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Here and Now aired from September 1992 until January 1993 on NBC.
Bill Cosby was executive producer of this rather hard-edged, inner-city sitcom, which was as downscale black as The Cosby Show was upper-middle-class "white." A.J. ( played by The Cosby Show's Malcolm-Jamal Warner)was a young graduate student in psychology who voluntered to work at the Upper Manhattan youth Center, a hotbed of smart-alecky and sometimes troubled kids. Reformed delinquent "T" ( Darryl "Chill" Mitchell)was his sidekick and the class clown; Randall ( Pee Wee Love), the tough guy; William ( Shaun Weiss), a street-smart 13-year old; Amy ( Jessica Stone), a fellow student and co-worker at the center; and Ms. St. Marth ( S. Epatha Merkerson)the center's director. A.J. lived with his "Uncle" ( not really) Sydney ( Charles Brown), a doorman and his dad's old war buddy, and had designs on Sydney's cute daughter, his "cousin"( not really) Danielle ( Rachel Crawford).
Although the series strove to reflect black culture( every line seemed to include "yo" or "hey man") it could never quite decide whether it was drama or comedy.One episode might contain a truly frightening standoff between A.J. and a vicious drug dealer, another a warm, friendly comedy-with-a-moral. Here and Now was then-and-gone by January.
A Review from the Baltimore Sun
'Here and Now' hopes to capture 'Cosby' audience
September 19, 1992|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Television Critic
If you felt sad back in May watching Theo graduate and saying goodbye to the Huxtables in the final episode of "Cosby," NBC has something it hopes will make you feel better at 8 tonight on WMAR (Channel 2).
"Here and Now," a new sitcom starring Malcolm-Jamal Warner, is Theo-three-months-later in everything but name. Warner's new character is named Alexander James instead of Theo Huxtable.
But James is a graduate student working part time as a youth counselor in New York City, just as Theo might be on the time line of the "Cosby" sitcom universe. And James walks, talks and thinks just like Theo Huxtable.
None of this is too surprising, of course, since Bill Cosby is an executive producer of "Here and Now," and NBC desperately needs to hold on to as many viewers who loved Theo and the other Huxtables as it can.
The series just might deliver for NBC. The pilot is full of much promise and a couple of major flaws.
Most of the action takes place at the youth center, which is filled with a talented bunch of kids. The actors -- almost to a kid -- are knee-deep in attitude without being so cutesy and precocious that you want to gag. And Warner is a remarkably easy-going and engaging presence.
The problem tonight is that the show tackles a deep and complicated problem -- drug abuse and drug dealing -- and offers the kind of resolution that works fine when it involves Theo failing a geometry test, but seems super-sitcom-simplistic when applied to drugs.
There are surely not as many laughs. But this is a series that looks like it wants to be as rich in great role models and messages as "Cosby" was.
And that's more than enough reason to root for it.
'Here and Now'
When: Tonight at 8.
Where: WMAR (Channel 2).
An Article from the Chicago Tribune
On His Own
Malcolm-jamal Moves On To `Here And Now`
October 06, 1992|By Mark Caro.
Malcolm-Jamal Warner has this pet peeve. ``You`re at a function or something,`` he says, ``and you see an actor you know, and they look at you and call you `Theo.` I find that very strange.``
Theo Huxtable and ``The Cosby Show`` are gone. These days, Malcolm-Jamal is busy making a name for himself.
He has directed several projects, such as the Magic Johnson/Arsenio Hall AIDS-information video, ``Time Out - The Truth about HIV, AIDS and You.``
Plus, the 22-year-old actor is the star of a new NBC-TV series, ``Here and Now,`` which airs Saturdays at 7 p.m.
Malcolm-Jamal carries the show as a grad student who works with inner-city kids. He still turns to his old TV dad for advice - Bill Cosby is executive producer of ``Here and Now.``
``Now we can really relate to each other even more because he
knows different things I`m going through,`` Malcolm-Jamal says. Malcolm-Jamal, who was named after activist Malcolm X and jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal, is also close to his real parents. He often visits his father, Robert, who runs an African-American boys` community group in Chicago. And his mother, Pamela, is his manager.
``It`s wonderful,`` Malcolm-Jamal says of being a son and client, though he adds: ``We definitely disagree on a lot of things.``
What would mom think of her son playing a really bad guy, like maybe a killer?
``Actually, that`s what we both want. That`s a role I`m dying to do just so I can break out of this goody-goody image.``
Magic and Arsenio asked him to direct ``Time Out`` because he could bring it that ``MTV vibe,`` he says. And he had fun calling the shots. ``It was real cool. We played a whole lot of ball.``
The tape is available at video stores all over, though it has drawn some heat. The L.A. school system has expressed concern about its appropriateness
for kids. ``I think unfortunately that they underestimate young
people,`` Malcolm-Jamal says. ``Actually, I think more adults need to watch it as well, so they can understand what their children can relate to.``
An Article from the Chicago Tribune
Project Image Keeps Kids On The Right Path
Tv Star Follows Dad`s Real-life Footsteps
October 13, 1992|By Brenda Herrmann.
On the new NBC-TV show ``Here and Now,`` former ``Cosby`` kid Malcolm-Jamal Warner portrays A.J., a young man who works with disadvantaged youths in a city center.
But what does Warner, a kid with a six-figure weekly salary, know about disadvantaged youths?
Surprisingly, quite a bit. And he learned all of it from his father.
Chicago`s Robert Warner Jr., 44, is not only father to a television star, but he`s also the director of Project Image Youth Network, an eight-year-old program that takes black boys from the streets of the South Side and helps them to understand the benefits of a good education and to learn about those oft-mentioned family values.
One way it does this is through its mentor program, which pairs successful black men with black boys for one-on-one conversations.
``The fact is there are many more black men in prison than there are in college,`` Robert Warner explains.
``With this program, we are offering youngsters another alternative to gangs and crime. We are giving them a philosophy of life and a plan for success.``
More than 1,000 boys are served each year by the program, which offers after-school tutoring, athletic activities, retreats, counseling, cultural programs and field trips. Although there haven`t been enough funds to build a youth center (the program is entirely funded by private and corporate donations), neighborhood schools and churches connect boys with the program and provide places for them to meet with counselors and mentors.
``Some of the boys even participate over the phone,`` Warner said. ``It`s important to them to have a man they can call, at any time, when they need guidance. We hook them up with a mentor and they get together and do recreational things or just talk man-to-man.``
`Rite of passage`
Malcolm-Jamal Warner has been involved in Project Image since his father took over in 1990 and has become a very marketable spokesman for the program. ``I think it`s desperately needed,`` the actor said in a recent phone interview.
``Any kind of community-based organization for young boys is important right now when we`re dealing with a society where there just aren`t enough strong role models for African-American boys. Project Image is the ideal place for these boys because it carries a boy through a certain rite of passage into manhood.``
Project Image also sponsors an annual Man-Boy Conference, which features motivational speakers and Afro-centric topics. The program also promotes regular community discussions on topics ranging from gang psychology to black- on-black killings to the way blacks are portrayed in the entertainment industry.
When the gang-centered film ``Boyz N the Hood`` came out last year, for example, participants met to watch the film and discuss it.
Project Image also organizes special events for its boys.
``We hold summer camps and we take them on trips around Chicago as well,`` Robert Warner said.
``Many of the boys on the South Side of Chicago have never even been downtown or to other areas. We find they are eager for new experiences. We try to take them to different places that will give them a new experience.
``If you give children enough new experiences, eventually one of them will turn them on and give them an idea of what they can do with their lives. We want to turn on a light inside them, to get them hooked on something besides the streets.``
Matthew Moten, 17, has lived on the South Side all his life but heard of Project Image only this summer when he was looking for a job. He worked passing out questionnaires concerning the community and talking to kids about the program.
``I tell them that this is a black, male organization that teaches boys how to be men,`` Moten said. ``I talked to a lot of kids. They weren`t gangbangers, but they were on the verge of being one. . . .
``When the boys come in for the first time, they`ll be sitting around talking about gangs and gang stuff,`` Moten said.
Another way to go
``But after a while, they stop talking about it. They find out how nice the people are here and that you can call them anytime and talk with them. It`s peer pressure that makes them want to be in gangs. Most teens think there`s only one way to go, but Project Image teaches you that there`s more than one way.``
Moten, a student at Emil Hirsch High School, plans to attend college and study medicine. ``I was always good,`` he said, ``but Project Image taught me how to be more responsible.``
Participant Stacy McQueen, 14, is more succinct: ``It keeps kids off the streets and it`s fun,`` the South Side boy said.
South Side resident Clara Ward, 38, said that since her 16-year-old son Lashon began working with the program, she has really noticed a difference.
``In the summer, he started working with them helping taking care of younger boys,`` Ward said. ``It makes him feel responsible for himself, like a grown man. Any time they ask him to come in, he`s there early. Lashon is just a lot more responsible now and they have a lot to do with it.
``It keeps the children out of gangs and puts something on their minds besides running around,`` Ward added.
Project Image has several success stories for its few years, Warner said. ``We had one youngster from the Englewood Community who was gang affiliated but he didn`t want to be-he found he had to join a gang just to get around his neighborhood,`` Warner recalled.
``He came to us, talked about his problems with us and became a regular in our programs. He left the gang and now he`s in his junior year at the University of Illinois and planning to go to law school. He comes home every summer to work in our church outreach program to help other kids who started like he did.``
Returning to help is a key step in the Project Image program. ``We encourage the men to come back and create access for the next generation,``
Warner said. ``We tell them it`s their responsibility to come back and help their community-and they are glad to help.``
Besides the usual shortage of money any charitable organization faces, Project Image also has a dearth of mentors.
``We can`t provide a lot of one-to-one contact,`` Warner noted. ``There`s a real shortage of black men who are physically and ideologically available. We are seeking mentors, though, and hope to bring in more as they realize what is required.
``Many men are under the impression that being a mentor would require a great deal of time, but it`s actually only a little. One talk every few weeks and regular telephone conversations is sufficient. The most important thing is that each boy knows he has someone he can turn to when he really needs someone.``
Malcolm a drawing card
Warner has spent his career in helping inner-city boys. A Chicago native, he attended Howalton Day Elementary School and John Marshall Harlan High. He graduated from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and received a master`s in social sciences and history from the University of Chicago.
After college, Warner worked in community programs in New Jersey, and with his first wife, Pamela, formed a performing arts company that helped Malcolm get his first taste of acting.
Malcolm, 21, is the oldest of Warner`s three children and the only child from Warner`s marriage to Pamela. Warner also has two daughters, Gabrae, 19, and Collage, 11, with his second wife, Carol.
Warner noted that the presence of his son at events is certain to draw attention.
``Last November, Malcolm participated in the Man-Boy Conference and 850 boys showed up,`` Warner recalls.
``Before that, it had only been about 300, but when the neighborhoods found out Malcolm would be there, they really turned out. His celebrity has really helped us reach a lot of boys and broaden the scope of what we do. He`s also a real role model for the boys-a genuine African-American success story.``
Malcolm`s father couldn`t be more tickled that now his son has a starring role doing the things Warner does every day.
``Now Malcolm is starring in his own show where his character works with disadvantaged youths,`` his father said.
``I don`t know how the concept came about, if Malcolm suggested it or if it was just a strange coincidence. He has seen me in action, though, and his mother did some social work at one time as well.
``He`s always been involved in public service, even when he was first starting on `Cosby.` I like to think some of that rubbed off from me.``
For more information on Project Image, call 312-324-8700.
To read an article about Here and Now go to http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=96pJAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Sg4NAAAAIBAJ&dq=malcolm-jamal%20warner&pg=1576%2C1689278
To watch an episode of Here and Now go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFdrMER5po4
For more on Here and Now go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Here_and_Now_(1992_TV_series)
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