Entertainment

Fox29’s ‘Good Day’ Helped Sheinelle Jones Become a ‘Today’ Star

Sheinelle Jones, co-host of the third hour (9-10 am) of NBC’s “Today,” says her buzzword is ‘authenticity.’

Additionally, she says she learned about authenticity during her tenure at Channel 29, where she spent several years co-hosting “Good Day Philadelphia,” and gives specific credit for that lesson to fellow host there, Mike Jerrick.

“‘Good Day’ was an important part of my career,” Jones says by phone from New York the day before returning to Philadelphia to accept the Gold Medal, a prestigious award given by the Philadelphia Public Relations Association to people that advance the image of Philadelphia.

“Every day I would sit next to Mike and watch him respond to each story or segment as appropriate. He could be cheerful and joking for a minute. Then some bleak news, usually a breaking story, would hit the desk, and he’d easily and sincerely change his mood and tone to match the story.

“Mike’s change was not a studied course change. It was a sign of his authenticity and sensitivity. The news shook him, and he instinctively knew how to transition from a possibly funny moment to a serious one.

“I saw this. It affected me. Not only did I see the human side of this, but also how it affects communication. If you are authentic, the viewer will go with you. I realized that the best approach is to be yourself and be in tune with the story in question.

“I took this approach with myself for ‘Today.’

“When I first got there, I thought about being on national television, on a national news and what it should be like. I felt like I had to button up a little bit and not be as free as I was with Mike on ‘Good Day.’

“I quickly realized it wasn’t going to work for me and it wasn’t in the best interest of the show or the viewer. I couldn’t back down. Being my true self, and in the here and now of a story, was the right path. I was immediately back to being the real me. That felt good. That felt comfortable. I know well that I cannot hide behind a veil.”

Jones has been on “Today” since 2014. He has been on the “3rd Hour Today” crew since 2019.

When she’s not on the air, Sheinelle says she prefers to ditch the celebrity trappings and tend to her family, her husband, Uche Ojeh, whom she married while on “Good Day” in 2007, and their children, Kayin, of 13 years old, and twins Uche and Clara, 10 years old.

“One of the benefits of working early in the day is that I can go home and spend a lot of time with my kids. These days that means a lot of football and that Saturdays will never be mine.

“Since COVID, I have developed a habit of picking up the kids from school every day. I take them to various activities, including playdates. Everyone is busy and I like the combination of work, marriage and motherhood. I feel that my life works 100 percent, and everything is rewarding.

“I also got to a point, in my mid-40s, where I’m consciously taking care of myself. I make sure my family is okay while paying attention to myself and making sure I take care of my health and set aside some time for myself.”

In addition to the PPRA Gold Medal, Jones recently received a Grace Award, named for comedian Gracie Allen, for stories that matter to women. She went to produce a TV show, “Stories We Tell: The Secret of Fertility” and it was about women who have trouble conceiving children.

“I am a news person. I report the news. I never thought about producing, especially something involved like a documentary. The topic, what do women do to have children, caught my attention. I don’t have to deal with this, but I’ve met a number of women who have and I realized it was an important issue in general and for African-American women in particular.

“The documentary tells the story of five women and what they endure. It took a lot of work to produce, but it taught me something: if you have an idea, go for it.

“I went for this passionately. It was a story he knew needed to be told. The Gracie says so.

The Gold Medal also means a lot to Jones.

“Philadelphia is an important place in my life. I was born here. I got married here. Here I had my children. My father lives here. My career matured here. I am thankful that the city has not forgotten me, and I never forget what this city means to me, how he shaped me, even professionally during those days with Mike.

“One thing about Philadelphians in general: They are authentic. A Philadelphian doesn’t see anyone as a celebrity. If a Philly has something to say to you, he or she will walk up and say it. I’m aware of. It’s part of my Philly too.”

Phillies fans need more Larry

Scott Franzke needs Larry Andersen.

So do the Philadelphia Phillies fans who follow the games on the radio.

Franzke and Andersen, as a combination, continue the tradition of lively chatter and engaging commentary that characterized the team’s conversational approach to analysis and game-by-game that was pioneered by Byram Saam and Bill Campbell and practiced by their replacements, Harry Kalas and Rich Ashburn. .

When he’s on the air with Andersen, Franzke is light and fun. He calls the game sharp and descriptive, but it sounds like he’s having fun, and you know he loves his fight with Andersen.

Listening to Franzke with one of the former Phillies players rotating on the mic because Andersen voluntarily cut the schedule, one would think he has no personality and no idea how to keep his broadcast lively.

The tone of the shows that Franzke does with Michael Bourn, Kevin Stocker, Erik Kratz and Chad Durbin is everyday. It has no shine. The conversation sounds more forced, as if the announcers are struggling to find something to say.

Play-by-play television has become a dull affair since the deaths of Kalas in 2009 and Ashburn in 2007. Franzke and Anderson’s radio team always made up for the clever one-liner missing from the bland TV commentary. His radio programs exuded life, humor and camaraderie. Especially since Franzke and Andersen were a critical and astute pair who taught the key points of baseball while exchanging jokes, light insults, astute observations and entertaining stories with each other.

Time may see that kind of relationship develop with Bourn, Stocker, Kratz and Durbin, but so far Franzke seems ordinary and diminished when he doesn’t have Anderson to argue or conspire with.

this surprises me. I always thought that “bright” would always be “bright”.

There is no such luck.

Even when Franzke tries to take the lead and strike up a conversation with his mic buddies, it doesn’t work. The former baseball players who accompany him have to work to be more varied, flexible and fun. His knowledge of the game is indisputable. They just have to learn to deliver it better or in a more entertaining way.

Its general simplicity of presentation affects Franzke. There are times when I’ve wondered ‘who’s on the mic?’ for how much enthusiasm is missing from Franzke’s tone and delivery when he works with anyone other than Andersen.

Bad award shows

Pre-show hosts Julianne Hough, left, and...
Pre-show hosts Julianne Hough, left, and Darren Criss perform at the 75th Annual Tony Awards on Sunday, June 12, 2022, at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

Gotta face it. Award shows are doomed.

I’m a fan of these shows and have been willing to accept that they can be dry and boring at times. I took on the attitude that I was an intruder at a private industry ceremony, and everything went perfectly.

Now award shows try too hard to entertain above all else. If only the effort were handled with ingenuity, intelligence, or even competence!
Tony’s show last week might be the worst I’ve ever seen. In the same year, the Oscar broadcast was definitely the worst.

It’s harder to accept when the Tonys fail as a show. After all, they celebrate excellence in live entertainment, nothing less than the art, craft and ingenuity of putting on a show.

This year’s ceremony lacked the one thing theater depends on, ingenuity. The opening number didn’t have the flair or cunning from the years when Neil Patrick Harris hosted the show, and you kept going to YouTube to watch his routine one more time.

Ariana DeBose is very talented and was generally praised for her performance as Tony’s moderator.

I do not agree. I thought it lacked the polished theatrical hosts like Harris and Hugh Jackman that they brought to the role and lacked the class and elegance with which some aloof hosts, like Angela Lansbury, endowed it.

I admired DeBose’s courage, but every time he walked in, the word that came to mind was “amateur.” It was good that DeBose is generally likable because he never took command of any scene or situation.

The best part of Tony’s broadcast was the scenes from several nominated musicals, some for Best Musical and others for Best Revival of a Musical. Watching them, you understand how “Paradise Square’s” Joaquina Kalukango triumphed over more familiar performers to win the 2022 award for Best Actress in a Musical. It was also fun to see Billy Crystal extend his opening number from “Mr. Saturday Night” to contain a riff on Yiddish scat singing.

The highlights were less than instances where camera options messed up dance numbers or failed to put key performers in proper focus. Worst of all was the fruity overwriting describing what the different performers involved in a show do. It was a miracle that the presenters could say such nonsense with a serious and sincere face. I know my eyes rolled back as each new category was so awkwardly defined.

At least the producers had the good sense to choose Chita Rivera, a true Broadway legend, to present the final award of any Tony ceremony, Best Musical (“A Strange Loop”). She made up for categories that were deliberately not covered on the primetime broadcast because the producers deemed them too uninteresting to capture the viewer’s attention.

Up next is the 2022 Emmy Awards, airing at 8pm on September 12 on NBC (Channel 10). The nominations to be selected from 171 dramas and 118 comedies began to be submitted last week. In about three weeks, we will know the results of that process.
Let’s hope the Emmy show brings televised award ceremonies back to standard.

Neal Zoren’s TV column appears every Monday.

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