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Robin Thede’s historic run as the first woman of color with a late-night show is coming to an end.
BET has opted to cancel her weekly talk show, The Rundown With Robin Thede, after its initial 24-episode order. The news comes as Thede, who has emerged as a critical favorite, is poised to host the Television Critics Association’s 34th annual TCA Awards on Aug. 4 in Beverly Hills.
“At this time BET Networks has decided not to renew The Rundown With Robin Thede. We have so much love and respect for our Unicorn and look forward to finding ways to continue in partnership with Robin,” the network said in a statement Wednesday.
Picked up straight to series in April 2017, the weekly 30-minute news satire show was hosted by the former Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore head writer and contributor. Each episode featured the comedian’s take on the week’s headlines in politics and pop culture on a fast-paced, no-holds-barred show that featured social commentary, sketch comedy and pop culture parodies. At the time, Thede was the lone woman of color to host a late-night talk show. The Rundown was universally praised by critics — it boasts a rare 100 percent fresh rating among critics on RottenTomatoes.com.
The program was picked up under Debra Lee, the longtime and now former CEO and chairman of Viacom-owned BET. She ceded day-to-day oversight of BET in December to Scott M. Mills and eventually was pushed out of the cable network in May after a more than three-decade run. She was not replaced.
In April, Mills opened up about his vision for BET in the post-Lee era. The newly minted network president, who has a background as Viacom’s chief administrative officer, plans to double down on scripted fare and has already greenlit a number of series including a Boomerang reboot.
“The shows that have been most successful on BET are all scripted: The Game, The New Edition Story, Being Mary Jane, Real Husbands of Hollywood. When you succeed in that space, it has a wonderful effect on the brand,” Mills said at the time.
He has said his goal is to increase original programming by 21 percent and has greenlit nine original movies and new scripted series as he looks to leverage relationships with prominent African-American writers and producers, and Viacom’s corporate siblings. The scripted push arrives as BET is also bringing back its signature awards shows, including the BET Awards, Soul Train Awards, Black Girls Rock and Hip-Hop Awards. The network is but one of the many Viacom brands that are reformulating programming strategies as part of the media conglomerate’s larger push to cut through the clutter under new CEO Bob Bakish. Over the past few years, Viacom has systematically replaced every top exec at all of its cable networks, most recently parting ways with Nickelodeon’s Cyma Zarghami after a multiple-decade run.
TCA president Daniel Fienberg (THR’s chief TV critic) — praised Thede ahead of her appearance at the Aug. 4 awards ceremony. “The Rundown was one of the funniest and most vital shows of 2018 and Robin Thede is one of the most important voices in contemporary comedy. The TCA Awards, in front of the industry’s best and brightest (plus hundreds of TV critics), will be a perfect opportunity to spread the message of how talented she is,” he said.
Jax Media co-produced The Rundown.
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