BET Unveils Its New Fall Programming Slate

Mon Aug 31, 2009 2:58pm EDT

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

September and October

NEW YORK, Aug. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- This Fall BET Networks is offering a diverse
line-up of original programming.  From a new face on the late-night talk show
scene, to a fiscally focused game show, to a heart-pounding look at the lives
of Compton, Los Angeles firefighters and a series of thought-provoking
specials, BET's new slate provides a broad spectrum of real-life stories.  

(Logo: )


There's a force-of-nature behind the door to Room 325 at Frankford High School
in Philadelphia.  Her name is Wilma Stephenson and she teaches Culinary Arts.
She has taught at Frankford for 40 years, long before Culinary Arts became
part of the school's curriculum. Infamously blunt, Mrs. Stephenson runs a
"boot camp" at Frankford, disciplining her students into capable chefs and
responsible students. Behind her tough-talking exterior is a teacher, who
cares passionately about getting the best out of her students and making sure
they receive the opportunities - including scholarships to top programs - that
will help them to escape the meager minimum-wage job opportunities of
Northeast Philly. She can be cantankerous, and she knows it, but she will do
anything for the students who get with the program and show true promise and
the hunger to succeed. PRESSURE COOKER, a Participant Media and Non Sequitur
Production, directed by Jennifer Grausman and Mark Becker, documents Mrs.
Stephenson and those students committed enough to surrender themselves to her
enlightened despotism through two semesters in Culinary Arts. By the end of
the school year, 13 of her students will have made it through the gauntlet.
These seniors aspire to scholarships that will enable them to move on to a
future of opportunity. At a school where over 40% of students don't even make
it to their senior year, Ms. Stephenson's class stands in stark contrast, with
11 members of last year's class earning over $750,000 in scholarships.  She
offers the kids her version of the American Dream: You choose a realistic
goal. You work hard. You work the system. You get out of Northeast Philly. 


Actor and director Mario Van Peebles and producer Karen Williams partnered
with the Twenty-First Century Foundation (a national foundation created to
facilitate giving for Black community change) to produce a documentary
entitled; BRING YOUR 'A' GAME.  In the documentary, prominent Black men from
diverse professional fields are asked one simple question: "What does it take
to bring your 'A' Game and to succeed in life?" Using hip, computer-generated,
videogame-style design and music to present messages of success strategies,
educational achievement, mentorship, and discipline, BRING YOUR 'A' GAME seeks
to reach out to its target audience of young Black males who lack adequate
role models and the tools for professional success.  Interviewees include:
Richard "Dick" Parsons, Chris Rock, Ice Cube, Sean "Diddy" Combs, Spike Lee,
Kevin Liles, Mayor Cory Booker, Lou Gossett, Jr., Hill Harper, Damon Dash,
Kevin Powell, Geoffrey Canada, Bruce Gordon and Allan Houston.  Alongside the
famous faces, everyday people also share their stories of success, including
Ernest Austin (Ex-Offenders Action Network), the "Three Doctors" from Newark,
New Jersey, Dr. Sampson Davis, Dr. Rameck Hunt and Dr. George Jenkins, and Van
Jones (White House Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation).


BET News travels to cities across America to examine the real issues
devastating some African American communities in the original series HEART OF
THE CITY. Along with highlighting some of the worst problems facing our
nation's urban centers, the series will also reveal the efforts of individuals
who have dedicated their lives to bringing about positive change in their
communities. The premiere episode of HEART OF THE CITY takes viewers to
Detroit, Michigan - ground zero of our national education crisis. The episode
will try to discover why so many African Americans in Detroit schools are
failing and why its system is failing our kids. 


Chronicled by actor, singer Tyrese Gibson, FIRST IN, is a 10-episode half-hour
original series that delves into the lives of Compton's firefighters and
paramedics as they try to balance the high stress of a gruesome 72-hour work
schedule and family life. Emotions run high as the men and women work long
hours in a fast-paced, high intensity atmosphere compounded by the daily
pressure of saving lives. Though Compton only has a population of about
100,000 people, there are a reported 75 active gangs operating within the
area, making it a unique environment for the city's emergency teams. 

With one of the highest crime rates in the country, gunshot wounds, gang
related violence, and mangled cars are just another day on the job for these
highly trained professionals. Day after day, all the drama is caught on tape
as the team - an ambulance operator, multiple firefighters, an intern and one
of the youngest Battalion Chiefs in the country, Marcel Melanson, of the
Compton Fire Department - fight battles both at home and on the job. 


In these tough economic times, wouldn't it be nice to get out of the red and
on the path to financial freedom? Everyone is looking for some relief,
especially debt relief. Hosted by actress/comedienne Kim Coles, BET introduces
the groundbreaking new game show PAY IT OFF, which gives contestants the
chance to change their lives and pay off mounting debt just by answering a few
questions. PAY IT OFF is the first game show of its kind specifically aimed at
helping individuals defray their bills and debts - one game at a time. While
most game shows focus primarily on the mechanics of the game play, PAY IT OFF
focuses on the personal debt dilemmas of everyday people.  This unique game
show is divided into five rounds with increasing levels of difficulty within
each round. As the game play progresses, the contestant has a chance to win
more money to pay towards his/her debt. If the contestant makes it
successfully through all five rounds, he/she then has the chance to earn
$25,000 in the final "Back in the Black" bonus round.  


After a brief hiatus from the music industry, Monica is back in the spotlight
with an intimate, profound docu-drama that takes a look at her day-to-day
world in the new original BET series MONICA: STILL STANDING.  Beginning
Tuesday, October 27, Monica will open her heart and life to viewers every week
at 10:00 pm* and take them on her personal journey of survival and
enlightenment.  Viewers will have the chance to experience the many faces of
Monica as she balances family, deals with trials, triumphs and health
challenges, records her fifth album, "STILL STANDING" and tackles the hardest
job of all - being a full-time mother of two young sons. Even with all of the
success in her entertainment career as a Grammy(R) Award-winning,
multi-platinum recording artist and actress, Monica's life has not been
without its challenges.  Yet, through the spiritual guidance of her parents,
family and fiancee she withstood the storms of life and that same support
keeps her standing today.  Strong, poised and vivacious, Monica wants to show
viewers and fans that anything is possible once you set your mind to do it. 
She wants them to know "sometimes you have to go through to get to." 


The sassy and sultry Queen of Comedy Mo'Nique returns to BET this fall for her
highly anticipated late night show debut, THE MO'NIQUE SHOW. Carving out a
well-deserved spot on the late-night show circuit, comedienne Mo'Nique takes
the show host helm, granting BET viewers VIP access to the hottest party on
television. From A-list celebrity guests to sizzling performances by the
hottest musical artists in the game, Mo'Nique delivers viewers a fun-filled
hour of entertainment every night.  Boasting show announcer Rodney Perry, a
resident deejay, the Big Jim and the Penthouse Players house band, plus
Mo'Nique bringing the funny as only she can, THE MO'NIQUE SHOW will
undoubtedly force viewers to push their bedtime an extra hour. Each night
promises to offer something different; whether the show opens with a funny
monologue or eye-popping skit, Mo'Nique is determined to keep her show format
fluid, leaving viewers curious as to what the following night's show will

Viewers can visit for more information about all of
these brand new original series. 

About BET Networks
BET Networks, a division of Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B), is the nation's
leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs
television programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET
channel reaches more than 98 million households and can be seen in the United
States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom and sub-Saharan Africa. BET
is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of
businesses extensions:, a leading Internet destination for Black
entertainment, music, culture, and news; BET Digital Networks - BET J, BET
Gospel and BET Hip Hop, attractive alternatives for cutting-edge entertainment
tastes; BET Home Entertainment, a collection of BET-branded offerings for the
home environment including DVDs and video-on-demand; BET Mobile, which
provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET
International, which operates BET in the United Kingdom and oversees the
extension of BET network programming for global distribution.

*All times are ET/PT.

SOURCE  BET Networks

"HEART OF THE CITY", Tricia Newell , +1-212-975-8230,,
or Lyntina Townsend, +1-202-608-2745,, or "BRING YOUR
A-GAME" AND "PRESSURE COOKER", Tricia Newell, +1-212-975-8230,, or Michelle Clark, +1-212-205-3158,, or "PAY IT OFF", Zabrina Horton, +1-310-481-3737,, or Crystal Thomas, +1-310-481-3779,, or "FIRST IN", Voncella McIntosh , +1-310-481-3732,, or Crystal Thomas, +1-310-481-3779,, or "MONICA", Marcy Polanco, +1-212-975-4048,, or Lyntina Townsend, +1-202-608-2745,, or "THE MO'NIQUE SHOW", Tricia Newell,
+1-212-975-8230,, or Tracy McGraw, +1-212-205-3013,
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