BET Upfront '06 Unleashes Flood of New Originals
Reality Shows Led by NFL Rookie-to-Be Vince Young, Rising Music Star
Keyshia Cole Top Slate Including Black Gangsters and Sexy Late-Night Series
Hot New Hosts Chosen for Television's Top Music Video Show 106 & PARK
NEW YORK, April 25 -- BET Networks is opening the
floodgates to an impressive slate of new original programs for 2006-2007.
The new shows will quench a range of entertainment thirsts. BET unveiled
its plans last night in its annual Upfront presentation to a capacity
audience of advertisers, media buyers, corporate clients, executives and
news media at New York's Manhattan Center Studios.
"As successful as BET has been in the past 25 years, I knew that an
aggressive investment in original programming -- in both senses of the word
'original' -- could turn BET from a beast to a monster," said Reginald
Hudlin, BET President of Entertainment, about the BET strategy. "I wanted
BET to be like Motown -- a soulful beat that the whole world dances to."
Hudlin continued, "BET has always been known for hot music and great
award shows, but now we're moving into primetime with a broader mix of new
shows than ever before -- news, sports, reality, comedy, movies, specials,
mega- specials. It's a big lineup."
BET's '06 Upfront was the first for Debra Lee as the company's chairman
and CEO following the departure earlier this year of BET Founder Robert
Johnson. It was also Hudlin's first since being named BET programming chief
nine months ago. To serve notice of this new era in BET leadership and
programming, the entire presentation used the theme "Whatever ... Whenever
... Wherever", a rallying anthem symbolic of BET's new multi-platform
approach to serving its viewership.
Future BET programming girds will be flush with new original
productions premiering this summer and fall, including:
* NEXT LEVEL: VINCE YOUNG -- Fresh off a national collegiate football
championship for the Texas Longhorns, NFL rookie-to-be Vince Young
prepares to take his game and life to the next level, and BET will
follow his competitive journey.
* STAR TIME: KEYSHIA COLE -- There's a rising young star who is staking
her claim as music's next diva. BET will go inside the rollercoaster
world of Keyshia Cole as her private life and music career ignite.
* AMERICAN GANGSTER -- From the infamous Chambers Brothers of Detroit to
the dangerous Nicky Barnes of Harlem, BET will chronicle the country's
most powerful Black gangsters past and present through the eyes of the
criminals and their victims.
* HOT GIRLS -- Fashion, style and beauty will abound in this trend-setting
show that will touch the minds, bodies and souls of women everywhere.
* BLACK BOOK DIARIES -- Tastes for the "grown-and-sexy" side of life can
find romance and passion in this new BET late-night anthology series for
* IRON RING -- The hard-hitting sport of Ultimate Fighting takes on a
whole new flavor as these celebrity-managed human gladiators battle it
out on BET.
* HOTWYRED -- High-tech toys and multi-media gadgets are part of an all-
new BET show guiding viewers to the hottest music downloads, websites,
ring tones and video games.
* THE BLACK CARPET -- Coverage of the latest entertainment news and high
profile lifestyles gets a fresh look as BET delivers the full range of
Black experiences from the Detroit Hair Show to the NBA All-Star Game to
the Oakland Players Ball.
* DMX: SOUL OF A MAN -- Hardcore rap impresario DMX lives life on the edge
... at least most of the time. BET will reveal sides to DMX rarely
seen, from a caring and concerned father to the friendly neighborhood
taxpayer in the tiny town of Carefree, Arizona, where DMX spends much of
his down time.
BET's evening exploded with rhythm and excitement as the Howard
University drum line ripped a heart-pounding cadence guided by the
high-stepping moves of a "mystery drum major" who turned out to be BET
President of Advertising Media Sales, Louis Carr. With the room still
buzzing, Carr delivered a clear message for advertisers about BET.
"A year ago when I stood on this same stage and announced that we were
targeting an 18-34 demo, many of you thought we had turned our back on
teens and (adults) 25-54," said Carr. "But we knew something that most of
you didn't know. The Black adult 18-34 audience is not only the sweet spot
for African Americans but also for the broader population. Whether it's
technology, fashion, music, automotive or language, this demo influences so
many things. It's also the magnet for every other demo."
Celebrity participation added to the new BET programming rollout as
University of Texas quarterback Vince Young, rapper LL Cool J and R&B
songstress India.Arie took part in the launch. The long-awaited search for
new hosts for popular music video show 106 & PARK: BET TOP 10 LIVE ended
with the introduction of Chicago radio DJ Rocsi and Atlanta-based
personality Terrence J. R&B diva Mary J. Blige concluded the evening with a
soul-stirring medley of her hit songs. Blige's finale of her tune "Dance
Floor" triggered a forward rush of attendees creating a high-energy dancing
frenzy to culminate the BET presentation.
BET also used the showcase to highlight its multi-platform approach to
accessing its viewers, including a new broadband BET on Blast offering from
BET.com; the new BET Mobile division; and the recently re-launched BET 'J'
Network, replacing the former BET Jazz channel as an adult-focused
entertainment choice. In addition to Lee, Hudlin and Carr, attendees also
heard from Executive Vice President of Corporate Marketing Kelli Lawson;
BET Digital Networks Executive Vice President Paxton Baker; and Michael
Pickrum, Senior Vice President and COO for BET Interactive.
ABOUT BET NETWORKS
BET Networks, a subsidiary of Viacom, Inc. (NYSE: VIA and VIA.B), is
the nation's leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and
public affairs television programming for the African-American audience.
The primary BET channel reaches more than 80 million households according
to Nielsen media research, and can be seen in the United States, Canada and
the Caribbean. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a
diverse group of businesses extensions: BET.com, the Number 1 Internet
portal for African Americans; BET Digital Networks -- BET J, BET Gospel and
BET Hip Hop, attractive alternatives for cutting-edge entertainment tastes;
BET Event Productions, a full-scale event management and production
company; BET Home Entertainment, a collection of BET-branded offerings for
the home environment including DVDs and video-on-demand; and BET Mobile, a
service venture into the lucrative world of ring tones, games and video
content for wireless devices.
SOURCE BET (Black Entertainment Television)
Web Site: http://www.bet.com