BET will bring the party to its house, naming filmmaker Reginald Hudlin as its new president of entertainment.
Hudlin, 43, is best known for film work including 1990 comedy House Party. He will now handle the African-American network’s music, entertainment, specials, sports, news and public affairs, acquisitions, home entertainment and programming development out of L.A., New York and BET headquarters in Washington.
Hudlin’s movie-directing and producing credits include Boomerang, The Ladies Man, and 2002’s Serving Sara.
The Harvard grad’s TV work includes directing HBO sci-fi anthology Cosmic Slop and directing and producing on Fox’s The Bernie Mac Show.
He also directed the pilot of UPN’s fall Chris Rock sitcom, Everybody Hates Chris, and will be an executive producer on Cartoon Network’s animated comic strip, The Boondocks, coming in November, although he shuttered bigger roles on both to join BET.
BET’s incoming CEO Debra Lee has been recruiting for the entertainment head position for several months, searching for someone to beef up the network’s originals. The role formerly didn’t exist at the network – instead BET formerly relied on individual heads of music, entertainment and news and public affairs divisions.
“They weren’t interested in a suit, they were interested in a vision guy,” Hudlin said. “I was interested in storytelling – that’s the heart of good TV.”
A comics fanatic with more than 50,000 comic books in his private collection, Hudlin has also written the latest Spider-Man comic book series and The Black Panther, about a black superhero, for Marvel. He’s considering animation shows for BET and breaking out his Rolodex of entertainment industry contacts to lure new talent to the network.
“There’s a lot of high profile talent looking for a home,” Hudlin said.
Viacom bought BET for $2.5 billion in 2001, but has kept it a separate division rather than folding it into MTV Networks. That is expected to remain the case amid the staff restructuring. The network reaches around 80 million homes.