Virtual Cinema: “Mr. Soul!” Spotlights the Visionary Creator behind the Trailblazing TV Series September 1, 2020
“Acutely conveys the radical joy that Soul! inspired” —New York Times
In 1968, Ellis Haizlip transformed Black culture and its representation on television with the premiere of the PBS program Soul!—the first nationally broadcast, all-Black variety show. Each week, Soul! welcomed a dynamic lineup of black artists, performers, activists, and community leaders that helped shift the national gaze from inner-city poverty and violence to the vibrancy of the Black Arts Movement.
Rare Performances & Interviews
For 130 episodes, Haizlip dazzled national audiences by presenting rare performances and interviews. Muhammad Ali; Maya Angelou; James Baldwin; Earth, Wind & Fire; Al Green; Kool & the Gang; Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle, Toni Morrison; Sidney Poitier; and Stevie Wonder are just a few of the notable figures and acts that appeared before the show’s controversial cancellation in 1973.
Mr. Soul! is a riveting tribute to the visionary host and his enduring legacy. Directed by Haizlip’s niece, Melissa Haizlip, the documentary illuminates how Soul! became of one of the most culturally significant shows in U.S. television history. Poignant narration from Blair Underwood underscores the footage of interviews with past participants and archival clips from the landmark series.
Underwriting for the Film Department is provided by Tenaris and the Vaughn Foundation. Generous funding is provided by Nina and Michael Zilkha; The Consulate General of the Republic of Korea; Franci Neely; Carrin Patman and Jim Derrick; Lynn S. Wyatt; ILEX Foundation; L’Alliance Française de Houston; and The Foundation for Independent Media Arts.