“Being Mary Jane” was the first program in a very, very long time that brought me faithfully to BET every week. The dynamic production duo Mara Brock and Salim Akil created characters people could see themselves in, but unfortunately for BET, their talents are headed elsewhere. On August 5, the creative team announced it will be moving its new programming effort to Warner Bros. Television (WBTV) in May 2016.
The new deal with WB begins where the couple’s Akil Productions and BET contract ends in the spring of 2016 and offers a multiple-year deal. The duo that brought “The Game” to life announced the news as BET aired the season finale of the football-based drama on yesterday evening. Mara Brock Akil flooded her Instagram timeline with pictures and videos from the season’s run with heartfelt goodbyes.
But this does not mean we have to say goodbye to Mary Jane. Mara Brock will become the executive consultant for the show instead of the main producer (I’m nervous), but there is rumor Mary Jane may cease to exist without Akil’s full devotion.
While this deal is great news for Akil Productions and Warner Bros., as the team will be able to offer more diverse programming and gain a larger reach, I can only imaging this being a nightmare for BET. The Akil’s did something for the network I haven’t seen in years and that’s bring an educated, loyal fan-base along. The Akil’s were moving BET in a direction that left the stereotypes of questionable rap videos and bad hip hop commentary to rest. They also had me rushing home for work and upping my red wine intake (kudos).
What will happen to BET now? We can only hope roles such as “executive consultant” will have a real impact on keeping good programming alive, but if not BET may be back to its old habits. I’m believing BET CEO Debra Lee is smarter than that. However, BET’s parent company Viacom has been in the hot seat for some time now as more and more people leave networks such as VH1 and MTV.
As for the Akil’s, this new deal is certainly a step in the right direction of reaching even more viewers and having an opportunity for their work to live on multiple platforms. Time Warner is the parent company of WBTV and has productions set up with The CW Television Network, Showtime and HBO – the opportunities are endless.
Brock Akil brought me my first girl crush with Tracy Ellis Ross playing Joan on “Girlfriends” and her talented direction could also be seen in “Sparkle” and “Jumping the Broom.” While I’m nervous for what this means for BET, I’m looking forward to what the Akils have up their sleeves.
And so it goes… Congratulations to the Akil’s on this move.