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[04/18/07 - 11:33 PM]
BET Upfront '07 Invites Advertisers to 'Follow the Leader' with an Innovative Slate of 16 Original Shows
Upcoming offerings include three new animated series as well as the network's first original comedy.

[via press release from BET]

BET Upfront '07 Invites Advertisers to 'Follow The Leader' with an Innovative Slate of 16 Original Shows

BET Reveals Original Programming Plans and Overview of Digital Strategy; First Original Scripted Series, New Reality, Sports Talk & Music Shows Continue to Evolve the Network As A Proven Cable Maverick

NEW YORK, April 18 -- Intensifying its leadership role by reaching the broadest swath of Black viewers across multiple media platforms, BET Networks today reinforced their dominance by unveiling the most ambitious slate of programming in its 26-year history. At its annual Upfront presentation, BET Chairman and CEO Debra Lee, along with President of Entertainment, Reginald Hudlin, announced the slate of 16 new original shows to a capacity audience of advertisers, media buyers, corporate clients, executives and top-tier media outlets at New York's Manhattan Center Studios.

"BET Networks is the number one media destination for African Americans and consumers of Black culture," said Lee. "Through creativity, collaboration and innovation, the next 12 months will see an unprecedented amount of new content from BET Networks. We are making our biggest investment ever in original programming and digital entertainment; and key strategic additions to our strong executive team - we will not only extend our lead, but expand it."

When Lee took over the CEO post two years ago, she ushered in a new era of original programming for the network. She kicked things off with the hiring of Hudlin, and together they have steadily increased its investment in developing innovative signature series and specials. Recently, Lee added three new executives to BET's senior management team in marketing and communications to better meet the needs of its original programming and digital expansion strategy; creating an integrated marketing department to develop high-impact, innovative cross-platform marketing solutions as well as integrate clients' brands into BET Networks programming across all platforms.

Today, BET is recognized as the #1 provider of original Black programming. According to a 2006 study by Jack Myers Media, BET also ranks #1 among all networks in viewers more likely to purchase a product because they "consider advertising on the network to be a recommendation."

"We have taken BET to a new level in the past year, and it's only the beginning," said Hudlin, about BET's new strategy. "With the incredible talent in front of and behind the camera that is flocking to BET, we are able to take chances, make hits, and strengthen our relevance and connection with the Black community."

With six of BET's top ten shows in history such as Lil' Kim: Countdown to Lockdown and American Gangster firmly under his belt, Hudlin's programming approach includes the development of 16 original series for primetime on the network, aimed at the widest possible demographic, while remaining focused on the core audience of 18 - 34. Genres range from scripted dramas, animation and sports, to reality, competition, music and of course BET's world-class mega- specials.

Louis Carr, BET Networks President of Media Sales notes how the network's programming expansion further widens the gap in the network's dominance over the next closest competitor. "No one has the number of hours, genres, or specials in original programming targeted directly to African-Americans like we do, and our 30 percent increase in the network's original programming budget will extend that lead," he cited.

With each of its new hit shows setting a ratings record in 2006, the most- watched year in the network's history, which now reaches approximately 85 million homes - BET has also aggressively expanded the way it connects audiences with the newly formed Digital Media Group. The cornerstone is BET.com, which allows the audience to "interact" with programming through exclusive video clips, photo galleries, discussion forums, polls, voting, interviews and behind-the-scenes footage.

"We have developed digital assets for every platform," said Scott Mills, President of BET's Digital Media Group. "From launching websites and broadband destinations, to creating mobile subscription services and expanding our VOD offerings and digital downloads, our digital assets represent the broadest array of targeted digital properties in the industry."

BET's 2007 programming grid will soon be flush with new original productions premiering this summer and fall, including:

Scripted Series

-- SOMEBODIES - The executive producers of THE BERNIE MAC SHOW bring BET their first original scripted series. It's not set in New York or Los Angeles but in a city where everyday people live - Athens, Georgia. Athens is known as the home of REM and the B-52's. It's also the home of a group of black slackers caught in that awkward period between college and a "real career" - when you're a nobody trying to be a somebody. This single-camera sitcom is based on the film of the same nature that was a hit at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. The show captures a voice of a generation as they navigate their way through life, love and careers. PREMIERING FALL 2007

Animation

-- BUFU - Two of the funniest guys in the business team up to create an animated sketch comedy show for BET. Orlando Jones (MAD TV) and Ali LeRoi (EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS) have teamed up to create BUFU, an animated sketch comedy show in the tradition of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and SCTV. PREMIERING FALL 2007

-- HANNIBAL - He was an African King that conquered the world -- the greatest military strategist in the history of warfare. Executive produced by Vin Diesel and his One Race production partner Samantha Vincent, this series will tell Hannibal's entire story, for the first time -- from his birth, to training to be a warrior and a king, to crossing the Alps with a herd of elephants and a multi-national army to fight against his greatest challenger, Rome. PREMIERING 2008

-- CIPHA - CIPHA is a sci-fi series set in a future world where hip hop is outlawed. But in the world of the CIPHA, you learn that whenever you try to shut down the voices of youth, it comes back stronger than ever. A new animated series from Will Smith's Overbrook Entertainment and the executive producer of DARK ANGEL and THE SHIELD. PREMIERING 2008

Reality & Biography

-- BALDWIN HILLS - For 10 weeks, BET's reality docu-drama BALDWIN HILLS will explore the lives of 11 upper middle class Black teens as they grow up in BALDWIN HILLS - an upscale Black neighborhood in Los Angeles where professional athletes, television and film stars, doctors, lawyers and engineers live. This reality show will focus on kids who split their time between school, the beach, pool parties, high-end shopping and driving their daddy's or their own Benz. In other words, kids who grow up living the glamorous lives of the young, black and fabulous. PREMIERING JULY 2007

-- S.O.B. - This series takes an outrageous, contemporary and comedic look at stereotypes, racism, classism, religion, sexuality, clich�s, politics, social mores, identity and cultures -- all under the hidden camera microscope. The ensemble cast of comedy actors will engage unsuspecting, everyday people and challenge them to question their own habits, value systems and preconceived notions about society's rules and hidden agendas. PREMIERING JULY 2007

-- COLLEGE HILL INTERNS - This exciting new spin-off will delve into the interpersonal and business dynamics of eight college students living in a new city, hanging out in their new digs, and most importantly working at their new and exciting summer jobs. The cast will participate in an 8-10 week internship program at one sponsored parent company in one or more departments, and be assigned tasks, interactive workshops, company promotions, and various competitive challenges. PREMIERING FALL 2007

Sports

-- BALLERS - Premiering Friday, April 20 at 10 p.m. ET/PT, BET will bring the feel of a night out with the boys to your living room with this fresh new series that talks about sports in a sexy club environment hosted by four-time NBA World Champion John Salley, three-time NFL Pro Bowler Hugh Douglas and comedian Guy Torry. The club's party vibe will be enhanced each week with co-host, DEAL OR NO DEAL's gorgeous Claudia Jordan along with DJ Rashida on the turntables.

-- IRON RING - Combat sports just got tougher. From the creator of ULTIMATE FIGHTING CHALLENGE, one of the most successful new sports formats in entertainment, comes a new show that introduces new celebrities from music, sports and Hollywood to the most dangerous fighters in the world. An all-star line-up of celebrities will manage teams of fighters in the best mixed martial arts match-ups on television. PREMIERING JULY 2007

Strip

-- THE 5IVE - Hosted by the lovely Alesha Renee; BET's newest show will introduce viewers to the top 5ive things of the moment. Ever wondered how to be one step ahead of everyone else -- tune into the 5ive and join the "in" crowd. Not only will the 5ive showcase the top people, places and things in the country but it will give the viewer the latest information on the must-have accessories of the moment. PREMIERING MAY 2007

-- HELL DATE - Is it a dating show? Is it a comedy? Or is it ... the date from Hell? In HELL DATE, contestants are asked about the perfect mate. With the help of an actor or actress that appears to be their soul mate, contestants will have to figure out is this really a soul mate or the absolute worst experience of their lives? PREMIERING JULY 2007

-- JUDGE MOONEY - Comedian Paul Mooney is a legend. He's worked with everyone from Richard Pryor to Dave Chappelle; now Mooney will host his own daily court show as the outrageously funny judge who lays down the law with his own brand of humor. Real people will bring their real cases to Mooney's courtroom to receive a verdict that only Judge Paul Mooney can deliver. ALL rise as JUDGE MOONEY'S court is now in session. PREMIERING FALL 2007

Inspirational

-- SUNDAY BEST - Gospel music is bigger than ever, with songs beloved by generations and sung by arguably the best singers in the world. SUNDAY BEST will undergo a nationwide search to storefront churches, parishes and mega-churches across the country to find the best undiscovered singers in America. The top contestants will be coached by great performers from the gospel and secular worlds as they strive to win the SUNDAY BEST title. Celebrity singers such as Patti LaBelle, Kirk Franklin and Shirley Caesar will work with these up-and-comers as they take their praise to the next level. PREMIERING FALL 2007

-- EXALTED! - A biography series spotlighting a different inspirational leader each week. BET will follow various ministers as they prepare for their sermons, lead the church, perform their weekly ministerial duties and lead their everyday lives. The minister will recount the moments in his/her past that paved the way to accepting such a calling; via one- on-one interviews with the family and friends. PREMIERING FALL 2007

-- CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL - BET's popular CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL is back for another round of soul stirring, hand clapping and inspiring gospel music. BET showcases musical artists from both inspirational and secular worlds in this uplifting special. The two-hour telecast features moving performances and renditions by some of today's hottest and most talented artists from the worlds of gospel and R&B. PREMIERING JANUARY 2008

Specials

-- BET AWARDS '08 - BET celebrates another year of honoring extraordinary achievement in music, entertainment and sports with a star-studded "live" telecast of the BET AWARDS -- the network's top-rated and television's most-watched awards program among African American viewers. The show is guaranteed to ignite excitement even bigger than before, with a format that includes glitzy red carpet arrivals, explosive show performances, out of this world surprises and riveting tributes by the hottest names in entertainment. PREMIERING JUNE 2008

-- HIP-HOP AWARDS - More than a musical style, hip-hop is a history of American culture and a testimony by its artists of their life experiences. BET shocked "Hotlanta" in 2006 with its first HIP-HOP AWARDS and is going back form more. BET HIP-HOP AWARDS is an electrifying evening of non-stop homage and entertainment to the genre of hip-hop music! Viewers will not want to miss a night of off-the- hook performances and appearances by the biggest names in the game. PREMIERING OCTOBER 2007

-- CHRISTMAS WISH - A special concert of holiday favorites by one of music's biggest artists. The show will feature guest appearances by other stars and we will not only see our host singing, but also giving back to the community in touching segments throughout the show. PREMIERING DECEMBER 2007

-- THE ICON AWARDS - BET and BLACK ENTERPRISE magazine team up to deliver the next breakthrough award show during Black History Month to celebrate the achievement of black Americans by honoring the brightest, the most talented, the most ambitious, the most generous and the most crusading members of the African-American community. PREMIERING FEBRUARY 2008

-- SPRING BLING - BET's SPRING BLING 2008 is certain to be a spicy sand and sun whirlwind of hip-hop performances from some of the biggest names in the music industry. Straight from the sand are hot shows including REVAMP - always a crowd pleaser, this competition showcases students re-enacting popular video dance routines; FREESTYLE - BET gives aspiring MCs a chance to do their thing on this freestyle battle show; BEACH TOWEL THROWDOWN - Spring Blingers get their groove on at this concert featuring popular recording artists; RIDES, RIMS, RUNWAYS - Hot cars ... hot girls ... hot performances, this is definitely the hottest car competition on television; and GET TO STEPPIN' - a step competition among college fraternities and sororities. PREMIERING APRIL 2008

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 and can be seen in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. BET Digital Networks - BET J, BET Gospel, and BET Hip-Hop - are brands that combine to serve a broader and more diverse audience than the core network. BET.com is the number one internet destination for the target audiences. 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. BET International delivers BET content to the consumers of Black culture around the world. BET Networks inspires its audiences to make a difference in their lives and communities with a series of impactful pro-social initiatives under the Touch BET umbrella.

Visit us @ http://www.bet.com/pr .

SOURCE BET Networks
http://www.bet.com http://www.bet.com/pr





  [april 2007]  
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· BALDWIN HILLS (BET)
· BALLERS (BET)
· BERNIE MAC SHOW, THE (FOX)
· BUFU (BET)
· CIPHA (BET)
· COLLEGE HILL: INTERNS (BET)
· HANNIBAL (BET)
· IRON RING (BET)
· SOB (SOCIALLY OFFENSIVE BEHAVIOR) (BET)
· SOMEBODIES (BET)
· SUNDAY BEST (BET)





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