After four decades of being the pop culture flagship of African American life, Soul Train is now on the brink of transformation.
Since the death of the program’s creator, Don Cornelius, the Soul Train board is left with big shoes to fill and a vision to manifest.
Soul Train Holdings LLC, the entity created by NBA legend and entrepreneur Earvin “Magic” Johnson when he bought the “Soul Train” library and brand last year, has a lot of ideas. Among them are bringing a “Soul Train” variety show back to television, CEO Kenard Gibbs told The Associated Press.
“The brand itself, we believe, has far, far other entertainment-based tentacles we can stretch,” Gibbs said.
During a memorial for Cornelius in Los Angeles last week, Johnson assured Cornelius’ son Tony, “The brand that your father has created will last a lifetime.”
Black Entertainment Network LLC, BET, and Centric TV, a BET Network, also has rights to the Soul Train brand and name, and have revamped the Soul Train Awards, which have aired on BET Networks since 2009. The awards show has been the network’s second highest-rated special, said Paxton Baker, Centric executive vice president and general manager.
Baker said the show has held its own and plans are under way for a tribute to Cornelius for this year’s show, planned for broadcast Nov. 25, keeping its Sunday-after-Thanksgiving air date tradition, on BET and Centric.
“For our part, it was a great brand and made a lot of sense for us to go out and acquire the brand and put our stamp on it,” Baker said.
With its rich history, Soul Train can go anywhere, even Broadway or a cruise.
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