Black Family Net Adds 9 Original Programs


Atlanta-based Black Family Channel will add nine original series over the next two weeks in an effort to build value and awareness among African-American viewers, president of original productions Robert Townsend said last week.

“We are creating programming that truly represents the spectrum of African-American life,” said Townsend, who produced such films as Hollywood Shuffle and starred in The WB sitcom The Parent ’Hood. “We have programming that will reach kids, teenagers, adults and seniors.”

The network, currently in 12 million households, on Nov. 20 will launch a two-hour Saturday morning kids block — the first specifically targeted to urban viewers, Townsend said.

The block features shows like The Thousand Dollar Bee, in which kids can win prizes for correctly spelling and using words and phrases; and Gory Stories, a scripted scary series for kids.

Also on the docket for kids: Lisa Knight and the Round Table, an issues-based talk show, and Hal Jackson’s Talented Teens, a talent show hosted by the radio personality.

The shows also will air weekday afternoons. “If kids of color tune in on Saturday mornings or weekdays after school, they’ll see programming that reflects their life and educates as well as entertains,” Townsend said.

A Thursday night primetime block of original programming will kick off on Nov. 25. The block includes: Spoken, a reality series based on the emerging spoken word genre; Barber Shop Critics, featuring five comedians critiquing the latest in entertainment; Black College Talent Hour, which canvasses the various college campuses for up-and-coming performers; Souled Out, a music video review show; and SpeakerBox, a “man on the street” interview show dealing with the issues of the day.

Townsend, who has overseen the network’s programming for five months, said much of the talent for the original projects came from a summer-long talent search.

Townsend is also talking to Hollywood producers about dramatic scripted programming and hopes to fill a void for quality programming targeted to African-Americans.

“If you really look at the television landscape, there isn’t really a lot of programming for people of color — it’s relegated to a night here or a night there,” he said. “We’ll look to create quality programming for cost while taking some daring chances.”