KINGMAN - The entertainment world is bracing for impact when talk show diva Oprah Winfrey launches her new cable network, the aptly-named Oprah Winfrey Network, or OWN, at the end of this year. And one local man is hoping to be in the opening lineup.
Terrence Williams is one of several thousand people nationwide who has entered a contest to receive his own show on the new network once it premieres. But among the hundreds of talk shows, food shows and other ideas, Williams believes his is among the most important, broaching a growing topic that is still only seldom dealt with seriously in today's media: single dads.
A single father to two children himself, a teenage boy and a 12-year-old girl, Williams said single parenting is challenging enough, but being a single dad brings with it a whole host of unique challenges that he hopes to highlight and discuss in his contest submission, dubbed "Dumb Dads 101."
"The basic premise of the show is, it's going to be a very fun, informative show that's going to help single dads with all the different intricacies that involve being a single dad," he said.
"I find it's very difficult sometimes for single dads to - not to actually be there for their children - but sometimes we just don't know certain things. And this show is a forum for single dads to tune in and view and learn about things they need to know, especially for little girls or teen girls."
Before coming to Kingman seven years ago, Williams said he had actually produced several local access shows of his own in his hometown of Pasadena, Calif.
"One was a teen show called 'T's Teens,' and I had another show called 'Street Love,' which was about the ins and outs of love between ordinary, everyday people. It dealt basically with love issues between everyday people whether they be divorced or single, dating tips, best places to go, tips on group dating, things like that," Williams said. "Some of the shows were live and people were able to call in and discuss, talk about things, whatever they wanted to talk about. We had a panel of different people from different backgrounds that would attempt to share their opinions."
Williams said his 3-minute sample clip of "Dumb Dads" attempts to do the same thing, only with a roundtable of single fathers discussing various issues they've had to work through, be it dealing with a daughter's first menstruation, feeling out when it's okay to start dating following a separation, or making sure a child isn't making destructive choices in terms of friends or drugs.
"My plan is to have an in-house family psychologist that's going to help answer these difficult questions," Williams said. "But the format, it won't be so heavy all the time. The show is also going to have different segments, like it'll have a segment called 'Daddy's Diner' where we'll have a chef teach quick, healthy food tips."
While they're still making a resurgence in popular media, Williams said single fathers are still "an endangered species" compared to the number of single mothers out there. By pitching his program, he's hopeful that it can provide a forum for single dads to take greater pride in their role, as well as to establish their own identity as single parents, avoiding stereotypes like the "Mister Mom" trope popularized in such films as "Mrs. Doubtfire."
"We realize we don't have to be like mom," he said. "I've been a single parent for going on five, six years. My son, he'll be 15 in August and my daughter just turned 12, so they're right at the age where they need to feel that major protection from a dad, they need to have dad around. Not that they don't still need that nurturing from mom - they need both."
And that's why, he said, "Dumb Dads" isn't intended to make any pretensions to knowledge but will instead focus on helping to make single-fathers as well-rounded as they can be, given the circumstances.
"This show is not about pretending what we know but getting the advice we need to better manage our households," Williams said.
But he'll need help if he hopes to stand a chance against the thousands of other entries submitted to the contest. For that reason, Williams is urging Kingmanites to view and vote for his submission by going to the contest Web site, http://myown.oprah.com/audition/index.html, then clicking "Browse & Vote" and searching for "Dumb Dads 101."
With just two weeks remaining before the contest ends, Williams admitted that the odds are against him, especially with several entries receiving votes in the millions, even with just a few hundred thousand views each.
But Williams noted that Oprah has somewhat of a special relationship with Kingman, having visited the famed Mr. D'z diner in 2006 and later plugging it on her show. His hope is that that connection might just be enough to raise a couple of eyebrows at Oprah HQ in Chicago.
"She has a little special connection with this town, and I'm hoping that, by the town really logging on to my site and voting for my video and my slot, I'm hoping I may win a spot for her network," Williams said. "My hope is that, even if I don't win, some of her producers would see the show and still deem it good enough to qualify."