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Q&A: Comic Larry Wilmore, 'senior black correspondent' for 'Daily Show'

He acknowledges it might be a rather, um, unusual Black History Month gift. • But Larry Wilmore, the comic and TV producer now turning heads as the "senior black correspondent" on Comedy Central's Daily Show, will do anything to promote his new book I'd Rather We Got Casinos and Other Black Thoughts. • Including suggesting a book with chapters such as "Text Messages From a Birmingham Jail" and "How Come Brothas Don't see UFOs?" might contribute to anyone's knowledge of black culture. Now writing an HBO pilot starring himself as a self-centered cable news anchor, Wilmore freed up a few minutes to talk about his book and the state of black folks on TV.

What's your favorite bit in the book?

"I think it's 'In Search of Black Jesus,' because I wrote it in one sitting. I'm just providing evidence. His cousin had the first hip-hop name: John the Baptist. It's something to think about. He had a 12-man posse. Even by today's standards, that is pretty excessive, and we are in the era of big posses."

I loved your chapter on what makes a black leader, with stuff like "I'm self-appointed," "I'm a reverend with no church" and "When I get angry, white people are afraid of me."

"And it still holds true after the election. Obama's not a black leader — because he's elected, and cancels him out. You have to be self-appointed. If he would have known that, maybe he wouldn't have gone through the whole primary process."

When Dave Chappelle quit his show, he said some people took his satire about black folks too literally. Do you worry about that?

"Let's be clear: Dave Chappelle had a show that he was in charge of, Comedy Central didn't care what he did, and they were going to give him $50 million and he said no. You tell me who was on the right side of that equation. Let's call his wife right now and see how she feels about that. I bet he's still sleeping on the couch. If they still own a couch."

You were developing an HBO series about an Obama-type candidate, weren't you?

Primarily Colored was the name of the show, and it was great. I was really dealing with race and politics. Am I black enough? How black do I need to be? But once Obama became president, it just didn't seem that relevant, so I had to move on."

Do your Daily Show bits on race ever upset black people?

"I have done research and figured out that only three black people total watch the Daily Show. And no one knows more than three black people who watch the Daily Show. I can go into a black barbershop, and nobody even knows I'm in show business."


Taking Chance, 8 p.m. Saturday, HBO: Like the character played by Kevin Bacon, U.S. Marines Lt. Col. Michael Strobl, the viewer has little clue about the journey in store as this heart-rending movie begins. Strobl volunteers for the ceremonial duty of escorting the corpse of Chance Phelps, a Marine he has never met, to his Wyoming funeral. Based on the real-life diaries and 2004 report of the now-retired Strobl, the film documents the outpouring of support and respect he discovered for the Marine, who had been killed after just one month in Iraq. Bacon is quietly magnetic as Strobl, a Desert Storm veteran feeling useless crunching numbers stateside, until Phelps' relatives remind him of the service he'd rendered, guiding their loved one's remains to a proper burial.


Eastbound & Down, 10:30 tonight, HBO: Rising comedy star Danny McBride teams with executive producer Will Ferrell to create this pathologically foul-mouthed comedy, centered on a brutally ribald ex-baseball star trying to adjust to life as a middle school gym teacher. McBride's Kenny Powers seems loosely based on John Rocker. The Powers character is a dim-witted, drug-addicted, casually racist manchild who still expects the world to treat him like a superstar years past his prime. But while it's funny to see him turn family and co-workers' lives upside down with his offhand egotism, it's tough to make an audience care much about him.

the list

When MTV released its list of Greatest Movie Bada#$%@, topped by Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry, I asked Feed fans online, on Twitter and on Facebook to name their Greatest TV Baddies. And because their list was so much cooler, I present most of them here:

Jack Bauer, Fox's 24 (Kiefer Sutherland): Is there any other hero who died, was shocked back to life and stopped a terrorist plot? In the same day?

Vic Mackey, FX's The Shield (Michael Chiklis): A cop who killed another officer, kept it secret for six years, then got the FBI to give him a pardon.

Sgt. Bosco "B.A." Baracus, NBC's The A Team (Mr. T): I pity the fool who . . . oh, you get the joke.

Omar D. Little, HBO's The Wire (Michael K. Williams): An openly gay gangster in Baltimore's drug ghetto whom even the drug dealers feared.

Fiona Glenanne, above, USA's Burn Notice (Gabrielle Anwar): Face of a fashion model and skills of a Navy SEAL; when she's the muscle in a group of three spies, it's time to be very afraid.

Dexter Morgan, Showtime's Dexter (Michael C. Hall): A stone serial killer with the perfect cover: a forensics nerd working for the Miami Police Department.

Al Swearengen, HBO's Deadwood (Ian McShane): A saloon owner who could whack an underling and discourse on his own upbringing in a whorehouse, all while being, um, serviced by one of his employees.

Q&A: Comic Larry Wilmore, 'senior black correspondent' for 'Daily Show' 02/14/09 [Last modified: Saturday, February 14, 2009 3:30am]
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