BET continues its strong push to shine a spotlight on what it calls “Black Hollywood” with its BET Premiere Cinema franchise. It does this with both original productions, and strong acquisitions of existing films. The franchise is already responsible for the original film “Being Mary Jane,” which performed so well for the network that it spawned a hit television series.
One of that show’s stars, Omari Hardwick, is involved in one of BET Premiere Cinema’s acquisitions. “Middle of Nowhere” stars Emayatzy Corinealdi and Hardwick, and received the Best Director Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, as well as the Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award.
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Hardwick, who can also be seen in Starz’s “Power,” portrays the husband of Corinealdi’s character, who wound up in jail with an eight-year sentence. The film, which was written, directed and produced by Ava DuVernay, is the story of how she deals with his incarceration, and finds herself moving in a new direction after meeting a hard-working bus driver, played by David Oyelowo.
“Middle of Nowhere” makes its television debut on BET Wednesday, July 23 at 9/8c.
Larenz Tate (“Ray,” “House of Lies”) stars in the BET Premiere Cinema original production of “Gun Hill.” In it, he portrays twin brothers, Trane and Bird; one a cop and the other a con. When Trane is killed, his con-man twin assumes his identity. Written and directed by Reggie Rock Bythewood, the film co-stars “Middle of Nowhere” star Emayatzy Corinealdi,” as well as Tawny Cypress, Aisha Hinds, Michael Aronov, Phyllis Yvonne Stickney Shanti Ashanti, Hisham Tawfiq, and Daniel Stewart Sherman.
“Gun Hill,” executive produced by Reggie Rock Bythewood and Don Kurt, premieres on BET Wednesday July 2 at 9/8c.
BET Premiere Cinema has the mission of creating both original content and acquiring critically acclaimed films that haven’t been seen on television, both “to fill the significant void in Hollywood when it comes to the production of new African American films,” a BET spokesperson told TheWrap.
The franchise has three other projects currently in development. “The Book of Negroes” is BET’s first-ever miniseries, telling the story of Aminata Diallo’s capture in Africa, enslavement in America, and emancipation in England, starring Cuba Gooding Jr. and Louis Gossett Jr.
“Let the Church Say Amen” is from director Regina King (“Southland”), adapting the book of the same name about a preacher’s daughter who attempts to reconcile with the father she disappointed. The film stars Naturi Naughton and Steve Harris. Finally, Debbie Allen is behind a fresh take on the holiday classic with “The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker,” starring Raven Symone and Tichina Arnold.