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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Monkey See
1:41 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

As CBS' 'Two And A Half Men' Ends, Questions On How It Lasted So Long

Jon Cryer, left, and Ashton Kutcher in a scene from Kutcher's 2011 debut on CBS' "Two and a Half Men."
DANNY FELD ASSOCIATED PRESS

Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 4:12 pm

As CBS' Two and a Half Men airs its final episode tonight, capping its 12th season, critics like me are stuck trying to answer a single, niggling question:

How did a show like this end up as the longest-running multicamera comedy in television history?

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Television
4:09 pm
Fri February 6, 2015

Missing Your 'Breaking Bad' Fix? 'Better Call Saul' Will Hit The Spot

Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman on AMC's "Better Call Saul."
Ursula Coyote AP

Originally published on Sat February 7, 2015 2:24 pm

Here is something that seems like a spoiler, but really isn't.

The first few minutes of Better Call Saul will answer a question that nagged Breaking Bad fans since the show ended in 2013: Whatever happened to fast-talking lawyer Saul Goodman?

Bob Odenkirk, who plays Goodman, says Better Call Saul had to answer that question first so viewers could focus on the new story.

"To satisfy that a little bit gets that out of the way," he says. "Now let's go and do this journey about who is Saul Goodman, really?"

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Code Switch
5:16 pm
Sun February 1, 2015

The Success Of Fox's 'Empire' Reveals A Few Do's And Don'ts For TV

Taraji P. Henson, left, and Terrence Howard star as Cookie and Lucious Lyon in the Fox TV show Empire.
Chuck Hodes Fox TV

Originally published on Mon February 2, 2015 11:12 am

The TV industry is scrambling to understand the runaway success of Fox's Empire, the story of a family-run hip-hop music company that has set ratings records in its four weeks on air.

The questions, as always, are simple: Why are people drawn to this show? And how can a TV network pull it off again?

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Sports
4:40 pm
Fri January 30, 2015

NBC Courts Women In Hopes Of Record Super Bowl Broadcast

Originally published on Sat January 31, 2015 9:59 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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Television
5:20 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

NBC's 'Parenthood' Ends As A Family Drama Built On Small Moments

The stars of Parenthood include, left to right, Erika Christensen Peter Krause, Bonnie Bedelia, Craig T. Nelson, Lauren Graham and Dax Shepard.
NBC Justin Lubin/NBC

Originally published on Fri January 30, 2015 10:07 am

It happens at least once every episode: A scene in Parenthood carefully crafted to make you cry.

Like the moment when devoted parents Adam and Kristina Braverman try to console their son Max — who has Asperger's syndrome — after a school camping trip goes bad.

"Why do all the other kids hate me?" Max Braverman asks, voice wavering, just before telling his disbelieving parents a classmate relieved himself in his canteen during the trip. "Asperger's is supposed to make me smart. But if I'm smart then why ... why don't I get why they're laughing at me?"

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Television
3:24 pm
Mon January 26, 2015

Intended For Millennials, Dish's Sling TV Is A Cord Cutter's Dream

Joe Clayton, president and CEO of Dish Network, introduces the Sling TV earlier this month at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Jae C. Hong AP

Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 6:57 pm

A few days ago, I entertained myself for a few minutes watching ESPN's Stephen A. Smith lose his cool — this time, over an "incompetent" NFL for not interviewing Patriots quarterback Tom Brady regarding the team's deflated-football controversy.

But what made this moment noteworthy, was where I was watching Smith: not on a TV connected to a cable box, but on my iPad. Thanks to Sling TV.

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Television
6:19 am
Mon January 26, 2015

Sling TV Could Be Cable-Cutter's Dream

Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 8:03 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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Television
3:44 am
Mon January 19, 2015

Larry Wilmore's 'Nightly Show' Brings A New Voice To Late Night TV

Larry Wilmore at the TV Critics Association's Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif.
Richard Shotwell Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 1:22 pm

Larry Wilmore nearly succeeded Stephen Colbert with a TV show called Meet the Rest.

The title was a cheeky reference to the way Sunday politics shows tend to feature only one kind of guest. But it was also a reminder that his new Comedy Central series — which he eventually settled on calling The Nightly Show — is also a distant parody of all the panel shows and group discussions that clog Sunday morning television and cable news.

At least, that's the plan for now.

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Television
4:51 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Amazon Gains Ground With Online-Only Shows

Originally published on Wed January 14, 2015 6:33 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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Television
4:29 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

Woody Allen Is The Latest Hollywood Star Director To Try TV

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 6:47 pm

Amazon has announced that Woody Allen will write and direct a new half-hour series for its video-streaming service — news that feels a little like hearing Mad Men's Don Draper just founded an Internet advertising agency.

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The Two-Way
7:06 am
Mon January 12, 2015

Big Wins For 'Transparent' Make It Clear: TV's Undergoing A Revolution

Tina Fey, Margaret Cho and Amy Poehler talk onstage during the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards. Fey and Poehler hosted the awards for the third (and, they say, final) time.
Handout Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 12, 2015 11:25 am

Surrounded by his cast mates and the show's executive producer, Transparent star Jeffrey Tambor faced a crowd of journalists backstage at the Golden Globe awards Sunday, and made the case for why his win as best actor in a comedy meant more than a typical Hollywood honor.

"This is about changing people's lives," said Tambor, who won his award playing a 70-year-old coming out as transgender. Earlier, while accepting his award on national TV, he dedicated his award and performance to the transgender community.

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Television
5:36 am
Sun January 11, 2015

New Streaming Services Are Changing TV — And Viewers, Too

Actors Tituss Burgess and Ellie Kemper horse around on the set of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt while filming in New York in March. Tina Fey's new TV series was developed for NBC, but will air on Netflix instead.
Steve Sands GC Images

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 7:49 pm

When critics asked Tina Fey how her new series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt would be different now that it's airing on Netflix instead of NBC, she had quite the zinger ready.

"I think season two's gonna mostly be shower sex," Fey said during a press conference last week, drawing laughs. But she also had a point.

Fey's first series since 30 Rock was developed for her longtime TV home, NBC.

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Television
4:59 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

Why I Asked Tina Fey About 'Charlie Hebdo' At The TV Critics Press Tour

Tina Fey speaks at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour Wednesday in Pasadena, Calif.
Mark Davis Getty Images

When I asked Tina Fey how she felt about the attack at the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, I wasn't aiming for a big headline — though that's exactly what her answer produced.

She was facing a roomful of journalists at the TV Critics Association's winter press tour Wednesday, talking up her latest television series — an eccentric comedy, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, that was developed for NBC but will be unveiled to the world on Netflix.

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Television
11:07 am
Wed January 7, 2015

Fox's 'Empire' Sets 'Dynasty'-Style Soap Opera To A Hip-Hop Beat

The stars of Fox's new drama Empire (clockwise from left): Bryshere Gray, Trai Byers, Jussie Smollett, Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson.
Michael Lavine Fox

Originally published on Thu January 8, 2015 3:02 pm

At times, Fox's new hip-hop centered family drama Empire feels like Dynasty by way of Jay-Z and Beyonce — or Glee with a beat.

Especially during scenes like the moment that pops up early in Wednesday night's debut episode, when two brothers improvise a song together during a house party that winds up sounding like it was pieced together over weeks in a Los Angeles recording studio.

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Code Switch
3:04 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Rewatching 'The Wire': Classic Crime Drama Seems Written For Today

Detectives Lester Freamon (Clarke Peters, left) and Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West) kneel beside a body, befuddled.
Nicole Rivelli AP

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 3:36 pm

Like many devoted fans, I jumped on the release of newly reconfigured, high-definition versions of HBO's classic cop series The Wire, binge-watching much of the show's five seasons on the HBO GO streaming service over the holidays.

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Television
2:00 pm
Sun January 4, 2015

TV In 2015: Late-Night Shuffles, Big Goodbyes And More

Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman in AMC's Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul.
Ursula Coyote AP

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 8:31 am

What do a woman freed from a religious cult, a crooked lawyer and TV's longest serving late-night host have in common?

That's not the setup to an oddball joke. Instead, they're all part of the hottest trends coming to television in 2015, when a deluge of new shows combined with a boatload of new platforms threatens to transform the TV business over the next year.

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Code Switch
9:03 am
Fri December 26, 2014

Sony Hack Reveals Hollywood's Acceptance Of White Privilege

The Rev. Al Sharpton (left) and Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, speak to reporters after they met with Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal on Dec. 18.
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Sat December 27, 2014 1:00 am

It is, perhaps, the worst nightmare for those of us constantly trying to get a white-dominated Hollywood to widen its doors of opportunity for people of color: All those executives who say the right things in public and give to the right causes, just might think something much less admirable about diversity behind closed doors.

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Monkey See
7:03 am
Tue December 23, 2014

Videos Of Ray Rice, Eric Garner Among Biggest Media Moments Of 2014

Protesters in Boston during a December demonstration against the deaths of two unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers in New York City and Ferguson, Mo.
Charles Krupa AP

Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 1:08 pm

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Television
3:27 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Boundary-Pushing Late Night Hosts Move On — Colbert Up, Ferguson Out

Craig Ferguson hosts The Late Late Show in 2011.
Sonja Flemming AP

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 6:32 pm

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Monkey See
12:53 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Deggans: 'Fargo,' 'True Detective,' 'Transparent' Top Best TV Of 2014

Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson star in HBO's True Detective.
Michele K. Short HBO

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 11:44 am

When I was a kid, I loved reading Gene Siskel's movie reviews for the Chicago Tribune.

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Television
3:07 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Even If Torture Doesn't Work In The Real World, TV Has Us Convinced It Does

Kiefer Sutherland (right) with Peter Weller and JoBeth Williams on Fox's 24.
Fox TV

As the CIA and Senate Intelligence Committee clash over whether so-called enhanced interrogation techniques are considered torture, another question arises: Have depictions of torture on TV and film helped convince us that it works?

Consider this warning that recently greeted viewers of ABC's political soap opera, Scandal:

"The following drama contains adult content. Viewer discretion is advised."

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Television
4:09 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

'Sons Of Anarchy' Ends As A Macho Soap Opera Often Anchored By Women

Charlie Hunnam co-stars with Katey Sagal (center) and Drea De Matteo on FX's biker drama Sons of Anarchy.
Prashant Gupta FX Network

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 6:47 pm

Sons of Anarchy is probably the most macho drama on television, featuring a gang of gun-running, porn-making bikers.

But the biggest moment of the final season has featured a woman: Gemma Teller (played by Katey Sagal), mother to biker club president Jax Teller. Gemma admitted killing Jax's wife, Tara, and lying about it, which started a gang war.

When Gemma finally came clean, Jax insisted she pay the ultimate price.

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Code Switch
11:38 am
Sat December 6, 2014

Four Lessons From The Media's Conflicted Coverage of Race

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani appeared on the Fox Business Network earlier this year. He has been a frequent cable news commentator about the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases.
Rob Kim Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 6, 2014 1:52 pm

Now more than ever, America needs productive conversations about race, stereotyping, police, crime and social justice. And too often, our national media continues to fall short.

After many years of dissecting how race works in media, I was both disappointed and but, sadly, not surprised by much of the coverage so far. It repeats many of the same mistakes we've seen for years in how we talk about race-fueled controversies in America.

We don't have the right conversations.

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Television
3:17 am
Thu December 4, 2014

Hate The Idea Of 'Peter Pan Live'? NBC Is Counting On It

NBC is hoping you might just hate Peter Pan Live! (starring Allison Williams) enough to watch it.
Virginia Sherwood AP

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 10:40 am

It's one of the biggest ironies of NBC's gamble tonight with the blockbuster production Peter Pan Live!

This incredibly earnest TV musical just might succeed if enough people hate it.

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Television
4:53 pm
Fri November 28, 2014

Diversity On 'The Walking Dead' Wasn't Always Handled Well

Chad Coleman, left and Sonequa Martin-Green star as Tyreese and Sasha on AMC's The Walking Dead.
Frank Ockenfels AMC

Originally published on Fri November 28, 2014 6:22 pm

Language advisory: Quotes from The Walking Dead in this story contain language some find offensive.


For The Walking Dead, it was less like a conversation between two characters and more like a mini manifesto.

The moment came during an episode called "Four Walls and Roof," as Bob Stookey spoke to hero Rick Grimes about a central theme this season: keeping your humanity in midst of a zombie apocalypse.

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Performing Arts
11:06 am
Thu November 20, 2014

Mike Nichols, Award-Winning Director Of 'The Graduate,' 'Silkwood,' Dies

Mike Nichols was an ultimate Hollywood insider who won every major show business award directing for stage, film and TV. But his life in America began as an immigrant from Germany. Nichols was honored with an AFI Life Achievement Award in June 2010.
Kevin Winter Getty Images for AFI

Originally published on Thu November 20, 2014 11:31 am

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Television
4:27 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

NBC The Latest To Distance Itself From Bill Cosby

Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 7:31 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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Television
5:02 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Bill Cosby's Silence On Rape Allegations Makes Huge Media Noise

Bill Cosby speaks at a press conference about African- American art on Nov. 6.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Sat November 22, 2014 7:29 pm

This may be the first time in a long while that Bill Cosby can't control the public conversation about Bill Cosby.

Read the recent biography Cosby: His Life and Times, and you see a portrait of a talented performer who took control of his business and career interests early on, forever suspicious of journalists and industry executives who might try to interfere.

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Television
7:07 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

Farewell To Randy Jackson, An Example Of All That Ails 'American Idol'

Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell, the original judges on Fox's American Idol.
Michael Becker AP

Originally published on Wed November 12, 2014 7:09 pm

Look up "show business survivor" on the Google machine, and you're likely to find a picture of Randy Jackson staring back at you.

That's a curious thought, as news breaks that Jackson is leaving Fox's American Idol singing competition after 13 years as a judge and mentor — the second-to-last person from the show's inaugural season left on the show, besides host Ryan Seacrest.

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Television
6:03 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

As A New 'Doctor Who' Season Ends, Have Its Stories Matched The Hero?

Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman star in the BBC series Doctor Who.
Ray Burmiston/Ali BBC

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 8:21 pm

It was, perhaps, one of the biggest gambles on television this year. And it has worked out beautifully.

British character actor extraordinaire Peter Capaldi stepped into the shoes of the biggest character in science-fiction TV, the Doctor, alien star of the BBC's Doctor Who. And his portrayal of a morally conflicted, intensely knowledgeable, occasionally ruthless 2,000-year-old Time Lord has added new depth to television's longest-running science-fiction series.

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