The BET network expands its gospel programming with a new talk show.
In lock step with movers and shakers’ –himself being one– DeVon Franklin is among the first guests on the new weekly talk show, T.D. Jakes Presents: Mind, Body & Soul. The show’s premier is Sunday, October 6, 12noon PST, 11 am CST, on the BET network. Eleven episodes are scheduled.
Franklin, Senior Vice President of Columbia Pictures, author of Produced by Faith is too a minister, married to actress Meagan Good (Think Like A Man 1 and 2, Anchorman 2, Eve’s Bayou) and his imprint rests on a number of successful feature films to include Jumping the Broom, The Karate Kid, and Not Easily Broken.
An abiding friendship with actor Will Smith of whom Franklin got his big break has made way for a limitless career in Hollywood.
Franklin is not one for letting grass grow untended.
The graduate of the University of Southern California was named by The Hollywood Reporter as one of the top 35 executives under age 35, cited in The Root 100, and acknowledged as one of the top 10 industry impact players by the NAACP. Franklin also sits on the boards of Film Independent and American Black Film Festival.
Franklin factored prominently this past summer at MegaFest in Dallas, Bishop Jakes’ annual family festival attended by more the 50,000 from across the nation and abroad, convened for spiritual enlightenment and fellowship among kindred souls. Many of entertainment’s biggest names –Oprah Winfrey, former Dallas Cowboys great Emmitt Smith, Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, TONY nominee Kerry Washington, star of ABC’s hit drama, Scandal– were all there. Franklin would serve as the motivational speaker between live, televised sessions for the OWN platform with Bishop Jakes and Oprah.
It was there I got to witness Franklin’s gift; a special ability to turn a huge, cavernous auditorium into an intimate setting where troubles were eased, secrets shared and emotional weights released. http://www.oprah.com/oprahs-lifeclass/DeVon-Franklin-Warms-Up-the-Crowd-at-Megafest-Video_1
Franklin and Jakes are brothers in ministry and industry.
T.D. Jakes Presents: Mind, Body & Soul is an hour long, weekly chat fest from the bestselling author, producer and philanthropist described as a vehicle to empower, enlighten and uplift viewers. The format combines an entertaining mix of celebrity interviews, impassioned discussion and expert advice while shining a spotlight on ordinary people with extraordinary stories. The debut show is “Power of Love” featuring pastor and gospel superstar Marvin Sapp along with Franklin.
Recently, I spoke to Franklin by phone from his Los Angeles home–
Sandra Varner/Talk2SV: I think God’s timing is impeccable. Just this morning I happened to read 1st Timothy 5 verses 1 and 2, addressing the relationship between elders and younger Christians, specifically, the level of respect that must be maintained, one to the other; immediately, I viewed this passage as an expression of you and Bishop Jakes. Not making Bishop an old man or you a kid rather a clear example of the relationship you share.
DeVon Franklin: That’s fantastic. Within that biblical context is the reason why the younger [Christians] will even have a shot is because of what the older [Christians] have done. Bishop Jakes has been an incredible mentor and friend. Before I even got to Columbia Pictures I had always been a fan who thought, ‘oh one day I’ll be able to meet him,’ having no idea what God had in store. Much of the inheritance and the blessing that is set aside for the younger generation is stored up in their reverence and appreciation for the generation that came before them. I think that’s what Timothy was also articulating; no matter how much talent you think you have you must defer and be reverential to those who came before you. To be able to pay that respect to Bishop is certainly an honor and I try to do it in every way that I can.
Talk2SV: I attended Megafest 2013; it was my first time, I was there and got to see you in action. I’d never
seen you live…it was great. For one, I loved the energy you exude. Moreover I loved the way you guys (Bishop Jakes, Oprah, Franklin) were able to take that huge cavernous building and turn it into an intimate warm setting.
Franklin: Right, right…it was amazing. I’ve spoken in front of some good crowds but I have never spoken in front of that many people so it was the first time for me; part of the goal was to make it feel as intimate as possible and stay committed to the message God had given. I was really excited to do it.
Talk2SV: A transformative process seemed to affect everyone there. Talk to me about the visceral experience for you, though a participant, also there experiencing the impact.
Franklin: It was fantastic. Just to see those lives changed and real issues being dealt with, there were no punches pulled; it was all live, all in real time and to see Bishop and Oprah able to really help people and facilitate dialogue was incredible. We were all very fortunate to be there.
Talk2SV: I hope that same tone will find its way into Bishop’s new talk show. Our conversation began with the example of Timothy and Bishop
being the role model for you. In accordance, you are the role model for him in many ways as a minister working in Hollywood, knowing the entertainment system, able to balance both. How have you been a mentor to him?
Franklin: Part of it is coming up in the church; my uncle was a pastor at the church I grew up in and a very influential force in my life so I understand the pastor’s heart. When I entered the movie industry to make films I started as an intern for Will Smith; by the time I got to Bishop (to work on his movie, Not Easily Broken), I could understand his heart, his intentions and was able to help facilitate his expectations as it related to the industry.
Sometimes the pastor has things he wants to do and if you don’t “get” what the Pastor is trying to do things can be lost in translation. Part of our dynamic has been number one, I understand your heart; I understand what you need to get done. Two, let me translate that comprehension into the conversations we need internally to facilitate some of those things; that has been very successful. We’ve had a lot of support from Michael Lynton, chairman of Sony Entertainment and very close to Bishop and myself. A third part of the service with Bishop has been to take the themes he’s passionate about and wrap them in commercial ideas for movies. It really has been a yin and yang but it comes from my upbringing and understanding what is really in the heart of the pastor.
Talk2SV: Whenever a personality –known or lesser known– enters the crowded field of TV talk there is a challenge for ratings, advertising, viewership, etc. Bishop’s challenge is less so given the established audience (among faith –based) he has had over the years on the BET network. Therewith, where do you think he will fall within the whole paradigm of the talk show arena?
Franklin: I think the thing that makes a successful talk show is ultimately the personality of the host and people wanting to tune in to visit with the host and who the host is interviewing. Bishop has a magnetic, kinetic personality and he’s been touching lives, millions of lives for so long. Now having the talk show is just another format for him to do that and I think he’ll do incredibly well. Being interviewed by him on the first episode I can tell you he did a great job. We have a bond and had good chemistry. I think it’s another door God is opening. I think he’ll do really well on this platform.
Talk2SV: I agree, I’ve watched Bishop Jakes for many years, often twice a day. What do you feel is the most unique aspect the two of you share that perhaps we’ll see in this first episode?
Franklin: That we actually know each other, it’s a friendship, you‘ll see that–two friends talking– and I think that intimacy we have off camera
comes through in this first episode. Also, us being able to deal with issues of manhood, the industry, deal with the struggle of ‘how do you still be successful and hold on to your virtue as a man.’ These are some of the issues that we tackle in the interview. I think the conversation will be beneficial to those who watch it.
Talk2SV: Speaking of the entertainment industry, what do you think you bring from a Bay Area perspective, specifically Oakland?
Franklin: Reality. Growing up in the Bay Area to me really keeps you grounded and humble. Of all the people I know from the Bay Area, no matter how big they may get there’s always a sense of reality, a sense of being grounded , a sense of community and I think that’s among the things I absolutely bring to what I do. It’s very hard to grow up in the Bay Area without being aware of who is around you; without being aware of social justice, whether you’re living in Oakland or San Francisco. These aspects are very much part of the community in addition to being actively involved; to have a sense of family and a sense of responsibility. These are the values I bring because of growing up in the Bay.
Talk2SV: To watch your career ascend, it appears the sky’s the limit for you, what say you?
Franklin: My comment is exactly what you said, “no limit, none.” I’m not going to put one on myself because God ain’t put one on me so, yeah, we going to keep going. Whatever is ordained for my purpose is where we’re going.