We’re getting into Upfront season, and TV One has unveiled a loaded slate of upcoming new and returning series, as well as new original movies. This happened today during the network’s annual Upfront presentation at the Helen Mills Event Space and Theatre in New York City.
President Brad Siegel announced that TV One will “defy expectations” in 2016/2017 with a premieres of a whopping 26 original movies and the TV One’s first-ever scripted drama!
Today’s unveiling comes 2 months after the network announced that it would be introducing a new brand promise to “REPRESENT” the best of black culture and entertainment – past, present and future.
“By expanding our programming genres and archetypes that represent the black community, we offer advertisers the opportunity to be seen in an environment that is both positive and unique,” said Siegel. “Furthermore, with a 26-movie slate and our plan to air an original movie each week for 14 straight weeks during summer 2017, TV One provides both tent pole programming and continuity.”
“We’ve generated a sizable audience for our movies and we hope to build upon that same audience through our very first foray into a scripted drama,” said D’Angela Proctor, TV One’s SVP, Original Programming and Production. “As a general entertainment network, entering into the scripted drama space is a logical and necessary next step for TV One.”
Indeed it is! And I’m glad to see them become even more aggressive with their content.
Proctor continued, “In the curation of drama projects, we are hyper-focused on story first and provocative characters in a culturally relevant and non-derivative world. We are committed to making sure that the project will be a must see, can’t wait, buzz, and chatter-worthy drama.”
In addition, the network is increasing its primetime schedule to four nights of original programming by introducing seven new series to its 2017 slate of seven returning series and the 48th NAACP Image Awards and Triumph Awards.
An overview of some of what’s to come in 2017 follows via press release. We’ll take a closer look at some of these in future posts; of note are planned original movies on the friendship between Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe, as well as on Trayvon Martin’s murder seen through the eyes of his mother on that fatal day:
REDEFINING BLACK REALITY
Seventeen-year-old Chase Reed’s sneaker business turns him into the hottest mogul in New York City, with the industry’s elite on speed dial. But, his family won’t let it go to his head. Sneaker Pawn is the story of an entrepreneurial family in Harlem with big ideas, big dreams and even bigger personalities that has set out to take the sneaker industry by storm. Their hunger to succeed is only surpassed by a love for each other and the hope that they can conquer the inevitable growing pains, conflicts and drama that lie in the path on the way to what could be astonishing success.
This new docu-series centers around “Bail Bonding by CJ,” a family-owned bail bonding company based in North Carolina, and the clients they fight for. Running their highly lucrative 19-year-old business out of their brand new headquarters in downtown Winston-Salem, Princess and CJ Jones and they’re beautiful twin ball-busting daughters have a solid lock on the city’s bail bonding business. However, the family members don’t always agree on where the buck should really stop.
Five-time NAACP Image Award-winning series Unsung dives into the poignant and untold stories of trailblazing legends of R&B, gospel and hip hop. The series celebrates the lives and careers of artists or groups who, despite unparalleled talent, have been under-recognized or under-appreciated. Upcoming icons set to be featured in the ninth season of Unsung include Kwame, Kelly Price, Next, E-40, Howard Hewitt and Monifah.
Back for a new season of amazing stories, Unsung Hollywood is the show to get the full story on the actors, actresses, shows and movies that you never get anywhere else. Previous icons featured include Sammie Davis, Jr., Pam Grier, Bernie Mac, Dick Gregory, Vivica A. Fox, Flip Wilson, Red Foxx and Joe Morton. New episodes will focus on Eartha Kitt, Megan Good, Charlie Murphy, Hill Harper, Rudy Ray Moore and Tim Reid.
This one-hour reality series highlights the ups and downs of black actresses trying to navigate career, family and relationships, while attempting to remain relevant and stay on top in an unpredictable entertainment industry known for overlooking black talent. For season three, Malika Haqq (Keeping Up With the Kardashians), who is best known for her breakout role in ATL, is joining the cast. This season will also catch up with leading ladies’ Countess Vaughn, Golden Brooks, Lisa Wu and Paula Jai Parker, as they take their growing success to new heights.
Rickey Smiley For Real
Rickey Smiley For Real takes a humorous look at Rickey Smiley’s hectic life as he juggles his career as a nationally syndicated radio host, stand-up comedian, actor, TV personality and businessman along with his daily duties as a single father of five. Being a mega media mogul is not always as glamorous as it’s cracked up be; Smiley is constantly pulled in different directions between the demands of fatherhood and the needs of his work family. Nonetheless, he keeps them all laughing while they navigate new experiences together!
REIGNITING DATING FORMAT
The Dating Games
In The Dating Games, a revolutionary game show meets dating show format, groups of friends, family, cast members, teammates and everyday people compete against each other while being voyeurs of real dates. The participants are captured by hidden cameras as they answer thought-provoking and often intimate questions about the daters. Each correct answer earns a cash prize for the collective. It’s a brilliant mix of The People’s Couchmeets Love Connection.
REGINITING THE ART OF STORYTELLING
New Original Movies
All This Love: The Debarge Family Story
The world famous DeBarge siblings sought to escape a life of abuse and rejection to become one of the most successful families in R&B music, second only to the Jacksons. From Switch and DeBarge to solo acts, the DeBarges enjoyed fame, wealth and gold-record status, but behind the scenes, the siblings were haunted by the ghosts of their past and deeply scarred by years of emotional and physical abuse. They inevitably fell prey to promiscuity, violence and drug addiction, sending their careers into a downward spiral from which they never fully recovered. All This Love will be the second installment of the Unsung Film Series.
Ella & Marilyn
This original film tells the true story of the unexpected yet authentic friendship between Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe. Kindred spirits, the women shared similar relationship issues with their husbands and found solace in each other. The movie also follows the fight the women took on to desegregate the nightclub business. Against all odds, the clever and talented women enlisted the help of “A-List” Hollywood in their endeavor, including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Burt Lancaster, Peter Lawford, Cary Grant, Sammy Davis Jr., Judy Garland, Nat King Cole and more. Ella and Marilyn’s mission would ultimately give rise to perhaps the greatest jazz recordings in history.
Grown & Sexy
A romantic dramedy that will have viewers laughing, crying and “rooting for love,” Grown & Sexy focuses on the love story of Nye and Julius. Having had her heart broken by her cheating fiancé, Nye puts all of her energy into chasing her dreams of starting her own whiskey label. Complications arise when she falls in love with her business partner, Julius, who just so happens to also be her sister’s ex-boyfriend.
A newly single travel agent is through with Valentine’s Day. She’s just plain over it, and understandably so. When one of her regular clients needs to cancel a last minute trip to Italy, instead of forfeiting the trip, he gives it to her as a gift. After a comedy of errors getting there, and finding her swanky Airbnb has been double booked, she decides to share the pied-à-terre with the handsome man who is equally over Valentine’s Day. The two decide to see the town together, but will love find its way to these weary travelers? Sometimes, love can unexpectedly be found in unexpected places.
Steppin’ In The Name of Love
Steppin’ In The Name of Love is a romantic comedy set around a Chicago-Style Steppin’ Competition and a childhood love between friends that turns sour after marriage. As the reigning Steppin’ champ, the couple has been paired together to host this year’s event. The only problem is…they can’t stand each other. Can they step back in love through the competition?
Royal Family Vacation
The Royal family returns to TV One! After a fake divorce that led to a real breakup, a bevy of secrets and a stint in jail, the Royals are back and ready to celebrate Austin and Winifred’s wedding. But when Flip talks them into having the wedding in Cape Town the Royals’ excitement wanes. Nonetheless, they travel to South Africa, only to find themselves among people who look like them, but whose customs are dramatically different. Increasing the drama, Austin has a secret that may result in him calling off the wedding, once again resulting in madcap humor and adventures of royal proportions.
The Pardon: The Katina Smith Story
A story of faith, fortitude and forgiveness, The Pardon follows the life of Katina Smith, a young, struggling mother who spends 15 years behind bars for drug trafficking. The film chronicles the relationship she maintained with her son, Super Bowl 50 Champion Demaryius Thomas, while incarcerated, giving her the strength to persevere. In 2015, President Obama pardoned Smith and for the first time ever, she would have the opportunity to watch her son play football, and at Super Bowl 50 of all places. But, before Katina could fully enjoy the blessings she had been bestowed, she would have to accept three pardons: one from the President, one from her children and most importantly, Smith would have to pardon herself.
A Mother’s Worst Nightmare
A Mother’s Worst Nightmare is an urban true crime drama chronicling one of America’s most polarizing murder cases in recent history: the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African-American high school junior. The film centers on Sybrina Fulton, Martin’s mother, as she diligently raises her son in the predominantly African-American community of Miami Gardens, Florida. Much of the story covers the months leading up to Martin’s death and the events that steer him to get involved with the wrong crowd. After a string of school suspensions, Fulton sends her son to spend time with his father, but this only leads to trouble – in the name of George Zimmerman.
The Story of Esther
Following the success of To Hell and Back and For the Love of Ruth, TV One puts a modern twist on another powerful biblical story. Esther is a young, beautiful woman who, despite her meager beginnings, manages to make a name for herself in her small hometown. She catches the eye of Xavier Jeffries, a handsome and prominent political leader; they fall in love and marry. Unbeknownst to Xavier, Esther is a member of the very Haitian community that his political associates have long targeted as “criminals” and “undesirables.” Xavier moves ahead with plans to force the Haitians out. Esther appeals to Xavier in the hopes he will change his mind. Will Esther compromise her new life for the sake of her Haitian community?
Hit a Lick: The Falicia Blakely Story
As covered by an episode of For My Man, Hit a Lick documents the unfettered true story of Falicia Blakely, who at the age of 16 met a man 11 years her senior. Within two short years, she would be a prostitute facing the death penalty for three murders. Harrowing and absolutely gripping, this is a story of self-destruction and what a woman will do in the name of love.
Sex, Politics, Race & Religion
A finalist in the 2015 TV One Screenplay Competition in conjunction with the American Black Film Festival (ABFF), Sex, Politics, Race & Religion explores the dichotomous relationship between the laughter and pain of a comic. After losing a bet to his friends, a comedy writer performs what turns out to be his first and last stand-up comedy show. While the audience consumes the comedy routine about his unique perspective on the world, including his faltering relationship with his live-in girlfriend, the country’s political climate, racism he’s experienced and his ideas on religion, the jokes are intercut with slivers of his life. Little does the audience know that he is literally dying laughing.
REAL CRIME & JUSTICE
Crime goes viral in this cutting-edge investigative series that examines crime with a deadly connection to technology and social media. Whether the killer met the victim online, posted incriminating details on his Facebook page, or the cops used social media to hunt down the killer, each episode of #Murder examines how homicide – like everything else in this day and age – has gone digital.
For My Woman
Coming off the hit For My Man, For My Woman explores the dramatic and often deadly decisions made by men steeped in blinded love, mental or physical abuse or the unequivocal thrill that comes with pleasing their woman – often ending in long-lasting consequences they never imagined.
Thou Shalt Not
Thou Shall Not is a one-hour true crime series that pulls back the curtain on individuals who commit the gravest of sins: breaking God’s Ten Commandments. Murders, scandals, cover-ups, and deadly affairs are just a few of the crimes in each episode’s juicy portrayal of Godless behavior. Full of shocking reveals and heart-stopping twists, these sinners don’t just break the laws of man…they break the laws of God.
Evidence of Innocence
A chilling documentary series, Evidence of Innocence profiles the unbelievable true stories of individuals who were convicted of crimes they didn’t commit. But, these real-life heroes successfully fought to have their guilty verdicts thrown out and win back their freedom. Post-prison, these men now must reenter society to lead lives as husbands, fathers, business leaders and ultimately, champions of those who remain falsely imprisoned. Evidence of Innocence will be hosted by famed civil rights attorney, Benjamin Crump.
Fatal Attraction dives into real-life stories of criminal acts committed under the guise of love and leading to consequences of deadly proportions. Recounting stories of love-gone-wrong, each episode consists of first-person interviews from loved ones, accounts from investigating officials, interrogation footage, and recreations with haunting cinematography.
For My Man
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than 200,000 women in the United States are living behind bars, making women the fastest growing population in the penal system. For My Man is a true crime series featuring the shocking stories of women who have been arrested for crimes they committed in the name of love. From committing a killing spree across the Midwest to acting as an inside informant at the DEA, these women have no limits in terms of how far they will go to support their men.
Justice By Any Means
Justice By Any Means plunges viewers into amazing true stories of brave African-American men and women who suffered unimaginable loss and then went toe-to-toe with the bad guys. The show delves not only into real crimes, but real people who fought to bring these crimes to light by any means.
For more information about TV One’s upcoming programming, visit the network’s companion website at www.tvone.tv. TV One viewers can also join the conversation by connecting via social media on Twitter, Instagram andFacebook (@tvonetv) using the hash tag #Represent and catch clips and promos on TV One’s YouTube Channel.