Thursday, September 27, 2007

Better Programming? Don't BET On It: The Sequel

The Station Everyone Hates But Allegedly Never Watches is at it again.

Despite the ongoing Enough is Enough! boycotts, the less than stellar reception of Hot Ghetto Mess, and with TV One breathing down their necks in the ratings, BET is moving forward with an (overly?) ambitious array of shows for the upcoming season.

You'll remember several months back, I got gassed off the prospect of their Summer lineup. We all know that whole thing turned out to be a classic case of an idea that was better on paper than in reality. So, despite how interesting some of this stuff sounds, I'm not holding my breath to say the least.

Black Entertainment Television is 27 years old -- old enough, its top executives say, to start acting all grown up.

The Washington-based cable network that established itself with music videos featuring booty-shaking women and gangsta-rapping thugs is starting to do what grown-up TV networks do: produce its own original series. This season, BET will introduce 16 new series, a commitment that the network's top programmer, Reginald Hudlin, dramatically describes as "the largest aggregation of original programming about black life in television history."

Music videos now constitute just less than 20 percent of BET's schedule, says Hudlin, 45.

In coming weeks, the network will launch "Sunday Best," an "American Idol"-style gospel-singing competition; and "Exalted!," a series profiling ministers from across the country. On deck later this season: "Bufu," BET's first animated sketch series, co-created by comic actor Orlando Jones.

Will Smith's production company is developing an animated sci-fi series called "Cipha," which BET describes as a show "set in a future world where hip-hop is outlawed." And Vin Diesel is behind yet another animated series, about the life and times of Hannibal, the ancient African warrior king.
Ok, on second thought, maybe this stuff doesn't sound so interesting after all. Unless, of course, you're an 11th grader with a SideKick and a MySpace page. That is, after all, the audience BET is catering to.

Personally, I'd rather gouge my eyes out with a rusty screwdriver than watch "Sunday Best, an 'American Idol'-style gospel-singing competition". The mere description makes me feen' for Classic Comic View.

I don't pretend to be an expert on anything related to BET. I Tivo the excellent Meet the Faith, but can't say I watch anything else there. This could have something to do with my disdain for music videos, 80's sitcom reruns, or corny infomercials. It could also have something to do with me being way past the age range of their target demographic (14-24).

Assuming Rev. Delman Coates doesn't shut the whole station down first, who knows how this whole thing will work out for BET.

But considering the lack of age-appropriate programming, I can't exactly say I'll be watching to find out.

At 27, BET Tries Some Original New Moves [WaPost]

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