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.

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Television
12:05 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

Can Shows Like 'The McCarthys' Replace CBS' 'Thursday Night Football'?

Tyler Ritter (center) stars in CBS's The McCarthys with, clockwise from top left, Jack McGee, Laurie Metcalf, Jimmy Dunn, Joey McIntyre and Kelen Coleman.
Monty Brinton CBS

Originally published on Thu October 30, 2014 2:47 pm

Five weeks after the fall TV season started, the broadcast networks are still cranking out new shows.

And in the case of CBS's The McCarthys, you may wish they had stopped a bit sooner.

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Television
2:23 pm
Fri October 24, 2014

TLC's 'Honey Boo Boo' Cancellation Shows Dangers Of Exploitative TV

June "Mama June" Shannon jokes with daughter Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson, star of TLC's unscripted series Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.
John Bazemore AP

Originally published on Mon October 27, 2014 9:17 am

It's easy to slip into gloating mode, now that cable channel TLC has finally canceled a show so many of us critics have hated for so long: Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.

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Movie Reviews
3:21 am
Fri October 24, 2014

James Brown On Film: An Admiring And Unflinching Look At 'Mr. Dynamite'

James Brown performs onstage at the TAMI Show on December 29, 1964 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in California.
Michael Ochs Archives Getty Images

Originally published on Sat October 25, 2014 10:36 am

Eight years after his death, James Brown is suddenly everywhere.

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Monkey See
2:59 am
Tue October 21, 2014

Winners And Losers Of The Fall TV Season Begin To Emerge

Debra Messing stars with Robert Klein in NBC's The Mysteries of Laura.
Will Hart/NBC

Originally published on Tue October 21, 2014 7:34 am

What's most amazing about this point in the TV season is what hasn't happened yet.

One month into the new season, no new fall TV show has yet been canceled.

(By this point last year, several shows had already been put out of our misery, including ABC's Lucky 7 and NBC's Ironside remake.)

Still, despite programmers' patience this year, there are still lots of clues about what's working this TV season and what isn't. Here's a peek at what we know so far about the current TV season.

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Code Switch
3:24 pm
Sun October 19, 2014

The Boston Herald's Missed 'Cartoongate' Lessons

The Boston Herald published this cartoon earlier this month.
The Boston Herald

Originally published on Mon October 20, 2014 8:38 am

The worst fate of all may be to make a terrible mistake and then learn the wrong lessons from the experience.

That's the thought I had reading a heartfelt column about the Boston Herald's unfortunate decision to publish a cartoon featuring a White House gate-crasher asking the nation's first black president if he had "tried the new watermelon flavored toothpaste."

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Media
3:11 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

HBO GO Available To Non-Cable Subscribers In 2015

Originally published on Wed October 15, 2014 4:54 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Cable cord-cutters are more than a little excited today about news from HBO.

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Television
5:45 am
Sat October 11, 2014

AMC's 'The Walking Dead' Is A Hit Show With Two Meanings

Andrew Lincoln, left, and Norman Reedus star in AMC's The Walking Dead.
Frank Ockenfels AMC

Originally published on Sat October 11, 2014 12:20 pm

The Walking Dead is so successful – it's TV's most popular show with young viewers and cable television's highest-rated drama – that AMC has already picked it up for a sixth season, days before the fifth season starts Sunday.

And it returns this fall with a bloody, explicit answer to a troubling question from last season:

What is the deal with the people in this place called Terminus?

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Television
2:22 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

'The Flash' And 'Gotham' Succeed By Taking Comic Book Stories Seriously

Grant Gustin as Barry Allen/The Flash on The CW's The Flash.
Jack Rowand The CW

Originally published on Wed October 8, 2014 12:03 pm

As The CW's new superhero series The Flash debuts tonight, it seems there are more TV shows based on comic books in prime time than ever before.

And a look at two of the best new network TV dramas this fall also reveals two different ways to tell superhero stories on television, both with wonderful results.

It's tough to find a more traditional superhero story than The CW's take on The Flash, which opens with a voice over from the hero himself:

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Monkey See
3:52 am
Sun October 5, 2014

Showtime's 'Homeland' Now Depends On Carrie Mathison As Flawed Hero

Claire Danes, right, plays CIA station chief Carrie Mathison with Alex Lanipekun on Showtime's Homeland.
Joe Alblas Showtime

(Be warned: There are spoilers ahead, particularly if you haven't watched all of Homeland's third season yet.)

Showtime's widely-lauded terrorism drama Homeland returns Sunday facing a curious question for a show starting its fourth season.

What, exactly, is this series about now?

That was the biggest issue left by the death last year of Damian Lewis' supremely dysfunctional soldier-turned-terrorist-turned-doomed hero Nicholas Brody. And it's not clear if producers have found an answer yet.

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Movies
2:35 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

Netflix's Adam Sandler Movies Could Be Big Wins Or Silent Flops

Originally published on Thu October 2, 2014 4:03 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

It's tough to imagine that Hollywood's movie machine could forever be changed by this guy, but it could happen.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BILLY MADISON")

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Monkey See
11:00 am
Thu October 2, 2014

Fox's 'Gracepoint': An American Remake Best Viewed With Fresh Eyes

David Tennant, left, and Anna Gunn star in the Fox TV crime drama, Gracepoint.
Ed Araquel Fox TV

Even though some TV critics hate Fox's new crime drama Gracepoint, you just might love it.

And that mostly depends on one thing: Whether you've seen the British TV series it's based on, Broadchurch.

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Television
2:59 am
Wed October 1, 2014

FX's 'The Bridge' Finds Authenticity In Spanish-Language Scenes

Demian Bichir, left, and Diane Kruger star in FX's cross-border crime drama The Bridge.
Bryon Cohen AP

Originally published on Wed October 1, 2014 7:06 am

It's the best show that you're probably not watching.

As FX's The Bridge ends its ratings-challenged second season Wednesday, it has told a sprawling story about two detectives — one in El Paso, Texas, and one in Juarez, Mexico — pursuing a Mexican drug cartel.

This year, much of the story has centered on reluctant hero and Mexican police detective Marco Ruiz, who's chasing cartel boss Fausto Galvan. Almost all of those moments are filmed in Spanish, helping flesh out characters who tend to remain mere stereotypes in other shows.

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Monkey See
2:18 pm
Fri September 26, 2014

Gilligan's Island At 50: A Goofy Show From A Time Of TV Innocence

The cast of Gilligan's Island (clockwise from top left): Jim Backus, Natalie Schafer, Tina Louise, Alan Hale Jr., Dawn Wells, Bob Denver, Russell Johnson
CBS/Landov

Originally published on Fri September 26, 2014 4:23 pm

It was 50 years ago today (Friday, Sept. 26) that the world was introduced to what may have been the oddest idea around for a TV comedy until Hogan's Heroes cracked jokes in a German prisoner of war camp a year later.

Yes, Hollywood wanted to make America laugh about seven people who got marooned on a tropical island. And that oddly endearing show celebrating its golden anniversary had an unlikely name: Gilligan's Island.

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Television
2:27 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

Network TV's Fall Lineup Distinguished By Diversity

Originally published on Wed September 24, 2014 4:14 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Code Switch
6:16 am
Tue September 23, 2014

How Not To Handle A New Voice In TV

Shonda Rhimes (left) with Scandal star Kerry Washington at a 2012 press conference.
Frederick M. Brown Getty Images

Originally published on Thu September 25, 2014 10:26 am

This is what happens when voices that have normally been pushed to the background take center stage.

That's the reaction I usually offer these days whenever someone asks me about a race-based media firestorm — this time, in reference to the nuclear-sized backlash against New York Times TV critic Alessandra Stanley's bewildering commentary on Shonda Rhimes, one of the most successful showrunners in television history.

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Monkey See
8:33 am
Mon September 22, 2014

Deggans Picks 'Gotham,' 'Black-ish,' 'The Flash' Among Fall TV's Best

Ben McKenzie (front right) and Donal Logue (left) lead the cast of Fox's Batman prequel Gotham.
Fox TV

Originally published on Tue September 23, 2014 8:20 am

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Code Switch
2:16 pm
Fri September 19, 2014

Examining Bill Cosby's Legacy As 'The Cosby Show' Turns 30

The Cosby Show starred Bill Cosby and Phylicia Rashad as Cliff and Clair Huxtable, an upper-middle-class couple in New York. Tempestt Bledsoe, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Lisa Bonet and Keshia Knight Pulliam played four of their five children.
Frank Carroll AP

Originally published on Fri September 19, 2014 4:59 pm

The Cosby Show celebrates its 30th birthday on Saturday.

It was a monster hit inspired by the comedy and life experiences of its star, Bill Cosby, as shown in the new biography Cosby: His Life and Times. In the book, author Mark Whitaker makes a strong argument that Cosby's comedic style and approach to race issues turned The Cosby Show into television's most quietly subversive program.

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Television
3:58 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Competition Highlights Importance Of Fall TV Season

Originally published on Mon September 15, 2014 6:08 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Television critics are slogging through hour after hour of new shows to help guide our eyeballs through the busy fall season. And that includes NPR's own Eric Deggans, who's gotten off the couch long enough to talk with us. Thanks, Eric.

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Code Switch
3:40 am
Sat September 13, 2014

Why Michael Che's New Role Could Change More Than 'SNL'

Daily Show correspondent Michael Che will become the first black co-anchor of Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update.
Paul Marotta Courtesy of Michael Che

Originally published on Sat September 13, 2014 11:27 am

It seems some TV networks have gotten the message on late-night diversity and others have not.

Friday's news — that Saturday Night Live hired comic Michael Che to join Colin Jost behind the anchor desk on its popular "Weekend Update" segment — shows NBC's venerated late night comedy franchise may, finally, stand among those in the first group.

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Television
7:54 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

'Sons Of Anarchy' Succeeds As A Soap Opera Geared Toward Guys

Charlie Hunnam, left, plays Jax Teller, with Marilyn Manson as Ron Tully on FX's Sons of Anarchy.
PRASHANT GUPTA FX Networks

Originally published on Wed September 10, 2014 11:37 am

[Note: This post discusses plot points and story lines from previous seasons.]

The first episode of the final season for FX's biker drama Sons of Anarchy begins with a familiar scene: gang leader/hero Jackson "Jax" Teller brutalizing a man in jail, interspersed with images of his gang and family living life — including his mother caring for his sons — with a mournful tune playing in the background.

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Code Switch
4:38 am
Fri September 5, 2014

Does It Matter That Rosie Perez Is The First Latina Co-Host Of 'The View'?

Rosie Perez (above) becomes a regular co-host on The View Sept 15.
Phil McCarten Reuters /Landov

The View just made history in naming Rosie Perez as a new co-host of ABC's daytime chat show.

ABC revealed Wednesday that Perez would join former GOP strategist Nicolle Wallace, teaming with stars Rosie O'Donnell and Whoopi Goldberg when The View's new season debuts Sept. 15.

In hiring Perez, a Brooklyn-born daughter of Puerto Rican parents, ABC did something new: It named the first Latina as a regular co-host in The View's 17-year history.

Which raises an important question: Will it matter?

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Arts & Life
1:37 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Joan Rivers, An Enduring Comic Who Turned Tragedy Into Showbiz Success, Dies

Rivers became permanent guest host for The Tonight Show in 1983, a gig that ended when she left to host her own late-night show on Fox. Here she interviews Miss America Suzette Charles in 1984.
AP

Originally published on Fri September 5, 2014 4:49 am

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Television
1:32 am
Thu September 4, 2014

CBS's Thursday Night Football: An Ambitious Alliance With A Lot At Stake

Actor Don Cheadle will narrate the opening for each broadcast of Thursday Night Football.
Neil Jacobs CBS

Originally published on Thu September 4, 2014 11:49 am

How much football is too much for TV?

That's the question CBS and the NFL may face Sept. 11, when the curtain rises on their ambitious experiment to build a new broadcast television home for pro football on Thursdays.

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Monkey See
3:03 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

New Amazon Series Pilots Fall Short Of A TV Revolution

Jay Chandrasekhar and Sarah Chalke are a married couple in the new Amazon Studios pilot Really.
Quantrell Colbert Amazon Studios

Originally published on Fri August 29, 2014 10:01 am

When it comes to original TV series, it's tough to understand exactly where Amazon is going.

At first, its strategy seemed simple: It went where big-ticket competitors like Netflix and HBO didn't, greenlighting comedies like Garry Trudeau's political satire Alpha House and the Silicon Valley series Betas, along with a raft of kids' shows.

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Television
5:17 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Emmy Awards 2014: Safe Choices In A Time Of Groundbreaking TV

For TV critics, last night's Emmy Awards show was a bit like seeing an old flame promise to treat you better, only to slide right back into the same old disappointing behavior.

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Television
5:02 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

Eric Deggans Live-Tweets The Emmys

Host Seth Meyers speaks onstage at the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards.
Kevin Winter Getty Images

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 7:55 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Monkey See
1:30 am
Fri August 22, 2014

TV's New Doctor Who Has An Old Connection To The Series

Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman star as The Doctor and Clara Oswald on the BBC science fiction drama Doctor Who.
Ray Burmiston/Ali BBC America

Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 1:02 pm

TV's longest-running science fiction program is about to get a new hero ... sort of.

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Television
9:12 am
Mon August 18, 2014

4 More Things NBC Must Do To Save 'Meet The Press'

Chuck Todd (left) and David Gregory appear together on NBC's Meet the Press in 2008.
Alex Wong Getty Images for Meet the Press

Originally published on Mon August 18, 2014 4:45 pm

In keeping with its recent tradition of drawn-out, publicly humiliating anchor switches, NBC has finally admitted it is replacing Meet the Press host David Gregory with the network's political director, Chuck Todd, on Sept. 7.

The switch had been rumored for months, as it became increasingly obvious that the Gregory-led Meet the Press was sinking in the ratings and failing to set the news agenda in ways it did when the late Tim Russert was at the helm. Gregory took over the show in 2008 after Russert's sudden death.

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Men In America
2:09 pm
Fri August 15, 2014

Don Draper? Tywin Lannister? These Aren't Your Father's TV Dads

Breaking Bad's Walter White always insisted his bad deeds were for a good cause: helping his family.
AMC

Originally published on Fri August 15, 2014 6:02 pm

Breaking Bad's Walter White was a liar, killer and the biggest meth cook in New Mexico. But he always insisted his bad acts were for a good cause: helping his wife and kids survive after he was stricken with cancer.

Then White went on the run, after his actions led directly to the death of his brother-in-law, and had to admit the truth: "I did it for me," he told estranged wife Skyler, in an emotional scene from the show's finale. "I liked it. I was good at it. ... I was alive."

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Monkey See
5:45 am
Tue August 12, 2014

Robin Williams: A Supreme Talent Who Was Always On

Robin Williams performs during the Sixth Annual Stand Up for Heroes charity event at the Beacon Theatre in New York in 2012.
Mike Coppola Getty Images

Originally published on Tue August 12, 2014 9:16 am

For many years, Robin Williams seemed like a talent who had no off switch.

From his standup comedy work to TV roles to talk show appearances to Oscar-caliber movies and performances on Broadway, Williams was a dervish of comedy — tossing off one-liners, biting asides and sidesplitting routines in a blizzard of accents, attitudes and goodhearted energy.

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