BET Gets Weinstein Film Package

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BET Networks closed a deal with The Weinstein Co. last week, getting first network-window premiere rights to a package of films.

Via the agreement, BET Networks gets the first-position network-window rights to the full-length theatrical feature The Longshots and soon-to-be-released films Soul Men and Hurricane Season, as well as a portion of the network-window rights to The Great Debaters, starring Denzel Washington.

Soul Men stars Samuel L. Jackson and the late Bernie Mac as a formerly popular singing duo who go on a road trip to perform together one last time at the Apollo Theater. Hurricane Season is based on a true story about a high school basketball coach, played by Forest Whitaker in post-Katrina New Orleans, who pulls together a team and a community.

Stephen Hill, executive vice president of music programming and talent and interim head of entertainment for Viacom-owned BET Networks, said in a statement: “Movies perform exceptionally well on our network, and with the addition of compelling and entertaining Weinstein films, we are confident that we will be giving our audience more of what they want.”

BET Networks will also be a promotional partner on Soul Men and Hurricane Season. BET’s 106 & Park will broadcast from the red-carpet premiere of Soul Men at the Apollo Theater on Oct. 28, re-naming the show 106 & Soul Men for the night.

For Hurricane Season, BET will air a primetime special from John Ehret High School in Marrero, La., featuring a town hall discussion with students, real players, actors and the filmmakers.

Weinstein Co. has signed several output deals with cable outlets in recent months. Comedy Central, also in the Viacom family, earlier this month said it acquired rights to a theatrical package from Weinstein highlighted by broadcast premiere rights to upcoming comedy Zack and Miri Make a Porno, with Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks.

Comedy Central got the first TV window for fight film The Hammer and teen sex comedy Extreme Movie, and picked up second-window rights to Soul Men and Who’s Your Caddy?

In July, CBS-owned Showtime Networks signed a seven-year distribution deal taking effect with Weinstein’s 2009 release schedule, covering such films as Nine and Quentin Tarantino’s next project, Inglorious Bastards.

Lifetime’s April deal with Weinstein to acquire the series Project Runway (see story, page 10) also included rights to films including The Great Debaters, Derailed, Bobby, Transamerica and The Nanny Diaries.