Eric Deggans

Eric Deggans is NPR's first full-time TV critic.

Deggans came to NPR in 2013 from the Tampa Bay Times, where he served a TV/Media Critic and in other roles for nearly 20 years. A journalist for more than 20 years, he is also the author of Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation, a look at how prejudice, racism and sexism fuels some elements of modern media, published in October 2012, by Palgrave Macmillan.

In August 2013, Deggans guest hosted CNN's media analysis show Reliable Sources, joining a select group of journalists and media critics filling in for departed host Howard Kurtz. Earlier in the same month, he was awarded the Florida Press Club's first-ever Diversity award, honoring his coverage of issues involving race and media. He received the Legacy award from the National Association of Black Journalists' A&E Task Force, an honor bestowed to "seasoned A&E journalists who are at the top of their careers." Deggans serves on the board of educators, journalists and media experts who select the George Foster Peabody Awards for excellence in electronic media.

He also has joined a prestigious group of contributors to the first ethics book created in conjunction with the Poynter Institute for Media Studies for journalism's digital age: The New Ethics of Journalism, published in August 2013, by Sage/CQ Press.

Deggans has won reporting and writing awards from the Society for Features Journalism, American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Black Journalists, The Florida Press Club and the Florida Society of News Editors. In 2010, he made national headlines interviewing former USDA official Shirley Sherrod at the NABJ's summer convention in San Diego, leading a panel discussion that was covered by all the major cable news and network TV morning shows.

Named in 2009, as one of Ebony magazine's "Power 150" – a list of influential black Americans which also included Oprah Winfrey and PBS host Gwen Ifill – Deggans was selected to lecture at Columbia University's prestigious Graduate School of Journalism in 2008 and 2005. He has lectured or taught as an adjunct professor at Loyola University, California State University, Indiana University, University of Tampa, Eckerd College and many other colleges.

His writing has also appeared in the New York Times online, Salon magazine, CNN.com, the Washington Post, Village Voice, VIBE magazine, Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free Press, Chicago Sun-Times, Seattle Times, Emmy magazine, Newsmax magazine, Rolling Stone Online and a host of other newspapers across the country.

From 2004 to 2005, Deggans sat on the then-St. Petersburg Times editorial board and wrote bylined opinion columns. From 1997 to 2004, he worked as TV critic for the Times, crafting reviews, news stories and long-range trend pieces on the state of the media industry both locally and nationally. He originally joined the paper as its pop music critic in November 1995. He has worked at the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey and both the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Press newspapers in Pennsylvania.

Now serving as chair of the Media Monitoring Committee for the National Association of Black Journalists, he has also served on the board of directors for the national Television Critics Association and on the board of the Mid-Florida Society of Professional Journalists.

Additionally, he worked as a professional drummer in the 1980s, touring and performing with Motown recording artists The Voyage Band throughout the Midwest and in Osaka, Japan. He continues to perform with area bands and recording artists as a drummer, bassist and vocalist.

Deggans earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science and journalism from Indiana University.

Pages

Television
5:23 am
Thu May 21, 2015

Letterman Leaves Late-Night TV With A Near-Perfect Final Show

David Letterman hosts his final Late Show episode on Wednesday.
Jeffrey R. Staab CBS

Originally published on Thu May 21, 2015 11:17 am

When the final episode came, after weeks of accolades and tributes to his genius, David Letterman made sure he punctured the emotion of the moment with a little old-fashioned, self-deprecating sarcasm.

Read more
Television
5:22 am
Mon May 18, 2015

'Mad Men' Finale: A Love Letter To Fans Filled With Mostly Happy Endings

The cast of Mad Men: January Jones (from left), Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser, Christina Hendricks and John Slattery
Frank Ockenfels 3 AMC

Originally published on Mon May 18, 2015 12:01 pm

From the beginnings of the Mad Men phenomenon, many of the show's fans wondered if superstar adman Don Draper was destined to write one of the iconic advertising catchphrases of the time.

So it's a testament to the skills of show creator Matthew Weiner that some regular viewers were still surprised by the show's series finale Sunday, which implies that Don invented the classic 1971 Coca-Cola campaign, "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke." This, after he concluded a long, soul-searching trip through America with a trip to a California yoga retreat.

Read more
Television
1:37 am
Thu May 14, 2015

David Letterman's Top 10 Late-Night Memories (Well, Not Really)

David Letterman, seen here snapping a selfie with his replacement Stephen Colbert, will step down next week as host of the Late Show.
Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 14, 2015 3:05 pm

What I first noticed about David Letterman was how quickly he ditched the suit.

During a taping of the Late Show on Monday at the Ed Sullivan Theater in Manhattan, he put off donning his suit jacket as long as possible, greeting the crowd in just a shirt and tie for a pre-show Q & A session before shrugging on the coat just as recording began.

Read more
Television
2:50 pm
Mon May 11, 2015

'American Idol' To End After 15 Seasons

Originally published on Mon May 11, 2015 7:00 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

A long-running, groundbreaking television favorite is calling it quits.

(SOUNDBITE OF "AMERICAN IDOL" THEME SONG)

Read more
The Two-Way
1:55 pm
Fri May 8, 2015

ABC Brings Muppets Back To Prime Time As News Emerges About Fall Shows

Kermit the Frog speaks to Gonzo the Great in a scene from ABC's The Muppets.
Eric McCandless ABC

Originally published on Fri May 8, 2015 4:21 pm

The long wait for Muppets fans is over: ABC is bringing back the beloved puppets in a prime-time TV series this fall for the first time in nearly 20 years.

News of the new show, called The Muppets, dropped this week as TV networks begin calling producers, stars and studio executives in advance of next week's "upfronts" — the annual ritual where broadcasters roll out their fall schedules for advertisers to score advance sales.

Read more
Television
2:39 am
Fri April 17, 2015

Clone Drama 'Orphan Black' Returns, As Complex And Complicated As Ever

Tatiana Maslany (center) plays several different clones on the BBC America series Orphan Black.
BBC America

Originally published on Fri April 17, 2015 1:25 pm

For fans of BBC America's majestically complicated drama Orphan Black, this might be the toughest task they face all year: Explaining to newbies what the heck is going on just before the new season starts on Saturday.

Spoiler alert: Several plot points from the new season are discussed below

The series started with Sarah Manning, a con artist and onetime street urchin, stumbling upon a well-dressed woman who looked exactly like her, crying on a train platform — just before jumping in front of an oncoming train.

Read more
Monkey See
11:18 am
Tue April 14, 2015

The 'Justified' Finale Brings An End To Another TV Western

Timothy Olyphant plays Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens on FX's Justified. The series finale airs tonight.
Prashant Gupta FX

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 3:30 pm

Here's why I'm going to miss FX's modern-day Kentucky Western, Justified, so much.

In last week's episode, our hero, unflinching U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, has ambushed his bitter rival, backwoods Kentucky crime lord Boyd Crowder, shooting at him from across a darkened field on the side of a mountain in hopes of finally putting down the man who is most like his opposite number.

"You've given up everything that you are, so you can murder me," Crowder (Walton Goggins) yells at Givens (Timothy Olyphant) while hunched behind a rock for cover.

Read more
Television
3:37 am
Sun April 12, 2015

'Nurse Jackie' Ends As TV's Most Honest Depiction Of Addiction

Edie Falco stars in Showtime's "Nurse Jackie."
David M. Russell Showtime

Originally published on Mon April 13, 2015 2:46 pm

Even after an accident with a carload full of pills gets her arrested, Nurse Jackie Peyton can't be honest about her addictions. Especially not while explaining her sudden absence to her ex-husband Kevin.

"Where were you this past week?" Kevin asks, tensely.

"Really, you want to know where I was?" Jackie responds. "I went to a detox program."

"Is that what you call jail?" he shoots back. "I was notified of the accident. The car's still in my name."

Read more
Television
6:04 am
Fri April 10, 2015

'Game Of Thrones' And 'Veep' Anchor HBO's Killer Sunday Lineup

As the new season of Game of Thrones begins, Tyrion Lannister (played by Peter Dinklage) is on the run after killing his manipulative father.
HBO

Originally published on Fri April 10, 2015 6:26 pm

(Spoiler alert: Details from the new seasons of several shows follow below.)

HBO's hit fantasy drama Game of Thrones ended last year with the most shocking death of the season: Tywin Lannister's.

Lannister, the most influential power broker in the fictional, medieval-style continent of Westeros, was killed by his son, the tortured alcoholic dwarf Tyrion.

When the show returns with a new episode Sunday night, Tyrion is on the run. The man who is helping him, a scheming spymaster named Varys, wants Tyrion's help.

But Tyrion isn't having it.

Read more
Book News & Features
6:18 am
Sat April 4, 2015

'So That Happened': Confessions Of A Duck-Man

Warner Bros. TV/Chuck Lorre Prod. The Kobal Collection

Originally published on Mon April 6, 2015 8:00 am

In the John Hughes-penned classic, Pretty in Pink, Jon Cryer's "Duckie" Dale has one of the best on-screen friendships in '80s teen movie history.

Unfortunately, he's also in love with that friend — his best friend — Andie, played by Molly Ringwald. She's about to date a rich kid, Andrew McCarthy's Blane, much to Duckie's disappointment.

Their fight, a climactic movie moment, only shows how much they care about each other. "You can't do this and respect yourself. You can't," Duckie insists to Andie.

Read more
Television
3:07 am
Fri April 3, 2015

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same As 'Mad Men' Winds Down

The times, they may be changing — but the cast of AMC's Mad Men find it difficult to change with them.
Frank Ockenfels AMC

Originally published on Fri April 3, 2015 1:21 pm

(Be warned: Some spoilers about Sunday's episode follow.)

If Mad Men has a mission statement, it's probably this: The times may change tremendously, but people rarely do.

Even when they really want to.

Consider the show's lead character, hotshot ad man Don Draper, a cool, in-control success to those who know him the least. As Sunday's episode begins, he is single again, a second marriage left in tatters due to his wandering eye.

Read more
Monkey See
12:50 pm
Tue March 24, 2015

James Corden Nods To Talk Show Tradition With CBS's 'Late Late Show'

James Corden (left) talks to Mila Kunis and Tom Hanks on Monday's debut of The Late Late Show with James Corden.
Monty Brinton AP

Originally published on Tue March 24, 2015 1:44 pm

Looks like it took a 36-year-old comic actor from a small British town no one has heard of to bring back the oldest of old-school American TV talk show traditions.

Read more
Television
2:55 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

In Move From Web To TV, 'Childrens Hospital' Could Set An Example

Originally published on Mon March 23, 2015 6:14 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DON GONYEA, HOST:

Read more
Monkey See
9:46 am
Wed March 18, 2015

Does Fox's 'Empire' Break Or Bolster Black Stereotypes?

Terrence Howard (center) stars in Empire with (from left): Jussie Smollett, Serayah McNeill, Taraji P. Henson, Bryshere Gray, Grace Gealey, Trai Byers and Kaitlin Doubleday.
Chuck Hodes Fox TV

Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 5:51 pm

As its freshman season ends Wednesday night, Fox's hip-hop family drama Empire has emerged as that rarest of birds in the broadcast TV industry: a show where the viewership is always going up.

When the series debuted Jan. 7, it drew a respectable 9.8 million viewers, according to the Nielsen company. But then the show about a family-run music empire achieved something few others have ever managed: It increased its audience every week, growing to 14.9 million viewers on March 4.

Read more
Television
1:04 pm
Mon March 16, 2015

Does Success Of HBO's 'The Jinx' Herald New Form Of True-Crime TV?

Robert Durst, filmed on the streets of Manhattan for HBO's The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.
HBO

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 5:25 am

It was the kind of moment true-crime TV fans live for but almost never get to see: a suspected murderer seeming to confess his guilt while the audience listens in.

That bombshell admission aired Sunday at the end of HBO's docu-series The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, capping a six-part series. It unfolded as something of a cat-and-mouse game between Durst, the scion of a wealthy New York family who is suspected of killing his wife, a best friend and a neighbor in separate crimes reaching back to 1982, and filmmaker Andrew Jarecki.

Read more
Television
12:55 pm
Tue March 10, 2015

New HBO Now Streaming Service Shows Consumer's Will Is King

Richard Plepler, CEO of HBO, talks about HBO Now during an Apple event Monday in San Francisco.
Eric Risberg AP

Originally published on Tue March 10, 2015 5:40 pm

There's a lesson at the heart of the announcement Monday by HBO that it was finally starting the standalone video streaming service they have been talking about for five months, HBO Now.

In a media world fragmented by digital technology, the consumer's will is king.

Read more
Television
3:03 am
Fri March 6, 2015

Netflix Snaps Up TV Shows Rejected By Networks

Originally published on Fri March 6, 2015 8:40 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Read more
Television
6:37 pm
Sun March 1, 2015

'Battle Creek' Tries To Shake Up CBS' Cop Show Formula

Dean Winters, left, and Josh Duhamel are not your father's mismatched buddy cops, on the new CBS show Battle Creek.
CBS

Originally published on Sun March 1, 2015 8:20 pm

In the first scene of CBS' Battle Creek, Det. Russ Agnew has a problem. A listening device he wants to place on his snitch Teddy isn't working.

"What wrong with the wire ... why isn't the red light coming on?" asks Agnew, beating the transmitter against the side of his van. He's already pilfered a handheld camera from a father videotaping his kid's performance at a school play because the department couldn't get him a working video unit.

Read more
Monkey See
2:33 am
Sat February 28, 2015

Leonard Nimoy's Mr. Spock Taught Us Acceptance Is Highly Logical

Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock in the Star Trek episode "Plato's Stepchildren" in 1968.
CBS Photo Archive via Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 1:20 pm

For this Star Trek fan, Leonard Nimoy was more than the guy who played one of the most popular characters in the most popular science-fiction franchise on American TV.

Read more
Television
3:51 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

'Battle Creek' An Attempt To Break CBS's Formulaic Lineup

Originally published on Fri February 27, 2015 6:13 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Read more
Television
1:39 am
Fri February 27, 2015

This Season On 'House Of Cards,' It's Tough To Be The Boss

Kevin Spacey's President Frank Underwood is embattled and often frustrated in the third season of Netflix's House of Cards.
David Giesbrecht Courtesy of Netflix

Originally published on Fri February 27, 2015 9:13 am

When House of Cards' third season opens, Kevin Spacey's murderous politician Frank Underwood is fooling the world again.

From the very first scene, he's bringing a presidential motorcade to his tiny hometown of Gaffney, S.C., pretending to honor his father's grave for the press.

"Nobody showed up for his funeral except me, not even my mother," Underwood says in one of those sly asides where he speaks directly to the audience. "But I'll tell you this: When they bury me, it won't be in my backyard. And when they pay their respects, they'll have to wait in line."

Read more
Monkey See
11:27 am
Thu February 19, 2015

As CBS' 'Two And A Half Men' Ends, Questions On How It Lasted So Long

Jon Cryer, left, and Ashton Kutcher in a scene from Kutcher's 2011 debut on CBS' "Two and a Half Men."
DANNY FELD ASSOCIATED PRESS

Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 2:12 pm

As CBS' Two and a Half Men airs its final episode tonight, capping its 12th season, critics like me are stuck trying to answer a single, niggling question:

How did a show like this end up as the longest-running multicamera comedy in television history?

Read more
Television
4:05 pm
Fri February 6, 2015

Missing Your 'Breaking Bad' Fix? 'Better Call Saul' Will Hit The Spot

Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman on AMC's "Better Call Saul."
Ursula Coyote AP

Originally published on Sat February 7, 2015 12:24 pm

Here is something that seems like a spoiler, but really isn't.

The first few minutes of Better Call Saul will answer a question that nagged Breaking Bad fans since the show ended in 2013: Whatever happened to fast-talking lawyer Saul Goodman?

Bob Odenkirk, who plays Goodman, says Better Call Saul had to answer that question first so viewers could focus on the new story.

"To satisfy that a little bit gets that out of the way," he says. "Now let's go and do this journey about who is Saul Goodman, really?"

Read more
Television
12:38 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

ABC Tones Down Author's 'Fresh Off The Boat' For Sitcom Audience

Constance Wu, Forrest Wheeler, Hudson Yang and Ian Chen star in ABC's new family comedy, Fresh Off the Boat.
Jordin Althaus AP

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 1:01 pm

This story contains language that may be offensive.

When they built a sitcom around a hip-hop-loving child of Taiwanese immigrants in Orlando, the producers of Fresh Off the Boat probably knew they would face some uncomfortable questions about culture and race.

But they may not have expected what they heard in the very first — very awkward — question at a press conference with TV critics in Los Angeles a few weeks ago.

Read more
Code Switch
3:16 pm
Sun February 1, 2015

The Success Of Fox's 'Empire' Reveals A Few Do's And Don'ts For TV

Taraji P. Henson, left, and Terrence Howard star as Cookie and Lucious Lyon in the Fox TV show Empire.
Chuck Hodes Fox TV

Originally published on Mon February 2, 2015 9:12 am

The TV industry is scrambling to understand the runaway success of Fox's Empire, the story of a family-run hip-hop music company that has set ratings records in its four weeks on air.

The questions, as always, are simple: Why are people drawn to this show? And how can a TV network pull it off again?

Read more
Television
4:10 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

NBC's 'Parenthood' Ends As A Family Drama Built On Small Moments

The stars of Parenthood include, left to right, Erika Christensen Peter Krause, Bonnie Bedelia, Craig T. Nelson, Lauren Graham and Dax Shepard.
NBC Justin Lubin/NBC

Originally published on Fri January 30, 2015 8:07 am

It happens at least once every episode: A scene in Parenthood carefully crafted to make you cry.

Like the moment when devoted parents Adam and Kristina Braverman try to console their son Max — who has Asperger's syndrome — after a school camping trip goes bad.

"Why do all the other kids hate me?" Max Braverman asks, voice wavering, just before telling his disbelieving parents a classmate relieved himself in his canteen during the trip. "Asperger's is supposed to make me smart. But if I'm smart then why ... why don't I get why they're laughing at me?"

Read more
Television
1:24 pm
Mon January 26, 2015

Intended For Millennials, Dish's Sling TV Is A Cord Cutter's Dream

Joe Clayton, president and CEO of Dish Network, introduces the Sling TV earlier this month at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Jae C. Hong AP

Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 4:57 pm

A few days ago, I entertained myself for a few minutes watching ESPN's Stephen A. Smith lose his cool — this time, over an "incompetent" NFL for not interviewing Patriots quarterback Tom Brady regarding the team's deflated-football controversy.

But what made this moment noteworthy, was where I was watching Smith: not on a TV connected to a cable box, but on my iPad. Thanks to Sling TV.

Read more
Television
4:19 am
Mon January 26, 2015

Sling TV Could Be Cable-Cutter's Dream

Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 6:03 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Read more
Television
1:44 am
Mon January 19, 2015

Larry Wilmore's 'Nightly Show' Brings A New Voice To Late Night TV

Larry Wilmore at the TV Critics Association's Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif.
Richard Shotwell Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 11:22 am

Larry Wilmore nearly succeeded Stephen Colbert with a TV show called Meet the Rest.

The title was a cheeky reference to the way Sunday politics shows tend to feature only one kind of guest. But it was also a reminder that his new Comedy Central series — which he eventually settled on calling The Nightly Show — is also a distant parody of all the panel shows and group discussions that clog Sunday morning television and cable news.

At least, that's the plan for now.

Read more
Television
2:16 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Amazon Gains Ground With Online-Only Shows

Originally published on Wed January 14, 2015 4:33 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Read more

Pages