T.J. Holmes: From the Black of a CNN Week to a Deep Black Hole

On being mistaken for CNN's other weekend anchor Don Lemon: "At first, we had fun with it. But after awhile, it got kind of annoying," said T.J. "If someone calls me Don, I ignore them. They probably think Don is a jerk!"

T.J. Holmes is leaving CNN.  Exciting news, right?  Obviously, he’s been promoted.  A year and a half ago when the 34-year-old Arkansas native married, jilted and forsaken admirers all over the world breathed an agonizing, “Why, Lawd, why?”  But this time, when we learned that he was being offered his own television news show, broken but loyal hearts went all aflutter.  We said, “T.J. is finally going to get his moment to shine like Anderson Cooper, right?  Isn’t that right?”  Then we learned that it meant he would be ringing in the New Year at BET.  To which, we potential third and fourth wives all rolled our eyes and sighed “Oh” in bittersweet disappointment.

Shh, come closer.  Let me whisper something to you.  “T.J. Holmes should be as suspicious of BET as Dorothy was of the wizard of Oz.  You see, for the longest time, no one has known for sure who’s pulling the strings or flashing the lights behind the curtain.  Come closer—not even us—the black people.”

It’s true.  At CNN, the front of the week is for whites.  The tail end of a CNN week is reserved for coloreds, which has to be annoying.  So the idea of a young black anchor getting his own show must have been too good for T.J. to resist.  Having a show on any network would feel too good to be true.  But ask Tavis Smiley; before long, having your own news show (or any show) on BET always somehow winds up too good to stay true.

BET Nightly News, the last regularly scheduled news program BET aired, ran in 2005.  Four years later, black news as told by black people in its infancy was old—was no more.  T.J. is already miles ahead with CNN.  CNN has allowed him to anchor the news for five years.  Mostly because women adore him.  And once blinded—and deafened—by his beauty, they can no longer hear how sucky his made-for-TV voice sounds.

If T.J. moves to BET, will his career be in a pickle?

The white network of entertainment television will allow a white man to pickle.  A white man can be a huge success for awhile, he can fail miserably awhile, and he can go virtually unseen for awhile.  Unwatched, that is.  Tune in five years later and a white man is still there.  As it was for Conan O’Brien and all white men, somebody will ultimately let him earn a living somewhere.

There is no such pickling at BET.  There are no Andy Rooneys over at BET.  Over at BET, the string-pullers and the light-flashers behind the curtain are not going to allow you to sit around burnin’ ‘lectricity, collecting dust, jowls dragging the desk until you decide to put yourself out to pasture.  There will be no George Lopez to unload to help improve your numbers.  Ask Mo’Nique.  There is no Piers Morgan on BET; you won’t be allowed to loiter just because you’re old and cute or talk funny.  By the way, whatever happened to old what’s his name?  Ed Gordon, just ask him.  And if you’re a native (i.e. non-Caribbean) black woman, size 1 or 18, there is no room for you on BET in any capacity.  If Jacque Reid had not appeared on a reality show or TV One, we may never have seen the beauty of her toothy white smile ever again.

That’s what BET does for its personalities.  Nothing.  Like all money ain’t good money, all promotions ain’t even promotions.

For Loutelious Ann Holmes Jr. aka T.J. Holmes, being called by his middle name is the least of his worries.  There are no Larry Kings on BET.  On BET, no anchor’s news career has ever been allowed to die a natural death—being old and full of days in the cool of AC.  So when T.J. finds himself in Los Angeles sweating and blackening in the hot sun trying to snatch the microphone out of (CNN entertainment reporter) Kareen Wynter’s hand by day (and bleaching his skin by night to stay light), don’t say Fredericka and I didn’t warn him.

Is going from the black of a CNN week to the vacuous black hole of BET a smoove move?  What do you think?

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