BET Networks and The Weinstein Company (TWC) today announced that they have reached an agreement for a film package that includes the first network-window premiere rights to a multi-picture package of theatrical films – the company’s first foray into the network window business with TWC. The announcement was made by Lee Solomon, chief operating officer for TWC, and Stephen G. Hill, executive vice president of music programming & talent and interim head of entertainment for BET Networks.
As part of the agreement, BET Networks has acquired the first position network-window rights to the full-length theatrical feature “The Longshots,” and soon-to-be-released films “Soul Men” and “Hurricane Season,” as well as a portion of the network window rights to “The Great Debaters” starring Denzel Washington. The upcoming release of “Soul Men” stars Samuel L. Jackson and the late Bernie Mac as a formerly popular singing duo who go on a road trip to perform together one last time at the Apollo Theater. “Hurricane Season” is based on a true story about a high school basketball coach played by Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker in post-Katrina New Orleans, who pulls together a team and a community.
“We’re excited to start this new relationship with BET,” said Solomon. “These are great films that should be seen by the widest possible audience and have found a perfect home with BET.”
“BET Networks is thrilled to enter into this partnership with The Weinstein Company and their strong slate of films,” said Hill. “Movies perform exceptionally well on our network, and with the addition of compelling and entertaining Weinstein films, we are confident that we will be giving our audience more of what they want.”
In addition to acquiring the first position network-window for “Soul Men” and “Hurricane Season,” BET Networks will also be a promotional partner on both pictures. BET’s 106 & Park will broadcast the show from the red carpet premiere of “Soul Men” at the Apollo Theater on Tuesday, October 28, and will re-name the show “106 & Soul Men” for the night. For “Hurricane Season,” BET will be airing a primetime special from John Ehret High School in Marrero, LA featuring a town hall discussion with students, real players, actors from the film and the filmmakers.
David Spiegelman, president of domestic TV and distribution, negotiated the film sales package on behalf of TWC, and Barbara Zaneri, long-time consultant to BET Networks, negotiated on behalf of BET.
Descriptions of the four films follow:
THE GREAT DEBATERS
Inspired by a true story, “The Great Debaters”, the movie chronicles the journey of professor Melvin Tolson (Denzel Washington), a brilliant but volatile debate team coach, who uses the power of words to shape a group of underdog students from a small African American college in the deep South into a historically elite debate team.
Based on a true story, a poor Illinois town comes together behind the local Pop Warner football team and their unlikely quarterback, Jasmine Plummer (Keke Palmer), the first female in Pop Warner’s history. Under the tutelage of her uncle Curtis (Ice Cube), a former high school football star, Jasmine leads her team, the Minden Browns, to the Pop Warner Super Bowl and inspires the town of Minden, Illinois to reclaim some of its former glory.
Superstars Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac are “Soul Men” – the hilarious story of Louis (Samuel L. Jackson) and Floyd (Bernie Mac), a popular singing duo back in the day, who went their separate ways and never spoke again. When the death of their former group leader (John Legend) reunites them and sends them driving cross country for a tribute concert at the legendary Apollo Theater, they will have only five days to bury the hatchet on a 20-year-old grudge.
Based on an inspirational and exciting true story, “Hurricane Season” will define what it means to be a patriot. A month after Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana high-school basketball coach Al Collins (Oscar winner Forest Whitaker) assembles a team of players from five different schools and leads this unlikely group of survivors all the way to the state championships
About The Weinstein Company
The Weinstein Company (TWC) was created by Bob and Harvey Weinstein, the brothers who founded Miramax Films Corporation in 1979. TWC is a multi-media company that officially launched on October 1, 2005. Dimension Films, the genre label that was founded in 1993 by Bob Weinstein, is also included under the TWC banner.
About BET Networks
BET Networks, a division of Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B), is the nation’s leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET channel reaches more than 87 million households according to Nielsen Media Research, and can be seen in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions: BET.com, a leading internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; BET Digital Networks – BET J, BET Gospel and BET Hip Hop, attractive alternatives for cutting-edge entertainment tastes; BET Event Productions, a full-scale event management and production company; BET Home Entertainment, a collection of BET-branded offerings for the home environment including DVDs and video-on-demand; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, an extension of BET network programming for global distribution.