The Rev. Jesse Jackson hopes to host a weekly TV talk show to be syndicated nationally by Warner Bros. starting next fall, the two-time presidential candidate and Warners executives told a New York news conference Thursday.
"There are critical issues with which we must wrestle and engage in dialogue," said Jackson, whose proposed show will be called "Voices of America with Jesse Jackson." Former CBS News President Van Gordon Sauter and musician-composer Quincy Jones will be executive producers.
Jackson said that he will invite world leaders and non-political figures to debate a variety of important topics. The show will not be a forum for his own ideas, he said, but rather an attempt to "expand the narrowly focused lens of the camera." It may also include taped segments that will present news stories "not being told elsewhere."
A pilot will be taped within the next five weeks. No stations or advertisers have been lined up yet, but marketing will begin immediately. Jackson will be on hand to greet station executives and other potential buyers this January in New Orleans during the National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) convention, the TV syndication industry's annual trade show.
Jackson was asked if he would host the television show if he were running for mayor of Washington. Rumors that he might seek that office were fueled recently when he moved to the capital.
"I do not choose to pursue the hypothetical," Jackson responded. "I prefer to deal with that which is, and that which is is that I am not running for any office and at this point I have no plans to do so."
Jackson would not be the first political aspirant to host a TV show. Gov. Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts hosted "The Advocates" on public television from 1971 to 1973, and former President Ronald Reagan hosted "Death Valley Days" in the mid-1960s.