Reginald Hudlin exits BET

Network head returns to 'entrepreneurial roots'

After three years as the entertainment president of Black Entertainment Television, Reginald Hudlin is ankling the channel.

BET chair and CEO Debra Lee described Hudlin’s departure as “a mutual decision we came to,” adding that Hudlin will “return to his entrepreneurial roots as an independent producer.”

Stephen Hill, exec VP of music programming and talent for BET, will serve as interim head of entertainment while a search is conducted for Hudlin’s successor.

“We would like to find someone as soon as possible,” Lee said. “My only timeline is that I hope we name someone by the end of the year.”

Despite Hudlin’s departure, Lee said she doesn’t expect there to be any significant changes to the programming strategy and infrastructure he established at BET.

However, a source close to BET said Hudlin — who had recently re-upped his contract — had differences of opinion with Lee as to the direction of the network’s programming strategy.

The helmer of the successful “House Party” franchise, and later the executive producer of “The Boondocks” alongside creator Aaron McGruder, Hudlin joined BET in July 2005 with the mandate of putting more original programming on the channel.

In a memo to BET staff Thursday, Lee credited Hudlin with overseeing the development of 17 of the top 20 highest rated shows in the network’s 28-year history, including “Lil’ Kim: Countdown to Lockdown,” “American Gangster,” “Baldwin Hills,” “Sunday Best” and “Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is.”

Hudlin’s departure occurred on the same day that BET bows its first scripted series, with the comedy “Somebodies” also set to premiere Thursday.

“I’m really grateful to Debra and I’m really grateful to BET,” Hudlin said. “Not a lot of people would say, ‘Here’s a creative guy. Let’s put him in an executive role.’ I’m really appreciative of that.”

Hudlin added that he believes the staff he helped put together during his tenure at the channel will have an impact on the TV business in years to come.

“I feel like we established a new generation of black executives,” he said.