Ellen Gray: TV One debuts 'Save My Son'

Posted: October 04, 2012

* SAVE MY SON. 9 p.m. Wednesday, TV One.

* SUPERNATURAL. 9 p.m. Wednesday, CW 57.

LOOKING BACK, Rochelle Brown can see the signs that her little brother was heading into trouble.

He was "not going to school. It all started there," said Brown, executive producer of "Save My Son," a new TV One show in which educator Steve Perry, sometimes working with celebrity mentors, tries to intervene in the lives of troubled young African-American men before it's too late.

"The signs that we didn't see, that people are going to learn after watching this show, when I look back, it started probably at around the seventh grade. You know, just real problems with authority," said Brown, who once hoped her brother, now 18 and estranged from his Orange, N.J., family, would be the show's first "save."

"I wasn't able to save my brother," said the co-founder of Powerhouse Productions, whose credits include "Living It Up with Patti LaBelle" and "Fresh Food Fast with Emeril," in an interview during the Television Critics Associations summer meetings in Beverly Hills, Calif.

"It would have been great to have him be the first episode. But we've literally as a family had to take a stance, and he chose the streets, and now he has to live it out on the streets until he's ready to save himself."

Brown, who noted that her brother grew up in "a two-parent household" - something that's not necessarily true of all the show's subjects - said one thing she's learned from working with Perry on the show is that sometimes family isn't enough.

"It's got to be from an outside source. Even though we're saying the same things [Perry does]. Something happens when I see him cook with these kids . . . Sometimes it's the messenger."

Earlier, Perry, the founder and principal of the Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Conn., which aims to send 100 percent of its students to a four-year college, told reporters he wasn't initially interested in doing a TV show.

" 'I really am a principal,' " he said he told the producers. " 'I have no interest in doing any more television than I've already done. It only undermines my credibility in the building.'

"And they said, 'No, no, no, we're not going to do TV, we're going to do something different, and change people's real lives. We're going to go into the community and we're going to make an impact. And we're not just going to make an impact on that child, but we're going to create a blueprint that's going to change the lives of other people who are watching.' "

As for Brown's brother, she said, "He's still alive. And I still have hope" that he'll see the show "and it could just make him think . . . He, too, can make it."

A 'Supernatural' return

He's worked on shows involving vampires and werewolves, ghosts and demons - and all manner of other things that go bump in the night - but Jeremy Carver insists he's really all about the relationships.

The Lower Merion High grad is the new showrunner at the CW's "Supernatural," which returns Wednesday for its eighth season. Carver had spent the past two years, along with his wife Anna Fricke overseeing the Syfy's U.S. adaptation of the BBC's "Being Human," a show about a vampire, werewolf and ghost who share a house.

Before that, though, Carver spent three years working as a writer on "Supernatural," which was created by Eric Kripke ("Revolution") and stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles as brothers Sam and Dean Winchester, who started out seven years ago hunting demons.

When I met Carver at a Warner Bros. cocktail party this summer at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills, I confessed I'd long ago lost track of the Winchesters, at least one of whom I'd heard had been to hell (and back) in the time I haven't been watching.

Carver knows the sci-fi/fantasy world that's often categorized as "genre" can sound intimidating to casual viewers.

"I can say there were many times, in the writing room at 'Supernatural,' where someone would throw out some crazy sci-fi reference, and I'd nod my head and I'd run off to my office and Google it," he said, chuckling.

But he hasn't given up on attracting new viewers to "Supernatural," which after several years on Fridays is moving to Wednesdays this season to be paired with the CW's new superhero series "Arrow," which premieres next week.

"Even before we knew we were on the new night, one of our goals this year was to come out a little bit from the real, real heavy weight of mythology that had been built up over the last seven years," said Carver.

Not that that's easy on a show where one of the main characters has lately been in purgatory, with an angel named Castiel (Misha Collins).

This season, "we'll get a very clear look at what happened with Dean and Castiel down in purgatory. It's a fairly harrowing look at a plane that is not Earth. And it has a profound effect on the relationship of these two, this angel and this man," Carver said. "We'll also be picking up with Sam and discovering and delving into his year away from his brother, in which he met a woman and embarked on one of the most significant relationships of his life," he said.

However the show's fans feel about that, it's unlikely they'll be keeping Carver in the dark.

The show's fan base is "incredibly opinionated," Carver said. "They love the show, but they love the show done well."

Contact Ellen Gray at graye@phillynews.com or 215-854-5950. Follow her on Twitter @elgray. Read her blog at EllenGray.tv.

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