BET is going clubbin' with 'Ballers' talk


BET is getting in the sports talk-show business with a new series hosted by former NBA player John Salley, former NFL player Hugh Douglas and comedian Guy Torry.

The network is debuting its first sports talk show, an hourlong series titled "Ballers," at 10 p.m. on April 20. The weekly show -- from creator/executive producer/director Tony McCuin and executive producer John Johnston -- features the hosts talking sports in a nightclub environment. Topics will range from serious issues to silly plays. The show will have a female presence with DJ Rashida's "girl's booth" as well as Claudia Jordan (NBC's "Deal or No Deal") serving as correspondent.

In fact, "Ballers" is designed to appeal to sports and nonsports fans as well as men and women.

"This really has a much broader appeal than most shows in this category," BET president of entertainment Reginald Hudlin said. "The interaction between these three personalities is unbelievable, and the format is very loose and fun. The nightclub setting really changes the vibe."

The show will tape at Platinum Live in Studio City. McCuin said the nightclub setting was chosen for several reasons.

"I had worked a few Super Bowls for FSN, and one thing I noticed was how comfortable these guys were in a nightclub atmosphere," he said. "Many times I had an opportunity to be involved in conversations taking place at nightclubs, and I thought, 'Why aren't we rolling the cameras on this?' It also gives fans the opportunity to 'hang' with the athlete instead of just watch them play."

Added Johnston: "I think that one of real unique things here is that it's a conversation and not really an interview. It's people listening in on conversations with these guys."

As is typical with BET series, "Ballers" has been given an initial six-episode order, but Hudlin is optimistic the show will connect with audiences and become a hit .

Emmy winner Johnston serves as senior supervising producer for "Extra" and has been executive producer on Fox Sports Network's "54321" and "The Last Word With Jim Rome," among other shows.

McCuin's credits include FSN's "The Best Damn Sports Show Period" (on which Salley appeared as a host), "Fox NFL Sunday," "Fox Saturday Baseball" and ESPN's "SportsCenter."