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The Play’s the Thing for GMC

Looking to build on its appeal to
African-American viewers, GMC TV will launch
12 original gospel-themed stage plays as part of
its most aggressive original programming slate
ever, network officials said.

The inspirational-themed
channel has found success with
the stage-play genre among African-
American viewers since
its first original project, She’s
Not Our Sister
, in 2011. The network’s
April 14 project For Richer
or Poorer
— the first of four plays
under the “Wedding Vow” umbrella
heading — drew nearly
200,000 total viewers. That’s a category
high for the network, and
was the second-most–watched
series among 18-to-49 and 25-to-
54-year-od African-Americanson
cable for the evening, according
to Nielsen.

The genre has proven so successful
that GMC in 2013 will develop
an original series based on its February
Sugar Mommas stage play, as well as a series
based on the “wedding vow” series, executive
vice president of programming Leslie Chesloff
said. The other three “wedding-vow” plays —
From This Day Forward, To Love and to Cherish
and in Sickness and in Health — will air over the
next three months.

Chesloff said the plays have helped the
network become one of the most diverse
channels on cable, with African-Americans
making up 21% of its audience.

In addition to the plays, GMC will develop
four African-American targeted world-premiere
films, part of its slate of 16 original movies over
the next 12 months, Chesloff said. Original movie
projects include Raising Izzie, starring Rockmond
Dunbar and Vanessa Williams and which
chronicling the lives of two
young girls raising each other following
the death of their mother;
Somebody’s Child, starring Michael
Jai White as an ex-convict
befriended by a mother and son
with a secret past; and The Angel
Next Door
, starring Della Reese
as a mysterious woman whose
next door neighbor believes she
is an angel.

On the acquisition side, the
network recently debuted the
former UPN series Moesha, starring
R&B singer Brandy Norwood,
and is in the process of
completing deals for several
other family-targeted, inspirational-
themed series, although
the network would not disclose specific details.

The network hopes the new programming
will help continue its record-breaking April ratings
performance, which saw the network increase
its prime time audience by a whopping
95% to 201,000 viewers, according to Nielsen.
Thanks to gospel play For Richer or for Poorer,
as well as GMC world-premiere movie Heaven’s
, the network also posted record audiences
among adults 18 to 49 and adults 25 to 54, said