PHILADELPHIA real-estate developer Shawn Bullard is the first black man to court love on television whose name is not Flavor Flav.
Bullard is the focus of "Match Made in Heaven," WeTV's foray into the reality love game, premiering Wednesday at 8 p.m. The twist is that he'll get romantic input from Indianapolis Colts spiritual adviser Pastor Ken Johnson and his mother, Maggie Bullard.
Bullard's small place in television history seems like a dubious distinction. On one hand, he's attempting to pick a future life partner on TV, which tends to play more like a gambit for fame than a major life decision. On the other, congratulations to Bullard for not being the much-mocked Public Enemy hype man-turned-reality star of VH1's now-defunct "Flavor of Love" series.
But don't write off Bullard's importance just yet.
"The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" have been staples of ABC's lineup since 2002. And, yet, there has never been a black bachelor or bachelorette. Contestants of color are thrown into the mix but are often kicked off in the early goings. In 2012, two black men sued the show for discrimination (the suit was dismissed). The 18th season featured a Hispanic bachelor, Juan Pablo Galavis, but the reaction to his season was sour. The current season, featuring Iowa farmer Chris Soules, seems to celebrate a pastoral ideal of whiteness, like group dates that involve tractor races (in bikinis, of course), or milking a goat (yes, this happened).
When I asked Bullard, the operator of Watchmen Property Management and Konkrete Investments, why he thought it was important to be the first "black bachelor," he told me it was precisely because there hasn't been one before him.
"For me, it was a great opportunity to show America that men of color, black men, are educated, are successful, we know how to court a woman," Bullard said. "Especially in the moment of Michael Brown and 'I can't breathe.' We need a different of type of a role model in the black community. To be successful, we don't have to be a baller, or an entertainer. We can be CEOs, entrepreneurs. I cherish the moment to be able to express that on the show."
Bullard grew up in West Oak Lane and attended Bishop McDevitt. He dropped out of a small Southern college after he was stabbed in a fight, later enrolling at Temple University and walking on to their football team after he figured out that college dropouts don't make that much dough. His senior year, he bought his first home at 11th and Lehigh for $40,000, rehabbing and flipping the property. He used his earnings as seed money to build his company, providing housing for Temple students. He's currently working on a coffeeshop on Broad Street near Brown - Beans and Blo - that he's touting as the first hookah bar on the Avenue of the Arts.
With newfound reality fame, alas, comes newfound rumors surrounding Bullard's love life, including pics that hit the Internet of him smooching "Real Housewives of Atlanta" star Claudia Jordan. "We're good friends, we weren't dating, we're just really good friends," Bullard said, when I asked him about the pictures. "She's a legend, a beautiful person, she's intelligent, and that's the type of people I want to surround myself with."
Good luck finding that in "Heaven."
Innes, Bruno afternoons
Josh Innes and Tony Bruno will take over SportsRadio WIP's afternoon show, as rumored by Crossing Broad. They are replacing Rob Ellis and Anthony Gargano, who departed the station late last year.
When I asked Marc Rayfield, senior vice president/market manager for CBS Radio Philadelphia, about where Ellis would land, he told me that the weekday schedule has yet to be finalized. Rayfield added that Innes and Bruno are set to start Wednesday, although that is weather permitting since Bruno was in Arizona covering the Super Bowl and may not be able to get back in time to due weather forecasts.
OUT AND ABOUT
* Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds celebrated their 500th career games on Saturday night at Old City's Prime Stache (110 Chestnut St.), which is owned by Eagle Brent Celek and silent partners including teammate Todd Herremans.
* Actor John C. Reilly ("Step Brothers," "Talladega Nights") stopped by the Reading Terminal Market (51 N. 12th St.) on Thursday before he played that evening at the World Cafe Live (3025 Walnut St.) with his band, John Reilly and Friends. My tipsters told me he had an epic beard and was wearing "a jaunty hat."
On Twitter: @PhillyGossipDN