Reggie Hudlin exits at head of entertainment for Black Entertainment Television
I had heard from sources in Los Angeles over the summer that famed indie filmmaker Reginald Hudlin was on his way out at Black Entertainment Television, undone by the long series of controversies generated by the channel's edgy programming -- from use of a form of the n-word in an animated literacy video to the unfortunately-named satirical series, Hot Ghetto Mess.
Now, courtesy of my friends at Multichannel News comes the official word: He's gone.
When I interviewed Hudlin for a profile in Ebony magazine last year, he was typically confident and undeterred by criticism, insisting that great things were on the horizon and that the channel was just about to debut a pair of scripted TV shows which would turn around BET's critics.
But the highest-profile project he touted during our meeting, a joint production with VH1, fell through, while an animated comedy from Orlando Jones and a judge show featuring bawdy comic Paul Mooney never aired. And the channels first scripted series, the charming low-budget comedy Somebodies, debuted Tuesday as an interesting but low-impact effort. When Hudlin's hires began exiting the channel earlier this year, the writing seemed to be on the wall and now he's actually left the building.
The question I have left: What will happen to his vision?
Hudlin claimed to be focused on trying to turn around BET's long-developed reputation for airing whatever makes money, regardless of how socially negative the material might seem to some black people. He offered a vision of complex, layered shows reflecting the many sides of black life. But all he could get on the air was stuff like the Punk'd-style romance show Hell Date, a Hills-style reality show Baldwin Hills and a Real World knockoff called College Hill.
Here's hoping they hire someone who can finish what Hudlin started and then some.