TV One shot the first season of its spoken word/neo-soul combo show “Verses & Flow” at the King Plow Arts Center last year with Hill Harper as host.
This season, the show – which airs at 11 p.m. on Mondays – moved to Los Angeles with a new host: Marist and University of Georgia grad Omari Hardwick.
He has spoken-word cred, performing regularly at a theater in Los Angeles. “I’m a weird athlete-meets-poet-meets-actor,” he said in an interview last Friday. “I came from the world of writing and writing poetry and prose. I came from stage as an actor. It’s a perfect reunion of sorts of my beginnings of life as an artist meeting my present life as an artist.”
Hardwick – who has starred in “Kick-Ass,” “For Colored Girls” and “The A Team,” – cranked out eight episodes as the host in June over four days. Performers included Macy Gray, Tank, Elle Varner, Musiq Soulchild and Eric Benet.
Compared to “Def Poetry Jam” years back, he said this show has more of an “underground, back-packing feel.” “There’s a need for this show,” he said. “TV One has really found something.”
Hardwick is also on the current film “Sparkle,” which stars Whitney Houston. He plays the nice guy who chases after the troubled girl – and loses to a snazzier, smarmier rival, played by Mike Epps. He sees the film as a perfect homage to the late Houston, who died three months after the film wrapped. He said you could see Houston’s difficult life in her character as a mom trying to steer her daughters from the treacherous world of secular music in the 1960s.
“You see it in her eyes,’ he said. “She put it all out there.”
He’s also helping out his buddy Magic Johnson with his new Atlanta-based cable network Aspire by hosting a series of black independent film.
Hardwick is taking some vacation time now in Vancouver to get away from Hardwick the celebrity. “Trying to be that little eight year old kid raised in Decatur,” he said.
He’s a bit upset that he wasn’t picked up for the sequel of “Kick-Ass.” “I have no explanation,” he said. “I don’t do drugs. I wasn’t asking for some astronomical amount of money. I’m hugely disappointed.”
But he has other films in the hopper, most notably “A Pure Life” with Elle Fanning, Dakota’s sister and a Sundance indie film entry “Middle of Nowhere.”
He will be in Atlanta Sept. 8 to shoot a video with Eshe, a member of the local hip-hop group Arrested Development. He did spoken word on a song. He’s also working with Estelle.
“Verses & Flow”
11 p.m. Mondays, TV One
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk