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.

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Television
2:06 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 Tue April 22, 2014 4:38 pm

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?' "

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Television
10:48 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.

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Television
2:23 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Big Stars Don't Always Guide TV Shows To Success

Originally published on Thu April 17, 2014 6:06 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?

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Television
12:15 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 Wed April 23, 2014 2:26 pm

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.

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Monkey See
4:41 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 5:56 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.

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Monkey See
3:33 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Stephen Colbert: The End Of One Joke, The Start Of Many More

Stephen Colbert has made a name for himself, literally, as the host of his own show. Now, he will succeed David Letterman as the host of The Late Show.
Scott Gries Picturegroup

Originally published on Fri April 11, 2014 5:37 am

CBS just ended the longest-running joke in TV history by naming Stephen Colbert to succeed retiring late-night host David Letterman

That's because Colbert, who has won all kinds of acclaim playing fictional right-wing cable TV news host "Stephen Colbert" on The Colbert Report, will now play a new character when he takes over Letterman's Late Show:

Himself.

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The Two-Way
4:20 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Weather Channel Will Return To DirectTV

The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore reporting from Manhattan's Battery Park during Hurricane Irene in August 2011.
Jonathan Saruk/The Weather Channel Getty Images

The Weather Channel will return to DIRECTV on Wednesday, ending a three month dispute which saw the cable channel yanked from the satellite television system reaching 20 million subscribers.

But the new agreement comes with a price: the Weather Channel has agreed to cut back its reality programming by half during weekdays, restore instant local weather and allow DIRECTV subscribers to watch the cable channel on a range of devices in and out of their homes.

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Television
2:17 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

Your Tour Guide To The Glut Of Sunday TV

Originally published on Fri April 4, 2014 4:18 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melisa Block, hosting this week from member station KERA in Dallas.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel in Washington.

And as we head into the weekend, here's something to look forward to - a logjam of great Sunday night television. It gets going this Sunday with the new season of HBO's "Game of Thrones."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "GAME OF THRONES")

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Television
5:21 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Dave Letterman Signals He'll Soon Put Down The Microphone

Originally published on Thu April 3, 2014 5:35 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

David Letterman, the longest-serving late night television host, is retiring.

(SOUNDBITE OF SHOW, 'LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN')

DAVID LETTERMAN: Sometime in the not-so-distant future, 2015 for the love of God, in fact, Paul and I will be wrapping things up and taking a hike.

SIEGEL: Letterman, who is 66, told the audience today during a taping of his late show program which will air tonight. Here to talk about David Letterman is NPR TV critic Eric Deggans. And Eric, why has Letterman decided to retire now?

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Media
1:55 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

In The Absence Of Answers, We Return Repeatedly To The Questions

Jean-Paul Troadec (center), special adviser to France's aviation accident investigation bureau, speaks to journalists on Tuesday.
Lai Seng Sin AP

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 4:45 pm

The view from inside a media circus is an odd one, indeed.

But I got a glimpse of the scenery a few days ago, when CNN asked me to weigh in on the similarities between the real-life missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and the myriad of fictional TV shows or movies where similar events have unfolded.

Why are we so drawn to these stories? anchor Suzanne Malveaux asked me in a few different ways, perhaps wanting an emotional take on how the plane crash scene in the TV series Lost or the film Alive could have ended Flight 370's mysterious voyage.

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Television
2:02 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

From One Dream To Another, 'The Returned' Shows Promise

Originally published on Sun March 9, 2014 8:42 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's something most writer only dream of, but Jason Mott is living the dream. ABC has turned his first novel into a TV series. "Resurrection" premieres Sunday night. As NPR's Eric Deggans reports, it explores one transition just about everyone faces sooner or later.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: For Jason Mott, it all started with a vision about life after his mother's death.

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Code Switch
1:20 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

Are Americans Tired Of 'Arrogant British' TV Personalities?

Piers Morgan poses for a portrait backstage during a 2011 press tour.
Chris Pizzello AP

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 1:24 pm

When the interviewer for BBC Radio finally reached me Monday to talk about the failure of Piers Morgan's 9 p.m. interview show on CNN, she basically had one question, asked many different ways.

Are Americans finally tired of arrogant British TV personalities?

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Monkey See
9:52 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Desk, Set: Seth Meyers Lands In Late Night Very Safely

Actress Amy Poehler during an interview with host Seth Meyers on the premiere of Meyers' Late Night.
Peter Kramer NBC

The best thing about late-night TV can also be the trickiest.

On the fringes of TV's big stage, shows airing after midnight can be a home for invention; a place where quirky personalities and developing talent can try things with the potential for massive success or demoralizing failure with relatively low stakes.

That history — and its potential for greatness — may be one reason why Seth Meyers' funny, well-paced, completely professional debut Monday as the new host of NBC's 12:35 a.m. Late Night show nevertheless left me a little underwhelmed.

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Monkey See
12:08 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

On 'Tonight Show,' Jimmy Fallon Looks To Bridge Two Eras

Stephen Colbert visits The Tonight Show for Jimmy Fallon's debut --€” and pays up the $100 he bet that Fallon would never host it.
Theo Wargo Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 2:24 pm

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Television
4:10 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Antihero Or Villain? In 'House Of Cards,' It's Hard To Tell

Robin Wright and Kevin Spacey play Claire and Francis Underwood in Netflix's House of Cards. When the second season is released on Friday, audiences can expect to see more ruthless behavior from these power-hungry characters — but are they antiheroes, or plain old villains?
Nathaniel E. Bell Courtesy of Netflix

Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 6:00 pm

[Editor's Note: This piece references plot points from the first season of House of Cards. If you've been waiting a year to binge-watch it, consider this your spoiler alert.]

When Netflix's groundbreaking online series House of Cards releases its second season to the world Friday — unleashing 13 new episodes about a wily congressman willing to kill to reach the vice presidency — fans will get more than another jolt of TV's most addictive political drama.

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Television
2:15 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

A Viewing Guide For The Overwhelmed Olympic Fan

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 5:33 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Well, if you were to try to watch all of NBC's coverage of the Sochi games, it would be a lot of TV: 1,539 hours of programming. The network is serving up more coverage of the Winter Olympics than ever. NPR's TV critic Eric Deggans has some advice for those sorting through it.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Watching the Olympics is like a Rorschach test. Years ago, you just turned on the TV and gobbled down whatever they dished up.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED AUDIO)

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Music News
2:55 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Grammy Show: Light On Awards, Heavy On Entertainment

Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 1:51 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Well, let's move from the pre-telecast to the artists you did see on TV, if you were watching; the winners and nominees who were on stage at the Staples Center for a marathon evening ceremony. NPR television critic Eric Deggans joins us to talk about the big show.

Good morning.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: First, let me ask you this. With most of the awards given out actually before the ceremony, the Grammys - unlike the Oscars - are not really an awards show. What would you call it?

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Monkey See
12:05 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

As NBC Prepares For A Late-Night Transition, Everyone Is On Message (So Far)

Producer Josh Lieb (L) and host Jimmy Fallon talk to critics on Sunday about what's to come.
Frederick M. Brown Getty Images

It felt like a rerun from a long-ago time, with a twist.

Once again, an NBC executive was facing a crowd of TV critic and reporters, saying nice things about Jay Leno just as he was leaving as host of The Tonight Show.

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Television
3:11 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Will Fans Return To A Nicer 'Idol'?

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 5:44 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

"American Idol" is back for its 12th season tonight. The show's huge success gave rise to an entire genre of reality talent shows on TV. For the last few seasons, though, ratings for "American Idol" have been off. So they've freshened up the format and brought in some new judges. NPR's TV critic Eric Deggans says "American Idol" is trying something new: being nice.

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Monkey See
2:59 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

When Tough Questions Go Horribly Wrong

Girls executive producer Jenni Konner (from left), creator and star Lena Dunham and actress Jemima Kirke take questions on the first day of the Television Critics Association winter press tour.
Frederick M. Brown Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 7:45 am

Nothing exposes you like asking a tough question.

Like a boxer extending a jab, you reveal yourself in the moment, stepping aggressively to a subject in a way that also makes you vulnerable. Handle the moment badly, and like an off-balance prizefighter, you might be the one hugging the canvas after a knockout blow.

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Code Switch
1:08 pm
Sun January 12, 2014

Should NAACP Image Awards Only Go To African-Americans?

Robin Thicke, center, performs with Verdine White, left, and T.I. at The Grammy Nominations Concert Live!! in Los Angeles in December. Thicke is nominated for Outstanding Male Artist at the NAACP Image Awards this year.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

Who should be eligible to receive an award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People? And if that definition becomes flexible, what does that do to the mission of the award itself?

That's a question worth asking as the NAACP Thursday unveiled a huge roster of nominees for its 45th annual Image Awards — a ceremony long thought to be a way to honor African-American performers who are often ignored by mainstream Hollywood awards contests.

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Monkey See
11:39 am
Fri January 10, 2014

HBO's 'True Detective' Brings Big Stars To Tell A Brutal Tale

Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey star in HBO's series True Detective.
JIm Bridges HBO

Woody Harrelson has a simple explanation for how he handled playing the same detective over a 17-year span of time for HBO's newest foray into quality TV, True Detective.

"I just took off my wig," joked Harrelson, sporting a beard and his naturally receding hairline for a press conference here Thursday to tell a roomful of TV critics about HBO's attempt to reinvent the buddy cop story.

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Television
3:45 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Revenge Of The 'Nerdist': Chris Hardwick Takes Over Your TV

Chris Hardwick was unhappy as the host of a dating show before he embraced his geeky interests and started the Nerdist empire. Now he hosts Talking Dead, shown here, and the new Comedy Central show @midnight.
Jordin Althaus AMC

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 5:36 pm

Chris Hardwick could be the nerd king of television. Crown or no crown, no one is a better guide for TV-obsessed fans.

Hardwick's biggest gig is hosting Talking Dead, a show where he and his guests dissect the gore and heartbreak in each episode of AMC's zombie drama The Walking Dead.

"I'm just lucky that people need therapy after a show like The Walking Dead. That's what we provide," Hardwick explains. "We provide a comedown so you can get into bed and your brain stops buzzing."

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Monkey See
7:23 am
Tue December 31, 2013

Remote Control: It Was Hard To Turn Off The TV In 2013

iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 9:00 am

Here's why picking a Top 10 list of best TV shows has become such treacherous work for critics this year: Quite simply, 2013 was the year quality exploded in the television industry.

Thanks to the simultaneous maturing of Netflix, AMC, FX, HBO, Showtime, Amazon, BBC America, Sundance Channel, iTunes and many more media platforms, fans of great television had more options than ever to find high-quality product whenever and wherever they liked.

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Monkey See
8:00 am
Sat December 21, 2013

Murderous Intent: Go Ahead, Kill That High-Profile TV Character

THEY KILLED BRIAN THE DOG! Oh, wait. Nevermind.
AP

Originally published on Wed January 1, 2014 9:42 am

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Code Switch
3:50 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

It's Called 'Africa.' Of Course It's About Race, Right?

Steve Lukather, vocalist and guitarist, is Toto's frontman.
Courtesy of Toto

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 6:26 am

The email arrived with the kind of snarky tone reserved for a moment when the author is sure he — and it's usually a he — thinks he's hoisted you with your own petard.

A bit of back story: Last week, I tweeted a question wondering why CBS This Morning used a clip of Toto's hit song "Africa" under a montage of photos from Nelson Mandela's funeral. The tweet went viral, sparking stories on several websites and agreement from a co-founder of the band.

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Monkey See
4:06 am
Mon December 9, 2013

After A Full Fall, A Few New TV Choices To Tide You Over

TNT's new period drama Mob City, from The Walking Dead creator Frank Darabont, is one of several shows and miniseries premiering this month.
Scott Garfield TNT

Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 6:18 am

As the holiday season approaches, the TV cupboard may seem a bit bare; the industry winds down like everything else, filling cable and broadcast networks with holiday specials, reruns and also-ran reality shows.

But there are bright gifts, too: TNT offers Mob City, a three-week, lavishly produced noir-ish TV show about cops and crooks vying for control of 1947-era Los Angeles, airing Wednesdays.

On Dec. 8 and 9, A&E presents a four-hour miniseries on Bonnie and Clyde, retelling the story of the Depression-era outlaws and lovers.

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Monkey See
10:47 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Zombies And Hope On 'The Walking Dead'

Bob Stookey (Larry Gilliard Jr.), Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan), Tyreese (Chad Coleman), Beth Greene (Emily Kinney), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) on AMC's The Walking Dead.
Gene Page AMC

[Plot details regarding Sunday night's Walking Dead midseason finale follow. Proceed at your own risk.]

This is a strange thing to say about a TV show which ended its fall season Sunday with the death of two children, a gun battle, waves of flesh-eating zombies and a decapitation.

But it is easy to forget, in the midst of all the carnage, that The Walking Dead is essentially a show about hope.

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Monkey See
10:39 am
Tue November 26, 2013

Katie Couric And Yahoo!: Two Brands Wondering What's Next

Katie Couric made her name on NBC's Today show, which she hosted for 15 years. Since leaving the network in 2006, Couric has anchored CBS Evening News and launched her own daytime talk show on ABC, Katie.
Ida Mae Astute AP

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 3:56 pm

Depending on which analyst you read, Katie Couric's move to become "global anchor" for Yahoo! News is either a "bad bet" and an "awkward fit," or an "upheaval in the pecking order" that could "signal the end of old media dominance."

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Television
2:33 am
Fri November 22, 2013

After 50 Years, Regeneration Keeps 'Doctor Who' Current

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 3:45 am

Not counting a 16-year break the British science-fiction TV series took around the 1990s, Doctor Who is celebrating its 50th anniversary on Saturday. There's a special in 3D that's going to be simulcast in 75 countries, and the BBC has made a movie about the history of Doctor Who.

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