Despite starring roles in the CBS hospital drama City of Angels and the soon-to-be-released, big-screen romantic comedy Loving Jezebel, Hill Harper is not at all happy with the state of TV and movies today.
"I feel television has died," the actor tells TV Guide Online. "It's such a make-the-doughnuts mentality. It's about finding 48 minutes of material so you can have 12 minutes of good commercials. If they thought they could get good commercials out of 10 people being naked and spinning on their heads in the middle of an island, that's what they'll do."
Harper says there are some exceptions to the rule, including City of Angels, The Sopranos, The Practice and The West Wing. "But there are more Nash Bridges and Diagnosis Murders than there are West Wing," he complains.
If he were a TV programmer, Harper says he'd take more risks. "It doesn't take a lot of money to take risk," he says. "It just takes creative thought and not fear-based thinking. What kills this industry is fear, on the film side and TV side and even the acting side."
"You're starting to see bad acting, boring acting," he adds. "Actors are basically just hitting their marks and saying their lines and keeping blank faces. It's like everybody's gone to the Keanu Reeves school of acting. That's why, it seems to me, that many people think watching real people on television is more interesting than watching actors on television."
On the movie side, Harper says he hopes the soon-to-be-released Loving Jezebel will show Hollywood that not all African-American comedies need to be "slapsticky" like Booty Call, Big Momma's House and Ladies Man. "You're not going to see as many ads for Loving Jezebel as Ladies Man, just because the studio muscle isn't there," he says. "There's nothing wrong with Ladies Man, but the studios seem to believe that if you're going to tell this type of story, then you should tell it in the Ladies Man format."
"Hopefully, Loving Jezebel can find some success and then will encourage studios to do more stories like this," he says. "The only way the studios are going to take notice is that these films start to make some kind of money and they feel that they're missing out on that money."