While Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien are busy playing musical chairs on NBC, Tampa is getting its own late-night talk show.
The Motown Maurice Show will be hosted by "Motown Maurice" Jeoffroy, a Tampa entrepreneur nicknamed for his love of all things old-school and recognized around town for his trademark high-top fade haircut. The first episode of the 60-minute variety show will be taped Saturday at Ybor City's Cuban Club before a live audience. Episodes will be televised on WTTA MyTV Tampa Bay.
Before creating the talk show, Motown Maurice hosted a community discussion forum called Wide aWoke Wednesdays from June 2007 to November 2009.
"The format started to change. It started to evolve," said the 29-year old, who owns a photography and video production business. "So slowly but surely, if you came to Wide aWoke you would see the reflections of an interactive talk show within the program — just by the way I was introduced, I started doing little small monologues at the beginning of the show, of course I've always had my parodies." He'll formalize these elements on The Motown Maurice Show, which will contain monologues, video skits, musical guests, specialty acts and interviews.
"Basically, it's like your conventional Tonight Show," Motown said. "If you've seen the Jay Leno Show, if you've seen the Tonight Show, that's exactly what you're going to get. The hook is 'late-night television with an old-school twist.' " Each taping has space for 250 to 300 fans.
In addition to a retro-looking set, the show will feature celebrity interviews. Saturday's guests include actor Bern Nadette Stanis, who played Thelma Evans on the '70s sitcom Good Times; Minnesota Twins outfielder Denard Span (he was drafted out of high school from Tampa Catholic); and local rapper Phantom. Thomas Mikal Ford, best known for his role as Tommy Strawn on the '90s series Martin, is scheduled to appear at the Jan. 30 taping.
A team of more than 50 people are working on the show, from camera operators to hospitality. There are also house musicians, the Wide aWoke Band. "This is not a small venture," he said. "If you've ever wanted to experience a late-night talk show and you didn't have the money to go to L.A., New York, Chicago, Atlanta, you don't have to anymore. You don't have to travel, 'cause that whole experience you will get right here at The Motown Maurice Show."
With the signature hairstyle he's rocked since 2007, Motown Maurice conjures up images of another old-school talk show host with a high-top fade: Arsenio Hall. But be careful about making comparisons.
"I don't know if I would even consider what he had as a high top," Motown said. "It was kind of small."