The next show will air on September 16, 2018 from 11:00 PM – 1:00 AM Monday Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This broadcast puts a spotlight on the film Mr. Soul: Ellis Haizlip and the Birth of Black Power TV and features an interview with film maker and producer Melissa Haizlip.
In 1968 they asked him to produce the first “Black Tonight Show.” Ellis Haizlip did that, and more. SOUL! was one of the most controversial, successful, and socially significant TV shows in US history.
He was hip.
He was smart.
He was innovative, political and gay.
In his personal fight for social equality, this man ensured the Revolution would be televised.
The man was Ellis Haizlip. The Revolution was SOUL!
Ellis Haizlip was the host and executive producer of SOUL!, the first “Black Tonight Show.” In 1968, SOUL! was launched as a local, New York broadcast. In 1969 the series rolled out nationwide on PBS, on WNET Channel 13. By 1973, Haizlip had produced over 130 hour-long shows featuring a dazzling array of A-list guests: Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, James Baldwin, Stevie Wonder, Maya Angelou, Ashford and Simpson, Nikki Giovanni, Al Green and Muhammad Ali — even a sixteen-year-old Arsenio Hall doing magic tricks.
Mr. SOUL! invites us behind-the-scenes of this groundbreaking phenomenon, from its initial conception to its final broadcast, including the very public battle to keep it on the air despite a shifting political landscape.
Melissa Haizlip is a Yale University-educated award-winning filmmaker. She was Black Public Media’s (formerly National Black Programming Consortium) 2016 Artist in Residence and participated in the 2015 NALIP ARC Diverse Women In Media Residency. She is a Chaz and Roger Ebert Producing Fellow, and an alumnus of Film Independent’s Project: Involve, Firelight Media Documentary Lab, and the PGA Diversity Workshop. She produced You’re Dead to Me (2013) directed by Wu Tsang, about a grieving Chicana mother coming to terms with the loss of her transgender child on Día de los Muertos. The film won Best Short at the 2014 Imagen Awards, Reel Sisters of the Diaspora, Everybody’s Beautiful (Geneva), LesGaiCine Madrid, and Reel Rasquache Art & Film Festival (Los Angeles).
In 2009, Melissa founded Shoes In The Bed Productions, an independent film production company producing cinematic works of non-fiction with an emphasis on diverse new voices and filmmakers of color. Mr. SOUL!, the company’s first feature-length documentary, has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, ITVS, National Black Programming Consortium, Firelight Media, Awesome Without Borders, support from IFP and Latino Public Broadcasting. She is currently in production on Mr. SOUL!
(Bio adapted from the Mr. SOUL! website.)
This program is hosted, engineered, produced, and edited by Joyce Jones. Listen for our On the Bandstand segment with NYC metro area appearances of Suga’ guests at the end of the first hour with Associate Producer Hank Williams.
Mr. SOUL! is scheduled to screen at this year’s Urbanworld Film Festival on Friday, September 21 at the AMC Empire Theater 10 and the Reel Sisters of the African Diaspora Film Festival on Saturday, October 6 at Columbia University’s Miller Theater. Q&A with Melissa Haizlip at both screenings. Co-Director Sam Pollard will join the Q&A at Reel Sisters.
PBS’s archive page for SOUL! (the TV show, not the current documentary film) with some of the original 1970s episodes streaming is here.
Watch the trailer for Mr. SOUL!
Hank Williams is assistant producer for Suga’ in My Bowl and produces the weekly “On the Bandstand” segment as well as running the show’s website and blog, where he has reviewed several jazz festivals. His writing has also appeared in Left Turn magazine and American Music Review. He teaches at Lehman College in the City University of New York system.