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Claude's Crib aired from January until April 1997 on The USA Network.

Black comic Claude Brooks created this homey little sitcom which aired briefly on Sunday nights. Claude was a twenty-something guy who had a lot going on in his life, what with college studies, a part-time job as a DJ at a local club, and being landlord to the diverse group of young tenants who lived in the house he inherited from his grandmother. Most of the action took place in the house ( his "crib"), where the multi-racial boarders were bossy black aerobics instructor Kaylene ( Tembi Locke), naive midwesterner Julie ( Jennifer Aspen), bumbling geek Bailey ( Matt Champagne), and Asian-American slacker Des ( James Wong). Shorty ( Anthony C. Hall) was Claude's six-foot-three-inch pal and Al ( Larry Hankin) the irritable next-door neighbor who had a fetish for statues of toads.

An Article from the LA Times

USA Adds Sitcoms 'Earth' and 'Crib'
January 04, 1997|STEVEN LINAN

USA Network, cable's home to sitcom veterans "Duckman" and "Weird Science," introduces two new comedies this weekend that are neither ducky nor scientific. Unfortunately, they are merely dim and dumb.

The first is "Lost on Earth," a mirthless half-hour starring Tim Conlon, a star of Fox's short-lived "Wild Oats." Conlon plays David Rudy, an Albuquerque TV reporter whose on-air gaffe with a chimpanzee (don't ask) results in a demotion leveled by his stern, ratings-conscious boss (Paul Gleason).

David, who is sleeping with the boss' daughter (Stacy Galina), avoids dismissal by agreeing to anchor a show featuring a gaggle of grotesque puppets.

While bemoaning his fate, the sarcastic David discovers these garish pieces of foam are actually aliens who were stranded here while exploring the universe. And how does he know that? Why, they can talk, of course.

More's the pity since little that comes out of their mouths is either clever or funny.

Too silly for adults and too coarse for kids, "Earth" is a lost cause.

Equally unrewarding is "Claude's Crib," an interracial "Friends" about a hip-hop landlord balancing the demands of his twentysomething boarders and hectic personal life.

Claude Brooks is the African American star, creator and co-producer of this clunky comedy set in a two-story house that was inherited from his character's deceased grandmother.

One of the tenants is a hapless white guy (Matt Champagne) who never dates. Another is a slothful Asian (James Wong) who likes to eat, watch TV and roller-blade while waiting for rent checks from the Far East.

In the opener, two women--a naive Midwesterner (Jennifer Aspen) and a headstrong aerobics instructor (Tembi Locke)--contend with Claude's sexist attitude while applying for a room.

Those who relish smart, sophisticated dialogue are advised to go elsewhere. At one point, for example, the Asian Des tells Claude, "If I wanted a job, I'd still be in Taiwan making clothes for Kathie Lee Gifford."

And if I wanted a snooze, I'd still be watching this show.

* "Lost on Earth" premieres tonight at 7 and "Claude's Crib" premieres Sunday at 7 p.m., both on USA Network.

An Article from The Chicago Tribune

Imagine being 27 years old with the chance to create and...
January 05, 1997|By Allan Johnson, Tribune Staff Writer.

Imagine being 27 years old with the chance to create and produce a show for a television network. Sounds like it could be a daunting task for someone so young, right?

Meet Claude Brooks.

"I don't really go thinking about it in that order," says Brooks. "When you're in it, you're in it and you're doing it. Every day's just about getting to that next level."

Brooks, now 28, was asked by the USA Network about a 1 1/2 years ago to come up with several story ideas. One of them was "Clinton's Crib," a Generation-X, multicultural comedy about a guy who owned a large home with several boarders under his roof.

"Clinton's Crib" became "Claude's Crib," which has its series premiere at 6 p.m. Sunday on USA. The name change is just one chapter in an interesting history of a former kid actor turned producer.

Starting out as a 9-year-old doing commercials, Brooks played young Terry Freeman in Fox's interracial family comedy "True Colors." It was on that 1990-'92 series that the young actor became interested in what was happening on the other side of the camera.

"Right before (the show) went off, I kind of got the bug for just producing," Brooks said. He eventually wrote an episode of "True Colors."

After the show went off the air, the New York native was offered several acting jobs, but "I had a little cash in the bank and I really wanted to delve into just straight-up producing," Brooks said during a telephone conversation from the dressing room on the set of his series.

"You look at the world when you're young and you're like, (forget) it, I'll take a chance, what do I have to lose?" he laughed. "And at the time, the only thing I had was me and my dog."

Brooks went on to produce specials for ABC, Fox and MTV, including an ABC Saturday morning show directed by another former kid actor working behind the scenes, "The Cosby Show's" Malcolm-Jamal Warner.

Brooks wrote and produced the documentary "Todd Bridges on a Mission," about the life of the ex-"Diff'rent Strokes" actor who has since had numerous run-ins with drugs and the law.

"It was kind of like a 'Scared Straight' documentary," said Brooks about the film, which is shown in schools, colleges and institutions around the country.

"That was more like a give-back piece than anything else for me," added Brooks, who grew up in Harlem and saw how crack ravaged the lives of friends and neighbors, "whether they were going jail behind it, or dying behind it, or just being straight sick behind it."

It was that documentary, as well some of his other projects, that caught the eye of the USA Network, who Brooks said was looking at him to help create some new programming. The network was especially interested in a series with a multi-ethnic cast.

"I just told them about 'Clinton's Crib' on the spot," Brooks said. "And at the end of it they were like, 'Well, what do you feel about acting again? We'd love for you to play the lead role.' "

USA Entertainment president Rod Perth picked up the story:

"We were very much part of the vision of doing a show with Claude, as well as the strong belief that Claude had all of those ingredients that can make a television star in a major way. He's accessible, he's hip, and while he has an edge, he's also incredibly warm."

But it wasn't Brooks' inclination to be the star of the show, which he co-created with Linda Yearwood.

"When you become the actor in it, somehow your vision ends up getting taken away, because they want to bring on a producer over you and it just becomes like an ego-dynamic (situation). Then your producer credit is more of a vanity credit, as opposed to people taking it seriously." said Brooks, who is a co-producer.

"I really wanted to make it clear to them that this is where I stood. And on their behalf they were like, 'Look, that's perfect, because we don't know jack about Generation X.' "

Bill Boulware, executive producer of "Claude's Crib" and a creator of "227," said that Brooks is "very much interested in that (production) aspect of the show."

"He's been very helpful in showing concern and giving advice on the details of the show, which is things like what the people are wearing, what kind of music you hear." (Brooks co-wrote the theme song with hip-hop producer Def Jeff.)

Brooks plays Claude DuPree, a cocky but warm-hearted disc jockey and college student who rents out rooms in his late grandmother's home to an African American aerobics instructor (Tembi Locke), a white Internet-nerd (Matt Champagne), a valley-boyish Asian slacker (James Wong), and a white, naive aspiring model (Jennifer Aspen).

"Claude's Crib" joins a small list of series with an African American as the lead of a cast that isn't all black. UPN's "Minor Adjustments" and ABC's "Benson" are two other such shows.

(USA's Rod Perth is happy to have a series on his network that is "more ethnically balanced," and is looking at another comedy starring an African American.)

"I think that it helps the show in making it feel, for most of us, a little more realistic," said Boulware, a former writer for "Benson," "in the sense that we all interact with a lot of people of different races, especially here in Los Angeles. And I think what it does mostly is make the show even more accessible to most people."

Brooks, who would like to produce, and not necessarily act in, more projects for both television and movies, wants to make sure the humor isn't just racially motivated.

"Every joke isn't about the differences in our races," he said. "If it comes up organically, though, we for sure hit it. Because that's humor, man. That's the beauty of life."

For more on Claude's Crib go to

For a Website dedicated to Jennifer Aspen go to

To watch a promo of Claude's Crib go to and
Date: Sun November 27, 2011 � Filesize: 65.7kb, 117.9kbDimensions: 798 x 1000 �
Keywords: Claude's Crib (Links Upfated 7/25/18)


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