4 April 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

BET is developing a slate of original series for the first time in the 25-year history of the cable channel. The Viacom-owned network once known as Black Entertainment Television is ramping up to introduce a new primetime series each quarter beginning this month. Upcoming projects include a hip-hop-flavored version of The Apprentice with mogul-in-the-making Damon Dash in the Donald Trump role. Development also is under way to create a companion for BET's afternoon powerhouse 106th & Park series and a weekday late-night talk show. But the new infusion of originals might create some casualties as well, with BET considering canceling its 11 p.m. newscast BET Nightly News. The network has been criticized in recent years for curtailing its news programming. Overseeing the expansion is Stephen Hill, who has been promoted to executive vp entertainment and music programming, and Robyn Lattaker-Johnson, vp programming development since coming over from a similar post at Sci Fi Channel two months ago. "We realized if we're going to make our mark, it's in original programming," Hill said. "We know it's ambitious, but it's a long time coming."

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