Eric Deggans

Eric Deggans is NPR's first full-time TV critic.

Deggans came to NPR in 2013 from the Tampa Bay Times, where he served a TV/Media Critic and in other roles for nearly 20 years. A journalist for more than 20 years, he is also the author of Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation, a look at how prejudice, racism and sexism fuels some elements of modern media, published in October 2012, by Palgrave Macmillan.

In August 2013, Deggans guest hosted CNN's media analysis show Reliable Sources, joining a select group of journalists and media critics filling in for departed host Howard Kurtz. Earlier in the same month, he was awarded the Florida Press Club's first-ever Diversity award, honoring his coverage of issues involving race and media. He received the Legacy award from the National Association of Black Journalists' A&E Task Force, an honor bestowed to "seasoned A&E journalists who are at the top of their careers." Deggans serves on the board of educators, journalists and media experts who select the George Foster Peabody Awards for excellence in electronic media.

He also has joined a prestigious group of contributors to the first ethics book created in conjunction with the Poynter Institute for Media Studies for journalism's digital age: The New Ethics of Journalism, published in August 2013, by Sage/CQ Press.

Deggans has won reporting and writing awards from the Society for Features Journalism, American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Black Journalists, The Florida Press Club and the Florida Society of News Editors. In 2010, he made national headlines interviewing former USDA official Shirley Sherrod at the NABJ's summer convention in San Diego, leading a panel discussion that was covered by all the major cable news and network TV morning shows.

Named in 2009, as one of Ebony magazine's "Power 150" – a list of influential black Americans which also included Oprah Winfrey and PBS host Gwen Ifill – Deggans was selected to lecture at Columbia University's prestigious Graduate School of Journalism in 2008 and 2005. He has lectured or taught as an adjunct professor at Loyola University, California State University, Indiana University, University of Tampa, Eckerd College and many other colleges.

His writing has also appeared in the New York Times online, Salon magazine, CNN.com, the Washington Post, Village Voice, VIBE magazine, Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free Press, Chicago Sun-Times, Seattle Times, Emmy magazine, Newsmax magazine, Rolling Stone Online and a host of other newspapers across the country.

From 2004 to 2005, Deggans sat on the then-St. Petersburg Times editorial board and wrote bylined opinion columns. From 1997 to 2004, he worked as TV critic for the Times, crafting reviews, news stories and long-range trend pieces on the state of the media industry both locally and nationally. He originally joined the paper as its pop music critic in November 1995. He has worked at the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey and both the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Press newspapers in Pennsylvania.

Now serving as chair of the Media Monitoring Committee for the National Association of Black Journalists, he has also served on the board of directors for the national Television Critics Association and on the board of the Mid-Florida Society of Professional Journalists.

Additionally, he worked as a professional drummer in the 1980s, touring and performing with Motown recording artists The Voyage Band throughout the Midwest and in Osaka, Japan. He continues to perform with area bands and recording artists as a drummer, bassist and vocalist.

Deggans earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science and journalism from Indiana University.

Pages

Monkey See
10:03 am
Tue May 27, 2014

'Mad Men' Pauses At The Half-Season With A Song And Dance

Jon Hamm as Don Draper, who ended the first half of Mad Men's last season in a state of uncertainty — as always.
Justina Mintz AMC

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 3:38 pm

A death, a divorce, a song and dance number and a sale; must be the end of another Mad Men season.

Creator Matt Weiner has a reputation for ending seasons on a melodramatic note. And even though this year's run of Mad Men episodes was cut in half by AMC to set the series finale next year, Sunday's "Waterloo" still managed to close 2014's seven-episode run with a jolt.

Read more
Monkey See
10:50 am
Fri May 23, 2014

A Painful But Critical Reminder From 'The Normal Heart'

Mark Ruffalo in HBO's filmed version of The Normal Heart.
Jojo Whilden HBO

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 1:09 pm

Every so often, storytellers land on the same idea close enough to the same time that it rattles the zeitgeist like an earthquake.

Read more
Monkey See
12:13 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

This Fall, TV Looks Much More Diverse: Now Don't Screw It Up

ABC's How To Get Away With Murder stars Oscar nominee Viola Davis.
Craig Sjodin ABC

For those of us who have spent time arguing for increased ethnic and cultural diversity on television, the last seven days have felt like a fantasy fever dream.

This week, the big broadcast networks announced their schedules for the 2014-15 TV season during the industry's "upfront" presentations to advertisers. And there are 10 new series featuring non-white characters and/or show creators – numbers we haven't seen since the days when everybody was trying to clone The Cosby Show.

Read more
Television
2:42 am
Wed May 14, 2014

How Funny Or Die Makes Room For What Works

Billy Eichner's series Billy on the Street is an example of a project that was developed at Funny or Die and now lives on cable television.
John Durgee AP

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 3:11 pm

When I showed up at Funny or Die's West Hollywood headquarters earlier this year, staffers weren't hanging out with Will Ferrell or taping a cool new video with the president.

They were kicking around a ball.

"The Internet went out for 10 minutes, so we were playing soccer," said one young staffer, nudging around a ball in a set of offices that looked more like the home base of a Silicon Valley startup than a comedy incubator.

It was just growing pains; at the time, the company was completing its third move in four years.

Read more
Television
3:21 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Louis C.K. Takes On TV Hypocrisy, Aiming Scrutiny Back At Himself

Louis C.K. in the episode "So Did the Fat Lady," which also stars actress Sarah Baker.
Craig Blankenhorn FX

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 11:51 pm

He's known as an astute comic observer with an unerring ability to skewer the most hypocritical moments of modern life. But it turns out Louis C.K. can also be a surprising example of TV's double standard when it comes to men, women and weight. He complains about his tubby body in part of his standup act. But on his TV show, his love interests are often beautiful, thin actresses like Parker Posey and Yvonne Strahovski.

Read more
Monkey See
12:33 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

4 Lessons From The Networks' Report Cards

Katherine Heigl as Charleston Tucker and Alfre Woodard as President Constance Payton in NBC's State Of Affairs.
Michael Parmelee NBC

Originally published on Mon May 12, 2014 9:56 pm

It's rubber meets the road time in TV land.

Today begins the week in which the nation's big broadcast networks officially unveil their new schedules for the 2014-15 TV season to New York's advertising community – and by extension, the world.

Read more
Television
3:16 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

Let's Be Careful Out There: The Legacy Of 'Hill Street Blues'

Michael Conrad as Sgt. Phil Esterhaus does the cop roll call, concluding with his signature line: "Let's be careful out there."
NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 8, 2014 6:49 pm

This is the moment that launched a TV revolution, every week. The police roll call: Sgt. Phil Esterhaus faced his colleagues — a paternal, knowing grin on his face — while he ran down the day's advisories about a black male pickpocket wearing a blond wig and purple dress, or the need for officers to catch a rapist terrorizing their precinct.

"Let's spend a little less time flirting with the hookers and the waitresses and put some heavy attention on that park," Esterhaus told his patrolmen in one roll call, sparking laughter and feigned denials from the crowd.

Read more
Monkey See
7:03 am
Mon May 5, 2014

Jack Bauer Is Back, But One Woman Has His Number

Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) is back in Fox's 24: Live Another Day.
Christopher Raphael Fox

Originally published on Mon May 5, 2014 3:36 pm

Let's get one thing straight right away: Fox's new version of 24 references all sorts of newfangled ideas about politics, espionage and terrorism — from the use of drones to kill America's enemies to efforts by hackers in the Edward Snowden mold to expose governments' illegal acts.

But the heart of Fox's slimmed-down 24: Live Another Day is the same as it's always been: a principled, misunderstood Jack Bauer letting no rule book, villain or clueless bureaucrat stop him from doing what must be done for the greater good.

Read more
Monkey See
12:35 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

How Craig Ferguson Unmade The Late-Night Talk Show

Craig Ferguson set a very individual course for himself in a field with a lot of standard elements. Now, as David Letterman moves on from CBS late night, Ferguson does too.
Lisette M. Azar CBS

Originally published on Tue April 29, 2014 12:42 pm

As has become the recent custom over at CBS, when Craig Ferguson decided to announce his departure from The Late Late Show on Monday, he had a self-deprecating joke ready.

Read more
Television
12:44 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

John Oliver Does His Best 'Daily Show' Impression For HBO

John Oliver's new show, Last Week Tonight, debuted Sunday on HBO.
Eric Liebowitz HBO

Originally published on Mon April 28, 2014 4:37 pm

Fans who worried that John Oliver's new HBO program might somehow diminish his legacy at The Daily Show can rest easy.

Because apparently he's decided to copy it.

Read more
Television
3:36 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

'Inside Amy Schumer,' Some Surprising Commentary

Inside Amy Schumer showcases the work of Schumer, here with Deborah Rush.
Matt Peyton Comedy Central

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 11:50 am

No one can send up sexism with a punch line quite like Amy Schumer.

"A lot of the women's magazines are supposed to, like, be confidence building, but they really just scare ... you so you buy the products in them," she says in one stand-up routine. "Like, they all will put Jessica Alba or somebody like that on the cover. And she's supersexualized no matter what magazine. ... And you're like, 'Good Housekeeping?' "

Read more
Television
11:48 am
Fri April 18, 2014

The Return Of The Many Shows They Call 'Orphan Black'

Tatiana Maslany plays many roles in BBC America's Orphan Black.
Steve Wilkie BBC America

When I saw the first episode of BBC America's Orphan Black last year, I was convinced it was a crappy Canadian police drama.

That's because the set-up seemed like the oddest sort of crime procedural nonsense. A street urchin-style grifter sees a middle class woman who looks just like her leap in front of a commuter train, nabs her purse and climbs into her life – only to find her doppelganger is a troubled police officer with problems of her own.

Read more
Television
3:23 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Big Stars Don't Always Guide TV Shows To Success

Originally published on Thu April 17, 2014 7:06 pm

CBS is planning a one-hour season finale for Robin Williams' The Crazy Ones. It was one of three sitcoms built around big established stars this season, all three of which suffered in the ratings. It raises the question: Does television make stars, or is it the other way around?

Read more
Television
1:15 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Why 'Fargo' For TV Works With Cold Efficiency And 'Bad Teacher' Doesn't

Billy Bob Thornton in FX's Fargo, an adaptation that works by lifting the tone of the film, not the story.
Matthias Clamer FX

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 6:30 am

There is a moment, deep inside the first episode of FX's excellent re-imagination of the Coen brothers' masterful film Fargo, when a police officer gets a phone call.

He's sleeping next to his pregnant wife. It's early. And the well-meaning but sometimes complacent police chief is suddenly called to the scene of a bizarre crime.

Read more
Monkey See
5:35 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Don Draper, The Truth Is: You Lied

Don Draper (Jon Hamm) has a lot on his mind as the new season of Mad Men gets underway.
Frank Ockenfels AMC

Originally published on Mon April 14, 2014 6:56 am

***For Mad Men fans who missed Sunday night's Season 7 premiere, be warned: There are spoilers below.

Don Draper finally told the truth, and it ruined his life.

Perhaps that shouldn't have been such a surprise. Because Don has mostly been a master of the lie — especially in the form of an ad pitch. And he never lost his touch: He suckered everyone last season with one of his best pitches for Hershey's chocolate bars.

Read more

Pages