As the music world today is reeling from the news of Andre Harrell’s death at the age of 59, his colleagues and friends are celebrating the career of the Uptown Records founder. Harrell’s milestone career and personal story also are the subject of Uptown, a three-part original scripted miniseries, which was greenlighted by BET Networks in early December 2019.
Harrell was executive producing the project, which had been in pre-production when the coronavirus pandemic suspended all filming in Hollywood. The production held a series of open casting calls in December and January for performers to play 90s versions of Heavy D & The Boyz, Mary J. Blige, Jodeci, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Kim Porter and Aaron Hall, among others.
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No cast and production start date have been set for the miniseries, which originally was supposed to premiere in 2020. Because of the uncertainty over when Hollywood production will be able to safely resume, it is possible that the premiere of Uptown is pushed to 2021.
Per BET’s official description, Uptown tells the comprehensive story of Andre Harrell’s iconic New York City record label, Uptown Records. Launched in 1986, following a joint venture deal with MCA, Harrell’s Uptown Records played a vital role in the careers of some of the most influential voices in hip hop, soul and R&B, including Heavy D & The Boyz, Russell Simmons, Lyor Cohen, Mary J. Blige, Jodeci, Father MC, Al B. Sure, Christopher Williams, Teddy Riley, Notorious B.I.G., Sean “Diddy” Combs, and many more. Each episode will take viewers from the label’s inception to current day, featuring the music and powerhouse hit-makers that helped mold what would come to be known as the Uptown ‘sound’ and define a musical era that would impact generations to come.
“We are mourning the loss of a cultural icon, Andre Harrell, a chief architect of the modern hip-hop and R&B sound,” said BET President Scott Mills. “Andre was tremendously excited about sharing the origin story of Uptown Records, and its pivotal role in the urban music landscape. With his tragic passing, BET is committed to ensuring that the Uptown limited series event tells both the Uptown story and Andre’s story – that of the incredible music innovator, man and friend to so many.”
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