On September 1, 1988, the original “Sidewalks” series premiered on a single station in El Cerrito, CA.
27 years ago, a younger Richard R. Lee was given an opportunity to produce his first television show at a small community station. The show was called “Sidewalks,” a weekly entry spotlighting local singers and artist acts.
In the beginning, the program showcased over one hundred San Francisco Bay Area talents, ranging from singers and bands to artistic acts like acrobatic roller skating group and fashion designers. As time went on, the show’s format begin to change as the show lost its studio home. Now, “Sidewalks Entertainment,” which is produced independently by Lee, longtime co-host Cindy Rhodes, and a small team, is known for its spotlighting of national musical artists and celebrities, with a long list of famous Hollywood stars that could rival the big national talk shows, such as NBC’s “The Tonight Show” or CBS’ “Late Show” and access shows like “ET” or “Extra.”
“Even though the series is made up of various variations and spin offs,” says Lee, who has single-handedly edited over 600 episodes of the entire series, “we have continued to call the show ‘Sidewalks.’ It’s our name and brand. We have been through many format changes. I never dreamed I would ever be doing in my life a Hollywood/New York-type of show out here in the Bay Area with big, big, big name celebrities.”
Producing “Sidewalks” has been a labor of love for the small team, who have been doing the project on their own time. Many crew members and on-air personalities got their first training on “Sidewalks.” Since 1993, Rhodes has been the longest host, and the chief person in charge of satellite tours where many of the celebrity interviews have originated. Rafael Siegel and Maaika Westen, who are not involved with the production, also had a long tenures in front of the camera. Lee, who was heading toward a career as a studio director, is now one of the co-hosts, along with Rhodes and Veronica Castro. Justin Langston has been the main videographer (and writer of the show’s movie reviews) for the last decade. Singer/musician Jeryl Orsino (JerylMusic.com) provides the theme song and background music.
For the last several years, the once exclusive, local cable show has been expanding. In 2009, “Sidewalks” got its first appearance on broadcast television, with a special on KOFY-TV, a San Francisco Bay Area station. Presently, the series can be seen throughout Northern and Central California on the Comcast Hometown Network (CHN) and broadcast outlets KOTR (My Network TV affiliate in the Central Coast) and KQSL. The show also had a brief telecast on KILM, a Los Angeles TV station, until the Southern California channel changed affiliation. In late 2014, the show has been expanding throughout the USA on local stations, regional cable networks, and a number of online channels.
What does the future holds for the show?
“Who knows?,” says Lee. “The program keeps expanding and never ends.”