BET steps into the late night talk TV arena with “Don’t Sleep!” the new original series hosted by T.J. Holmes. Premiering on Monday, October 1 at 11 p.m., the half-hour news magazine will air Mondays through Thursdays with Holmes delivering “smart, biting social commentary on significant issues important to African Americans.”
“We are really trying to infuse ‘Don’t Sleep!’ with some debate, some conversation, some fun, some performances, some pop culture, some entertainment. We’re blending all that together,” says Holmes who, prior to joining BET Networks, anchored weekend coverage for CNN.
An award-winning journalist, Holmes is credited with securing some of the first stories from the survivors of US. Airways Flight 1549, which Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger miraculously crash-landed in the Hudson River in 2009. In addition, the University of Arkansas graduate covered the first presidential debate between Sen. John McCain and then-Sen. Barack Obama at the University of Mississippi, delivered stories from the shooting on the Virginia Tech campus and reported from “ground zero” during the September 11 attacks.
According to the network, “Don’t Sleep!” “presents and tackles current headlines that affect our community while also creating awareness about vital stories mainstream media tends to disregard.”
“I’ve always said I’ve never had an African-American boss in my chosen career, but I’ve had plenty of my bosses come look me dead in the eye and tell me what Black people think,” says Holmes. “This is an opportunity now to tell the country what we think. We are literally losing a generation of young men, and nobody seems to care. We have statistics come out that young Black men are only graduating at a 50 percent rate in this country. We have a crisis!”
The show will also address the negative stereotypes that have survived, and indeed now thrive, on the small screen, and Holmes observed, “A lot of people in our community feel too often that we are misrepresented on television. We’re not just some of the images you see on reality shows. Most of the Black women I know are not throwing drinks and punches at each other, folks!”
Holmes will be joined by executive producers Madeleine Smithberg and Sarah North of Mad Cow Productions, who will produce the late night show for BET audiences. Smithberg, an Emmy and Peabody award-winning producer, is the co-creator and former showrunner of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” producing more than 1100 episodes for the Emmy Award-winning series. “The goal at the end of the night is to make sure that people walk away and they learn something,” said Holmes.