BET is making the first scripted series in its 28-year history, a sitcom about a group of black slackers.
“Somebodies” is expected to premiere in October, Reginald Hudlin, BET’s entertainment president, said Wednesday.
As the first cable channel geared to blacks, BET featured a lot of music programming, syndicated fare and reality shows, but it was criticized for not spending money to produce original programs.
Hudlin’s announcement of “Somebodies” was timed to coincide with the network’s presentation of its fall plans to advertisers Wednesday night.
“Somebodies” is based on a 2006 film that was in the Sundance Film Festival. The series will be produced by Pete Aronson and Warren Hutcherson, executive producers of “The Bernie Mac Show.” It will be set and filmed in Athens, Ga.
“For years people have wanted BET to expand the range of its original programming,” Hudlin said, “and now we are doing it.”
BET — founded in 1979 by Robert Johnson, who sold it to Viacom Inc. for $3 billion in 2000 — will wait until after the major broadcast networks set their fall schedule before deciding what night and time “Somebodies” will air. “We’re a small network,” Hudlin said. “We have to look at what the big boys are doing, or else we’ll get crushed.”