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Reginald Hudlin exits BET post as president of entertainment
12, 2008) In an publicly released memo issued yesterday to staff, BET
Networks CEO, Debra Lee, announced that Reginald Hudlin, president of
the cable channel's entertainment division, was leaving his position
after three years. Lee wrote that he was "returning to his
The exact departure date for the 46-year-old Hudlin has not been set.
Stephen Hill, BET's executive vice president of music programming and
talent, will serve assume his responsibilities until a successor is
Hudlin, who came to the Viacom-owned cable channel in 2005 with a track
record for producing a number of successful films, took on the task of
moving the channel from carrying hours of music videos programming which
had earned it financial reward but also ongoing public scorn.
The overhaul Hudlin introduced included original programs that became
some of the highest-rated shows in the BET's 28-year history, such as "Lil'
Kim: Countdown to Lockdown," "American Gangster," "Baldwin Hills,"
"Sunday Best" and "Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is."
Ironically, Hudlin's latest additional to BET's lineup of original
series, Somebodies, debuted on the same day as the announcement of his
departure. The sitcom portrays the exploits of a group of college
slackers attending school in Athens, Ga.
The change in focus won critical praise but the network's ratings were
in decline. According to the media research firm, SNL Kagan, average
household viewing dropped 17% to 316,000 in 2007 from 353,000 in 2006.
"I always knew that I would return to the creative arena at some point,"
Hudlin told the Los Angeles Times. "There have always been a lot of
opportunities shooting my way."
Hudlin's career has been one of consistent achievement since he
graduated from Harvard in 1983. Teaming up with his brother, Warrington
Hudlin, he launched his professional reputation in 1992 by turning his
thesis project into the successful film, "House Party." The box office
winner was followed by other successful projects, including "Boomerang"
starring Eddie Murphy, the animated feature "Bebe's Kids," "The Great
White Hype," Cosmic Slop for HBO, and "The Ladies Man" with Tim Meadows.
Below is the email sent to BET staff from BET President and CEO, Debra
"I'm writing to let you know that after three exciting and productive
years at BET Networks, Reginald Hudlin, our President of Entertainment,
is leaving the company and returning to his entrepreneurial roots as an
"From the moment he joined the BET family, Reggie infused our program
development with incredible creativity, energy and passion. Under his
leadership, the entertainment division produced 17 of the top 20
highest-rated shows in the network's 28-year history, including Lil'
Kim: Countdown to Lockdown, American Gangster, Baldwin Hills, Sunday
Best, our first scripted series Somebodies, and our highest-rated series
ever, Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is. In addition, under his guidance, we
significantly ramped up our BET News division, and as a result, we've
received 13 awards for our news series and specials in just over two
years, including four from the National Association of Black
"During his tenure, Reggie brought in many talented executives and built
an impressive and dedicated programming team who are a huge asset to the
company, and I look forward to even more compelling programming from all
"Reggie has played an invaluable role in the ongoing transformation of
BET Networks, including the successful launch of our DVD division and
laying a solid foundation for BET Films -- he has put the network on the
path to even more success. I'm thankful for everything he has
contributed to our company. He is a true creative force and it has been
an honor and pleasure to work with him.
"As we work on the search for Reggie's successor, I am pleased to
announce that Stephen Hill will serve as the interim head of
Entertainment. As you know, Stephen currently serves as our Executive
Vice President of Music Programming & Talent and has created many of
BET's biggest franchises, including the BET Awards, 106 & Park and
College Hill. Stephen has tremendous experience and a remarkable talent
for identifying, producing and presenting quality entertainment, and I'm
more than confident in his ability to guide our programming plans in the
interim, and that moving forward, we won't miss a beat. Please join me
in thanking Reggie for all he's done for BET Networks, and in wishing
him the very best."
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