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[04/25/06 - 12:00 AM]
BET Upfront '06 Unleashes Flood of New Originals

[via press release from BET]

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 adults.

* 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





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