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 »
BREAKING: Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil, who last teamed on the Screen Gems remake Sparkle with Whitney Houston, have made a deal with Paramount Pictures for a new project with the working title Abandonment Issues. Mara Brock Akil will write the script and Salim Akil, her husband, will direct and they will produce together. Salim made his feature directing debut with last year’s TriStar comedy Jumping The Broom, which opened tops at the box office and grossed over $40 million domestically. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: More than two decades after Will Smith launched his acting career with The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, another young rapper is transitioning to scripted comedy with the help of a husband-and-wife writing/producing duo. BET has greenlighted the Untitled Diggy Simmons Project, a two-hour backdoor comedy pilot/original movie starring 17-year-old rapper/blogger Daniel Dwayne Simmons, aka Diggy Simmons, and executive produced by Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil, the team behind BET’s hit comedy The Game and upcoming original movie/backdoor pilot Being Mary Jane, which is set to premiere next year as part of the BET Premiere Cinema movie franchise. Being Mary Jane, starring Gabrielle Union, is expected to go to series.
The Diggy Simmons project, said to have an Entourage vibe to it, is described as a fresh and edgy look at Diggy Simmons, his life as a blogger, and the close group of loyal friends who hold him down on his rise to the top. Simmons will play the main character Blake. Also cast in the project are Allen Maldonado as Manny, Blake’s best friend. Manny lives with his twin sister Tae (Teyana Taylor), who is Blake’s ex-girlfriend, after their grandmother died. Chris Brew will play Dot, a tech geek, now a student at NYU, and a childhood friend of Blake and Manny. Bria Murphy will play Manny’s girlfriend Nia. Stephanie Charles will play Sheri, Dot’s ex-girlfriend. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that BET has given a pilot order to Single Black Female, an hourlong project from Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil, the husband-and-wife duo behind the cable network’s hit comedy series The Game. The Game creator/executive producer Brock Akil wrote the project, which chronicles the work and family life of a Black woman 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 The Game director Salim Akil signed with BET in May, which includes a series and several pilot commitments. Mara Brock Akil recently wrote the feature Sparkle, which was directed by Salim Akil. The film, slated for an August release, stars Whitney Houston in her final role. Salim Akil also recently directed the hit urban comedy Jumping the Broom.
BET has signed a multi-year deal with The Game creator/executive producer Mara Brock Akil and director/executive producer Salim Akil. Under the pact, they will continue their services on the hit series, which has been renewed for a fifth season, in addition to developing new shows through Akil Prods. with a series commitment built in.
The CW may be having second thoughts about canceling The Game and getting out of the comedy business. The return of The Game on BET, which resurrected Mara Brock Akil’s series months after the CW axed it, drew a massive audience of 7.7 million viewers last night for the sitcom’s fourth season premiere. That is the most watched series telecast on the network, and No. 2 overall, behind the 2009 BET Awards, which drew 10.2 million viewers days after the death of Michael Jackson. BET’s other new scripted comedy, Let’s Stay Together, did solid business too, attracting 4.4 million for its debut.