- Faith & Family
Joe Brown, 65, has come a long way since growing up on the tough streets of South Central Los Angeles. He beat the odds, graduating at the top of his class from Dorsey High — then going on to earn his B.A. and law degree from UCLA. He would later become the first Black prosecutor in Memphis, Tennessee and was eventually chosen to serve as a judge on the State Supreme Court of Shelby County, Tenn. His big break came when Brown captured national attention while presiding over James Earl Ray’s final appeal of Ray’s conviction for the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Around that time, Judge Brown also caught the eye of the producers of the Judge Judy show.
Today he is known for being the first Black male to preside over a courtroom television show. And with his engaging style and tell-it-like-it-is approach, he’s been a fixture on television for the past 16 years. Now Brown is busy producing a cadre of new shows that he believes will attract an even wider audience. He was in Miami this week and talked about how he is branding himself, developing creative, new projects and extending his reach.
“I call what we are doing ‘celebratunities’ and believe that if you say something about human nature, you can always peak people’s interest,” Brown said. “I’m committed to providing opportunities for folks who would normally be cut out of the loop. They have great experience and amazing ideas but have been on the sidelines hoping for a chance to shine and succeed. I decided after letting my contract expire at the end of 2012, to go from making decisions in the TV courtroom to being more proactive. We have four shows that we’ll be pitching to television program executives — one that will feature Wesley Snipes.”
Brown participated in the annual convention of the National Association of Television Program Executives which was scheduled from Jan. 28 – 30th at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. He says he’s excited about being able to finally spread his wings.
“I’m a free agent now so I can control my own destiny, go after some business ventures and bring others along with me,” he said. “I always wanted to do a late night talk show — something that airs after the kids are in bed so we can have some frank conversations. I don’t want to be part of the trend of sensationalism on TV. I want to build a brand that takes a more reasonable, honest approach but that is also exciting and entertaining.”
By D. Kevin McNeir