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Diallo Riddle and Bashir Salahuddin Bring Intelligent Humor to “South Side” on Comedy Central

LOS ANGELES SENTINEL — Are you ready to laugh? Yes, or no? I mean, really laugh like when you first heard Eddie Murphy get “raw” or when you discovered the work of the late Richard Pryor? If the answer is yes, then I am suggesting that you mark your calendar and get ready for “South Side,” because Comedy Central had the good sense to greenlight the series created by Diallo Riddle, creator and executive producer of “Officer Goodnight” along with Bashir Salahuddin, creator and executive producer of “Allen Gayle.”

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Diallo Riddle and Bashir Salahuddin Bring Intelligent Humor to “South Side” on Comedy Central

By Lapacazo Sandoval

Are you ready to laugh? Yes, or no? I mean, really laugh like when you first heard Eddie Murphy get “raw” or when you discovered the work of the late Richard Pryor? If the answer is yes, then I am suggesting that you mark your calendar and get ready for “South Side,” because Comedy Central had the good sense to greenlight the series created by Diallo Riddle, creator and executive producer of “Officer Goodnight” along with Bashir Salahuddin, creator and executive producer of “Allen Gayle.”

The press notes make a big deal about “South Side” being set in and around the working-class neighborhood of Englewood on the south side of Chicago. I’ve never been to the south side, but I know all of the characters in the hilarious series. I’m betting that once you watch the series that you will know those characters just as well.

“South Side” follows two friends who just graduated from community college, now they’re ready to take over the world but until they do, they’re stuck at “Rent-T-Own,” a retail and rental crossroads where “South Side’s” ensemble of quirky characters come together. Despite the obstacles of inner-city life, these friends and their co-workers all strive to achieve their entrepreneurial dreams. Brought to life by local Chicagoans, both in front of and behind the camera, this show gives viewers an authentic portrayal of what life on the South Side is all about.

Salahuddin and Riddle star in the series, alongside Sultan Salahuddin and Chandra Russell. First season guest stars include Lil Rel Howery, Nathaniel “Earthquake” Stroman, Jeff Tweedy, Lisa Raye McCoy, Kel Mitchell and Ed Lover.

Riddle is an Emmy and WGA nominated writer and actor, as well as a producer and showrunner who also moonlights as a DJ. Born in Atlanta, and a graduate of Harvard University, some of his credits include IFC’s upcoming series “Sherman’s Showcase,” which he co-created and is executive producing with his writing partner Bashir Salahuddin. He is also a series regular on “Marlon” and can be seen in HBO’s “Silicon Valley.”

Salahuddin has an Emmy nomination. He was born and raised on the south side of Chicago as one of eight kids and later graduated from Harvard University. In addition to his work on “South Side,” Bashir can be seen in IFC’s upcoming series “Sherman’s Showcase.” Additionally, Bashir has starred in Lionsgate’s “A Simple Favor,” 20th Century’s “Snatched,” and the SAG-nominated Netflix series “GLOW.”

Salahuddin and Riddle were previously consulting producers on “The Last OG” at TBS and developed their pilot “Brothers in Atlanta” with Broadway Video at HBO. Before creating their own shows, they were staff writers on NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, where they wrote such notable pieces as “Slow Jam the News with Barack Obama,” and “The History of Hip-Hop with Justin Timberlake.”

This is an edited conversation phone conversation with Diallo Riddle and Bashir Salahuddin.

LOS ANGELES SENTINEL: Hey now, I’m so sorry that I could not meet you both in person. Things are finally being fixed in my Harlem apartment. I don’t know if I should be happy or terrified. Can you say gentrification is a bitch? Let’s start the conversation with you, Mr. Riddle.

DIALLO RIDDLE: Ok.

LAS: I love your last name. Mr. Riddle. Please, come to the front Mr. Riddle. And the Emmy goes too, Mr. Riddle. All kidding aside, you are an Emmy and WGA nominated writer and actor, producer, showrunner, and you moonlight as a DJ. So, when do you find time to sleep?

DR: I also have three kids. I don’t know what sleep is anymore. It’s crazy. I try to get a solid four or five hours every night, I’ll probably die soon.

LAS: Damn, you’re funny. This is why I need a podcast. I describe the comedy in your new scripted comedy ‘South Side’ as smart and slow.

DR: That’s my favorite Usher song.

LAS: Riddle, damn your quick but that’s what I should expect from a Harvard graduate.

DR: We both went to Harvard.

LAS: I know but he (Bashir Salahuddin) had eight siblings, I don’t know when he had time to study to get into Harvard.

DR: I had five siblings, I’m one of six.

LAS: Did you think when you started at Harvard that you would have a successful career as a writer on television?

DR: Actually, yes. We met at Harvard and we figured out pretty early that we liked the same type of stuff to laugh about. It was years later after we graduated, we were having dinner at my parents’ house. They had moved into a place called Park La Brea. They had sold their house and they just wanted a smaller place. My mother said, ‘hey you guys are really funny. Why don’t you guys write a script?’ At the time we thought that she was crazy, but looking back that was the beginning of us actually writing together.

LAS: Your mother is a smart lady!

DR: We really started our careers as writers. You know, a lot of people brag that their managers put them together but no, we were friends. Then we started acting in the stuff that we were writing. Truthfully, because sometimes we could not find someone to deliver the lines the way we wanted them delivered.

LAS: So, you both always loved being actors?

DR: Yes, giving him some credit he always knew that he wanted to be an actor even in college he would create a one-man play, and for me, as a writer, I was the guy who wrote a book in the third grade.

LAS: Pardon? Did you say that you wrote a book when you were in the third grade?

DR: Yes, I did. I was eight-years-old and I was published. I would go to the library and I would fill out the little slip to check out my book. It was a World Word II spy thriller. The main character was named Ripple and he was a Black fighter in World War II and he was going to assassinate Hitler.

LAS: I can see the Netflix original animated series, now. I want to be in that writers’ room!

DR: I’ve never told that story in an interview so I’ve just given you a worldwide exclusive.

LAS: What’s the secret to a successful writing partnership? Advice?

DR: You have to listen to your partner and you have to respect them. At the end of the day, we’ve known each other long enough that we can always be honest with one another.

LAS: What I loved about ‘South Side’ is that I know all of the characters and I’ve never been to the South Side of Chicago.

DR: We love that you said that! That was the goal of the show.

LAS: Goal reached, Mr. Riddle. Hey now, I’ve not forgotten you, Bashir Salahuddin.

BS: I didn’t think you did. I play Officer Goodnight on the show.

LAS: I love that character! Gosh, you are not well. I mean that character is not well. You are understatedly ‘flippin’ funny.’

BS: Thank you. So are you.

LAS: (laughing) I also really like his partner, Sergeant Turner. Her comedy has levels.

BS: Chandra Russell, she’s my wife. She’s a natural treasure.

LAS: Stop it. Really? She’s talented. I want to chat with her and find out if you are a natural treasure!

BS: We will arrange that for you. Not a problem. We grew up with a lot of the actors so we know all these people personally, we know how they are funny. So, when we are writing the show it allows us to give them every opportunity to score.

LAS: You have rich characters. They are all good. There is not one that does not work and that’s rare.

BS: The show is excellent. It’s the best show on TV.

LAS: (Laughing) This is where I need a podcast, how do I describe your deadpan tone and pitch? Onwards. What do you want people to know that I’ve not asked?

BS: Even though our show is called ‘South Side,’ we’re not trying to elevate the South Side above any other part of Chicago. Specifically, when it comes to Black folks, we are all Black — different experiences, different circumstances and sometimes similar challenges. The reason that you felt you could still feel the love when you come from North Philly, South Bronx, Harlem, Atlanta, South Central, Los Angeles, Montreal, wherever, I just want to say we are so proud that our show is providing a place for people from places like that to show how funny they are and the diversity of their interests, and we’re excited that everybody from those places or that have never even been to those places watch our show and enjoy themselves. And I think that we won.

“South Side” will premiere Wednesday, July 24 at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT.

This article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Sentinel.

Commentary

On Ishmael Reed’s Inclusion and Van Jones’ Amazon Prime

Complain about the media representation of Oakland all you want. Last week, in the national media, Oakland was portrayed as a great place to live, work, and dine, with restaurants where people come up to your table and greet you like a long-lost neighbor. 

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Ishmael Reed/Photo by Emil Guillermo

Complain about the media representation of Oakland all you want. Last week, in the national media, Oakland was portrayed as a great place to live, work, and dine, with restaurants where people come up to your table and greet you like a long-lost neighbor.

That Oakland. You know it? It’s the backdrop of a profile in the New Yorker magazine on Ishmael Reed, novelist, playwright, poet, and resident of Oakland. Hills? Oh no, the flats. Reed is a jazz guy; He B-flat. 

Hopefully, the joker in Reed laughs at that pun. It’s because of Reed that I am a writer. But let me not forget Flossie Lewis, my high school English teacher, and current Oakland resident. Lewis set me up. Reed delivered the punch.  

I first met Reed in St. Louis, Mo., where he was the “artist in residence” for Washington University’s first Writer’s Program. Intended to become a better Iowa Writers Workshop, it had all white writers like William Gass and Stanley Elkin. Reed was the token-in-resident. I was the token minority grad student. When one writer told me to stop writing about my Filipino family, Reed was there to tell me to put them back in. 

That’s what Ishmael did for me. 

The New Yorker profile published on July 19 compelled me to pull out Reed’s work again. “Mumbo Jumbo” (1972) re-read during the pandemic jumps off the page and is funnier than ever. People coming down with a virus that makes people dance the boogie?  It was a finalist for the National Book Award and considered for the Pulitzer Prize. 

The New Yorker also details Reed’s life with his wife, the dancer/choreographer/director Carla Blank, and their daughter, the poet Tennessee Reed. And you’ll learn how the writing all started–as a jazz columnist in the Black press for the Buffalo Empire Star.

That’s the enduring value of the ethnic media, the Black press, and newspapers like the Oakland Post. It’s still a place where diverse voices can let it all out.  

Asked about his legacy, Reed was simple and humble. “I made American literature more democratic for writers from different backgrounds,” he said. “I was part of that movement to be heard.”

I heard that. 

Van Jones’ $100 Millon Speech

Ishmael Reed is one of the only MacArthur Genius grant winners I know.

But Van Jones is the first winner of the Courage and Civility Award, which he received on July 20. Yes, that Van Jones of the Ella Baker Center. Way before CNN. I hope he remembers how he was a guest on my old New California Media roundtable talk TV show on the ethnic media more than 20 years ago on KCSM-TV. 

Because the Courage and Civility Award is $100 million unattached–from Jeff Bezos.

I wasn’t crazy about Richard Branson’s flight, so you know I’m not out-of-this-world over Bezos’s 63-mile jaunt, which I call the Neo-Space Age’s white flight. You can go beyond the suburbs.
Bezos has been hammered over not paying his taxes, and how spending billions of dollars into space travel during a time of real humanitarian need on Earth is on its face one word–obscene.

To his credit, he did what all rich people of money do when they stretch the limits of tasteful behavior.

They use their money by giving it away. It’s how the Rockefellers, the Fords, the Sacklers, the Mellons, etc., etc., can live with themselves. Albeit, far away from everyone else. Hence, the Courage and Civility Award. 

Jones was gracious about the hun mill gift. 

“I haven’t always been courageous,” said Jones.  “But I know people who are. They get up every day on the frontlines of grassroots communities. They don’t have much. But they’re good people and they fight hard. And they don’t have enough support.”
All true. And then he delivered the penance for Bezos sins.

“Can you imagine,” said Jones. “Grassroots folks from Appalachia, from the Native American reservation, having enough money to be able to connect with the geniuses that disrupted the space industry, disrupted taxis, hotels, and bookstores. Let’s start disrupting poverty. Let’s start disrupting pollution. 

“Start disrupting the $90 billion prison industry together. You take people on the frontlines and their wisdom and their genius and creativity, and you give them a shot. They’re not gonna turn around neighborhoods, they’re gonna turnaround this nation. That’s what’s going to happen.”

Then Jones had this for Bezos. “I appreciate you lifting the ceiling off of people’s dreams,” Jones said, then turned back to us. “Don’t be mad about it when you see somebody reaching for the heavens, be glad to know there’s a lot more heaven to reach for. And we can do that together.”

Bezos’ $100 million doesn’t buy a lot in the space biz. But handing it to Jones? Let’s see the disruptive good it can do on Earth.

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Bay Area

Nancy Lieberman Congratulates Kaplan and AASEG, continues to support efforts to Bring a WNBA team to Oakland

This week the AASEG (African American Sports and Entertainment Group) has moved forward to secure the exclusive rights to bring a WNBA team to the Oakland Coliseum.

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Nancy Lieberman/ Wikimedia Commons
This week the AASEG (African American Sports and Entertainment Group) has moved forward to secure the exclusive rights to bring a WNBA team to the Oakland Coliseum.
Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan was pleased to hear that National Basketball Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman was pleased too. Both parties had a lengthy conversation back in February, about the business of the WNBA and some of its hurdles. Kaplan told Lieberman the AASEG ( www.aasegoakland.com), and the motion she brought forward received a resounding approval (6-0-2) vote from Oakland City Council members to pursue terms to acquire the City’s 50% interest of the Coliseum Complex.
This critical vote came just three days after the Alameda County Joint Powers Authority unanimously approved a resolution to begin negotiating with the AASEG to bring a WNBA team to Oakland.  With these successive actions, the AASEG can formalize negotiations with City staff toward a Purchase and Sell Agreement for the Coliseum Complex.
Nancy Lieberman is one of professional basketball’s most celebrated female players and an American sports Icon. Nancy truly represents the theme of what is being proposed by the AASEG investment group. The council heard Ray Bobbitt, of AASEG and 97-year-old Gladys Green, present the goal of women leadership and ownership of a WNBA franchise as its primary agenda.Nancy Lieberman has an established record for being a leading advocate and supporter for social and racial equality her entire professional career. She has often credited the African American community, for supporting her and inspiring her possibilities. Now, that she is on the other side of her legend, she wants to pay it forward. Nancy and her business advocate Gary Reeves, said they plan to join a conversation with Ray Bobbitt and Rebecca Kaplan to review a potential alliance soon.

Nancy Lieberman loves the community outreach and civic leaders, who have paved the way for this opportunity. She cited the AASEG for its extensive community support. She said she is looking forward to meeting the AASEG community members and to give high praise and thanks to Rebecca Kaplan for her full-court press-style of support for AASEG, women’s sports, minority businesses, housing and job opportunities for the homeless and formerly incarcerated populations. Lieberman and Gary Reeves, her Bay area-based business advocate, want to meet and work with Gladys Green who is the inspirational leader of the East Oakland community and to congratulate Gay Cobb for the Post News Group’s extensive coverage and the recommendation that AASEG make an offer to purchase the coliseum.

In addition to working as Nancy Lieberman’s business advocate, Gary has been campaigning for support from a Who’s Who list of philanthropists and investors to support a home ownership pledge for those that need their down payments bridged to help them become home owners. During the pandemic his group, along with Lieberman, provided over 1 million dollars in free PPE and clothing for those in under-resourced areas. Oakland was also a benefactor of that program with BPL campuses and the Al Attles Foundation, ACE (Attles Center for Excellence)

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Community

Mayor London Breed Announces SFPD Tourism Deployment Plan as San Francisco Readies for Reemerging Travel Season

SFPD continues showcasing community policing reforms in deployment of 26 additional officers on bicycle and foot patrols to City’s high-traffic, iconic travel destinations

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San Francisco Cable Cars/Ragnar Vorel via Unsplash

Mayor London N. Breed announced details from San Francisco’s new community policing and tourism deployment plan to support and safeguard a re-emergent travel season that is forecast to exceed 15.3 million visitors by year’s end.

Outlining operational elements at a press conference on July 19 at Chinatown’s iconic Dragon’s Gate this morning, Breed and Police Chief Bill Scott highlighted how the San Francisco Police Department’s Tourism Deployment Plan will provide high-visibility and welcome support to an economic sector that is vitally important to San Francisco as travelers worldwide emerge from COVID-19 lockdowns.

“Tourism has long been an economic powerhouse in our city, bringing not just local tax revenue to fund vital city services but also jobs and economic opportunities for generations of San Franciscans,” said Breed. “San Francisco has done an incredible job managing this pandemic, and with one of the highest vaccination rates of anywhere in the country, we are working hard to reopen our city. That means bringing more officers to our tourist areas, as well as other efforts like our recently funded efforts to add more ambassadors and performances throughout Downtown, the Waterfront, and Mid-Market areas. We are committed to doing everything we can to reopen our businesses, put our residents back to work, and welcome travelers back to all of our city’s unforgettable destinations.”

The San Francisco Police Department’s Tourism Deployment Plan draws heavily from a community policing strategy that is among the pillars of SFPD’s groundbreaking 21st century police reforms. Under the plan, SFPD will deploy 26 additional police officers on bicycle and foot patrols to an array of high-traffic and highly sought-after travel destinations in five of the City’s 10 police districts:

  • Central Police District’s new deployments will feature 14 additional officers on bike and foot patrols that include: Union Square, Market Street, Powell Street, Chinatown and Lower Grant Avenue, Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach and the crooked portion of Lombard Street.

 

  • Mission Police District’s new deployments will feature two additional officers on bike and foot patrols in the Castro and Upper Market.

 

  • Northern Police District’s new deployments will feature six additional officers on bicycle patrols around the Palace of Fine Arts, Alamo Square and Japantown.

 

  • Park Police District’s new deployments will feature two additional officers on bicycle patrols along the Haight Street commercial corridor.e

 

  • Richmond Police District’s new deployments will feature two additional officers on bicycle patrols in Golden Gate Park.

In addition to this Tourism Deployment Plan, the Mayor’s proposed budget, which the Board of Supervisors has come to an agreement on, includes funding for the Downtown Recovery Plan. The Downtown Recovery Plan includes an expansion of the number of ambassadors in the downtown and Union Square areas; a series of events and activations throughout Downtown, at the site of the temporary Transbay Terminal, and along the waterfront; and improvements at Hallidie Plaza, the entrance to the Powell Street BART Station and site of the Cable Car turnaround.

Outlook for Tourism Sector

Although there is renewed uncertainty about effects from COVID-19 variants in many parts of the world, a San Francisco Travel Association analysis released in March forecast that overall visitation to the City would reach 15.3 million in 2021, with $3.5 billion in overall visitor spending projected by year’s end. The study by San Francisco’s official destination marketing organization said that total visitation was not anticipated to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023. Due to a slower recovery of international visitors and average rate in the City, San Francisco Travel concluded that overall visitor spending was unlikely to return to 2019 levels before 2025.

“Our market research shows a light at the end of the tunnel for destinations like San Francisco after a devastating year for the global tourism industry: there is huge pent-up demand for travel all over the world,” said San Francisco Travel President and CEO Joe D’Alessandro. “As San Francisco embarks on a multi-year recovery, we know that high-visibility, community-oriented patrols by San Francisco police officers provide a reassuring, welcoming presence for the visitors and conventions so essential to our city’s continued success.”

San Francisco Travel reported a total of 10.2 million visitors to the City in 2020, which was down 61 percent from a record high of 26.2 million in 2019. Total spending by visitors was $2.3 billion in 2020, representing a pandemic-driven drop of 77.7 percent from 2019’s record high of $10.3 billion in total visitor spending. Spending figures include expenditures on meetings and conventions in San Francisco.

The COVID-19 pandemic has similarly affected local employment related to the tourism sector, according to San Francisco Travel, which found that the number of jobs supported by tourism in San Francisco fell to 20,880 in 2020 — a 75.8 percent decline from 86,111 jobs tourism supported in 2019.

Expanded Community Policing at Visitor Destinations

The mission of officers detailed to the Tourism Deployment Plan is to provide high-visibility and preventative patrol in their assigned locations, while embodying the principles of a community policing strategy that is a centerpiece of the San Francisco Police Department’s comprehensive and voluntary Collaborative Reform Initiative. Officers are well trained to incorporate five goals into their community interactions and public guardianship, as detailed in SFPD’s Community Policing Strategic Plan. SFPD’s Community Policing principles include:

  • Goal 1: Communication that is honest, transparent, empathetic and culturally and linguistically competent and respectful.

 

  • Goal 2: Education that both teaches community members in safety awareness and learns from communities to serve more responsively.

 

  • Goal 3: Problem-solving through collaborative working partnerships to identify and address safety issues and topics of concern.

 

  • Goal 4: Relationship-building to forge trusting and respectful engagements with San Francisco’s residents and visitors alike.

 

  • Goal 5: Organizational and operational approaches reflecting the guardian mindset that defines the promise of 21st century policing.

New deployments of police officers under the Tourism Deployment Plan announced on July 19 have already been implemented and will supplement existing patrols citywide, which will remain at current staffing levels.

Officers deployed under the plan will be on bicycle or on foot in frequently traveled areas, greeting and interacting with community members and guests. Assignments include fixed posts as well as patrols in commercial corridors, depending on deployments. Officers’ primary focus will be to engage with the public and provide aid when needed, and to take necessary enforcement action whenever identifying individuals involved in crime.

The San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Communications is the source for this story.

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