Aug 27

The History of BET

Black Entertainment Television (BET), headquartered in Washington, D.C. and currently operates under the VIACOM umbrella.   With more than 90 million homes watching worldwide, it is the well-known station targeting African-American viewers.  It is also a leading provider of black American cultural and entertainment based programming, both of original creations, acquired properties and musical presentations.

After stepping down as a lobbyist for the cable industry, Freeport, Illinois native Robert L. Johnson decided to launch his own cable television network. Johnson would soon acquire a loan for $15,000, and earned a $500,000 investment from media executive John Malone to start the network.[3] The network, which was named Black Entertainment Television, launched on January 25, 1980.[4] Initially broadcasting for two hours a week as a block of programming on Nickelodeon (it would not be until 1983 that BET became a full-fledged channel), the network’s lineup consisted of music videos and reruns of popular black sitcoms.  (from Wikipedia)

BET has gained popularity with its’ vast black audience, but has faced a number of major African Americans critics such as syndicated columnist George Curry, cartoonist and television producer Aaron McGruder, movie director  and producer Spike Lee, and former Syracuse University professor Boyce Watkins. These critics and others denounced BET’s programming, claiming it promoted sexism and anti-intellectualism.

They also argued that showing rap and hip hop-oriented programming along with comedy programs either intentionally or inadvertently promoted anti-black stereotypes. BET founder Richard Johnson and Viacom executives claimed they were providing the programming the market demanded. In 2008 a number of prominent black ministers (“Enough is Enough”) publicly protested BET programming choices outside the network’s headquarters.

Enough is Enough supported a 2008 report “The Rap on Rap” by the Parents Television Council that argued that BET’s rap programming, which they believed contained gratuitous sexual, violent and profane content, was targeting children and teens.

The controversy continued in 2010, when BET co-founder Sheila Johnson said she is “ashamed” of what the network has become. “I don’t watch it. I suggest to my kids that they don’t watch it,” she said. “When we started BET, it was going to be the Ebony magazine on television. We had public affairs programming. We had news.

The criticism has not impacted the growth and acceptance of BET and the various shows and programs they have created.  In 2013, it is reported that 79.82% of households with television receive the BET network.  However, there is no information available as to what percentage of those households chose to get the network, or receive the network as part of a larger cable package.

According to the sales material, “BET provides contemporary entertainment that speaks to young Black adults from an authentic, unapologetic viewpoint of the Black experience. BET connects with its target audience in a way no other media outlet can providing hit music, entertainment and news programming that is reflective of their experiences.  Our outstanding mega-specials keep viewers regularly tuned in for the latest and greatest in Black entertainment.”

Feb 23

Movie Released of Bankroll Fresh’s Homicide

Atlanta police say up to six guns were included.

Feb 22

Who Was The First African-American Billionaire? Robert L. Johnson, Founder Of Black Entertainment Television, Was … – International Business Times

As the country celebrates the Black History Month, the topic of income inequality has raised many eyebrows. While African-Americans earned the right to vote in the 1960s, the United States only got its first black billionaire in 2001.

So who was this person who broke the barriers of race to achieve this feat?

Robert L. Johnson, born on April 8, 1946, is an American business magnate who founded the Black Entertainment Television (BET), with his wife, Sheila, in 1979. The former chairman and executive chief officer of BET sold the company to Viacom in 2001 for $3 billion.

It was this move that landed Johnson, a University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign graduate, a spot on Forbes’ list of billionaires, a major breakthrough for African-Americans.

Robert L. JohnsonRobert L. Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television, arrives for a meeting with president-elect Donald Trump at Trump International Golf Club, Bedminster Township, New Jersey, Nov. 20, 2016. Photo: Getty Images/Drew Angerer

Johnson has a master’s degree in international affairs from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He is currently the chairman and founder of RLJ Development and has previously been the majority owner of the National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise Charlotte Bobcats (now Hornets). This was in partnership with rapper Nelly and current majority owner and NBA legend Michael Jordan.

Another well-known African-American billionaire who entered the list soon after Johnson is talk show host and actress Oprah Winfrey. With a current net worth of $2.9 billion, Winfrey occupies the second spot on Forbes’ 2016 list of America’s Self-Made Women. After her massively successful talk show, “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” the 63-year-old has now turned her attention to filmmaking.

With a net worth of $1.31 billion, Johnson’s former business partner Jordan is another well-known African-American billionaire. A large chunk of his wealth is attributed to a timely investment in the Hornets. While he has been referred to as the greatest basketball player ever by many, the salary he was paid never matched that level with him being NBA’s highest-paid player only twice during his career, Forbes reported.

Feb 21

BET CEO Debra Lee’s DC mansion chops $2M from price, asks $11.5M – Curbed DC

For those who want to live like a celebrity, this Massachusetts Avenue Heights single-family home is on the market—and for a lower price than before.

It originally landed on the D.C. market in December 2016 for $13.5 million. The price was accompanied by a big name, CEO and Chairman of Black Entertainment Television (BET) Debra Lee, who is the current owner of the residence.

Recently, the home was relisted with a brand new price, $11.5 million. The listing was designed by D.C.-based architecture firm Marshall Moya Design. It spans roughly 11,000 square feet with a curved facade, a 20-foot tall great room, and a full theater and media room.

Other need-to-know amenities include that it has five outdoor terraces, a wine room, and a pool. There is also a sauna and nine-car garage.

2815 Woodland Drive NW [Estately]

Feb 21

NFL Star Emmanuel Sanders’ Wife Exposes Him

Looks like someone has some explaining to do.

Feb 18

Hampton University president criticizes BET show ‘The Quad’ | News … – The Philadelphia Tribune

The president of Hampton University wrote a letter to the chair and CEO of Black Entertainment Television condemning the fictional show, �œThe Quad,” about life on the campus of an Historically Black College.

Hampton�™s William R. Harvey sent the letter on Feb. 3 addressing what he feels is an inadequate depiction of what life is like on the campus of an HBCU. Attempts to reach Harvey by phone were unsuccessful on Friday.

�œThe Quad will lead many to believe that HBCUs exist because of their marching bands; that our presidents are unethical; that our boards are dysfunctional and have misplaced priorities; that our faculty, students and administrators are driven by sex, alcohol, marijuana, low self-esteem, parties and a preoccupation with music; that it is acceptable to disrespect women; that university policy can be set by a band director; and that there are not standards of conduct or penalties for bad behavior,” Harvey wrote.

�œThis depiction seems more analogous to a disgruntled adolescent and unrealistic point of view that some may have. It also feeds a false narrative about the relevance of HBCUs,” he stated.

�œThe Quad,” premiered on BET on Feb. 1, and features Anika Noni Rose as the president Eva Fletcher of the made-up Georgia A&M University and the Fighting Mountain Cats. BET has even created a whole website for the un-real Black school in Atlanta. In the storyline, the school is in financial trouble and the married president has an affair with a grad student. Also, the school�™s band director has no intention of taking orders from Rose�™s character.

Harvey, a graduate of Talledega College, Virginia State University and Harvard University, expressed in his letter the character of the president is promiscuous, the trustees are unwilling to deal with a rogue band director who also condones criminal activity. Harvey, president of Hampton since 1978, said he has visited almost every HBCU in the nation.

�œOn none of these campuses have I witnessed the actions portrayed in the first episode of the Quad,” he wrote. �œI know of no campus president who would allow a band director to talk and act in the disrespectful, defiant and insubordinate manner that GAMUs director demonstrated.”

In addition to Rose, the cast includes Peyton Alex Smith, Jazz Raycole, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Zoe Renee, Jake Allyn and Jasmine Guy, who portrays Ella Grace, dean of the history department. Guy was the star of the popular television show, �œA Different World,” about the fictional HBCU Hillman College in Virginia that aired from 1987 to 1993 on NBC.

�œWe cannot afford this kind of storytelling,” Harvey said about the Quad. �œIt amounts to the type of fake news that is prevalent today. You see, all that most people know about HBCUs is what they see on television.”

Feb 17

Late night comics react to Trump’s ‘crazy’ Thursday press conference – Chicago Tribune

For all the talk of division in the land, Donald Trump, it turns out, is bringing the country together, or at least the portion of it that is employed in hosting late-night talk shows.

They all agreed Thursday night that the 45th president’s first solo press conference that day was a spectacle worthy of much comment.

“Bat (stuff) crazy,” said Seth Meyers.

“Hurricane Trump happened. Again,” said Trevor Noah.

“Something you’d see before a pay-per-view boxing event,” said Jimmy Kimmel.

But, wait, there are more. “This was just him by himself,” said Stephen Colbert. “Evidently he didn’t even bring his meds with him.”

“Historically bizarre,” James Corden said. “I mean, it was bizarre even by Trump standards.”

“President Trump gave his first solo press conference today and all of America quietly moved to the other end of the subway car,” Meyers summed up. “‘Maybe he’ll just get off at the next stop.’”

So, okay, it was perhaps unorthodox, maybe even a little offputting in style. But there was substance, right? And you have to deal with the substance.

MOST READ ENTERTAINMENT NEWS THIS HOUR

Item 1: Trump talked again about the November election, claiming incorrectly that his “306” electoral college votes gave him the biggest victory margin since Ronald Reagan’s. Actually, he got 304 votes, and an NBC reporter pointed out that his vote tally was behind those won by George H.W. Bush (426) and Barack Obama both times (365 and 332).

“You’re like somebody who wants a birthday month,” Meyers said. “Your birthday is over. Get to work.”

“He said Hillary Clinton’s name 11 times,” Corden said. “Even lovesick teenage boys are like, ‘Move on.’”

“Wait,” said Colbert, in a tone of wonder. “Do you think 306 is larger than 365? Wow, Betsy DeVos works quick.”

“If you can’t trust your president to get the right information on a Google-able fact,” Noah said, “then can you really trust him on the harder stuff, which, by the way, is everything else the president of the United States has to deal with?”

Item 2: When corrected by the reporter, Trump said others had given him the electoral college information.

“Reminds me of Harry Truman,” Colbert said, “who so famously said, ‘Look, I don’t know where it’s supposed to stop. I was given that buck.’”

Item 3: Trump fretted that the press would portray the news conference as him “ranting and raving.”

“What president hasn’t had to say ‘I’m not ranting and raving’?” asked Meyers. “Who could forget Lincoln’s Tirade at Gettysburg, or FDR’s fireside meltdowns, and of course, Ronald Reagan famously saying, ‘Mr Gorbachev, if you don’t tear down this (expletive) wall I’m gonna lose my (expletive)!'”

Item 4: Trump asked a black reporter to set up a meeting for him with the Congressional Black Caucus, after first asking her if the caucus members were friends of hers.

“‘And while you’re at it, by the way,’” Noah imagined Trump saying, “I’ve been trying to get in touch with Frederick Douglass. Can you invite him to the meeting, too?’”

Colbert, too, imagined Trump speaking: “‘Oh, you’re a black woman. Could you talk to the Congressional Black Caucus? … You know what? Forget it. I’ll have Ben Carson do it.’”

“It’s racist to assume all black people know each other,” Meyers said. “You don’t know all orange people. ‘Hey, Donald, can you set up a meeting with Snooki and the Lorax?’”

Item 5: The president talked again about how he is great for TV ratings.

“‘The Bachelor’ also gets great ratings,” Jimmy Fallon said. “That doesn’t mean Nick should be president.”

Item 6: This litany could go on, but — with the memory of President Trump having invoked the possibility of a nuclear holocaust still rattling around in our skulls — we’ll call it a night with this one. Trump said that when he came into office, he had “inherited a mess.”

“No,” said Colbert. “You inherited a fortune. We elected a mess.”

sajohnson@chicagotribune.com
Twitter: @StevenKJohnson

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Feb 15

Traci Otey Blunt Named President Of RLJ Entertainment’s Urban … – BlackNews.com (press release)

Traci Otey Blunt, president of Urban Movie Channel

Silver Spring, MD — Robert L. Johnson, Chairman of RLJ Entertainment (NASDAQ: RLJE) today announced the appointment of Traci Otey Blunt as President of Urban Movie Channel (UMC). UMC is the first premium subscription-based streaming service created for African American and urban audiences that features quality urban content across all genres, including feature films, original series, stand-up comedy, documentaries, and other exclusive titles.

“I am excited to announce Traci’s appointment as UMC President. Two years ago, Traci joined the RLJ Entertainment management team as Executive Vice President for Corporate Marketing and Corporate Affairs and was assigned to launch and develop the company’s proprietary streaming service Urban Movie Channel,” said Johnson. “Under Traci’s leadership and management, UMC has built a strong business foundation to grow its subscriber base and distribute compelling content to its target audience. UMC has attracted talented producers and writers from the African American creative community and has acquired films and other content featuring some of the most prominent Black actors and actresses. I am confident that Traci and her team will make UMC a successful and valuable digital channel for RLJ Entertainment,” he concluded.

Miguel Penella, RLJ Entertainment CEO stated, “Traci has demonstrated an expertise of the digital entertainment industry in a short period of time. Her experience in creating successful campaigns to reach African American and urban audiences, coupled with her decisive results-oriented management style are an effective combination which will help UMC continue to expand. In addition to leading UMC, Traci will continue to serve as the EVP for Corporate Affairs leading RLJE’s corporate communications and public affairs.”

“I am pleased and excited to have the confidence of RLJE management and the opportunity to lead and grow UMC at this time,” said Blunt. “My immediate strategic goals for UMC are to grow our subscriber base by creating a destination for the UMC audience to find compelling and original content created by the most talented African American writers and producers. UMC will create a business model where the often underemployed African American creative community will find a place to showcase their work product and be compensated by subscribers who enjoy watching UMC entertainment. We also want to further expand UMC’s digital footprint by making UMC available on more platforms and devices. Finally, I want to come up with an innovative way that digital content providers can be recognized and rewarded by the industry and their peers for the outstanding creative content they produce now and in the future,” she concluded.

The UMC team includes Angela Northington, SVP Content Acquisitions & General Manager; as well as Farah Noel, Manager, UMC Publicity and Corporate Affairs; and Lauren Spencer, UMC Digital Marketing Manager.

About Urban Movie Channel (UMC)
Created by Robert L. Johnson, Chairman of RLJ Entertainment and founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET), Urban Movie Channel (UMC) is the first subscription streaming service created for African American and urban audiences in North America that features quality urban content and showcases feature films, documentaries, original series, stand-up comedy, and other exclusive content. UMC offers a free 7-day trial and thereafter is just $4.99/month or $49.99/year. Subscribers can access UMC from multiple devices (tablet, phone and laptop), on Roku, Amazon Prime, Amazon Fire TV, iOS, and Apple TV to watch movies from today’s most recognizable talent available on demand and commercial-free. For more information, please visit urbanmoviechannel.com.

About RLJ Entertainment:
RLJ Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ: RLJE) is an entertainment content distribution company in primarily North America, the United Kingdom, and Australia. RLJE’s titles are distributed in multiple formats including broadcast television (including satellite and cable), theatrical and non-theatrical, DVD, Blu-Ray, digital download, and digital streaming. With its popular OTT branded channels, Acorn TV (British TV) and UMC (Urban Movie Channel), RLJE targets distinct, premium audiences and urban niche audiences. The company grows its proprietary digital channels through development, acquisition, and distribution of exclusive rights of program franchises and feature film content Through Acorn Media Enterprises, its UK development arm, RLJE owns all rights to the hit UK mystery series Foyle’s War and is developing new programs. RLJE owns 64% of Agatha Christie Limited, which manages the intellectual property and publishing rights to some of the greatest works of mystery fiction, including stories of the iconic sleuths Miss Marple and Poirot.

For more information, please visit RLJEntertainment.com, Acorn.TV, and UrbanMovieChannel.com.

PRESS CONTACT:
Farah Noel
301-830-6247
fnoel@RLJEntertainment.com

Feb 12

‘Love & Hip Hop’ Producers Make This Major Change

The show you know and love is losing a key element.

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