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BET Announces ‘Black + Iconic: Style Gods’ Documentary Featuring Billy Porter (TV News Roundup)

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BET has announced a new documentary film, “Black + Iconic: Style Gods,” starring Billy Porter and produced by Stanley Nelson and Firelight Films. The documentary is part of the new four-part “Black + Iconic” series that will showcase the legacy and cultural impact of Black icons across music, film, fashion and dance.

Porter will narrate, host and executive produce the first documentary in the series, with Lynne Robinson directing. Connie Orlando and Jason Samuels developed the series with supervising producer Steven Ramey.

“We’re thrilled to be working with BET again after the success of our first project together, ‘Through the Fire: The Legacy of Barack Obama,’” said Nelson, who is also a Firelight Films co-founder, in a statement. “I couldn’t think of a better home for this series celebrating Black icons via the numerous mediums through which Black creatives have made an indelible mark on the culture.”

The two-hour first episode of “Black + Iconic” premieres Feb. 18 at 8 p.m. on BET+, BET, BET Her and VH1.

Also in today’s TV news:

RENEWALS

Lionsgate’s Debmar-Mercury announced it has renewed hit show “Family Feud” through the 2025-2026 season, which will mark the game show’s 50th year on TV.

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“Family Feud,” with its iconic host Steve Harvey, is TV’s no. 1 first-run syndicated show for women ages 25 to 54 – a position it has held for five straight years.

Since its 1976 debut, the show has proven that outrageous answers can come from simple questions. The Fremantle-produced format has appeared on network TV and in national syndication over the decades. FOX, CBS, Nexstar, Scripps and Tegna all signed multi-year renewals for the show.

“Demand for a proven demo and household ratings winner like ‘Family Feud’ has been intense,” said Debmar-Mercury co-presidents Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein in a statement. “We are extremely pleased to be able to continue our long-term relationships with our incredible broadcast partners, while providing our dedicated viewers of all ages with much-needed laughter and enjoyment throughout the coming years.”

DEVELOPMENT

Academy Award nominee Robin Swicord, screenwriter Sarah Koskoff, producer Mary Jane Skalski and Echo Lake Entertainment have teamed together to tell the story of the Sandy Hook families’ eight-year legal battle against firearms manufacturer Remington Arms.

The limited series will tell the real-life story of nine Sandy Hook victims’ families, who united behind a single goal: to do whatever they could to prevent another Sandy Hook. The families set out to hold Remington Arms accountable for manufacturing and marketing the AR-15 assault rifle used in the shooting. After eight years, the families won a landmark settlement for an unprecedented $73 million dollars and Remington was ordered to release thousands of internal company documents. 

“As a society, we are used to seeing the largest corporations shield themselves from liability. But these Sandy Hook families found a lawyer who had as much fight in him as they had and who was undaunted by the roadblocks they faced. What Koskoff and the families found through research, discovery, and industry whistle-blowers revealed how Wall Street greed drives big business no matter the human cost,” Swicord said in a statement.

GREENLIGHTS

Blue Ant Media announced three greenlights for 2023 that will air on its Canadian specialty TV networks.

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Six-part series “Haunted by History,” produced by Small Army Entertainment, has a world broadcast premiere set for spring 2023 on T+E and will air on HauntTV in the U.S., U.K. and Australia.

The original documentary “A Secret to Die For,” which was produced by Blue Ant Studio, will have its world broadcast premiere in 2023 on T+E and air on Total Crime in the U.S.

The new original series “Secrets in the Sand,” produced by Shark Teeth Films, will premiere on Cottage Life in Canada in summer 2023.

Blue Ant Media is an international producer, distributor and channel operator that owns and operates production companies in North America and Asia-Pacific.

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Paramount+ has greenlit “Transformers: EarthSpark” for a second season.

The series is still airing its first season, with the next eight episodes of the 26-episode season available to stream on Paramount+ on March 3. The first 10 episodes premiered in November 2022.

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The series follows the Malto family and Terrans (Transformers that were born on earth) through adventures that bring to question the true definition of family and what it means to be human.

“The highly anticipated series ‘Transformers: Earth Spark, premiered with a strong launch on Paramount+, ranking as one of the top five most-watched kids & family series,” said Tanya Giles, chief programming officer of Paramount Streaming. “In partnership with Hasbro, eOne and our studio partner Nickelodeon, we’re thrilled to continue telling the story of the Malto family and the new generation of Transformers robots.”

The original series will debut its previously released episodes on Nickelodeon starting Feb. 3 at 7:30 p.m., and will air episodes on Fridays through March 3.

Check out the trailer for the next eight episodes of Season 1 below.

FIRST LOOKS

Shondaland Audio and iHeartPodcasts announced the new podcast “Unpacking a Toolbox: Scandal Rewatch” with hosts Katie Lowes (Quinn Perkins) and Guillermo Diaz (Huck) from the hit series “Scandal.”

Starting Feb. 9, the podcast will drop new episodes each Thursday, and the hosts will share memorable moments, behind-the-scenes stories, fun facts and tweets from hardcore “Scandal” fans.

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Shonda Rhimes, Tony Goldwin, Liza Weil and Kerry Washington, as well as other writers and crew members, will make guest appearances on the podcast.

Fans can listen on the iHeartRadio app or other podcast platforms. Check out the trailer below.

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Starz announced its comedy series “Blindspotting” will return for a second season in a two-episode premiere on April 14 at 9 p.m. on the Starz app, as well as Starz streaming and on-demand platforms.

“Blindspotting” follows Ashley (Jasmine Cephas Jones) as she moves in with her incarcerated husband Miles’ mother and sister. The lighthearted but nuanced comedy depicts the family navigating her chaotic life in the Bay Area. The second season begins nine months after Ashley and Miles’ prison nuptials in the Season 1 finale, and Ashley is near her breaking point raising her son Sean alone.

Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs co-created, wrote and executively produced the series, and Casal also acts in the series with Cephas Jones and Helen Hunt. Jess Wu Calder and Keith Calder of Snoot Entertainment, Emily Gerson Saines, Ken Lee and Tim Palen also served as executive producers in the second season, with Casal and Wu Calder directing four and two episodes, respectively.

Check out the first-look images below.

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MGM+ dropped the trailer for its six-episode limited series “A Spy Among Friends,” which illustrates the true story of Nicholas Elliott and Kim Philby, two lifelong friends who also happen to be spies.

Based on the bestselling book by Ben Macintyre, Philby ends up a notorious British defector and Soviet double agent, gutting both American and British intelligence.

“A Spy Among Friends” stars Damian Lewis (“Homeland,” “Billions”) Guy Pearce (“Jack Irish,” “Mare of Easttown”) as well as Anna Maxwell Martin (“Motherland,” “Line of Duty”), Stephen Kunken (“Billions,” “The Handmaid’s Tale”) and Adrian Edmondson (“Back to Life,” “The Pact”).

Nick Murphy directed the series, and Lewis executively produced the show with his production company Ginger Biscuit Entertainment. Alexander Cary created and produced the show with Patrick Spence, Murphy and Chrissy Skinns. Bob Bookman, Alan Gasmer and Peter Jaysen executively produced the show for Veritas Entertainment Group. ITV Studios produced the series in collaboration with Sony Pictures Television.

The series premieres March 12 on MGM+. Check out the trailer below.

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EXECUTIVE NEWS

Laura Ling, award-winning journalist and veteran of television news and documentary production, has been promoted to vice president of Hearst Television’s Very Local. Ling formerly served as Hearst Television’s director of programming for its streaming video services group.

Ling will now oversee the strategy and team responsible for new, locally-focused original programming for Very Local. The Very Local team produces original non-scripted programming across genres to more than two dozen local media markets, developing more than 100 hours of content a year.

“Laura is an exceptional creative mind and leader whose work highlighting local communities across the United States has broken new ground for Hearst Television, allowing us to tell more original stories celebrating localism,” said Hearst Television president Jordan Wertlieb.

“Laura is one of the most talented executives and documentarians I’ve ever had the privilege of working with. Her sense of storytelling, her innate instinct for the narratives that celebrate the people and communities we serve, and her mentorship and leadership of creative talent are all unparalleled,” said Andrew Fitzgerald, Hearst Television’s senior VP of streaming video services. “She is a master producer, with an eye to every detail and a mind to the overall strategy.”

STREAMING

Bloomberg Media has launched its new streaming brand, Bloomberg Originals. Guided by its tagline “business as you’ve never seen,” the service will feature documentary-like deep dives, talk shows, live events and video podcasts on topics such as climate change, technology, finance and sports – all at the intersection of business and culture.

“On the heels of 20% growth in video revenue in 2022, we continue to see strong audience demand for smart business programming and brand partners looking for innovative solutions,” said M. Scott Havens, Bloomberg CEO. “We reach 100 million modern leaders monthly across our digital platforms, and establishing the Bloomberg Originals brand clarifies our vision for delivering them original and creative programming. Bloomberg Originals is the perfect complement to Bloomberg TV’s smart and insightful live global market coverage — a tandem designed to satisfy business leaders’ increasing appetite for smart content that informs and educates.”

Bloomberg Originals can be found on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Samsung Smart TVs and Android TV as well as Samsung TV Plus, LG Channels, Amazon’s news app on Fire TV, The Roku Channel, Tubi and VIZIO WatchFree+. The originals will also be broadcast on Bloomberg TV and BTV+ and stream on Bloomberg.com.

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PROGRAMMING

Bloomberg Originals’ “Getting Warmer With Kal Penn” premieres Feb. 1 at 8 p.m. on Bloomberg channels on Samsung TV+, LG Channels and Fire TV as well as Bloomberg.com

Former White House aide Kal Penn takes viewers through sustainability-related topics and bold climate solutions, while infusing humor and optimism. The premiere tackles plastic usage, society’s relationship with plastic, recycling myths and financial deterrents.

The show is part of Bloomberg Originals, the Bloomberg Media brand that launched Feb. 1. Check out the trailer on Bloomberg.com.

AWARD SHOWS

TV creator and showrunner Yvette Lee Bowser will receive the Writers Guild of America West’s (WGAW) 2023 Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television Writing Achievement. The award goes to a guild member who “advanced the literature of television and made outstanding contributions to the profession of the television writer,” according to a press release.

Bowser’s portfolio includes “Living Single,” which made her the first Black female show creator, “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper,” “For Your Love” and “Unprisoned.”

In addition to her nearly 600 TV episodes, she has also served as a teacher and mentor, helping to start WGA’s Showrunner Training program.

Past recipients of the award include Merrill Markoe, Jenji Kohan, Diane English, Aaron Sorkin, Steven Bochco, Susan Harris, Stephen J. Cannell, Shonda Rhimes, David Chase, Marta Kauffman & David Crane, Larry David, Garry Marshall and Alison Cross.

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“I’m deeply moved to join such distinguished company and to be acknowledged for telling diverse stories,” Bowser said in a statement. “There’s no greater professional reward than being seen by my peers.”

The WGAW ceremony will take place on March 5.



Source: Variety

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