“Central Ave.” pulled off this rare feat on television: carving out a unique niche in a competitive and crowded genre.
Co-created by Will Packer and Monique Chenault, “Central Ave.,” which ran for five weeks on Fox stations last fall, was recently launched in nationwide syndication with co-hosts Julissa Bermudez and Sanya Richards -Ross.
Since its premiere in its new version on September 26, it has reconfigured the playbook regarding entertainment magazines – both in front of and behind the camera.
“We are two women of color representing a show format that has been the same for so long,” says Bermudez, 37, who grew up in Queens. “And to have that diversity with Will Packer and Monique Chenault, who left ‘Entertainment Tonight’ to become our showrunner… we want people to know that this is a new take on the magazine show from entertainment news they’ve never seen before.
Bermudez and Richards-Ross, quadruple Olympic gold medalist, did not know each other before auditioning for “Central Ave.”, broadcast Saturday from 7 pm to 8 pm on Ch. 9 and midnight-1 am on Ch. 5.
“We were paired with different people [to audition] and when we were paired up, there was instant chemistry, ”Bermudez says. “We literally crossed our fingers hoping we were the ones to get the phone call. We’ve had a lot of time to build on this relationship. “
Their on-camera interactions help contextualize the show’s mix of celebrity news and explorations of social issues, with help from correspondents Van Lathan, Kennedy-Rue McCollough, Sloane Glass, Melissa McCarty, Neima Abdulahi and Zack Greenburg.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to work on a show that people want to watch,” says Richards-Ross, 35. “People want to know more than the headlines or the little snippet they see on social media. We deliver this… with a unique perspective as we tell our stories to different communities.
“What Monique and Will wanted to bring was authentic identity and voices,” she says. “We really want to share stories that sometimes go unrecorded by the media – and allow communities to be seen and heard.”
“We are two women of color representing a performance format that has been the same for so long.
A recent show, for example, took a deep dive into OJ Simpson’s murder trial on his 25th birthday. “We’ve had people messaging us saying, ‘You broke them down in a way I hadn’t thought of,'” Bermudez says. The Saturday night show will feature her interview with DJ Khaled, who shares her thoughts on the developments surrounding her friends Megan Thee Stallion and Tory Lanez (she accused him of shooting her).
“We’re taking a more investigative angle,” Bermudez says. “Some people don’t realize how much news and entertainment culture affects our daily lives, and how influenced we are by these celebrities whose lives we follow and whose headlines we follow on social media. Everyone seems to know what’s going on.
“We don’t want it to get so bad you can’t live without it,” says Richards-Ross. “You get that balance of direct news, headlines, and quick hits. Last week we were talking about Mariah Carey and her book and how everyone is talking about it.
“You’ll come away feeling like you’ve gained a bit of social awareness and what’s latest about your favorite celebrity,” she says, “and maybe something else you didn’t think you would care about. as much.
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