"The Rickey Smiley Show," which premiered on Sept. 18, had an auspicious beginning, giving TV One its "biggest debut in its history." Airing Tuesdays at 9 p.m., the sitcom, "loosely based on his own life," stars radio host Rickey Smiley, "a popular national personality based in Atlanta, who is the single father to three children."
According to the network, the show's stories are derived from Rickey's attempt to raise his children by himself and still have a personal life, as well as from situations that arise at the radio station, which is a "hotbed of office politics, back stabbing, sexual innuendo, social issues, celebrity appearances, music and, of course, humor."
Comedian J. Anthony Brown, best known for his politically incorrect antics on "The Tom Joyner Morning Show" plays radio station manager Maurice, formerly the rapper known as "Mo' Sweets." Speaking from Los Angeles while nursing a nagging cold on the eve of Tom Joyner's recent "Take a Loved One to the Doctor" event in Philadelphia, Brown explained how he became part of the intriguing cast that also includes Ray J, Roz Ryan, Jay Lewis, Noree Victoria, Bariel Burgess and Ajiona Alexus.
"One of the reasons is because I know Rickey personally," he said. "The number one thing people say in Hollywood is, 'If I get something, I'm going to put you in it.' But Rickey's true to his word, and I 'm just an admirer of his work ethic, his dedication to his family and his dedication to his job — and then, his dedication to his faith. I mean, this guy goes home every week to make sure he attends church. So he's a well-grounded person.
"I've always admired his act, and we're just comics that like each other. If he's in town somewhere, I'll walk onstage while he's performing — same thing when I'm performing, so we have that camaraderie. Not to mention his manager is the reason that I'm on 'The Tom Joyner Morning Show.' Yolanda Starks — she cast me on that show. She also was instrumental in introducing me to Tom, 'cause I didn't know who Tom was."
A veteran television writer who has appeared in the feature films "Drumline" and "Think Like a Man," the irreverent Brown is essentially playing himself on "The Rickey Smiley Show," and said, "Maurice is almost J. Maurice has probably been married three times and got grown kids, got women problems, and he owes his baby mama money. He used to be a rapper...it's J."
In one episode, Maurice has a particularly heated exchange with Sister Bernice Jenkins, one of the hilarious characters portrayed by Smiley.
"Man, we 'bout ta go at it!" said Brown, who expressed an interest in directing an episode of the show. "Although she's old, she's disrespectful, and I'm not gonna to let her talk to me like that! I told her, 'I will beat you with a church hat!' and I meant every word of it!"
According to the comedian, such antics, along with a show biz setting and Smiley's ability to morph into a multitude of kooky characters are what make "The Rickey Smiley Show" unique.
"One of the things is, not only is it a radio setting, but it's a radio setting of people who are actually in radio," Brown said. "I'm in radio and Ricky is in radio, so Rickey is pretty much playing himself too, as a guy who's caught in the middle of working on the radio and then going home and dealing with his kids. He's a single dad. That's one of the things that made 'The Bernie Mac Show' so good, was because Bernie Mac was actually going through those things - raising his relative's kids - and that's the same thing we have with Rickey's show. And the other thing is, Rickey brings the Rickey Smiley characters. We all just work good together, and we've never worked together before."
Between his "day job" on the TJMS, his side gig on "The Rickey Smiley Show" and his Los Angeles comedy club, The J Spot, Brown's plate is quite full. Even so, he hopes to add a bit of spice to your life - and your Buffalo wings - with his line of gourmet sauces dubbed "Hotter Than a Mo Fo," which you can check out at www.hotterthanamofo.com.