The bookings are pretty much contemporary established stars — black musicians, actors, Demi Moore, a supermodel and a comedian — who are given free rein to plug recent efforts. And Spencer is clueless in directing an interview, figuring that constantly changing the subject will hold the aud’s short attention span. He allowed Brandy to explain the plot of “Cinderella.” Vivica A. Fox spilled the details on karaoke. Teen singer Aaliyah gave Spencer a gift basket full of Aaliyah promo items. Salt-N-Pepa recited a list of upcoming guests that Spencer had just finished reading. Guests might be enjoying themselves, but as television, couch segs are deadly.
Debut episode began with exec producer Quincy Jones interviewing a tape of President Clinton. What could have been clever turned into a rambling position speech on America’s youth. Jones, who made one other appearance, has trouble with cue cards and fails to deliver on his image as a cultural benefactor. Taped bits that poked fun at Spencer’s anonymity and the show’s undecided direction were far too obvious.
Vibe’s success as a magazine comes through its diversity; the TV show is showing itself as a more mainstream version. While it doesn’t have the wacky foolishness of a “Def Comedy Jam,” it doesn’t feel like a celebration of black or urban culture. Snippets of older black stars appearing on TV in the ’60s, it is hoped, are laying a foundation for what “Vibe” can become — a show that provides exposure for new young stars as well as the artists who didn’t have a venue for their talents in the ’70s and ’80s. A better balance and improving Spencer’s interviewing skills will go a long way in bringing in a loyal audience.