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Casting Couch highlights hidden gems in Black Miami

caines | 7/11/2013, 5:30 a.m.

Miami has a plethora of talent but sometimes with all of the high-powered celebrities that hang out in this tropical paradise, many deserving artists get swept under the rug and are ignored. Thats what prompted Miami native Keith Harrell, a police officer by day, to develop and produce The Casting Couch TV Show which returns on Tuesday, July 7th for its second, sensational season. The show is shot in Miami and is designed to give hidden talent in South Florida greater exposure. We always hear about celebrities that come to our city but I thought it was time that we focused more on what we have going on here in the Magic City, Harrell said. The Casting Couch premiered as a live, Sunday night event in 2004 and was set in a live talk show atmosphere. But after just a few months, the concept and the show were canned. However, Officer Friendly refused to let his dream die without a fight. So, in 2012, he gave it another shot and struck gold. This season hes back with a finely-tuned version that featured TV award-winning hosts like Karen Stephens, Giordan Diaz, Vanessa Rottenburg, Lela Elam and Alisha Brooks. And to titillate our taste buds, Harrell has mixed in some of South Floridas more colorful members of the performing arts community. The main premise has always been to focus on entertainment but we also wanted to discuss social issues that affect the Black community, Harrell added. What makes the show unique is that it is totally interactive and social-media driven. The line this season up includes: Dr. Marvin Dunn, author; Andre Gainey and Will Barnes, actors; Big Brooklyn Red, singer; Jon Saxx, saxophonist; Teddy Harrell, Jr., AAPACT founder; and Dr. Patrick Williams, educator and classical musician. This writer was also invited on the show to talk about the continued relevance of the Black media and why publications like The Miami Times are still so vital in telling the story of the Black community. Harrell says there are plenty of surprises in store for viewers. We taped the show at different venues throughout South Florida and even went to places that some consider to be the worst areas in Miami, he said. We wanted to debunk the myth that the only nice places in the city are Midtown and South Beach. Like the talent that we feature on the show, there are plenty of venues that are hidden gems. The show runs for 12 weeks on WPLG Channel 10, cable channels Comcast 10 and 431 and will also be rebroadcast on www.thecastingcouchtw.com. By D. Kevin McNeirkmcneir@maimtimesonline.com