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'TAVIS SMILEY' on PBS: Expect More Conversations That Enlighten and Entertain With Season Seven -- Premiering on January 11, 2010

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- TAVIS SMILEY kicks off his seventh season on PBS on Monday, January 11, 2010, with conversations featuring politicians, actors, artists, athletes and newsmakers (Check local listings). During his premiere week, Smiley will sit down with actress Sandra Bullock, recently named the top box office draw of 2009 and the first actress in Hollywood history to take a film (The Blind Side) past the $200 million mark, TV icon Alan Alda, actor Tobey Maguire, recently nominated for a Golden Globe in the Best Actor category for "Brothers," musician Rosanne Cash, who will perform music from her critically acclaimed album, "The List," and Bob Newhart, who is celebrating 50 years in show business. Additionally, the show will engage a conversation assessing President Obama's first year in office as we approach his inaugural State of the Union address.

These high-profile conversations come on the heels of TAVIS SMILEY's biggest-ever sixth season, which featured exclusive interviews with the musician Prince, comedian and talk-show host Jay Leno, and a broad range of guests including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, rapper and entrepreneur 50 Cent, and the co-founder of Twitter, Biz Stone. Other interviews showcased Oscar®-nominated rap artist M.I.A., who accused the government of Sri Lanka of genocide (prompting an exclusive response on TAVIS SMILEY from Sri Lanka's foreign secretary) and "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner leading up to the Emmys®.

"We're extremely proud to enter into our seventh season on PBS," says Neal Kendall, executive producer of TAVIS SMILEY. "Tavis is renowned for going beyond sound bites and talking points to bring viewers fascinating conversations, and we look forward to continuing that tradition."

"By going into deeper discussions and continually questioning assumptions, Tavis and his guests engage us in an evolving dialogue about the world," said John F. Wilson, PBS senior vice president and chief TV programming executive. "PBS is eager to further these conversations with a seventh season of TAVIS SMILEY."

Available on-air and online at, TAVIS SMILEY engages guests in meaningful discussions, inviting viewers to challenge their assumptions and broaden their horizons. From insiders' perspectives on hot-button issues such as Afghanistan, health care and the economy, to the innovators and trendsetters changing the way we think and interact, to the voices of creative personalities in popular culture, TAVIS SMILEY is the place for thought-provoking and honest TV talk.

In 2009, Smiley was named to TIME magazine's list of 100 "Most Influential People in the World." Past interviews are available for viewing on the series Web site (, a robust online destination featuring Web-only content such as Tavis' video blog, "Take 2 with Tavis," in which Smiley appears off-set to discuss current events and respond to fans' comments. The Web site also features the opinions of young writers in the "Young Voices" blog, commentary from guests and staff and Web-exclusive video that compliments the series and covers hot-button issues.

In January 2004, TAVIS SMILEY on PBS made its debut as a late-night talk show that challenged the status quo in American media on multiple levels. From the outset, TAVIS SMILEY brought a fresh new face to the late-night talk genre -- the longtime exclusive domain of white male hosts.

Tavis Smiley had a clear and defined mission to introduce the people of the most culturally, racially and ethnically diverse America ever to each other. Smiley's vision was to elicit conversations that weren't heard elsewhere in a space where ideas could be discussed, explored and not rushed.

Winner of four NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Television, News, Talk, or Information (Series or Special), TAVIS SMILEY has expanded into a multiplatform enterprise featuring some of the most prolific conversations found on national television. TAVIS SMILEY Season 7 and the upcoming "Tavis Smiley Reports" will also be broadcast to U.S. troops around the world on the American Forces Network (AFN). For more information, visit

About Tavis Smiley

Tavis Smiley is host of TAVIS SMILEY on PBS and "The Tavis Smiley Show" from PRI. Smiley launched America I AM: The African American Imprint, a world-class exhibition celebrating the extraordinary impact of African-American contributions to our nation and the world, on January 15, 2009. The exhibit is on a four-year, 10-city tour and is currently housed in Los Angeles. Smiley is also the author/editor of 14 books, including The New York Times bestsellers Covenant with Black America and What I Know for Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America, and his most recent, Accountable: Making America As Good As Its Promise. For more information, visit


TAVIS SMILEY is a unique hybrid of news, issues and entertainment, featuring interviews with politicians, entertainers, athletes, authors and other newsmakers. Tavis Smiley was recently named to TIME's list of 100 "Most Influential People in the World."

TAVIS SMILEY is produced by The Smiley Group, Inc. / TS Media, Inc. in association with KCET/Los Angeles. Major funding is provided by Walmart and Nationwide Insurance. Additional support comes from PBS and a one-time seed grant from the National Black Programming Consortium.

The 30-minute program airs weeknights on PBS. To get local listings and to watch past episodes, please visit

    Additional Press Contacts:

    Ami Watkin, Fenton Communications
    212-584-5000; [email protected]

    Soraya Gheissari, Unit Publicist, TAVIS SMILEY
    323-953-5758; [email protected]

    Cathy Williams, KCET
    323-953-5243; [email protected]

    Carrie Johnson, PBS
    703-739-5129; [email protected]

    Press Contacts:

    Sharene Azimi, Fenton Communications
    (212) 584-5000, ext. 309; [email protected]

    Yasmin Hamidi, Fenton Communications
    (212) 584-5000, ext. 227; [email protected]


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