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With the end of its signature drama Being Mary Jane in sight, BET is looking to replenish its scripted roster.
The Viacom-owned cable network has handed out a straight-to-series 10-episode order for legal drama In Contempt starring Erica Ash (Survivor’s Remorse).
The procedural is in the fast-paced world of a legal aid office in New York City and follows Gwen Sullivan (Ash), an opinionated attorney whose passion for her job and clients make her arguably the most talented public defender in her district.
The drama, which is in production in Canada, was created by Terri Kopp (Law & Order, Third Watch, BET’s Rebel), who serves as showrunner. Blue Ice Pictures president Lance Samuels and Daniel Iron (BET’s The Book of Negroes) executive produce for the company. BET will wholly own the project.
Ash is fresh off her breakout starring role on Starz comedy Survivor’s Remorse, which wrapped its four-season run on Sunday. She is an NAACP Image Award nominee whose credits include Broadway’s The Lion King and TV work on Real Husbands of Hollywood and MadTV.
The cast also includes Megan Hutchings (Reign) as Tracy Campbell, a public defender and Gwen’s friend and roommate; Christian Keyes (BET’s Let’s Stay Together) as Charlie Riggs, an attorney with an ego who is Gwen’s boss and friend with benefits; Mouna Traoré (BET’s Book of Negroes) as Vanessa Winters, a rookie attorney learning what it means to be woke; Tobias Truvillion (Empire, The Blacklist) as Bennett Sherman, Gwen’s longtime secret crush and former law professor; Richard Lawson (Poltergeist, Grey’s Anatomy, Real Husbands of Hollywood) as Earl Sullivan, Gwen’s father; Ronnie Rowe Jr. as Gwen’s professional nemesis; and Daniel Kash as Gwen’s boss.
In Contempt arrives as BET is ramping up its scripted footprint. The cable network ranks as one of corporate parent Viacom’s six core brands as part of the conglomerate’s push to reinvigorate the overall brand (Paramount Network, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. are the others). As part of Viacom’s larger agenda, VH1 scripted dramas The Breaks and Hit the Floor were renewed for second seasons on BET, which also recently entered the late-night space with Robin Thede’s Chris Rock-produced show The Rundown. Meanwhile, flagship scripted drama Being Mary Jane will wrap its run with a two-hour series finale movie set to air in 2018.
Ash is repped by APA, AGS Media and Del Shaw; Kopp is with Kaplan Stahler Agency, Rain Management Group and Felker Toczek.