EXCLUSIVE: Kenya Barris is making the leap from content creation to content ownership. The prolific comedy creator behind the black-ish comedy franchise is in serious conversations with ViacomCBS for a new venture, sources said. I hear the negotiations are focused on jointly launching a studio, in which Barris will be an equity partner. At ViacomCBS, the joint venture would be overseen by BET Networks President Scott Mills and David Nevins, Chief Creative Officer of CBS & Chairman And CEO of Showtime Networks, whose portfolio includes BET, I have learned.
Barris is midway through a mega overall deal at Netflix. According to sources, the streamer is considering letting Barris out of his deal to pursue the big opportunity of co-owning a studio. Reps for Netflix and ViacomCBS declined comment.
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The deal with ViacomCBS would allow Barris to join the elite ranks of entertainment moguls. ViacomCBS also has a joint venture with Tyler Perry, who has ownership in the BET+ streaming platform. (Additionally, BET is BET+ are licensing programming produced by Tyler Perry Studios.)
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Barris is the creator/executive producer of ABC’s praised comedy series black-ish, which has transcended entertainment to lead the national conversation on important topics. He also is the co-creator/executive producer of spinoff series grown-ish and mixed-ish and creator/executive producer of the proposed third spinoff, old-ish, now in the works at ABC.
Under his Netflix deal, Kenya created, executive produces and stars in comedy series #blackAF, which has been renewed for a second season. Through his Khalabo Ink Society, Barris also executive produces the Astronomy Club sketch comedy series and the upcoming Kid Cudi adult animated music series Entergalactic.
On the feature side, Barris is writing and directing a movie about iconic comedian Richard Pryor, which just landed by MGM after a heated auction. His credits also include Girls Trip, Shaft and The Witches.
Barris is repped by CAA, Artists First, and attorney Gregg Gellman.
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