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BET Orders New Mara Brock Akil, Salim Akil 'Entourage'-Like Pilot For Diggy Simmons To Star

by Tambay A. Obenson
August 20, 2012 9:53 PM
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It was just Friday when BET revealed that Kelly Rowland had signed up to star in a comedy pilot exec-produced by The Bernie Mac Show's Warren Hutcherson, and written and co-executive produced by Julian Breece

Earlier today, the network added to its upcoming slate of original scripted works by greenlighting what Deadline calls "a two-hour backdoor comedy pilot/original movie" starring Daniel Dwayne Simmons, aka Diggy Simmons (son of JosephRev. RunSimmons) that will be executive produced by Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil, who are already behind 2 other BET products - the hit comedy The Game, and the upcoming drama/comedy series Being Mary Jane, which stars Gabrielle Union.

Currently untitled, the Diggy Simmons project is described as,,,

... a fresh and edgy look at Diggy Simmons, his life as a blogger, and the close group of loyal friends who hold him down on his rise to the top.

The scripted series will reportedly have an Entourage vibe to it, with Allen Maldonado (as Diggy's character's best friend Manny), Teyana Taylor (as Diggy's character's ex-GF), Chris Brew (as Dot, a tech geek, and childhood friend), Bria Murphy (as Manny’s girlfriend), and Stephanie Charles (as Sheri, Dot’s ex-girlfriend), all co-starring.

Salim Akil will direct the film/pilot episode, which will shoot later this year. 

Joining the Akils as executive producers are Kenya Baris, Chris Lighty, Laurie Dobbins, and James Dubose.

Obviously, depending on reactions to the pilot movie, BET might pick up the the untitled Diggy Simmons project as a series.

I'm enthusiastic about the continuous push for original scripted content by BET; this is what we've all been asking for over the years, and the effort is clearly being made; so I'd rather get behind them in encouragement, and hope for the best, than continue to criticize.

There hasn't been this much of an investment into original scripted programming at BET since... well... maybe ever! So if you think about it, the last and upcoming season represents what I'd say is a radical shift from where the network was just a few years ago.

I've interviewed both Julian Breece and Kenya Baris in recent years, and I'm pleased to see BET utilizing their talents.

Let's see how the upcoming season eventually shakes out...

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  • ALM | August 21, 2012 1:52 PMReply

    Congrats to Diggy. He is a talented and handsome young man with a great family. I still loathe BET, though.

  • AccidentalVisitor | August 21, 2012 11:44 AMReply

    How can it have an Entourage vibe if most or half of the main cast are women? That is like claiming to do a Sex and the City-like comedy in which half of the main cast is comprised of dudes. I wasn't a big fan of Entourage and basically ignored it during its last six years but I know enough about the show to realize it was aimed at a male audience. There is no way that this show done by this duo with this type of cast will be geared towards men. So why would they even make the comparison?

  • Nadine | August 21, 2012 2:51 PM

    Yes, well, don't fret. Given that 2 of the 3 girls will be "ex-girlfriends". I'm sure they will be short on dignity and "tall" in buffonery (see Teyana Taylor) - not exactly women's programming, but yes, this will proabably be more like "The Game" than "Entourage".

  • Melissa_Afrique | August 21, 2012 12:11 PM

    I see your point, however these may not be the only people they are casting. Either that, or they made a bad comparison and this show is in fact geared towards us black women- who people assume (either wrongfully or not) watch more TV than the men? I dunno. I'm basing my last assumption on the number of TV shows geared towards white women versus the men. Might be the same dynamic here. Movies though, is like a reverse.

  • sandra | August 21, 2012 11:05 AMReply

    ****************** One more note --> I worry a bit about this Akil-BET connection. It's great to have a deal with a network to pump out material like crazy, but let's all hope there isn't a repeat of the fiasco that took place with 'The Game". WRITERS BEWARE! You don't want to end up like a Staci Robinson (naive writer whose book "Interceptions" was the source material for "The Game" and who did not receive any recognition). Matter settled out of court.

  • sandra | August 21, 2012 9:08 AMReply

    BET can create all they want, but if they don't nurture their shows and give it a chance to succeed, all if for nought.

  • CarltonJordan | August 21, 2012 9:03 AMReply

    no bloggers as consultants on Rowland or Diggy show? do they really know what we do?

  • the black police | August 21, 2012 8:28 AMReply

    Ok that does it! Do the Akils have an ounce of creativity in them??? Why are they booking so many shows (with BET anyway)? Where is their proven track-record? The only good things I saw from them were the EARLIER seasons of Girlfriends and The Game. I should note that I was younger when I watched these so many they were "good" to my youthful mind. And Sparkle seems to have been pronounced a disaster. So where are the other Black creators in the industry? Do any actual Black film creatives exist? Maybe S&A needs to start scouting and grooming people and become an AGENCY! ... THE SHADOW AND ACT AGENCY. ---------- As for the show idea. Entourage-like? Do they think that guarantees them a successful show? Why are all the female characters relevant only as "exes and hos"? Anyway maybe it'll just stay a tv-movie.

  • WOW | August 21, 2012 3:17 PM

    @ Akelah, Curtis Payne is funny, so I was not being facetious.

  • Akelah | August 21, 2012 3:13 PM

    @WOW i hope you were being facetious when you gave TP that compliment o_O

  • WOW | August 21, 2012 9:29 AM

    Black Police, where have you been--> "Mara Brock-Akil and hubby Salim Akil will be working their magic on BET for many years to come. Life is good for the Akils right now! They've got a hit movie in theaters with Jumping the Broom, "The Game" was a ratings smash for BET and they've signed on for the remake of Sparkle . If that weren't enough, life just got even better for the creative couple and their company, Akil Productions. BET announced that the Akils have signed an unprecedented multi-year development deal with the network". So Black Police, in essence, as Tyler Perry is the man at TBS, so goes the Akil's at BET. However, at least Tyler brings the funny and highly entertaining... not so with untalented Mr. Akil. Me think Mara and hubby Salim should stack their cash before everybody peeps their hold card. That card is absent of quality directing and writing skills of any substance.

  • Melissa | August 20, 2012 10:57 PMReply

    Why are all the new bet sitcoms about bloggers?

  • D.A. | August 21, 2012 3:31 PM

    My assumption is that you don't read any?

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