Not to be outdone by MTV, BET (both Viacom-owned) has unveiled a new programming menu of several scripted projects for your viewing pleasure. BET, described as cable TV’s top ad-supported cable network for African-American audiences, may actually be on the road to redemption.
The new projects include a variety of TV movies, a miniseries, four new series and a backdoor pilot much in the same vein as flagship Being Mary Jane are projected to help the network move towards a year-round schedule of scripted entertainment. BET’s current original scripted series is admittedly smaller than a lint ball in a toe sock, with Being Mary Jane and The Real Husbands of Hollywood which is about to go into cardiac arrest.
BET’s forthcoming projects are as follows:
-First up is, Tales, a collaboration with TIDAL and Irv Gotti is an eight-episode anthology series that will highlight a different hip-hop track in each episode and transform it into a three-act narrative based on the lyrics. (Director’s cuts will debut on TIDAL after the BET premieres.) “Tales” is scheduled to debut in late 2017. You can expect Jay and Bey material to be featured.
-A ten- episode stand-up themed mockumentary half-hour Comedy Get Down
-A six-episode dramedy Benched and an eight episode police drama Rebel
Tony® Award Winner, Anika Noni Rose(Dreamgirls) leads a drama pilot The Yard, where she’s joined by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Jazz Raycole and Peyton Alex Smith
There also is the Nelson Mandela pic Mabida (starring Laurence Fishburne as the celebrated anti-apartheid revolutionary and South African president) and the highly anticipated miniseries based on New Edition. Empire star Bryshere Gray will portray Michael Bivins (I can rock with that) with Elijah Kelley, Luke James(yezzzzz), Keith Powers, Algee Smith and Woody McClain as the other group members. Additional new programming ranges from base model reality and talent competitions to more comedy and inspiration. Please make way for Music Moguls starring Birdman (put some respect on it!), Damon Dash(again), Jermaine Dupri (and again) and Snoop Dogg (the real comic relief), a bus pass vehicle for comedian Gary Owen, gospel music showcase Joyful Noise (a chip off of Bobby Jones Gospel) and a Sway Calloway hosted hip-hop competition One Shot (featuring the rejects from MTV’s yet to be named base model church basement reality talent show…Girl, bye!).
Debut dates for the shows as well as remaining casting is to be announced. Let’s hope BET will reduce the hot garbage quotient and provide content that does not cater to the lowest common social denominator (yes, I said it!). Consumers now have multiple options to get customized content that is informative, yet entertaining, fresh and consistent. Let’s keep hope alive that BET will be one of those options and reclaim an area where they have fallen short over the past several years…..to truly entertain. After all, entertainment is in their name.