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BET has picked up two new scripted series and a new reality series and will branch into late night with a talk show hosted by former CNN anchor T.J. Holmes.
The scripted series are Second Generation Wayans – based on the lives of the famous comedy family and starring Craig Wayans, Damien Dante Wayans and George O. Gore II – and House Husbands, actually a semi-scripted comedy a la Curb Your Enthusiasm starring Kevin Hart that’s based on a sketch from the 2011 BET Awards. The reality series, The Mathis Project, will be fronted by Judge Greg Mathis and examine real unsolved cases.
The announcements came Thursday during the network’s upfront presentation to advertisers in Los Angeles.
The late-night Don’t Sleep will use comedy to examine social issues. It joins a flurry of new late-night entries including FX’s Chris Rock-produced sketch series starring political comedian W. Kamau Bell and Bravo’s expansion of Andy Cohen’s Watch What Happens Live to a strip.
BET also has picked up new seasons of hit comedy The Game as well as Let’s Stay Together, freshman comedy Reed Between the Lines and gospel singing competition show Sunday Best.
Meanwhile, the network is getting into the made-for-TV movie business — a genre many basic cable networks and virtually all broadcast networks are increasingly abandoning. The first film to bow under the BET Premiere Cinema label is Being Mary Jane, from Game showrunners Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil and starring Gabrielle Union. Additional films include Gun Hill, a cop drama starring Larenz Tate, and The Mindless Behavior Project. The network also has lined up several films that bowed at festivals, including the Sundance hit Luv, starring Common, and Middle of Nowhere, with Omari Hardwick and Emayatzy E. Corinealdi.
Additionally, sister channel Centric will bring back Apollo Live, updating the classic amateur night at the Harlem venue with a singing competition featuring Doug E. Fresh and Michael Bivins as judges. Jamie Foxx, Marcus King and Don Weiner are executive producers
BET is coming off its best year ever, ranking among the top 20 cable networks among the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic. BET has been the No. 1 ad-supported cable network among African-Americans ages 18-49 for 12 consecutive years.
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