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BET Adds VH1's 'The Breaks,' 'Hit the Floor'; Kevin Hart, 50 Cent, Steve Harvey Shows

BET, one of Viacom's six core networks as part of the conglomerate's rejuvenation, is taking some big swings with its upfront slate.

BET, one of Viacom's six core networks as part of the conglomerate's rejuvenation, is taking some big swings with its upfront slate.

On the scripted side, the African-American-targeted cable network has handed out a straight-to-series order for Kevin Hart-produced comedy Divorce Saved My Marriage; renewed drama The Quad for a second season; and added VH1's The Breaks and Hit the Floor, with the latter duo picked up for their second and fourth seasons, respectively.

Additionally, following the ratings and critical success of its New Edition entry, BET has picked up miniseries focusing on Bobby Brown and Death Row Records and set two Lip Sync Battle specials produced specifically around the BET Hip Hop Awards and Soul Train Awards.

On the unscripted side, the cabler has ordered a late-night talker from executive producer Steve Harvey; a Wanda Sykes game show; dating entry Love Room; and a variety/sketch show hosted by 50 Cent. (The latter was previously set up at A&E last year.) These join the previously announced late-night Robin Thede-hosted/Chris Rock-produced late-night satire talk show The Rundown.

The ambitious slate comes as BET currently ranks as the No. 1 cable network for African-American viewers among the key adults 18-49 demographic for the 16th consecutive year. The slate is part of Viacom's push to reinvigorate the company by focusing on six key networks — BET, Paramount Network, MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr. and Comedy Central — and as the cabler is refining its focus to showcase the power of black culture.

As part of the shift, BET sibling network Centric will be rebranded as BET Her, with an emphasis on music, culture, travel and lifestyle. BET Her, which will launch Oct. 1, is being billed as the only network to focus on African-American women 24 hours a day.

"Over the last 37 years, BET has cultivated a deep and lasting relationship with our viewers, as we remain the premiere destination for lovers of African-American culture," BET CEO Debra Lee said Thursday in a statement. "This year, we are saying yes to all things black, with more premium original programming and best-in-class tentpoles that reflect and invigorate our viewers."

The decision to move scripted dramas The Breaks and Hit the Floor from VH1 to BET leaves the former with only one scripted series (the forthcoming Daytime Divas) as Viacom continues to shuffle the decks. VH1 kicked the shuffling off when RuPaul's Drag Race moved from Logo to VH1; Heathers and American Woman — both developed at TV Land — moved to Paramount Network when the former Spike TV is rebranded in January.

The Breaks and Hit the Floor are great shows with incredible teams behind them, and we're happy their passionate fans will get more of them through their new home at BET. At VH1, we have no plans of slowing down as we launch our newest scripted series starring Vanessa Williams on June 5," a VH1 spokesperson said in a statement about the future of scripted at the network.

Here's a closer look at BET's slate:

SCRIPTED

Divorce Saved My Marriage

From exec producer Kevin Hart, the 30-minute scripted dramedy is based on the stand-up of David A. Arnold. When a couple realizes that divorce is the only thing they can agree on, their attorney recommends a financial plan instead of a court date — forcing them to work together so they can finally afford to be apart. Created/executive produced by Devon K. Shepard and David A. Arnold, with Hart and Dave Becky serving as executive producers. (10 episodes)

BET's Mancave

A no-holds-barred conversation among five men brave enough to be honest and vulnerable, as they laugh it up and get serious about hot-button topics. Hosted by journalist Jeff Johnson and featuring actors, athletes and comedians, among others, the topical weekly event series brings together African-American men with wildly diverse opinions to dissect current hot topics in entertainment, politics, news and beyond. Through humor, genuine emotion and heated debate, the panel will discuss their own opinions and experiences, while revealing what it’s really like to navigate the world as an African-American man. Created by Johnson and produced by Truly Original and East 112th Street Productions. Johnson exec produces alongside Truly Original’s Steven Weinstock, Glenda Hersh and Bryan Hale as well as Steve Harvey and Gerald Washington for 112th Street Productions. (12 episodes)

Face Value

From Push It Productions and exec producer Wanda Sykes, the game show will answer the age-old question, “Can you judge a book by its cover?” The series flips the script to award cash and prizes for correctly guessing facts about strangers from all walks of life — based solely on their appearance and a few personal details. Hosted by Deon Cole (Black-ish), the series will break down stereotypes, expose prejudices and celebrate the human spirit by highlighting the commonalities and differences among people of various backgrounds, races, religions, beliefs and life experiences. Push It Productions' Sykes and Page Hurwitz exec produce alongside Lance Crouther. (24 episodes)

50 Central

Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson hosts BET’s first variety comedy showcase. The series will feature sketches, hidden-camera pranks, musical performances and A-list celebrity guests to create the ultimate late-night party — all handpicked and hosted by 50 Cent. Produced by G-Unit Film & Television in partnership with Back Roads Entertainment with Jackson, Stephen J. Savva, Colby Gaines and Riley Robbins serving as exec producers and Michael A. Blum serving as co-exec producer. (24 episodes)

Love Room

The show is described as a daring social experiment that unites individuals who have almost given up on finding a relationship and falling in love. Two single strangers will meet and live together for a week to see if a relationship blossoms. Produced by Eastern's (VH1's Love & Hip Hop franchise) Toby Barraud, Stefan Springman, Mala Chapple, Carmen Mitcho and Sean David Johnson. (10 episodes)

MINISERIES

The Bobby Brown Story

From the team behind The New Edition Story, this two-night, four-hour biopic spans Brown's career as a founding member of New Edition to a successful solo run. Written by Abdul Williams (The New Edition Story) and executive produced by Jesse Collins (The New Edition Story) for JCE Films, a division of Jesse Collins Entertainment.

Death Row Chronicles

The six-hour docuseries explores the world’s most dangerous record label. While Death Row Records boasted the success of Snoop Dogg, 2Pac and Dr. Dre, the chart-topping and record-breaking sales came at a bloody and controversial cost. Part true-crime murder mystery and part hip-hop drama, this docuseries will uncover evidence and witnesses who will reveal the truth about the bitter rivalries surrounding its legends while celebrating the groundbreaking music pegged to the label’s 25th anniversary. Produced by Entertainment One and Creature Films.

RETURNING SERIES

The Quad

The show ranks as Wednesday’s No. 1 new cable series among African-American viewers 18-34. It stars Anika Noni Rose in a drama about culture and relationships at historically black colleges and universities. The series is created and executive produced by Felicia Henderson and Charles Holland, and developed by Rob Hardy who also serves as exec producer. Mitzi Miller serves as co-exec producer. (10 episodes)

The Breaks

Developed from the movie of the same name, season one of the series aired on VH1 and will return for its sophomore season on BET. The drama takes on the origins of hip-hop and is based on Dan Charnas' book The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop. The cast includes Afton Willamson, Wood Harris, Mack Wilds, Antoine Harris, David Call, Evan Handler, Melonie Diaz, Sinqua Walls, Ali Ahn and Gloria Reuben.

Hit the Floor

More than a year after season three of the series wrapped its run on VH1, the cheerleading drama returns for season four on BET.

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Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Is Expected To Make $64 Million Opening Weekend

Thanks to Us, Jordan Peele has another blockbuster on his hands. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the highly-anticipated horror flick starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex, is expected to have a $64 million opening weekend at the domestic box office.

Peele’s sophomore horror film earned an impressive $7.4 million on Thursday (March 21) night previews, and is forecasted to take in about $27 million from Friday sales. The film is also on pace to knock Captain Marvel out of the No. 1 spot at the box office.

Once final numbers are tallied, Us will likely snatch the third-best opening weekend record for an R-rated horror film behind It, which brought in a whopping $123.4 million, followed by Halloween’s $76.2 million opening weekend last year.

Aside from rave reviews and a genius promo run that included simultaneous screenings in major media markets, Us earned a 95 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The film, set in the mid-1980s centers around a family of four who set off on a vacation that finds them confronting some familiar faces.

Peele recently spoke to VIBE about casting Duke (our April 2019 cover star) in the role of patriarch, Gabe Wilson. “I have to have somebody voice what the audience was saying,” he said. “In the case of Get Out, it’s Rod, like, ‘How have you not left yet?’ [In Us], Winston is largely that voice. There’s one moment where Lupita [Nyong’o] takes a step into the unknown, where black people [will think], ‘I don’t know.’ But to have Winston say, ‘Aaaand she left. Your mother just walked out of the car.’ That’s all we need.”

Duke also opened up about the intricacies of his character. “His function isn’t to see through the veil. His function is to tell the absolute truth how he sees it,” explained the 32-year-old actor. “He’s sometimes there to say the things that other people don’t want to say, but he’s also there to make fun of things to keep it from not getting too heavy, even though it’s real. That was my job. [Peele] respected that. I like to lean into functions. If I’m going to be your antagonist, I’m gonna really push you. If I’m gonna be your clown, funny guy, I’m gonna do that.”

Click here to read VIBE’s April 2019 cover story.

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Eunetta T. Boone, TV Producer, Writer And ‘One On One’ Creator, Dead At 63

Eunetta T. Boone, veteran television producer and writer, creator of sitcoms One on One and Cuts, and showrunner of Raven’s Home, died Wednesday (March 20), Deadline reports.

Boone died of an apparent hear attack in her home. She was 63.

Boone’s long list of writing, production and story-editing credits include Living Single, My Wife and Kids, The Hughleys, The Parent ‘Hood, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Lush Life, the latter of which co-starred Fresh Prince actress Karyn Parsons. Boone also taught screenwriting at UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, and wrote the film Who Is Doris Payne? about the infamous elderly jewel thief.

Last November, Boone signed on as showrunner and executive producer of the Disney Channel’s That’s So Raven spinoff, Raven’s Home. Production on the sitcom has been shut down for the rest of the week in wake of Boone's death. Series star Raven Symone posted a tribute to Boone on Instagram Thursday (March 21).

“My heart is heavy following the loss, of RH EP, Eunetta Boone,” she wrote. “Eunetta was a pioneer and an inspiration to everyone she met. She was a masterful story teller, an empathetic leader, and a beacon of light to so many. Sending love and my deepest sympathies to Eunetta’s family and friends and all who knew and loved her. She will be missed. Thanks for everything Eunetta.”

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My heart is heavy following the loss, of RH EP, Eunetta Boone. Eunetta was a pioneer and an inspiration to everyone she met. She was a masterful story teller, an empathetic leader, and a beacon of light to so many. Sending love and my deepest sympathies to Eunetta’s family and friends and all who knew and loved her. She will be missed. Thanks for everything Eunetta.

A post shared by Raven-Symoné (@ravensymone) on Mar 21, 2019 at 2:41pm PDT

The Disney Channel released a statement praising Boone for her storytelling and leadership. “She did so well what she enjoyed most — mentoring creative talent,” the network said in a statement, per The Wrap. “Eunetta will be dearly missed and fondly remembered by everyone who knew her. All of us at Disney Channel grieve her passing and send our deepest condolences to her family, friends and colleagues.”

Boone earned a journalism degree from the University of Maryland, and a Masters from Columba University. She began her career as a sports writer in Baltimore, and became the first black women to cover sports in the city, as well as one of a few black women sports writers in the nation to work for a major outlet.

See more dedications to Boone below and watch the video above for some of her writing tips.

Eunetta Boone. One of our vets. You have seen her work on television comedies from “My Wife and Kids” and “The Hughleys” to “One on One” and “Living Single.” She worked as a screenwriting instructor at UCLA Extension in between gigs. Rest well, sweet lady. Thanks for the laughs. pic.twitter.com/741tpIL4a5

— Ava DuVernay (@ava) March 21, 2019

She was a few of the black female showrunners during the 80’s & 90’s..once The UPN network shut down it was hard to get a show on the air..#RIP & thanks for your creativity.. Eunetta T. Boone Dies: ‘One On One’ Creator, ‘Raven’s Home’ Showrunner https://t.co/6zTGyEmJGR

— Loni Love (@LoniLove) March 21, 2019

Eunetta was a pioneer in the entertainment industry. https://t.co/YakqIdOkV5

— Shaun Robinson (@shaunrobinson) March 21, 2019

RIP Eunetta T. Boone. pic.twitter.com/yjo1BP3Jfh

— The Black List (@theblcklst) March 21, 2019

My cousin Eunetta T. Boone created the shows "One on One" and "Cuts" and was the first person to welcome me to LA and showed me Hollywood! She was such a good person and genuine soul. Smh. #RIPEunetta

— DJ Steph Floss (@djstephfloss) March 21, 2019

I'm very sad to learn about the passing of Eunetta Boone. When @JohnDBeckTV and I were on our very first writing staff (The Hughleys), Eunetta went out of her way to teach us how to behave in room. I don't think she would call herself a mentor, but I will.

— Ron Hart (@Scatter) March 21, 2019

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‘American Soul’ Episode 8 Recap: The Crossroads

Tessa is back, and not only do we finally get the tea on her backstory, but it’s also a full tea party.

Still focused on reclaiming her dance career before she’s too old, Tessa prepares for an audition and comes face to face with her former best friend and former fiancé—the very people who drove her away from dance years ago. We learn that she didn’t just lose her dance career, she lost an entire life—including a baby. And then, she met Patrick. Over the course of the episode, Tessa has long overdue conversations with Prescott, her former fiancé, and Evelyn (Nikeva Stapleton), her former friend. Even though Evelyn played Tessa back in the day, she drops some gems and asks her if she’s really moving forward, or trying to hold on to what was. Tessa ponders the question and, in response, delivers a final audition routine she created during her old dance life in Germany, updated with moves influenced by the Soul Train Gang—a reflection of her new life. After finally having an honest, vulnerable conversation with Patrick, it seems Tessa is ready to genuinely move forward, whatever that may mean.

JT’s brothers in the Continuous Revolution in Progress offer him a chance to “prove (his) worth,” after Detective Lorraine set him up to look like a snitch (which we still don’t understand). Of course, that means participating in another illegal endeavor. We really don’t like Reggie, nor can we understand why JT feels such a staunch loyalty to him, but peer pressure—and thinly veiled threats—are real.

When JT gets “home,” he faces another course-altering decision. After finding a random street character holding his little sister while his mom is in a mid-drug nod, JT finally makes the difficult call to have her committed. We’d be relieved and excited about what this means for him and his little sister if he hadn’t just become more deeply entangled with Reggie and the CRIPS.

The Clarke siblings are ready to assert their independence. Kendall is taking his John Denver albums and moving out (with Flo? Already?); Simone is bucking up to her mom about JT (Simone, your mama might be right on this one); and Encore gets a surprise half-off deal at the studio to record their demo. We owe JT—who we realize is not a real person—an apology for assuming he was going to lose the studio money. He had it in his sock. Smart man. But holding the money might be the only role JT plays in Encore’s recording. While the Clarke siblings are stanning over Lionel Richie and getting ready to go in the booth, JT is at the hospital with his mom. We have a feeling his path will only take him further away from both Kendall and Simone for the last two episodes of the season.

Brianne comes face-to-face with the old life and dream she buried out of necessity for the life she chose to have with Joseph. At the beginning of the season, Joseph mentioned Brianne’s former singing career to Simone, and Simone was shocked even as her mother deflected. But she clearly never let it go—seeing a reminder of her singing days sends Brianne into a rage. Not because something terrible happened (that we know of, yet), but because she’s still so hurt over sacrificing such a big piece of herself. When Nate asks her if she wants to cut the visit to San Diego and her brother’s nightclub short, she says she needs to do something first. Is Brianne going to let the music back in?

Don already made one choice: Soul Train over his family. Now, he faces a fight for the show to survive against Dick Clark’s Soul Show, which airs on ABC, one of Don’s essential syndication partners. The next decision is whether to trust the protest and boycott methods suggested by his friend Conrad Johnson (Todd Anthony Manaigo) or take a more ruthless route with Gerald. Frustrated when the civil course doesn’t seem to be working quickly enough, Don lets Gerald off the leash to execute an alternate plan. But when he realizes Gerald’s tactic—placing plants at the Soul Show protest to start a fight—Don’s bothered. Especially when Conrad’s method ends up yielding results. Don will always be in conflict because he’s rarely comfortable with his decisions. When he operates in the straight and narrow, he feels like he’s being taken advantage of; when he plays dirty, he worries about his public image. When Don tries to detach himself from Gerald’s antics, Gerald checks him. He’s already peeped Don’s struggle between being the respectable negro and being a street dude when the situation requires. “It ain’t like you didn’t know, you just chose not to.”

Don’s hot-and-heavy relationship with Ilsa has fizzled out, Tessa’s quit, Brooks doesn’t see the big deal about a competitive show, and Gerald’s idea of being supportive is sketchy at best, highly illegal at worst. Don has presumably slayed the Hollywood dragons that tried to take him down and should feel victorious. Soul Train is a hit, is officially greenlit for a second season, and is still his. But Don’s realizing he doesn’t have true, close allies around him (Clarence Avant once said of Cornelius in real life that you could fit all his friends in a phone booth, and still have room). Delores is not only ignoring his phone calls—more phone calls than we’ve seen him make the entire season—she’s busy with plans that involve separate bank accounts. Don calls his wife one more time to plead for their marriage on the brand new answering machine he bought her. As he hangs up and the episode closes, he collapses—an early glimpse of the brain trauma that plagued him for the remainder of this life.

What the episode got right: Conrad “CJ” Johnson represents young Jesse Jackson, who partnered with the “Godfather of Black Music,” Clarence Avant, in successfully pressuring ABC to take Clark’s Soul Unlimited off the air.

What we could have done without: The scene with Gladys and Don in the lounge. While it was great to see Kelly Rowland reprise her role as Gladys Knight, and we recognize that she’s supposed to serve as some kind of conscious/guide/good luck charm/something for Don, that conversation didn’t move the plot forward in any real way.

What we absolutely don’t believe: That a black mother in the 1970s—the old school black mama prototype—let somebody call her daughter an “uppity b**ch,” then let the same daughter get in her face and slam doors in her house without some hands flying, somebody getting cursed out, or that door coming off the hinges.

What we don’t understand: The relationship between Brianne and Private Nate Barker. He’s fine and all, but what’s his purpose? Maybe there’s more to come in the next episodes.

We’re excited to learn more about Brianne Clarke in the next episode; she’s been an underutilized character so far. There’s a lot to cover, still, in the remaining two shows of the season: Is Simone going to pursue a career in NY? Is JT going to get his foolish self arrested or worse? Is Kendall going to end up with another baby he can’t support? (We feel like Flo has more sense than that, thankfully). Is Brianne going to get it poppin’ with Nate? Is Don going to somehow end up on Gerald’s bad side? We do know Don is getting a divorce, we just don’t know when. Let’s see what happens next.

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