On this day in comedy on July 8, 1945 Director, producer, Stan Lathan was born in Philadelphia, PA.
While attending Boston University in 1968 to gain a master’s degree in arts, Lathan instead obtained his destiny when he was recruited by television station WGBH-TV to help create and direct the country’s first magazine show entirely produced by, for, and about African Americans—Say Brother. It was an effort to calm civil rights tensions.
His big break came in 1973 when he was brought to Los Angeles to direct Sanford & Son. From there he hit the fast track, helming Hill Street Blues, Miami Vice, Cagney & Lacey, Frank’s Place, Roc and others. He also directed the 1984 feature film Beat Street.
Lathan saw more pilots than LAX as the man behind the launching of Martin, Moesha, The Parkers, The Steve Harvey Show, Amen, South Central, Cedric the Entertainer Presents, All of Us, Eve!, The Soul Man and Real House Husbands of Hollywood.
In 1989, Stan Lathan partnered with Russell Simmons to create Def Comedy Jam. The duo then expanded the brand and garnered a Peabody Award for their series “Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry” and Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam on Broadway for which they won a Tony Award for best special theatrical event.
This multi-talented comedy icon is also a master producer, having served as EP and director of Dave Chappelle’s comedy specials Killin’ Them Softly for HBO and For What It’s Worth for Showtime, “Cedric The Entertainer: Taking You Higher” for HBO—and It’s Black Entertainment—a two-hour musical documentary for Showtime.
Lathan and Simmons created Run’s House that spawned a spinoff, Daddy’s Girls. They executive-produced Running Russell Simmons and Russell Simmons Presents: The Ruckus for Comedy Central.
In 2013 Stan Lathan received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Caucus for Producers, Writers and Directors. He has received six NAACP Image Awards and in 2014 was honored by the Directors Guild of America.
By Darryl “D’Militant” Littleton
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