TV One presents two special editions of Unsung: Hollywood featuring the legendary television show The Jeffersons, premiering Sunday, October 22 at 10 p.m. ET; and rapper and actor Tupac, premiering Sunday, October 29 at 10 p.m. ET.
“With the success of Unsung focused on music, it’s a natural extension for TV One to create the Unsung Hollywood spin-off featuring legends outside of the music industry because there are so many of our stories that need to be told,” says TV One Interim General Manager Michelle Rice. “The Jeffersons was a successful television show in the Black community at its inception and TV One is honored to air it in syndication so that its humor can bring joy to new generations. Similarly, Tupac Shakur was a phenomenal rapper and activist who was building an exemplary acting career. We know our viewers will be pleasantly surprised by insights they learn through Unsung Hollywood.”
One of the most acclaimed and successful sitcoms of all time, The Jeffersons made history as the first series to showcase an upwardly mobile black family in primetime, and in so doing changed perceptions about African American life on and off screen. For 11 ground-breaking seasons, The Jeffersons kept America laughing while pushing hot-button issues like racism, classism, interracial marriage, gender identity and women’s rights. Along the way, the series garnered 13 Emmy nominations and made iconic stars out of Sherman Hemsley, Isabel Sanford and Marla Gibbs. When Sanford won in 1981, she was just the second African American actress to win an Emmy Award.
“Most viewers do not know the stories behind the series. You can’t give enough credit to Norman Lear who was brave enough to create and spearhead the show as a spin-off from All in the Family,” says Jubba Seyyid, Senior Director of Programming & Production. “The audience will be surprised to hear some of the tales of their favorite characters on television. This is one of those episodes of Unsung Hollywood where you’ll laugh, cry and learn.”
In addition to commentary from Marla Gibbs, insights for Unsung Hollywood: The Jeffersons are provided by family and friends, including Norman Lear, Berlinda Tolbert, Don B. Welch and Ernest L. Thomas.
On Sunday, October 29, Unsung Hollywood explores the fascinating B side of Tupac’s career in entertainment – his remarkable body of work in film and TV.
“Tupac is iconic and he transcends music and television. We’ve heard his story told before, but as a musician. We don’t think he got credit for his acting prowess,” says Seyyid. “He was as talented an actor as he was a musician. Actually, he was a triple threat: Music, acting and activism. Possibly if he hadn’t left us, he would be participating in Oscar-worthy performances by now because that’s just the type of talent he was.”
The legendary rapper Tupac actually had a passion for acting before he got into hip-hop. At the age of 12 Tupac was cast in A Raisin in the Sun at the Apollo Theater, and the desire to perform on stage stayed with him for the rest of his life. As a teen, Tupac attended the Baltimore School for the Arts, where he fell in love with Shakespeare and Broadway, and where he formed a close and lifelong friendship with Jada Pinkett Smith.
As his rap career took off, Tupac never took his eye off his other dream. In 1991, with “2Pacalypse” going gold, he landed a starring role in “Juice,” which was a critical and commercial success. That led to other acclaimed roles, including standout turns in “Poetic Justice” and “Above the Rim.” Pac was poised to become a major Hollywood star, but criminal charges, prison time, rap feuds and other beefs got in the way. He was fired from “Menace II Society” after getting into a conflict with director Allen Hughes, whom he later assaulted. A week before he was gunned down in Las Vegas in 1996, Pac met with John Singleton, who wanted him to star in the classic coming of age film, “Baby Boy”. In the year after he died, he appeared in three more films, “Bullet” with Mickey Rourke, “Gridlock’d,” opposite Thandie Newton and “Gang Related.”
Insights from family and friends are provided by Ice T, Ice Cube, John Singleton, Andre Harrell, Leon, Duane Martin, Guy Torry, Joe Torry, Money B, Shaun Baker, Robi Reed, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Mopreme Shakur, YoYo, Lance Gross, and Malik Yoba.
For more information on Unsung Hollywood, visit TV One’s YouTube Channel and catch full the full episodes the day after premiering on www.tvone.tv/unsung. Viewers can also join the conversation by connecting via social media on TV One’s Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (@tvonetv) and the Unsung Facebook(@tvoneunsung) using the hashtag #UNSUNGHOLLYWOOD.