BET has begun its 2013 Upfront tour, and while I was planning to attend the New York City presentation, the network opened its travels in Los Angeles today, unveiling its upcoming season slate of programming, new and returning.
And I’ve received word from LA-based contributors who attended the presentation, that the network announced it has renewed The Game for another season!
That might come as a bit of a surprise to some, given that its current season premiere (season 6, which debuted a week ago) saw a drop in viewership, compared to the last 2 seasons since BET picked up the series. Nearly 4 million (total for the night) of you tuned in to the season premiere of The Game last week Tuesday, a healthy number, but less than it was for season premiere episodes during the previous 2 seasons: 7.7 million viewers in 2011, which is still a record, and 5.3 million viewers for 2012. So a steady decline overall, over the course of the 3 seasons since the series debuted on BET in 2011.
But the network likes its current numbers, whether in decline or not, enough to renew it for a 7th season, which some of you should be excited about.
BET also announced that it had ordered a full season of the Gabrielle Union hour-long drama Being Mary Jane, created by Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil, adding that it’ll debut the series in the 1st quarter of 2014. I thought it would premiere in the fall, but it looks like we’ll be waiting a bit longer to see it finally.
Also Let’s Stay Together will return for a 4th season.
In terms of new series in development, expect a new reality TV series titled Burns BBQ, from A Smith and Co Productions, which revolves around a family barbecue business changing hands from one generation to the next.
It’ll debut in quarter 2 of 2014.
A new talk-show hosted by Bishop T.D. Jakes, titled Mind, Body & Soul, will air on Sundays, starting this fall, and will tackle a variety of topics, including spiritual, mental and physical wellness, as well as finance and relationships.
BET also announced that it has revived its stand-up comedy series, Comic View, which will return this fall.
And finally, the two half-hour comedy series produced by Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios have both been picked up by BET’s spin-off adult network, Centric: The First Family, a sitcom about an African American family that resides in The White House, and Mr. Box Office, a sitcom about the biggest movie star in the world who is sentenced to community service, teaching English at the “toughest” high school in America…
The First Family cast includes Christopher P. Duncan (The Jamie Foxx Show) as President William Johnson; Kellita Smith as First Lady Katherine Johnson; Gladys Knight as his mother; Marla Gibbs as the First Lady’s mother; Paul Rodriguez as Dictator Rafael; and Jackee Harry as the First Lady’s sister.
Mr Box Office stars Bill Bellamy (as Mr Box Office), Tim Meadows, Vivica A. Fox, former NBA star/actor Rick Fox, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Jon Lovitz (SNL) and Gary Busey.
Pilots for each were shot last year, as we announced.
This is just a summary based on the email I received from the LA Upfront presentation this afternoon. But expect a full press release from BET announcing its entire slate, in a later post.
UPDATE: As promised, here’s the official press release from BET with all the goodies, including those I didn’t include above:
BET Networks Announces New Programming at Annual Upfront Presentation
NEW YORK, April 2, 2013 — BET Networks announced the following programming at its annual Upfront presentation:
NEW PROGRAMMING ON BET:
BEING MARY JANE – From the producers of the award-winning, record breaking BET comedy THE GAME, GIRLFRIENDS and box-office hits JUMPING THE BROOM and SPARKLE comes an original movie starring the gorgeous and talented Gabrielle Union . This is a story to which millions of modern women will both relate and respond. Mary Jane Paul is a one-woman-show: a successful TV news anchor, and an entirely self-sufficient powerhouse who remains devoted to a family that doesn’t share her motivation. Intense drama and unforgettable moments unfold as Mary Jane juggles her life, her relationships, her work, and commitments to her family. Starring: Gabrielle Union , Omari Hardwick , Lisa Vidal, Richard Roundtree , Richard Brooks and Margaret Avery . Executive Producers: Mara Brock Akil (also Creator) and Salim Akil . Follow us on Twitter: @BeingMaryJane; like us on Facebook: Facebook.com/BeingMaryJane. PREMIERE: 1Q/14
BURNS BBQ – Being a small business doesn’t mean thinking small. This new unscripted reality series takes viewers into the daily operation of a long-standing family barbecue business changing hands from one generation to the next. But do the young self-involved entrepreneurs have what it takes to carry the torch and the family legacy? Production Co: A. Smith and Co. Productions. Follow us on Twitter: @BurnsBBQBET; like us on Facebook: Facebook.com/BurnsBBQBET PREMIERE: 2Q/14
COMIC VIEW – Some of our biggest names in comedy got their big break on the COMIC VIEW stage. The beloved original comedy series is back, reimagined for a new season on BET. Showcasing the best and brightest in stand-up, COMIC VIEW takes funny to a new level in 2014. Executive Producer: James Dubose. Follow us on Twitter: @BETComicView; like us on Facebook: Facebook.com/BETComicView. PREMIERE: 4Q/13
T.D JAKES PRESENTS: MIND, BODY & SOUL – BET brings better talk with spiritual leader, educator and humanitarian Bishop T.D. Jakes as host of a brand new talk show. Covering a wide range of topics including health and wellness, finance and relationships, Bishop Jakes unearths deeper conversations and insight on the topics that matter count on Bishop T.D. Jakes to take talk to another level every Sunday. Executive Producer: Marilyn H. Gill. Follow us on Twitter: @BETGospel; like us on Facebook: Facebook.com/BETGospel. PREMIERE: 4Q/13
RETURNING HITS ON BET:
106 & PARK – 106 & PARK is the #1 video countdown show anywhere on television. Now in its 13th year, our flagship program has been remixed and is bigger and bolder than ever. With four charismatic new hosts, a state of the art set surrounded by digital walls, and a brand new look, the new 106 & PARK is the ultimate destination for the A-list of music, film, television, style, and sports. 106 & PARK rules the social media space, engaging millions of audience members beyond TV via the award-winning106 & PARK mobile app. Every weeknight, the show celebrates and reflects real youth culture as the home of the “livest audience,” delivering what’s hot and what’s next in pop culture. Hosted by energetic and dynamic young talents Bow Wow, Paigion, Shorty and Miss Mykie . http://bet.com/106andPark Follow us on Twitter & Instagram: @106andPark; like us on Facebook: Facebook.com/BET106andPark. 4Q/13
APOLLO LIVE – America’s original amateur competition show got the ultimate makeover in 2012: a new host – the hilarious Tony Rock , the addition of three respected music experts, and a world premiere on BET. The classic variety show at Harlem’s iconic Apollo Theater delivers the original interactive talent showcase, evaluated by Michael Bivins , Doug E. Fresh and Gladys Knight . Apollo Live also boasts a bevy of special guest appearances and performances – and of course, stars the electric and wildly opinionated Apollo Theater live audience. http://bet.com/ApolloLive Follow us on Twitter: @ApolloLiveTV; like us on Facebook: Facebook.com/ApolloLive. Executive Producers: Jamie Foxx, Marcus King , Don Weiner and Jonelle Procope PREMIERE: 4Q/13
BOBBY JONES GOSPEL – GRAMMY(R) winner Dr. Bobby Jones, Jr. , the “Ambassador of Gospel” and host of the longest continuously running original series on cable television, delivers his ministry and praise on the Network’s flagship gospel program and the longest-running gospel program on cable. This weekly standout features joyous performances and riveting interviews from gospel music’s most talented entertainers, choirs, evangelists, and others. http://bet.com/bobbyjonesgospel Follow us on Twitter: @BETGospel; like us on Facebook: Facebook.com/BETGospel. PREMIERE: 4Q/13
LET’S STAY TOGETHER – In 2011 the premiere of LET’S STAY TOGETHER debuted at #2 right behind THE GAME, making it a certified smash hit. This fun, flirtatious comedy about two couples and one sexy single is back for a fourth season of laughs and love lessons. Audiences adore and relate to this cast. Averaging nearly 3 million viewers in its first season, the series debut ranks among the top 3 Tuesday sitcom premieres over the past 10 years. Making relationships work is easier said than done, but Season 4 is sure to be filled with juicy new plot twists that will continue to keep LET’S STAY TOGETHER on viewers’ must-watch list. http://bet.com/LST Follow us on Twitter: @LetsStay2gether; like us on Facebook: Facebook.com/LetsStayTogether. Executive Producers: Jacque Edmonds Cofer (also Creator), Queen Latifah and Shakim Compere . PREMIERE: 1Q/14
REAL HUSBANDS OF HOLLYWOOD – The fakest reality show ever is a real-life runaway smash. Taking the #1 spot on the Entertainment Weekly must-see list and acclaimed by both the Los Angeles and New York Times, REAL HUSBANDS OF HOLLYWOOD is the #1 sitcom on Cable Television among all adults 18-49. Led by comic genius Kevin Hart with an all-star cast ( Boris Kodjoe , Nick Cannon , JB Smoove, and Duane Martin ), Season 2 will provide more appointment television full of new rivalries, special guests and laugh-out-loud cliffhangers. http://bet.com/RHOH Follow us on Twitter: @BETRealHusbands; like us on Facebook: Facebook.com/BETRealHusbands. PREMIERE: 4Q/13
SUNDAY BEST – The NAACP Image Award-winning gospel competition show is poised for another smash hit season. Proving to be a franchise player, this top-rated cable music competition series always uplifts and inspires in its mission to identify the next great gospel star. Hosted by Kirk Franklin with celebrity judges Yolanda Adams , Donnie McClurkin and CeCe Winans , aspiring gospel singers compete for America’s vote – and a major recording contract. SUNDAY BEST puts emerging talent on the path to greatness. Season 4 winner Le’ Andria Johnson won the 2012 Best Gospel Performance GRAMMY(R). http://bet.com/SundayBest Executive Producer: Marilyn H. Gill Follow us on Twitter: @BETSundayBest; like us on Facebook: Facebook.com/BETSundayBest. PREMIERE: 3Q/14
THE GAME – THE GAME on BET is a record-breaking, history-making phenomenon, with 7.7 million viewers on premiere night in 2011, making BET the home of the #1 sitcom debut in the history of cable TV. In 2013, players come and go but THE GAME goes on, with Lauren London and Jay Ellis joining the cast. Brandy returns in her expanded role as Chardonnay, aka Mrs. Jason Pitts along with series favorites Hosea Chanchez, Coby Bell and Wendy Raquel Robinson . Season 7 promises to deliver more sexy dramedy as the cast negotiates the ups and downs of love and football. Executive Producers: Mara Brock Aki (also Creator), Salim Akil , Kenny Smith and Erica Montolfo-Bura http://bet.com/TheGame Follow us on Twitter: @TheGameBET; like us on Facebook: Facebook.com/TheGameBET. PREMIERE: 1Q/14
THE SHEARDS – It takes faith and family to find your voice. The first season of this unscripted reality series brought viewers into a world characterized by equal parts praise and pressure for Kierra and J. Drew, the children of gospel legend Karen Clark Sheard and Bishop Drew Sheard . This season, as they pursue dreams of success beyond what their parents envision for them, the siblings lean on their spiritual foundation – and one another – more than ever. Production Company: Entertainment One http://bet.com/TheSheards Follow us on Twitter: @BETGospel; like us on Facebook: Facebook.com/BETGospel. PREMIERE: 3Q/14
RETURNING MEGA-SPECIALS ON BET:
BET AWARDS – The BET AWARDS franchise is the #1 Program in Cable Television History among the Black audience, and is still a top 10 awards show on television (Broadcast & Cable) among total viewers. It continues to hold the leadership position because it gathers the biggest stars in music, sports, Hollywood, and philanthropy all on one stage for one incredible night. Now in its 14th year and better than ever, The BET AWARDS delivers electrifying performances, moving tributes and the most unforgettable moments on TV. http://bet.com/betawards Follow us on Twitter: @BETAwards; like us on Facebook: Facebook.com/TheBETAwards. PREMIERE: 2Q/14
BET HIP HOP AWARDS – The BET HIP HOP AWARDS returns for its eighth smash year to highlight who did it better in hip hop music, with bold performances and breakthrough freestyle cyphers that set social media on fire. This is the one show where the hottest rap stars of today share the stage with the hip-hop icons of tomorrow. This show serves millions of people who love hip hop culture, which continues to define a generation and defy convention. http://bet.com/hiphopawards Follow us on Twitter: @HipHopAwards; like us on Facebook: Facebook.com/HipHopAwards. PREMIERE: 4Q/13
BLACK GIRLS ROCK – BLACK GIRLS ROCK! is the tribute show that became a movement. This NAACP Image Award-nominated special is both timely and timeless, saluting dynamic leaders in entertainment, business, philanthropy and beyond. Past award winners include Ruby Dee , Susan L. Taylor , Missy Elliott , Janelle Monáe, and Taraji P. Henson. Featuring emerging and legendary talent, touching tributes to present-day role models and soulful, surprising musical performances, BLACK GIRLS ROCK! celebrates the brilliance and beauty of women of color who shape our world and uplift our girls. http://bet.com/BGR Follow the conversation: #BlackGirlsRock; PREMIERE: 4Q/13
CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL – The biggest night that celebrates gospel music, America’s truly original and internationally loved art form, only happens on BET. Hosted by Steve Harvey , one of the most popular personalities in media, the 14th annual CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL is a star-studded gathering of some of the best voices in Gospel and R&B. Impossible to duplicate, this is the only awards show that literally moves your spirit. http://bet.com/COG Follow us on Twitter: @BETGospel; like us on Facebook: Facebook.com/BETGospel. PREMIERE: 2Q/14
THE BET HONORS – The Washington Post says, “the annual BET HONORS have just about perfected the ideal mix of glamour, inspiration, humor and sex appeal.” We could not have said it better! The BET HONORS shows the world “what extraordinary looks like” by saluting luminaries whose lives and revolutionary work contribute to and elevate our culture. Airing during Black History Month, The BET HONORS is a shimmering night of dynamic performances and tributes that cross genres and generations. In 2012, First Lady Michelle Obama presented Dr. Maya Angelou with her honor. In 2013, Phylicia Rashad conferred the honor upon Halle Berry and Ledisi sang “Everlasting Love” for Chaka Khan . Now that’s extraordinary viewing for the whole family. http://bet.com/honors Follow us on Twitter: @BET; like us on Facebook: Facebook.com/BET. PREMIERE: 1Q/14
NEW PROGRAMMING ON CENTRIC:
FIRST FAMILY – In a humorous twist of art imitating life at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Centric premieres a star-studded scripted comedy about a presidential African American family residing in the White House. Christopher B. Duncan is President William Johnson and Kellita Smith stars as his wife, First Lady Katherine Johnson . Together, they run the free world and raise four children. Co-stars Gladys Knight , Jackee Harry , John Witherspoon , and Marla Gibbs round out their dynamic extended family. PREMIERE: 2Q/13
MR. BOX OFFICE – One of Hollywood’s most bankable stars got himself into trouble with the law, and is ordered to give back by fulfilling an unlikely sentence: community service as a high school English teacher in South Central Los Angeles. Bill Bellamy leads an all-star cast in this scripted comedy that looks at the human side of stardom. Also stars Vivica A. Fox , Keshia Knight Pulliam , Gary Busey , and Jon Lovitz . PREMIERE: 2Q/13
RETURNING HITS ON CENTRIC:
AS WRITTEN – Through candid interviews featuring intimate stories about what drove the creative process for current album releases, AS WRITTEN unlocks the door to the creative process and exposes the inspiration behind the work of some of your favorite R&B and soul artists. PREMIERE: 4Q/13
BEING – The new season of BEING takes viewers into the lives of some of the music industry’s most legendary artists, including Chaka Khan and Stevie Wonder . Their struggles and triumphs have helped to shape the careers of so many; without them, the music scene would be vastly different. This docu-series shares firsthand accounts from the artists and those who recall what it was like for these entertainers as they ascended to stardom and how they’ve managed to stay on top. PREMIERE: 1Q/14
CENTRIC CERTIFIED – CENTRIC CERTIFIED is Centric’s emerging artist campaign designed to expose Centric’s audience to the next generation of R&B/Soul stars. CENTRIC CERTIFIED will highlight the best in new music with promos that bring the viewer into the world of the artist. CENTRIC CERTIFIED artists also receive prominent placement on CentricTV.com with photo galleries, live-streamed music, and unique video content. CENTRIC CERTIFIED will highlight the best in new music. PREMIERE: 4Q/13
CENTRIC COMEDY ALL-STARS – Featuring some of today’s hottest comedians, CENTRIC COMEDY ALL-STARS will be one of the hottest tickets in Vegas during “Centric Soul Weekend.” This two hour special promises to deliver some side splitting, family friendly humor and keep viewers on the edge of their seats. PREMIERE: 1Q/14
CULTURE LIST – Busy adults need an easy way to get the scoop on what’s cool and happening right now. CULTURE LIST delivers the latest for our discerning, well-heeled audience. Our returning music-based lifestyle series covers the worlds of film, fashion, beauty, fitness and entertainment with lifestyle segments each week. From books and movies to celebrity news and music, it’s all here on CULTURE LIST – complete with viewer calls to action for social and digital extensions. PREMIERE: 1Q/14
RETURNING MEGA-SPECIALS ON CENTRIC:
SOUL TRAIN AWARDS – The Hippest Trip In America keeps grooving forward. The iconic brand that defined a generation returns for 2014 with its signature awards show. Featuring never before-seen musical collaborations and powerful tributes from world-class performers, the Soul Train Awards brings you the most revered and promising voices in soul and R&B. And since airing on both our networks is always better, The Soul Train Awards is simulcast on Centric and BET.PREMIERE: 4Q/13
CENTRIC SOUL WEEKEND – “Centric Soul Weekend” will be an amazing on the ground experience shared by viewers, artists and clients alike, as Las Vegas comes alive with a celebration and showcase of the best of African-American culture. PREMIERE: 4Q/13