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BET Greenlights 4 Pilots, Nabs ‘Negroes’ Mini (EXCLUSIVE)

Slate includes first unscripted project from 'Game' producers Mara and Salim Akil

The duo behind BET’s “The Game” and “Being Mary Jane” is shepherding another project for the cabler, this time an unscripted series involving mind and body makeovers of everyday people.

“Back to Me with Jeanette Jenkins” one of four unscripted pilots recently greenlit by BET original programming prexy Loretha Jones. The orders are another sign of BET’s increased investment in original series programming as it faces more competition for African-American viewers.

The makeover show, from Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil (pictured above), sends celeb trainer Jenkins to work with everyday people, selected from homevid submissions. The Akils, Jenkins and Lisa Haese (“The Biggest Loser”) exec produce.

“Hip-Hop Sisters” is a docu-drama that follows MC Lyte, Yo Yo  and four other femme rappers (Lady of Rage, Smooth, Monie Love and Lil Mama) as they attempt to relaunch their careers. MC Lyte and Lemmuel Plummer exec produce.

“Gone Gospel” is a singing competition hosted by Kirk Franklin that sends former hitmakers to “Gospel Boot Camp” in an effort to revive their careers. Participants will be mentored by prominent gospel artists as they compete to write an inspirational anthem. Franklin exec produces with Marilyn Gill, producer of BET’s long-running “Sunday Best” gospel series.

“Internal Affairs” is a true-crime vehicle focusing on cops tasked with investigating their own. Project hails from Fox Television Studios and exec producer Ted Haimes.

Separately, BET has also acquired the U.S. telecast rights to a miniseries based on the novel “The Book of Negroes,” by Laurence Hill (title was published in the U.S. as “Someone Knows My Name”). Entertainment One, Conquering Lion Pictures and Out of Africa Entertainmnet are producing the project, which is an official Canadian-South African co-production for the CBC and BET.

Miniseries tells the story of a woman’s escape from slavery in the Revolutionary War period. Clement Virgo (“The Wire”) has penned the miniseries and will direct, with production skedded to begin in the fall.

BET has been on a big push to enhance its original programming as it faces increasing competition for its target demos from OWN, TV One and startup digital network Bounce TV. In the midst of the upfront advertising selling season, BET has been touting its advantage over all networks, broadcast and cable, in reaching black women in the 18-49 demo in primetime.

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