Rose Rollins to Star in Basketball Drama for Spectrum, BET

Rose Rollins
Emerson-Miller

Spectrum Originals is hitting the court with Rose Rollins.

The Charter Communications-backed cable operator has handed out a straight-to-series order for Long Slow Exhale, a women's basketball drama starring The L Word alum. The series, from Paramount Television Studios, will launch first on Spectrum and, after a nine-month exclusive window, air on BET's linear network.

From creator and showrunner Pam Veasey (L.A.'s Finest, CSI: NY), the 12-episode drama follows J.C. Abernathy (Rollins), a head coach of a women's college basketball team who finds herself in the middle of a sexual abuse scandal.

Veasey exec produces the series alongside her former L.A.'s Finest collaborators Anton Cropper and John Dove. Bruna Papandrea (Big Little Lies) also exec produces alongside Casey Haver for her Made Up Stories banner. Cropper will direct. The hoops drama brings the L.A.'s Finest trio back to Spectrum after the Bad Boys spinoff served as their first foray into scripted originals. The Sony TV drama was canceled last year after two seasons.

"I’m so happy that Pam and Anton are back home at Spectrum Originals — along with Bruna they are a true dream team,” Spectrum Originals head Katherine Pope said. "We couldn’t be happier to welcome Rose into the family — her strength, empathy and brilliance convinced us all that she was our J.C.”

Long Slow Exhale is the latest scripted original for Spectrum subscribers. The platform counts other shared productions including Paramount TV Studios' Jessica Chastain vehicle George & Tammy, which will have a second window on Paramount Movie Network. The service's roster of originals includes Angela Black, Plan Z and A Spy Among Friends.

"We’re thrilled to be joining forces with Pam, Anton, Bruna, John, Casey and Rose in telling this story, which beyond its appeal as a compelling mystery drama, also explores so many issues at the forefront of our culture, told in the high-stakes, adrenaline-filled arena of elite women’s college basketball,” said Paramount Television Studios president Nicole Clemens.

Paramount TV Studios, like BET, is part of the ViacomCBS fold. While the studio operates independent from linear cabler Paramount Movie Network, it is expected to be a larger supplier of content to the ViacomCBS portfolio, including streamer Paramount+ (which will be rebranded from CBS All Access in early March). The studio's roster of originals also include BET's Boomerang, BET+'s First Wives Club, Netflix's Haunting franchise, Apple's Home Before Dark, TNT's The Alienist and Spectrum Originals' Paradise Lost.

The window strategy — with Spectrum having an exclusive first run before Long Slow Exhale moves to BET — is a way to split the costs of producing high-end scripted fare during a time in which many media companies are focusing less on linear networks. BET has also been increasingly focused on providing content for its Tyler Perry-backed streamer, BET+.

"We look forward to partnering with Spectrum Originals and our sister brand Paramount Television Studios to give viewers more of the premium content and dynamic storytelling they love and expect from the brand,” said Traci Blackwell, executive vp scripted at BET. “We are excited to have Rose join the BET family and, with this series, continue to expand the dimensions of Black women in leading roles on screen.”

For her part, Rollins counts Showtime's original The L Word, NBC's The West Wing, TNT's Southland, The CW's Nikita and CBS' NCIS among her credits. In a full circle moment, she appeared in one episode of Veasey's CSI: NY. Rollins is repped by Innovative Artists, Elevate Entertainment and Meyer & Downs.