AMC Networks’ ALLBLK, the streamer that was recently rebranded from UMC, has renewed three of its most popular original series, “For the Love of Jason,” “Double Cross,” and its longest-running show, “A House Divided,” Variety has learned exclusively.
So far in 2021, the streamer’s top five titles are crime drama “Double Cross,” soap “A House Divided,” comedies “Here We Go Again” and “Millennials,” and drama “Craig Ross Jr.’s Monogamy.” ALLBLK has an ambitious content pipeline: a new original series debuts on the streamer every month. The pandemic presented a speed bump, halting production for two months early last year; since then, however, it has already completed 10 to 11 series, ALLBLK and WEtv general manager Brett Dismuke tells Variety.
The streamer’s demographic is predominantly Black women ages 25 to 64, with a sweet spot of 28- to 38-year-olds, he says, and much of the platform’s newer content is focused on drawing in younger viewers, such as an upcoming 2022 series, “A La Carte,” and ALLBLK’s first-ever talk show, “Social Society.”
“This gives us a chance to not only entertain you with reality shows and scripted and music documentaries, but this is a chance for our audience to tap into what’s going on in society today,” says Dismuke. “What are people talking about, being a part of the discussion? So, again, variety, variety, variety is the key point.”
Of its current series, “For the Love of Jason,” the Trell Woodberry-created dramedy about dating in your 30s, is coming back for Season 2. While the first season — which stars Woodberry, Jackée Harry, Kareem Grimes, B.J. Britt, Brely Evans, and Laila Odom — saw Jason navigating increasingly terrible and comical dating experiences, the sophomore season will see everyone “forced to face the consequences of their actions, or in some cases – inactions.” Season 2 premieres in the summer of next year.
Crime-fighting drama “Double Cross,” which stars Jeff Logan and Ashley A. Williams as the vigilante “Wonder Twins” Eric and Erica Cross, is returning for Season 3 after the second-season finale revealed the culprit behind the sex-trafficking ring. The third season, premiering in early 2022, will explore the relationship between the Cross twins and their long-lost sister, Robin Cross, played by Judi Johnson.
“A House Divided,” the nighttime soap that’s a close second to “Double Cross” in viewership, stars Demetria McKinney, LisaRaye McCoy, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Brad James, Paula Jai Parker, Parker McKenna Posey and Terrell Carter, and will also premiere early next year.
“What I like the most about ALLBLK is that they really trust the creators,” “A House Divided” creator Dan Garcia tells Variety. “They definitely have input, but it’s not overwhelming to the point where they take your vision away from you. They really work with you as a creator. And we massage the concepts and then really flesh through the ideas, but at the end of the day, our vision and creative stays intact, which is pretty amazing.”
Garcia is going into development on “four or five” new series, he says, with the aim of spotlight characters of color “being successful and really powerful in what they do, [with] knowledge of their expertise… sort of like a ‘House,’ or ‘CSI’ or things like that, just showing African Americans performing at a high level.”
While Black networks or film companies are often historically known for focusing on a single genre, says Dismuke, ALLBLK’s variety in genres among its top performers “speaks volumes about what our audience is watching.” The recent rebrand to ALLBLK was necessary, he says — partly to distinguish itself after the AMC Networks’ 2018 acquisition of UMC parent RLJ Entertainment, and partly because its former name, Urban Movie Channel, had become “dated.”
“We remember the time when, if you were distributing Black film, television or music, you called it ‘urban music’ or ‘urban films,’ and that was a catch-all so that we wouldn’t necessarily have to say, the term ‘Black,'” says Dismuke. “But where we’ve come in our society, people are much more comfortable calling themselves Black again. We didn’t want to run from that.”
(Pictured: Brett Dismuke, “A House Divided”)