An average of 3.3 million viewers tuned in to check out BET‘s first original scripted drama series, Being Mary Jane at 10 PM Tuesday, after which an immediate repeat clocked 1.8 million. BET boasted that made it the No. 1 original series debut on cable for the 2013-14 TV season. Being Mary Jane stars Gabrielle Union as a successful TV news anchor, and hails from Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil, the duo behind BET’s flagship comedy The Game.
Being Mary Jane actually was first unveiled to viewers in July as a 90-minute TV movie, paired with the midseason return of BET’s The Game. That pilot premiere proved a winner for the cable network, becoming the night’s highest-rated show on cable, and the second-highest-rated program on all of TV with a 2.0 demo rating. Only NBC’s America’s Got Talent did better in adults 18-49 that night with its 2.3 rating. Being Mary Jane attracted an average of 4 million viewers that night and, based on that July success, Deadline reported the network went ahead and quietly ordered a second season. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: I hear BET is picking up hourlong pilot Being Mary Jane (formerly Single Black Female) starring Gabrielle Union to series. Written by Mara Brock Akil and directed by Salim Akil, Being Mary Jane centers on successful talk show host Mary Jane Paul (Union) looking to one day become the No.1 nightly news anchor while searching for Mr. Right. Latarsha Rose and Omari Hardwick co-starred in the pilot.
I hear production on the series is eyed to be begin in January for a launch later in the year. This marks Mara Brock Akil’s second series on BET along with hit comedy The Game, which also is directed by Salim Akil. Married duo Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil are under a mega deal with BET, which includes a series and several pilot commitments. Mara Brock Akil recently wrote the feature Sparkle, which was directed by Salim Akil. The film, which opens next week, stars Whitney Houston in her final role. The Akils are with ICM. Union, repped by Paradigm and Intellectual Artists Management, was recently seen in Kevin Hart’s sleeper hit Think Like A Man.
EXCLUSIVE: Gabrielle Union has been tapped for the lead in Single Black Female, BET’s hourlong pilot from Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil, the husband-and-wife duo behind the cable network’s hit comedy series The Game. Written by The Game creator Brock Akil, Single Black Female chronicles the work and family life of a Black woman (Union) who is the host of a popular Atlanta-based talk show host in the vein of The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Single Black Female falls under the mega production pact the Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil (he directs The Game) signed with BET in May. Union, repped by Paradigm and Intellectual Artists Management, co-stars opposite Tyler Perry in Good Deeds. She was pursued for broadcast pilots as well this season.
Entourage‘s Jerry Ferrara has joined the cast of the Takashi Shimizu-directed CBS Films thriller 7500. He stars with Ryan Kwanten, Amy Smart, Leslie Bibb, Jamie Chung, Christian Serratos, and Scout Taylor-Compton. It is Ferrara’s second film since the end of the HBO series, after he landed Screen Gems’ Think Like a Man, which stars Kevin Hart, Taraji P Henson, Michael Ealy, and Gabrielle Union. Ferrara isn’t done with TV, as he’s attaching to produce several projects. He’s repped by WME and Leverage.
Screen Gems has set the cast to surround Kevin Hart in Think Like A Man, the comedy based on Steve Harvey’s bestselling book. Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Taraji Henson, Romany Malco, Gary Owen and Gabrielle Union have joined the cast. Tim Story is directing a script by Keith Merryman & David A. Newman. Will Packer is producing through his Rainforest Films banner. Harvey is exec producer alongside Rushion McDonald and Rob Hardy. Production will start this summer. Hart plays a relationship expert who is quick to give advice even as his marriage is crashing.
Jean Smart is set to star in NBC’s untitled Dan Goor pilot. The multicamera comedy, from BermanBraun, UMS and writer-exec producer Dan Goor, centers on Adam Foote, a young doctor who joins his parents’ medical practice and spends as much time tending to his family as to his patients. Smart will play Adam’s doting, meddlesome mom, Dr. Barbara Foote. Emmy winner Smart recurs on two CBS series this season, drama Hawaii Five-0 and comedy $#*! My Dad Says.
Gabrielle Union is set to co-star opposite Rob Corddry, Paula Marshall and Kevin Hart in Rob Thomas’ single-camera comedy pilot for Fox Little in Common. The WBTV-produced pilot is about three families united through their kids’ little league sports. It centers on the Wellers (Corddry, Marshall), who move from San Jose, CA to Austin, TX, but find that their adjustment won’t be quite that easy considering that their Latino neighbors, the Pachecos, have a radically different approach to child-rearing than they do, while their other new neighborhood acquaintances, the African American Burlesons (Hart, Union), take sports very seriously. Union’s Nicole Burleson is a lobbyist on the fast track to success who is every bit as competitive and intense as her husband. Read More »
Producers Guild Co-Prez Mark Gordon Apologizes To Board
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that Lifetime formally notified Disney’s ABC Studios that prominent TV and film producer Mark Gordon six weeks ago used the word “nigger” twice during a table read of the pilot for the Army Wives spinoff. He did it in front of cast and crew — including two African-American actresses, pilot lead Gabrielle Union and Army Wives series regular Wendy Davis. “Lifetime took all appropriate steps and notified the studio that this is a situation that needs to be dealt with,” an executive tells me.
In turn, a ABC exec informs me, “it was dealt with appropriately. I can’t go beyond that.”
Gordon issued this statement to me: “I feel terrible about this. It was a stupid lapse in judgment. I didn’t meant [sic] to offend anyone, and I’ve apologized to everyone involved.”
Gordon, who is white, has a deal with ABC Studios. He not only is executive producer of Army Wives and one of ABC Studios’ busiest TV producers, but also executive producer of the series Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice with African American showrunner Shonda Rhimes. It was ABC Studios that first put them together because Rhimes had no showrunner experience. As a film producer, Gordon has worked with Steven Spielberg on Saving Private Ryan, Roland Emmerich on 10,000 BC, Mel Gibson on The Patriot, and Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock on Speed.
I’ve confirmed these details: At the table read, there was a … Read More »