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Network Building a Show Around Affable Anchor

T.J. Holmes, the affable CNN weekend anchor who told colleagues on Sunday he was leaving the network, is heading for Black Entertainment Television, according to a source familiar with Holmes' situation.

BET plans to build a show around Holmes, 34, the source said. Neither Holmes nor spokeswomen for BET were available for comment.

BET made the announcement official later Wednesday.

"BET Networks has inked a multi-platform talent agreement with award-winning journalist and television personality T.J. Holmes, as announced Wednesday," it said. "The deal with Holmes includes a new show on BET as well as content on BET.com in which he can bring his many talents to some of what BET says it regards as 'the most important and interesting stories' for their audience.

" 'We are simply ecstatic to have T.J. Holmes coming to our fold. He’s been an outstanding news anchor and we look forward to working with him in a variety of new ways on BET,' said Stephen G. Hill, President of Music Programming and Specials at BET Networks. 'It’s now upon us to develop vehicles that capture his intelligence, curiosity about the world, warmth, humor and compassion. It’s a challenge that we are happy to have.' "

"When we found out he was looking for new opportunities, BET approached him," spokeswoman LeToya Glenn Bacon told Journal-isms.

Holmes joined CNN in October 2006 and anchors the weekend edition of "CNN Newsroom" on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

At the summer convention of the National Association of Black Journalists, he joked about the "weekend ghetto" to which African American television anchors seem to be consigned, and not just at CNN. Also anchoring weekends at the network are Don Lemon and Fredricka Whitfield.

CNN confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that Holmes was leaving "to pursue other opportunities." With that, and a prior mention in Journal-isms that Holmes was leaving, the news went viral.

"TJ -- I just read that you were leaving CNN. Your decision or theirs. I hope they do not replace you with a Barbie Doll cutout," wrote one fan on Facebook.

Another wrote on the Huffington Post, "I'm a huge TJ fan. I think he's smooth..de-licious and very comfortabl-e in front of the camera. He's on to bigger and better things and I can't wait to see where he lands! Good Luck!!"

A third said, "WHAT A SEXY MUTHA!!!!! DAMN!"

Tenisha Bell, CNN executive producer,  wrote, "TJ is a great journalist, co-worker, work husband and friend. I've been wiping the tears for months and now we only have 2 more weeks together. I fully supported his move knowing that my job will never be the same. Rarely do you ever get an anchor and executive producer that sees 'eye to eye' and that can lead a team on one accord. He is a true gentleman and hard worker. I'm sure all of us will support him in his new job."

Others posted messages disparaging CNN.

According to his CNN bio, "Holmes came to CNN from NBC11 in the San Francisco Bay Area. While with NBC, he traveled to Athens, Greece to cover the 2004 Olympics, the first Summer Games held since the September 11th terrorist attacks. He covered numerous other stories that garnered national attention, including the historic recall election of the California Governor in 2003 and the double murder trial of Scott Peterson.

"Before joining NBC11, Holmes served as a weekend anchor and reporter for KTHV-TV in Little Rock, Ark. He began his career at KSNF-TV in Joplin, Mo."

In 2010, BET announced that another news name, Ed Gordon, would have a show built around him. But the Sunday news roundtable hosted by Gordon caused hardly a sti and is no longer on BET's schedule. Gordon has failed to return to the status he enjoyed at the network after coming to national attention there two decades ago.

Meanwhile, BET announced Tuesday that it would air a news special, "The Curious Case of Citizen Cain" on Thursday at 9 p.m. ET/PT.  Herman Cain, who suspended his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination on Saturday, "talks in-depth for the first time to the black audience about what he calls 'scams perpetrated on blacks' by liberal black leaders, his fiery brand of black conservatism, and the sex scandals that drove him from the Republican Presidential race," the announcement said. Clips are posted on bet.com/news.

"Flanked by Faulkner's widow, Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, officials of the Fraternal Order of Police and a cadre of prosecutors past and present who were involved with the case, Williams said he believed his office could successfully impanel a new jury and get a new death sentence against Abu-Jamal.

"But the tortuous legal process ahead for a newly imposed death sentence -- and the likelihood that Abu-Jamal, 57, will die in prison before it could be carried out -- made that route seem futile.

" 'Every reviewing court has found the trial fair and the guilty verdict sound," Williams said at a press conference. '. . . Our best remaining option is to let Mr. Abu-Jamal to die in prison.' "

". . . At issue was the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal in October hear a petition by Williams' office seeking to reinstate the death penalty against Abu-Jamal.

"The ruling meant that, unless Williams decided to conduct a new sentencing hearing, Abu-Jamal would continue to serve a life sentence with no chance of parole.

"Williams decided against a new hearing."

Friday marks 30 years since Abu-Jamal's arrest for Faulkner's murder.

Abu-Jamal was president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists at the time of his arrest.

His supporters are planning to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Abu-Jamal's imprisonment with a forum at Philadelphia's National Constitution Center on Friday with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, professor Cornel West, Michelle Alexander, author of "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness," and others.

Tutu said in a statement, "Now that it is clear that Mumia should never have been on death row in the first place, justice will not be served by relegating him to prison for the rest of his life - yet another form of death sentence. B ased on even a minimal following of international human rights standards, Mumia must now be released. I therefore join the call, and ask others to follow, asking District Attorney Seth Williams to rise to the challenge of reconciliation, human rights, and justice: drop this case now, and allow Mumia Abu-Jamal to be immediately released, with full time served."

* Dr. Johanna Fernandez, Loop21.com: Why Mumia Abu-Jamal Must Be Set Free

Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (www.mije.org). Reprinted on The Root by permission.

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Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (mije.org). Reprinted on The Root by permission.