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Townsend to Lead MBC Revamping

5/03/2004 12:00 AM Eastern

Major Broadcasting Corp. will undergo a major on-air facelift that will include more reality and variety programming created and overseen by producer and actor Robert Townsend.

The African-American-targeted network may also change its name in the near future as it looks to reposition itself in the marketplace.

Townsend has assumed the newly created role of network president of original productions, and he is charged with developing family-oriented reality and variety shows for the channel, previously been known for its black college-sports coverage and news/public-affairs programming.

Townsend said he’s already in production with several new family-based variety and reality shows, as well as two primetime original scripted series that he hopes to have on the air by October. Also in production: a boxing-themed reality series featuring four-time heavyweight champion and MBC co-owner Evander Holyfield.

Townsend -- who produced such films as Hollywood Shuffle and starred in The WB Television Network sitcom The Parent ’Hood (1995-99) -- hopes to launch a series similar to Star Search, tapping the best amateur talent from around the country, as well as from historically black colleges.

Also on the docket is a kids-targeted block to air weekdays and Saturday mornings. Some programs being developed include a series of spelling-bee contests; a series focusing on the top teachers around the country, as nominated by their students; and an issues-related talk show hosted by young adults, Townsend said.

For more on MBC’s facelift, please see R. Thomas Umstead’s story on page 6 of Monday’s edition of Multichannel News.

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