×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

BET Orders John Singleton’s ‘Rebel,’ Dramedy ‘Benched,’ Music Drama ‘Tales’ in Scripted Push

BET Networks is loading up its 2016-17 slate with series and telepics that reflect an earthy view of African-American life, including a detective drama from John Singleton, a soap set in the world of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and a dramedy revolving around a criminal courts judge.

BET is stepping up its production of original scripted series for its mothership BET channel at a time when competition for its target audience has become fierce. “Rebel” revolves around a female police officer in Oakland, Calif., who becomes a private investigator after her brother is killed by police. “Benched,” created by Scott Brown, is a dramedy about a young judge who struggles to give up his bachelor lifestyle as he confronts the “underbelly” of the criminal justice system on a daily basis.

” ‘Benched’ and ‘Rebel’ will allow us to address issues that are very relevant and germane to our audience,” said Stephen Hill, BET Networks president of programming. “When we pick our shows we look at how we can best tell the stories of our audience. It’s important that the issue that are in our world are on our screen as well.”

Another priority for BET is a music-driven anthology series dubbed “Tales” that will offer hourlong narrative renditions of iconic hip-hop songs in a three-act structure as envisioned by various filmmakers. The project is shepherded by producer Irv Gotti Lorenzo and will air as a partnership with the music streaming service Tidal, which will offer episodes available for streaming via its apps. In some cases, Tidal will carry racier versions of the episodes, Hill said.

Among the songs planned for the “Tales” treatment is N.W.A’s “F— tha Police.” The plan is to work with the original artists and songwriters on the narrative adaptations. “Tales” is envisioned as airing several times a year as event programming.

Anika Noni Rose and Ruben Santiago-Hudson are set to lead the ensemble cast of “The Yard.” Rose plays the newly elected president of a fictional HBCU who encounters all manner of problems as she tries to wrangle an unruly freshman class. The collegiate setting will allow the show to reflect contemporary social issues and cultural trends,” Hill said. “HBCU’s are the cauldrons in which our culture is shaped,” he said. Felicia Henderson and Charles Holland created the series from a concept by Rob Hardy.

“Comedy Getdown” is a semi-scriptedhalf-hour  series set behind the scenes of standup comedy tour led by George Lopez, DL Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer, Eddie Griffin and Charlie Murphy. Free 90 Media’s Tom Brunelle and Brad Wollack are exec producing with Michael Rotenberg, Greg Walter, Kimberly Carver and Eric C. Rhone.

Other high-profile bets for BET in the coming season are its New Edition biopic film — “It’s one of the biggest productions we’ve ever done,” Hill said — and the Nelson Mandela biopic “Madiba” toplined by Laurence Fishburne. “New Edition: The Movie” is filming now in Los Angeles for an early 2017 debut with two sets of actors playing the R&B group’s members at various stages. The cast includes “Empire’s” Bryshere Gray, Elijah Kelley, Luke James, Keith Powers, Algee Smith and Woody McClain.

“Competition makes you step up your game,” Hill said. “I’m proud of our slate. We are partnering with stars in front of and behind the camera.”

(Pictured: John Singleton, Anika Noni Rose, Laurence Fishburne)

More TV

  • Five Takes on Canal Plus, Federation’s

    Just Days Left to Catch Canal Plus’ ‘The Bureau’ on MyFFF

    The most lauded of titles on this year’s MyFrenchFilmFestival, UniFrance’s online showcase featured by over 50 OTT services around the world, may not be a film but a drama series. With four seasons aired, and a milestone in world sales on a French TV show, slow-boiling espionage series ‘Le Bureau des légendes’ (“The Bureau”) is [...]

  • Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith

    Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith Dies at 78

    Walt Disney Archives founder Dave Smith, the historian who spent 40 years cataloging and preserving the company’s legacy of entertainment and innovation, died Friday in Burbank, Calif. He was 78. Smith served as Disney’s chief archivist from 1970 to 2010. He was named a Disney Legend in 2007 and served as a consultant to the [...]

  • TV Writer Christopher Knopf, Former WGA

    TV Writer Christopher Knopf, Former WGA West President, Dies at 91

    Prolific Emmy-nominated television writer Christopher Edwin Knopf, former president of the Writers Guild of America West, died in his sleep of congestive heart failure on Feb. 13. He was 91. Knopf was born in New York and attended UCLA, leaving during his senior year to join the Air Force during World War II. He finished [...]

  • Jussie Smollett The Black AIDS Insitute

    Jussie Smollett Case: Two Suspects Released Without Charges as New Evidence Emerges

    After two days of questioning, the Chicago Police Department announced Friday evening that it has released two suspects in the Jussie Smollett case without filing charges. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said that detectives had developed new information in the case. Police no longer consider the men to be suspects. “Due to new evidence as a [...]

  • GOTHAM: L-R: Guest star Cameron Monaghan

    TV News Roundup: Fox Drops 'Gotham' Final Season Trailer (Watch)

    In today’s TV news roundup, Fox released a new trailer for an upcoming episode of “Gotham” and Disney has announced the cast for its upcoming “High School Musical” series.  FIRST LOOKS Showtime released a new trailer and the official poster for the upcoming fourth season of “Billions,” premiering March 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. In [...]

  • Chris Rock

    Chris Rock to Direct Kenan Thompson Comedy Pilot at NBC

    Chris Rock has come onboard to direct the NBC single-cam comedy pilot “Saving Kenan,” Variety has learned. Rock will also executive produce the pilot, which stars “SNL” mainstay Kenan Thompson. Thompson will play a newly widowed dad determined to be everything for his kids while begrudgingly letting his persistent father-in-law become more involved in their lives [...]

  • Peak TV Saturation TV Placeholder

    Apollo Global Management Buys Majority Stake in Cox TV Stations

    Private equity giant Apollo Global Management has cut a deal with Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises to buy a majority stake in Cox’s 13 TV stations as well as three newspapers and a handful of radio stations in Ohio. Apollo has been in the hunt for broadcast TV stations for some time. Cox’s station group, which includes [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content