10:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Tyler Perry Sets First of Four BET Series: White House Soap 'The Oval' (Exclusive)
Tyler Perry has set up his first project at Viacom as part of his multiyear content partnership with the media behemoth.
The multihyphenate has landed a straight-to-series order for the White House drama The Oval at Viacom-owned cable network BET. The project, starring Ed Quinn and Kron Moore as the first couple, is one of two dramas, two comedies and a live holiday-themed production set to air on the African-American-focused cable network between October 2019 and September 2020 (fiscal year 2020). Details of the other three series and live production have not yet been determined.
"I've been hard at work on The Oval and can't wait to share this story with audiences," Perry said Thursday in a statement. "I've set out to create a show that tells the story of a family placed in the White House by people of power while also highlighting the personal side and everyday lives of the staff who run the inner workings of the nation's most iconic residence."
Perry will write, direct and executive produce the series via his Tyler Perry Studios. Michelle Sneed will also exec produce for Tyler Perry Studios. The Oval revolves around the picture-perfect first couple that, behind closed doors, are anything but. The scripted offering explores lies, cheating and corruption. Quinn (One Day at a Time, 2 Broke Girls, Eureka) will play Hunter Franklin, the newly elected president of the U.S.; relative newcomer Moore (Stargirl, David Makes Man) will play first lady Victoria Frankin; Paige Hurd (Everybody Hates Chris) will play the couple's wild-child daughter, Gayle; and Daniel Croix Henderson will play their troubled teen son, Jason. Principal photography is set to begin this summer at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta. (An episode count has not been determined.)
The Oval is the first programming to be revealed since Perry inked a multiyear content partnership with Viacom in July 2017. The pact became effective in May, after his previous deal with OWN wrapped. Under that agreement, Perry created the scripted series The Haves and the Have Nots, If Loving You Is Wrong and Love Thy Neighbor, among others. The Viacom deal covers TV, film and shortform video projects and calls for Perry to produce 90 episodes annually of original drama and comedy series for BET and other Viacom platforms. He is a key part of Viacom's turnaround strategy, which also includes BET's forthcoming streaming service. That platform, BET+, is expected to launch this fall and also feature content from Perry. (Perry's Viacom deal runs through 2024.)
The Oval joins a roster of scripted originals at BET that includes recently renewed Boomerang and American Soul — the first two new series to be ordered by BET president Scott M. Mills, who was tapped to take over for Debra Lee in December 2017 — as well as the upcoming series-finale movie of Being Mary Jane, In Contempt and the Lena Waithe-produced comedy Twenties. Meanwhile, TV Land and Paramount Network transplant First Wives Club and Bigger (formerly Peachtree Place) are earmarked for BET+.
Mills' larger goal is to increase originals by 21 percent with new scripted series and movies, while also leveraging relationships with prominent African-American writers and producers as well as Viacom's corporate siblings.