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NAACP Campaigning to Keep Soap Opera ‘Generations’ on the Air

September 27, 1990

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Blacks are breaking down the ″iron curtain″ that once barred them from important jobs in the television and movie industries, but more progress is needed, the NAACP said in joining a campaign to keep the multiracial daytime drama, ″Generations,″ on the air.

The 17-month-old soap opera, which employs many blacks in front of and behind the cameras, is being dropped by some stations nationwide and needs public support, NAACP officials said at a news conference Wednesday.

″Generations″ co-star Jonelle Allen, who received a congressional citation for her work from Rep. Mervyn Dymally, D-Calif., urged viewers to contact their local NBC-affiliated stations and ″Let it be known that you love ’Generations.‴

Benjamin L. Hooks, executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was too ill to attend the news conference but sent a message that was read by an aide, Bill Pollard.

″While it is agreed that African Americans have made some strides in the breaking through what was previously an iron curtain that prevented them from exercising any real power in these industries, it is obvious a great deal still remains to be done,″ Hooks said. ″We are, therefore, in total support of any and all efforts that will accomplish these goals.″

″Generations″ deals with two families - one black, the other white - with multigenerational ties. NBC describes it as the first daytime drama to focus equally on two families of different races.

Pollard said the American public needs to see blacks ″portrayed as we are every day and not as a subclass or a second class.″

He said the NAACP would urge its 1,700 chapters to lobby NBC affiliates to try to prevent ″Generations″ from being dropped from any more daytime lineups.

Sally Sussman, the show’s creator-executive producer, said ″Generations″ was broadcast on 99 percent of NBC’s 200-plus affiliated stations after it debuted in March 1989, but now it is seen on 92 percent of the stations.

She said that even though the network ″totally supports″ the program, it had been dropped recently by NBC affiliates in Boston, Phoenix, Tulsa, Okla.; and Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla.

If more defections occur, Sussman said, ″At some point it will not be economically feasible for NBC to carry the show.″

NBC officials did not immediately comment Wednesday, but NBC Entertainment Group Chairman Brandon Tartikoff was quoted recently as saying he would give the show six more months before re-evaluating its future.

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