Bestselling author Alexander McCall Smith has finally been feted by HBO with a 13 episode adaptation of his delightful The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Set in Botswana, this series of stories is about as close as I come to that dreaded subgenre in suspense/mystery/detective fiction--the "cozy."
The dynamic and diverse cast for the television pilot includes Grammy Award-winning singer Jill Scott as series heroine Precious Ramotswe, who has become one of the most beloved characters in international contemporary fiction. Anika Noni Rose ('Dreamgirls', Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) stars as Precious' quirky secretary Mma Makutsi, and Lucian Msamati stars as Mma Ramotswe's devoted suitor JLB Matekoni. They are joined by David Oyelowo ('The Last King of Scotland'; HBO's 'Five Days' and 'As You Like It'), Idris Elba ('28 Weeks Later,' HBO's 'The Wire'), Colin Salmon ('Die Another Day,' 'Match Point') and Tony Award winner John Kani ('Final Solution,' 'The Ghost and the Darkness').
Idris, Anika...Jill? Oh yeah. HBO's been lame lately but this helps.
Now I must ask...why again are our authors--including yours truly--herded like Jews in a stockcar headed for Treblinka in 1944. Yep, I used that metaphor and kiss my ass if you don't like it. We are tattooed with softcore porn, "ghetto lit," cheezy romance/Tyler Perry clone/church lady fiction. It takes a white foreigner to get a deal on HBO. Indeed, it took the Casanegra series with Blair Underwood for Tananarive Due and Steve Barnes to receive the fame (2009 NAACP Image Award) they so richly deserved for their more literary works. LA Banks' sagas and new mythology should be on HBO rather than the redneck-vampire farce True Blood. Zane got the choice deal on Cinemax but again, as well produced as these episodes are, they're still sex romps. Yes, we've allowed ourselves to be shoved to the death camp. Eric Jerome Dickey, E. Lynn Harris--they're just soderkommandos: priviledged yet still prisoners...the ones who're the last in the gas chambers. Time to break out...
It's good to see Jill Scott and Anika get this notorietyplay. I'm ready. Hopefully HBO and other outlets will ready for better stuff from the rest of us. We got the names, talent to give up stuff other than ghetto crap and Madea. If Mr. McCall were black and writing in America, I bet he wouldn't have even gotten an agent. Sorry. But you know I'm right.