VH1 and BET Climb Into Bed With Queen Latifah for 'Wifey'
First-of-Its-Kind Multi-Network Production Would Debut Simultaneously, BET
Entertainment President Hudlin to Direct Pilot; Executive Producers Include
NEW YORK, Feb. 14 -- In a first-of-its-kind
development/production/broadcast deal, Viacom subsidiaries VH1 and BET are
partnering on a one-hour pilot for the ensemble drama "Wifey," set in the
world of hip hop. Under this unique arrangement, the eventual series would
premiere simultaneously on both networks. Written and executive produced by
Michael Elliot, the pilot will be directed by BET President of
Entertainment Reginald Hudlin. The executive producers include Queen
Latifah, Shakim Compere and Dedra Tate for Flavor Unit, Michael Hirschorn
and Maggie Malina for VH1, and Hudlin and Byron Phillips for BET.
"Wifey" is centered on the newly-widowed wife of a hip-hop mogul who
must reassemble her life as she takes over her late husband's record label.
Once there, she discovers that her family's fortunes were built upon lies
and crimes that now threaten to destroy everything. With the help of two
female friends, they take on the male-dominated world of hip-hop.
"The premise behind 'Wifey' has tremendous promise and fits perfectly
into VH1's unique ability to tell stories about music and pop culture,"
said Brian Graden, President, Entertainment, MTV Networks and President,
LOGO. "This pilot marks the first time that VH1 has partnered with another
network in such a way, so we're eager to explore all of the ideas and
possibilities that will develop by teaming up with Reginald Hudlin and our
friends at BET now and in the future.
"This project represents a first on several levels: BET has never
jointly developed or produced a program with any other network, the
premiere/revenue structure is unique, and I imagine it's the first time
that a network head has directed a pilot," says Hudlin, whose last
directing gig was the pilot for "Everybody Hates Chris," just a few months
before he joined BET. Hudlin also helmed such box office classics as "House
Party," "Boomerang," and the animated film "BeBe's Kids."
"Byron Phillips and I loved the show the minute we read the script,"
Hudlin added, and that, given "a common sensibility" with VH1's Hirschorn
and Malina, he sees the project as "the first of many together."
Queen Latifah (a.k.a. Dana Owens), one of the project's executive
producers, echoes Hudlin's enthusiasm.
"I've always wanted to do a series like this. My first business was the
music business, so doing this show with the music networks VH1 and BET
about the music industry is exciting for me and my partner Shakim," stated
Latifah. "It's going to be a fun show."
VH1 connects viewers to the music, artists and pop culture that matter
to them most with series, specials, live events, exclusive online content
and public affairs initiatives. VH1 is available in 90 million households
in the U.S. VH1 also has an array of digital services including VH1
Classic, VH1 Soul and VSPOT, VH1's broadband channel. VH1 is a registered
trademark of MTV Networks, a unit of Viacom International Inc. MTV Networks
also operates and offers joint ventures, licensing agreements and
syndication deals whereby its programming can be seen worldwide. Connect
with VH1 at http://www.VH1.com.
About BET Networks
BET Networks, a subsidiary of Viacom, Inc. (NYSE: VIA and VIA.B), is
the leading provider of media and entertainment for African Americans and
consumers of black culture on a global basis. The primary BET cable network
reaches more than 84 million households according to Nielsen media research
and can be seen in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. BET Digital
Networks - BET J, BET Gospel and BET Hip Hop - serve more diverse target
audiences than the core network. BET.com is a leading internet destination
for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news. BET Mobile delivers
music, gaming, and video content to the target audiences on wireless
devices across virtually all service providers. BET Event Productions is a
full-scale event management and production company with festivals and live
events spanning the globe. Finally, BET International delivers BET content
to the consumers of black culture around the world.
About Flavor Unit Entertainment
Flavor Unit Entertainment is a production company owned and operated by
Queen Latifah and her partner, Shakim Compere. The company, based in New
Jersey, is quickly establishing itself as one of the most important
production companies in the film industry. They began by executive
producing the box office hit Bringing Down the House and then continued
with Beauty Shop for MGM. They are also co-producing the action-comedy Bad
Girls at Paramount with Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Overbrook Entertainment.
They have also produced The Cookout with Lion's Gate.