's Late Show, Conan 'O'Brien's Late Night and Craig Ferguson's Late, Late Show over the years.
So when Jeoffroy asked about his chances last year, I had to be honest. I hadn't yet experienced the full force of Motown Maurice's determination -- but I saw it up close nearly two weeks ago at the first taping of The Motown Maurice Show in Ybor City.
Maurice and his dedicated crew had transformed the bowels of the Cuban Club into an impressive TV set, complete with comfy looking interview set, projection screens to show pre-taped skits, an area for a six-piece band and enough room to seat an audience of about 200 people.
I watched the first taping and it wasn't always smooth sailing. A talk show has a number of moving parts, and the best programs move like a well-oiled machine in real time. Maurice and his production hadn't quite nailed that yet, taking more than two hours to film one hourlong episode. And I have no idea how the finished product will look when it airs on WTTA-Ch. 38 at 1 a.m. Saturday morning.
But just getting to this point was an amazing achievement for a guy who has few connections in the TV business and is putting most of the expenses on a couple of credit cards. Already, he's interviewed Good Times co-star Bern'Nadette Stanis, Martin co-star Tommy Ford and Minnesota Twins outfielder Denard Span.
For Motown Maurice and his supporters, this is a serious cause -- creating the first black-oriented late night broadcast TV talk show in Tampa. You can't help but root for a guy who has made so much happen by sheer force of will and inspiring others -- almost everyone among his 40-person crew is working for free.
He calls his show "late night television with and old school twist," and it is certainly that; a grass roots effort that goes back to the future, filling a need today's cost-cutting TV stations couldn't think about meeting. Check my story on his efforts here.