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BET Makes Sports Gambit With Poker, MMA

Black Entertainment Television will delve into the sports genre later this month with the debut of a poker and a mixed martial arts-based series.

Celebrities such as Anthony Anderson, Katt Williams, Nelly, Orlando Jones and Eddie Griffin will test their poker skills in BET’s new reality competition series Black Poker Stars Invitational, debuting March 18 at 10:30 p.m. Along with the no limit – Texas hold ‘em poker action, the half-hour series will give viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the celebrities’ exploits prior to, during and after tournament play, according to the network.   

Immediately following Black Poker Stars, the network will premiere Iron Ring, featuring several MMA teams competing in an elimination fight tournament. Rap artists Ludacris, Nelly, T.I., Lil Jon and Dipset, along with boxing champion Floyd Mayweather, will serve as team owners and managers.

In other BET programming news, the network March 11 will debut the fifth season of its reality series College Hill. Dubbed College Hill: Atlanta, the program will follow the lives of eight college students from different colleges and universities across the Atlanta area, according to BET officials.

On March 20, BET will return its top-rated reality series Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is to the air as part of a reunion special.The one hour show will update viewers on the R&B singer Cole and her loving, but often challenging family.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.