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Gumbel’s prod’n firm books ‘Reading Club’

13-week series to be hosted by Carol Martin

Bryant Gumbel’s Dunbar Prods. is producing a 13-week roundtable talkshow series for pubcasters dubbed “The Reading Club,” to be hosted by longtime Gotham news anchor Carol Martin.

Half-hour series aims to tap into the grassroots cultural phenom of reading clubs by bringing members of different clubs together to discuss provocative new titles. Series is set to begin production this week at WHUT Washington, the PBS affil owned by D.C.-based Howard University.

“The Reading Club” is expected to bow on WHUT in June and will be offered to PBS affils nationwide by the American Program Services pubcaster distribution service. The primary target aud is black women, said Allison J. Davis, exec in charge of production for Dunbar.

“This show will capture the intimacy and excitement of thousands of reading clubs around the country — they are the social clubs of the ’90s,” said Allison J. Davis, exec in charge of production for Dunbar. “But really the conversation you hear is not about the books, as much as it is about how the books relate to one’s life.”

The premiere seg will tackle Lawrence Otis Graham’s controversial new book, “Our Kind of People,” an examination of the origins of the elites among black Americans.

Dunbar is spearheading “The Reading Club” project at WHUT as a labor of love and an educational opportunity for Howard students, many of whom will “shadow” the production crew as the segs are compiled over the next few weeks. Davis notes that Gumbel is an active supporter of black colleges, most visibly through his annual golf tourney benefit for United Negro College Fund schools.

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