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TV One, BET Slate Sitcoms

New York — African-American
targeted TV One and BET will
both jump into the original
scripted programming arena in
2011 with the launch of separate
comedy sitcoms.

Radio One and Comcastowned
TV One will test the scripted
comedy waters for the first
time with the first-quarter launch
of Love That Girl!, starring Tatyana
Ali (Fresh Prince of Bel Air)
as Tyana Jones, a young divorcée
who returns home to for a second
chance in life and a career in
her father’s real-estate business.
Created by Bentley Kyle Evans
(The Jamie Foxx Show, Martin),
the show also stars Phillip Morris
(Girlfriends) and Alphonso
McAuley (Fat Albert).

“The series is about her search
for love, family and her friends,”
Ali told Multichannel News.

TV One said it will produce 26
episodes of the series, which has
already received exposure on the
network: TV One aired four preview
episodes of the show this
past January.

Love That Girl! really resonated
with TV One viewers when we
aired the original four episodes,”
said TV One senior vice president
of original programming Toni Judkins.
“Our viewers love sitcoms,
they love Tatyana, and Martin has
been a strong and beloved part of
the schedule since the day TV One
went on the air. Love That Girl! is a
natural step for us.”

The series will complement the 50
million-subscriber network’s lineup
of acquired sitcoms like Martin and
Sanford and Son, as well as original
reality series Life After, Unsung and
K-Ci & JoJo … Come Clean.

BET will offer its take on the
traditional family sitcom genre
with the 2011 debut of Reed Between
the Lines
. The comedy
series stars a work-at-home educator
played by Malcolm-Jamal
Warner (The Cosby Show) and a
successful psychiatrist played
by Tracee Ellis Ross (Girlfriends),
who try to balance work, marriage
and parenthood.


“As the network decided to go
into scripted fare, we wanted to
do situation comedies in a way
that reflected what was going on
in various homes, as opposed
to just contriving situations for
the purpose of a joke,” Loretha
Jones, BET’s original programming
president, said last week
during a general session panel
at the NAMIC Conference. “We
wanted to create situations that
people could relate to because
you could see yourself in those

Read Between the Lines
is one
of three scripted series BET looks
to premiere next year. The Viacom-
owned network is looking
to team with actress/singer
Queen Latifah’s production company,
Flavor Unit Entertainment,
to produce a scripted comedy series,
Let’s Stay Together. It takes
a look at the relationship challenges
of five young, aspirational

Also on the development slate
are new episodes of the footballthemed
comedy series The Game,
previously on The CW.

The three series represent BET’s
first foray into scripted programming
since 2008’s Somebodies. That
series, which follows a group of
college friends trying to find
their way in the world, failed
to draw a significant amount of
viewers and was cancelled after
one season.

Jones also said during last
week’s “The New Original” NAMICConference panel that it’s isn’t
enough for programmers to put
multicultural-themed programming
on the air. Such content has
to be of high quality, to appeal to
both targeted and mainstream
viewers, she said.

“Quality and color are equally
important,” Jones said. “You cannot
say that just because something
is black, we are going to be
satisfi ed and not demand that you
give us qualitative opportunities
to present our perspective.”

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.