BET Readies Reality Shows


San Francisco -- Hoping to strengthen its brand through original programming, Black Entertainment Television will launch several new reality series during the upcoming television season.

The network, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, has built its audience through music-based programming and more recently through acquired series like Girlfriends and Soul Food.
But BET’s head of project development Robyn Lattaker Johnsonsaid the network would like to launch at least two new originally produced shows next fall, with the network eventually launching a new show every quarter.

“I’d like to eventually launch a block of original programming in 2006,” Johnson said. “The door is wide open and we have a lot of rope to play with.” First up to bat is Blowin’ Up Fatty Koo, a 30-minute reality drama skein debuting April 21 that follows the lives of five talented kids aiming for a career in the record business.

Other shows in pilot production: Remix, a half-hour “body-and-soul” makeover show; BET’s Kickback, a group dating show in which several men and several women get togetherin a competition/elimination format to determine which two participants would make the best couple; and a as-yet titled late-night talk show. Also, BET will tap the popular celebrity poker genre to develop a series featuring stars of the hip-hop and sports community playing spades and dominos, Johnson said. BET will also borrow a page from the popular The Apprentice skein to develop a fast-paced reality competition series that will test 12 to 15 contestants’ “business acumen and street credibility.”

She said while BET’s audience continues to support its current fare of music video and celebrity based programming, they’ve also expressed an interest in seeing themselves reflected on the screen. “It’s clear our audience likes to see celebrities, but there was an overwhelming outcry from them that said we want to see people that look just like us and are reflective of the community, and we’ll give them that.”