Our friend Leslie Goldberg at The Hollywood Reporter tells us that BET has renewed The Game and six additional series, revived Comic View and ordered a full season of Gabrielle Union starring in Being Mary Jane during its upfront presentation to Madison Avenue ad buyers Tuesday.
The Viacom-owned network, which ranks as the top provider of programming for the African-American audience, continues to grow its original offerings by ordering a slate of new series and renewing the bulk of its prime time lineup.
The Game, which opened its retooled sixth season by marking its 100th episode in March, hails from Mara Brock Akil, Salim Akil, Kenny Smith and Erica Montolfo-Bura.
Also returning to BET are Let's Stay Together for a fourth season; the previously announced Real Husbands of Hollywood's second season; rebooted video countdown series 106 & Park for a 13th season; Apollo Live with Tony Rock; Bobby Jones Gospel, which ranks as the longest continually running original series on cable; gospel competition effort Sunday Best; and unscripted reality show The Sheards.
Brock Akil will work double duty at BET with the series order to Being Mary Jane, the Union drama that the cable network launched as an original TV movie. Union plays Mary Jane Paul, a successful TV news anchor who remains devoted to a family that doesn't share her intense motivation; Omari Hardwick, Lisa Vidal, Richard Roundtree, Richard Brooks and Margaret Avery round out the cast of the series from The Game creators. The series will launch in the first-quarter of 2014.
BET also expanded its unscripted offerings, handing out a series order to Burns BBQ, which revolves around a family barbecue business as it changes hands from one generation to the next. The series hails from A Smith and Co Productions and will debut in second-quarter 2014.
After reviving Apollo Live in 2012, BET is bringing back Comic View, the stand-up show that helped launch D.L. Hughley and Cedric the Entertainer, among others. The original series ran on BET from 1992-2008 and will debut in late 2013 under the leadership of executive producer James Dubose.
Adding to its spiritual offerings, BET is launching Mindy, Body & Soul, a talk show hosted by Bishop T.D. Jakes poised to run on Sun days in late 2013 and explore subjects including wellness, finance and relationships.
Specials poised to return to BET's lineup are the BET Awards, BET Hip Hop Awards, Black Girls Rock, Celebration of Gospel and The BET Honors.
BET spinoff network Centric also ordered two scripted offerings to series and handed out five renewals in addition to announcing a pair of returning specials:
Comedy First Family centers on a presidential African-American family residing in the White House. Christopher B. Duncan stars as President William Johnson and Kellita Smith plays the first lady as they raise four children and run the country together. Gladys Knight, Jackeé Harry, John Witherspoon and Marla Gibbs co-star in the series set to bow in the second quarter.
Half-hour Mr. Box Office stars Bill Bellamy as a reformed star serving community service as a high school English teacher in South Central L.A. Vivica A. Fox, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Gary Busey and Jon Lovitz co-star in the comedy that will also premiere in the second quarter.
Renewed at Centric are: As Written, Being, Centric Certified, Centric Comedy All-Stars and Culture List, while specials Soul Train Awards and Centric Soul Weekend will also return to the network.