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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5:15am

Tue October 21, 2014
Monkey See

Winners And Losers Of The Fall TV Season Begin To Emerge

Originally published on Tue October 21, 2014 9:34 am

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

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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5:24pm

Sun October 19, 2014
Code Switch

The Boston Herald's Missed 'Cartoongate' Lessons

Originally published on Mon October 20, 2014 10:38 am

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

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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4:23pm

Wed October 15, 2014
Media

HBO GO Available To Non-Cable Subscribers In 2015

Originally published on Wed October 15, 2014 6:54 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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7:45am

Sat October 11, 2014
Television

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

Originally published on Sat October 11, 2014 2:20 pm

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

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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4:20pm

Tue October 7, 2014
Television

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

Originally published on Wed October 8, 2014 2:03 pm

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

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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5:52am

Sun October 5, 2014
Monkey See

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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1:00pm

Thu October 2, 2014
Monkey See

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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5:10am

Wed October 1, 2014
Television

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

Originally published on Wed October 1, 2014 9:06 am

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

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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3:37pm

Fri September 26, 2014
Monkey See

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

Originally published on Fri September 26, 2014 6:23 pm

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

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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4:27pm

Wed September 24, 2014
Television

Network TV's Fall Lineup Distinguished By Diversity

Originally published on Wed September 24, 2014 6:14 pm

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

8:16am

Tue September 23, 2014
Code Switch

How Not To Handle A New Voice In TV

Originally published on Thu September 25, 2014 12:26 pm

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

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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10:33am

Mon September 22, 2014
Monkey See

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

Originally published on Tue September 23, 2014 10:20 am

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

4:16pm

Fri September 19, 2014
Code Switch

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

Originally published on Fri September 19, 2014 6:59 pm

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

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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5:40am

Sat September 13, 2014
Code Switch

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

Originally published on Sat September 13, 2014 1:27 pm

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

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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6:38am

Fri September 5, 2014
Code Switch

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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4:12pm

Thu September 4, 2014
Arts & Life

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

Originally published on Fri September 5, 2014 6:49 am

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

3:32am

Thu September 4, 2014
Television

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

Originally published on Thu September 4, 2014 1:49 pm

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

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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5:03pm

Thu August 28, 2014
Monkey See

New Amazon Series Pilots Fall Short Of A TV Revolution

Originally published on Fri August 29, 2014 12:01 pm

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

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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6:56pm

Tue August 26, 2014
Television

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

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 7:17 pm

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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3:30am

Fri August 22, 2014
Monkey See

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

Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 3:02 pm

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

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

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11:12am

Mon August 18, 2014
Television

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

Originally published on Mon August 18, 2014 6:45 pm

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

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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7:45am

Tue August 12, 2014
Monkey See

Robin Williams: A Supreme Talent Who Was Always On

Originally published on Tue August 12, 2014 11:16 am

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

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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8:14am

Fri July 25, 2014
Music News

'Purple Rain' Taught Me How To Be In A Band

Originally published on Sat July 26, 2014 10:54 am

"I never wanted to be your weekend lover": Prince and his Purple Rain costar Appolonia Kotero.
Warner Bros. Getty Images

4:19pm

Thu July 24, 2014
Monkey See

5 Things I Learned About TV's Future From The Critics Press Tour

Originally published on Thu July 24, 2014 7:09 pm

Noah Hawley (left) and Warren Littlefield, executive producers of the FX series Fargo, speak at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour.
Frederick M. Brown Getty Images

The voice came from over my shoulder, a shouted greeting in a room crowded with journalists, publicists, network executives, producers and stars.

I tuned to see David Boreanaz, star of the Fox TV show Bones, calling out to me like a long-lost friend. I knew he had mistaken me for someone else — in a party held by Fox at the exclusive Soho House club, where everyone from Kelsey Grammer to David Tennant was sipping cocktails and talking shop, it wasn't hard to make that kind of mistake.

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4:41pm

Sun July 20, 2014
Monkey See

Appreciating James Garner: TV's Best Unhero

James Garner plays Jim Rockford in The Rockford Files in a 1988 photo.
DPA /Landov

I didn't know, watching Isaac Hayes push James Garner around on The Rockford Files, that I was seeing a special character continue an important television legacy.

All I knew, as a devoted fan of Garner's put-upon private eye, was that Jim Rockford seemed like a kind of hero you never saw anywhere else on television.

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12:51pm

Wed July 16, 2014
Code Switch

Viola Davis Gets Groundbreaking Role As ABC Bets On Diversity

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 1:49 pm

Actress Viola Davis speaks about her new ABC show How to Get Away with Murder at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour in Los Angeles.
Frederick M. Brown Getty Images

7:03pm

Thu July 10, 2014
Monkey See

Snubs And Successes: 6 Lessons Learned From This Year's Emmy Nominations

Originally published on Sun July 13, 2014 7:27 pm

Mindy Kaling and Carson Daly announce nominations for The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards Thursday morning.
Kevin Winter Getty Images

There are things you could quibble about in the array of nominations announced today for the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards.

No best drama series nomination for CBS' The Good Wife, though several stars got acting nods. No acting nomination for Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany, though she plays about eight different roles on BBC America's clone-focused adventure drama. No best variety show nod for John Oliver's increasingly stellar Last Week Tonight on HBO. And a best TV miniseries nod for Lifetime's dreadful Bonnie and Clyde?

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1:18pm

Wed June 25, 2014
The Two-Way

Diane Sawyer's 'World News' Departure Sets Off Big Changes At ABC News

Originally published on Wed June 25, 2014 3:50 pm

ABC News anchors (from left) David Muir, Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos meet with ABC News President James Goldston.
Heidi Gutman ABC

Diane Sawyer will leave her job as anchor of ABC News' flagship program, World News, during the last week of August, capping a five-year run at the show and kicking off an anchor shuffle at the network.

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4:30pm

Tue June 24, 2014
Code Switch

'Freedom Summer' And 'The Watsons': Powerful TV About A Civil Rights Journey

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 4:15 pm

Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party delegates and supporters stage a demonstration on the boardwalk in front of the Atlantic City Convention Center in 1964.
Courtesy of George Ballis/Take Stock

As part of NPR's "Book Your Trip" series, TV critic Eric Deggans looks at a different kind of summertime journey, described in two books that became TV shows: PBS's documentary Freedom Summer, debuting tonight, and The Hallmark Channel's The Watsons Go to Birmingham.

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4:43pm

Fri June 20, 2014
Television

Sputtering On Fumes, 'True Blood' Has Outstayed Its Welcome

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 7:08 pm

HBO's True Blood, which returns for its final season Sunday, is a prime example of a TV show that kept going long after it should have ended. It's not alone, though: Other shows have stayed too long at the party, including Dexter and Law & Order: SVU. Why is it that some shows stay on air well after they've run out of creative juice?

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