BET Networks has unveiled its 2017-18 programming slate at its annual Upfront presentation in New York. The lineup includes a new scripted dramedy from Kevin Hart, new late-night comedy shows from Steve Harvey, Wanda Sykes and Chris Rock (previously announced), and a new unscripted relationship series Love Room from the producers of the Love & Hip Hop franchise. BET also greenlighted The Bobby Brown Story miniseries as a follow-up to its hit The New Edition Story, and docuseries Death Row Chronicles, the story behind Death Row Records.
Returning series include dramas The Breaks and Hit the Floor — moving from sibling VH1 — as well as The Quad, along with specials, and tentpole events including Lip Sync Battle Special Editions, its flagship BET Awards, BET Experience, BET Hip Hop Awards, Black Girls Rock, Soul Train Awards and Soul Train Weekend.
BET, the No. 1 cable network for African American viewers 18-49 for 16 consecutive years, is continuing to tap into the power of African American women on its sister network, Centric, which is being refreshed to BET Her. Targeting AA women 25-54, the 24-hour BET Her will focus on music, culture, travel and lifestyle. BET Her will officially launch on October 1.
BET also has joined forces with Twitter for the first-ever industry analysis of the overall impact and importance of “Black Twitter”, described as a digital water cooler where African Americans exchange ideas and opinions that are centered on the Black experience. Twitter and BET will release findings in a joint session in June.
BET continues to maintain a strong social media presence, leading all major cable networks with over 15 billion annual social impressions. BET Digital’s Snapchat Live Stories have garnered 22.5 million global unique users and 381 million global total Snap views for the combined 2016 BET Awards, BET Experience and BET Hip Hop Awards.
“Over the last 37 years, BET has cultivated a deep and lasting relationship with our viewers, as we remain the premiere destination for lovers of African American culture. This year, we are saying yes to all things black, with more premium original programming and best-in-class tentpoles that reflect and invigorate our viewers,” said Debra Lee, Chairman and CEO, BET Networks. “BET’s global influence is stronger than ever and we are continuing to expand beyond the television screen to impact our audience – and the world – across multiple platforms.”
Below is a detailed look at BET’s new 2017-18 series, miniseries and docuseries:
DIVORCE SAVED MY MARRIAGE – From Executive Producer Kevin Hart comes “DIVORCE SAVED MY MARRIAGE,” a new 30-minute scripted dramedy, based on the stand up of David A. Arnold, that turns relationships and marriage inside out. When a couple realizes that divorce is the only thing they can agree on, their attorney recommends a financial plan instead of a court date – forcing them to work together so they can finally afford to be apart. “DIVORCE SAVED MY MARRIAGE” is executive produced and created by Devon K. Shepard and David A. Arnold, with Kevin Hart and Dave Becky serving as Executive Producers.
FORMAT: 30-minute Scripted Comedy NUMBER OF EPISODES: 10
THE RUNDOWN WITH ROBIN THEDE – BET joins forces with Executive Producer Chris Rock to bring the African American female voice to late night news satire: “THE RUNDOWN WITH ROBIN THEDE.” Comedian and former head writer and contributor for “The Nightly Show,” Robin Thede, gives her hilariously unique take on the week’s headlines in politics and pop culture in a fast-paced, no-holds-barred late night show featuring biting social commentary, sharp sketch comedy and in-your-face pop culture parody. From the team behind “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” “THE RUNDOWN WITH ROBIN THEDE” is produced by JAX MEDIA with Chris Rock and Robin Thede serving as Executive Producers. Tony Hernandez, Lilly Burns, John Skidmore and Genevieve Anniello also executive produce.
FORMAT: 30-minute Late Night Comedy NUMBER OF EPISODES: 24
BET’s MANCAVE – Executive Producer Steve Harvey and BET are opening the door to “BET’s MANCAVE” – a no-holds-barred conversation among five men brave enough to be honest and vulnerable, as they laugh it up and get serious about hot-button topics. Hosted by award-winning journalist Jeff Johnson – and featuring actors, athletes, and comedians, among others – this topical weekly event series brings together African American men with wildly diverse opinions to dissect current hot topics in entertainment, politics, news and beyond. Through humor, genuine emotion and heated debate, the panel will discuss their own opinions and experiences, while revealing what it’s really like to navigate the world as an African American man. With unfiltered honesty, “BET’s MANCAVE” is the ultimate ‘bro-out’ session that reflects how complex men’s thoughts actually are. “BET’s MANCAVE” is created by Jeff Johnson and produced by Truly Original and East 112th Street Productions. Johnson serves as Executive Producer, alongside Truly Original’s Steven Weinstock, Glenda Hersh and Bryan Hale. Steve Harvey and Gerald Washington also serve as Executive Producers for 112th Street Productions.
FORMAT: 30-minute Late Night Comedy NUMBER OF EPISODES: 12
FACE VALUE – From Push It Productions and Executive Producer, Wanda Sykes, “FACE VALUE” is a groundbreaking new game show that will finally answer the age-old question, “Can you judge a book by its cover?” The veteran actress, comedienne and LGBT advocate knows what it’s like to be prejudged, so this series is flipping the script to award cash and prizes for correctly guessing facts about strangers from all walks of life – based solely on their appearance and a few personal details. Hosted by Deon Cole (“black- ish,”Barbershop), “FACE VALUE” will humorously break down stereotypes, expose prejudices, and celebrate the human spirit by highlighting the commonalities and differences among people of various backgrounds, races, religions, beliefs and life experiences. Push It Productions’ Wanda Sykes and Page Hurwitz serve as Executive Producers along with Lance Crouther.
FORMAT: 30-minute Late Night Comedy NUMBER OF EPISODES: 24
50 CENTRAL – Award-winning rapper, entrepreneur, actor and producer, the iconic Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, storms BET’s airwaves to take variety and sketch comedy to the next level with “50 CENTRAL.” BET’s first variety comedy showcase will be unlike anything seen from the genre before. Along with unprecedented sketches, there will be hidden camera pranks, musical performances, and A-list celebrity guests to create the ultimate late night party – all handpicked and hosted by 50 Cent. Few artists have had as much crossover success as Jackson and he showcases his talents as an MC, actor and producer for a fresh take on the variety series. “50 CENTRAL” is produced by G-Unit Film & Television in partnership with Back Roads Entertainment with Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Stephen J. Savva, Colby Gaines and Riley Robbins serving as Executive Producers and Michael A. Blum serving as Co-Executive Producer. FORMAT: 30-minute Late Night Variety
NUMBER OF EPISODES: 24
LOVE ROOM – “LOVE ROOM” is a daring social experiment that brings together individuals who have almost given up on finding a relationship and falling in love. Much more than a single date, two sexy, single strangers will meet and live together for a week to see if a relationship blossoms. Having struck out with blind dates and dating apps, the couples will work through challenges that test their resolve and compatibility. This “full immersion” relationship will accelerate the dating process, challenging the couple to reveal their deepest secrets, face their own insecurities, overcome their fears and set aside their baggage to find true love. “LOVE ROOM” is produced by Eastern, producers of the hit “Love & Hip Hop” franchise. Toby Barraud, Stefan Springman, Mala Chapple, Carmen Mitcho and Sean David Johnson are Executive Producers for Eastern.
FORMAT: 60-minute Unscripted NUMBER OF EPISODES: 10
THE BOBBY BROWN STORY – From the team behind BET’s smash hit, “The New Edition Story” – the #1 cable biopic of all time – comes another epic mini-series event: “THE BOBBY BROWN STORY.” With a career that spans from founding the R&B super group New Edition to a successful solo run, Bobby Brown’s life truly epitomizes the meaning of sex, drugs, and rock & roll. Hailed as the King of R&B, Bobby Brown is undisputedly one of the genre’s original “bad boys.” His hits may have kept him at the top of the charts, but his antics kept him on the front page. Written by Abdul Williams (“The New Edition Story,” Lottery Ticket), “THE BOBBY BROWN STORY” is executive produced by Jesse Collins (“The New Edition Story,” “Real Husbands of Hollywood”) for JCE Films, a division of Jesse Collins Entertainment.
FORMAT: 4-Hour Biopic Mini-series
NUMBER OF EPISODES: 2 Nights, 2-Hours per Night
DEATH ROW CHRONICLES – The story of the world’s most dangerous record label could only be told in a definitive 6-part documentary series: “DEATH ROW CHRONICLES.” While Death Row Records boasted the success of Snoop Dogg, 2Pac, and Dr. Dre forged by unmatched creativity, the chart-topping and record-breaking sales came at a bloody, controversial cost. Part true-crime murder mystery and part hip hop drama, this compelling docu-series will comb through mountains of misinformation, uncovering key evidence and witnesses who will reveal the truth about the bitter rivalries surrounding its legends. The limited series will also celebrate the groundbreaking music of Death Row, explain how it reflected society at the time, and how it influenced some of today’s biggest hip hop artists. On the eve of the label’s 25th anniversary, “DEATH ROW CHRONICLES” offers an unflinching look at the label and its legacy. “DEATH ROW CHRONICLES” is produced by Entertainment One (eOne) and Creature Films. FORMAT: 60-minute Documentary Series
NUMBER OF EPISODES: 6