(Photo: John Ricard / BET)
With new scripted series, new reality series, new movies and new late-night shows, BET Networks is taking 2012 by storm and letting their competitors know who is still in charge.
“No one has even come close to touching us. We’re going to stay the leader. We’ve been doing it for 32 years. We’re in the top 20 of cable channels and we’re larger than Bravo and CNN,” Chairman and CEO of BET Networks Debra Lee tells BET.com.
On Thursday, in Los Angeles at the networks’ annual upfront showcase, Lee and her team announced new shows premiering this year. In addition to their 2011 hits, including The Game, Let’s Stay Together and Reed Between the Lines, BET is presenting a new show with the younger Wayans brothers who are trying to make their mark in Hollywood called Second Generation Wayans. Judge Greg Mathis will also become a part of the BET family as he is set to host a new one-hour show entitled The Mathis Project. On the reality-TV show, Mathis works with a team of law enforcement officers to reopen cold cases and try to find new pieces of information to help solve murders and bring justice to perpetrators.
If you’re a fan of the Housewives franchise, House Husbands, a new semi-scripted reality TV spoof which originated from a sketch at the 2011 BET Awards starring Kevin Hart, Nelly, Bobby Brown, Anthony Anderson and Nick Cannon, will look at what it means to be a real Hollywood Husband.
“Original programming is working for us,” says Lee. “Our audience wants smart, funny shows and we’re venturing into dramas. We want to be the place where our audience comes to see different images of themselves and we’re doing well in the ratings and our ratings keep going up.”
Several new movies are also making their way to the BET airways. Middle of Nowhere, which won best director at Sundance and stars Omari Hardwick, highlights a woman’s separation from her incarcerated husband and her struggle to maintain her marriage and identity. LUV, also acquired by the network from Sundance, focuses on an orphaned 11-year-old boy from Baltimore dreaming of a better life and stars Common, Michael Rainey Jr., Danny Glover, Charles S. Dutton, Dennis Haysbert, Lonette McKee and Meagan Good.
Being Mary Jane, another BET movie starring Gabrielle Union and created by Mara and Salim Akil, “is a one-hour dramedy about an educated career woman between 30 and 40…who has no man, no children and a lot of family drama,” says Lee. “She’s a newscaster and presents that perfect view for the news cameras, but then we go behind the scenes to see what she’s dealing with.”
In addition to the scripted material, BET Networks is also shining a light on issues facing Black America in their new late-night talk show Don’t Sleep!, hosted by former CNN anchor T.J. Holmes.
“There are so many things going underreported and some just are not going reported at all. There’s nowhere on television where the Black community can turn on the TV when they get home at night and see someone that looks like them, talks like them and is actually talking about something that matters to them. That is exactly what people can expect to see,” Holmes tells BET.com of his new show.
What can viewers expect from Holmes on his new network? “T.J. unleashed,” he says. The 34-year-old says it’s important to dive into issues such as unemployment — which has decreased for America in general, but continues to be an issue for African-Americans. The details surrounding the case of Trayvon Martin are another type of hot topic to be discussed on the Jon Stewart-style show with a panel of correspondents.
“You see it on many news channels; but there is a perspective from that story that is missing and will just have to be missing because there are not that many hosts that look like me and have had my experience of being pulled over by police officers, or who’ve had the experience of being treated a certain way once you step in a car dealership or into a jewelry store and people don’t think you can afford what’s there,” he says.
For a list of all of BET’s new shows visit here.
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