by Veronica Miller -thegrio.com
The veteran movie producer may soon be adding “talk show host” to his resume. Yesterday, he took to Instagram to reveal the set of Tyler: The Tyler Perry Show, which will air on Oprah’s OWN channel.
“Look what I’m working on,” posted Perry along with the photograph. “Coming on next Tuesday after The Haves And The Have Nots, only on OWN.”
Perry, wearing a navy track suit, is seen standing front and center of the soundstage, which resembles a set from The Voice or America’s Best Dance Crew more than a late-night talk show. The design seems to fit Perry’s outsized persona as an entertainment mogul, as it includes vibrant blue and purple lighting, a bit of a runway and a massive video screen in the backdrop.
Perry, it seems, is riding the wave of success that television, and specifically his partnership with OWN, has brought him recently. Perry’s first two television shows, House of Payne and Meet the Browns, became high-performing sitcoms on TBS. Both continue to be shown in syndication.
In 2012, Perry signed a deal with Oprah’s network to bring several scripted programs to the channel, resulting in several new programs – The Haves and Have Nots, Love Thy Neighbor, and Tyler Perry’s For Better or Worse (which had been cancelled by TBS, but revived by OWN.) The Haves And Have Nots has become the most popular cable show on Tuesday nights. And a new show, The Single Moms Club, is slated to premiere later this year.
Compare the success of Tyler Perry’s TV projects with that of his recent box-office offerings. Perry’s last film, Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas, made a rather disappointing show at the theaters this past holiday season – it had the worst opening weekend of any Madea film, and the third-worst opening among Perry’s film projects.
Tyler Perry’s Peeples barely made a blip at the box office when it was released last spring, despite having Kerry Washington and Craig Robinson in starring roles. That film made just over $9 million during its run at the theaters, the worst-ever performance of a Tyler Perry film.
And last spring’s Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor did see respectable numbers at the box office, but suffered devastating reviews from critics. Between the contrived storyline, the borderline offensive ending and the casting of Kim Kardashian, the movie won more enemies than friends. Several reviewers deemed it Perry’s worst film ever.
So it seems Perry’s commitment to television is right on time. Fans of his film work may be moving on to greener pastures, but television viewers are committed enough to tune into his dramas and sitcoms every week. (It also doesn’t hurt that he seems to have carte blanche at OWN).
As for Perry’s new talk show, an official statement has yet to be released. So for now, the Instagram post is the only clue into what kind of program Tyler: The Tyler Perry Show might be.
It’s entirely possible that the show is simply an occasional special, much like 2009’s and 2010’s The Tyler Perry Show on TBS; those programs amounted to one-hour promotional vehicles for Tyler Perry’s latest films at the time (I Can Do Bad All By Myself and Why Did I Get Married Too?). Perry’s next movie, The Single Moms Club, hit theaters March 14th, so there’s a good chance the television project is merely a spruced-up press junket for the film.
But if it’s not – if Tyler turns out to be Perry’s entry into the late night talk arena – can Tyler Perry be effective in this new role as a talk show host? If previous clips of The Tyler Perry Show are any indication, Tyler: The Tyler Perry show may be more self-referential than most late night fare, which won’t work with viewers in the long run.
(And serious question: How many times can one person’s name show up in the title of a TV show?)
Any curiosities about Perry’s new project will be answered next Tuesday, when Tyler: The Tyler Perry Show debuts on OWN. In the meantime, we’re taking bets on who the first guest will be – my guess is Tyler Perry.