Tonight! With Jim Alabiso, Jacksonville’s first ever live talk show, premieres this month on the MeeMee TV network. The show, co-produced and written by Mr. Alabiso, will follow a similar format to the major network late night shows, with Albiso opening each program with a monologue, followed by guest interviews, and intercut with music and comedy skits. Local artists and cultural innovators will join Alabiso and his in house band, Spice and the Po’boys featuring Brittany Wescott.
Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Jim has made his home and found his passion for social advocacy here in Jacksonville. Prior to his work on Tonight!, Alabiso has made a name for himself as CEO of JumpingFish Inc., an advocacy group that currently organizes the annual Up the River Downtown 10k swim in the St. Johns River. Now, he enters very different waters as the co-producer, lead writer, and host of a show that looks to introduce the world to the diverse art and culture of the Jacksonville community. “I want to celebrate this community’s incredible talent. This is not the Jim show; this is a collaborative work of passion. We are creating a platform in which we are able to communicate to the whole world what is happening in Jacksonville’s art and culture scene,” says Alabiso, “and that has never been attempted before.” The project was something that grew organically from a conversation between Albiso and Kathryn McAvoy, director of The Performers Academy and founder of MeeMeeTvJax, in which they discussed various ways of promoting the community’s diverse talent.
The first episode was filmed in April in front of a live studio audience at the Ritz Theatre & Museum, located downtown, and featured an 18 foot-by-8 foot Michael Glinsky photo of Jacksonville’s skyline as the backdrop. The episode featured internationally known Yogi Amrit Desai of the Amrit Yoga Institute, TEDx speaker Judi Herring, and Melissa Ross, host and producer for WJCT 89.9 FM. The premiere also included members of actress/playwright Barbara Colaciello’s Improv to the Rescue, a terrific ensemble of which Alabiso has been a member for several years. “Barbara is an amazing teacher and a very gifted performer. I don’t think this would have been possible without her mentorship, and I am thrilled to have her and my fellow actors sharing the stage with me on this first episode.” The episode was written entirely by Alabiso, who credits his experience as a long distance swimmer with giving him the endurance and mental toughness needed to fully explore the central theme behind each episode. “When I jump in the St. Johns River for a swim of five or maybe ten kilometers, I will spend the first ten minutes or so getting my mind and body acclimated to the environment, and then all of a sudden I enter into a kind of meditative state where everything is flowing and I am able to let go of both the distractions of the outside world and my own ego, and I have found it to be the same when I sit down to write an episode or when I first took the stage to host,” explains Alabiso.
The show is directed by Samuel David Farmer and Tamika Lee, features Julie Watkins as Emcee, and is produced by Kathryn McAvoy, Sozo Jaxon, Chad Lancaster Hendricks, Keith Ainley, Dee Dillinger at Mee Mee TV Jax, and Jim Alabiso at LEAP Collaborative. It will be a weekly fixture beginning in June, when it will be broadcast locally on WVVQ digital 18.1 and will also be available on MeeMeeTvJax’s.com’s live stream.