Loretha Jones is departing BET Networks after a six-year stint as President of Original Programming, during which she oversaw original programming, news, development, planning and acquisitions. Jones announced her departure today, but it had been rumored for a while. In fact, just yesterday BET announced the appointment of Pete Danielsen as EVP Program Planning, Scheduling & Acquisitions. Reporting to Debra L. Lee, Chairman and CEO of BET Networks, Danielsen took over half of Jones’ portfolio. (The executive he replaced, Barbara Zaneri, had the same title but used to report to Jones.)
In a statement confirming Jones’ exit, BET said she will stay on as a creative consultant, working on several projects, which I hear include movie Beyond The Lights and BET’s first miniseries, The Book of Negroes, which are wrapping. BET also announced that Darrell Walker, EVP and General Counsel, will assume day-to-day operations for BET programming until a replacement is announced. (Coincidentally, Jones also is a lawyer by trade.) Stephen Hill, President of Music Programming and Specials, will remain in his current role along with Danielsen.
Jones, a well-liked executive, was instrumental in BET’s pickup of cancelled CW sitcom The Game, which relaunched on BET to a gigantic 7.7 million viewers. She also was key in the signing of unprecedented for BET producing deal with The Game duo of Salim and Mara Brock Akil that led to another hit, BET’s first drama series Being Mary Jane. The network’s original sitcom roster also has included Let’s Stay Together, Reed Between The Lines and Second Generation Wayans. In addition to helping with The Game acquisition, which ushered original scripted series on BET, Jones also locked the deal for BET sibling Centric to bring back cancelled VH1 show Single Ladies as the channel’s first scripted series. Jones’ recent projects, the longform Beyond The Lights and Book of Negroes, harken back to her previous gigs as EVP of MTV Films/Paramount Pictures and SVP of MTV Films/MTV Home Entertainment.
“Over the course of my career at Viacom, I have had an amazing opportunity to work with some of the finest creative people in the business and oversee a slate of original programming that makes me extremely proud,” Jones said in a statement. “It’s been an incredible journey at BET Networks and I am grateful for the experience.”