BET Networks Acquires Sitcoms 'The First Family' and 'Mr. Box Office'; Series to Air on Centric

Categories: Network TV Press Releases

Written By

April 4th, 2013

The First Family

via press release:



Basic Cable Deal Features Two Series that Star Award-Winning Entertainers Such As Bill Bellamy, Gladys Knight, Jackée, John Witherspoon, Jon Lovitz, and Vivica A. Fox


April 4, 2013—BET Networks announced today it has licensed over 100 episodes each of two hit sitcoms, THE FIRST FAMILY and MR. BOX OFFICE, from Entertainment Studios to air on CENTRIC starting April, 2013. Both first-run original series feature recognized and award-winning actors such as Bill Bellamy, Gary Busey, Gladys Knight, Christopher B. Duncan, Kellita Smith, Jackée, Marla Gibbs, John Witherspoon, Jon Lovitz, Rick Fox, Tim Meadows, Essence Atkins and Vivica A. Fox, and are scheduled to premiere in primetime on Centric weeknights beginning Friday April 19, 2013.


“We’re thrilled to partner with Entertainment Studios and add these two incredible series to our growing comedy programming slate on CENTRIC,” said Paxton K. Baker, EVP and General Manager of CENTRIC. “THE FIRST FAMILY and MR. BOX OFFICE star African American talent that resonate with our audience.”


"This is an historic deal," said Byron Allen, Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of Entertainment Studios. "We have bypassed the broadcast networks to produce two original sitcoms with hundreds of episodes that feature prominent TV and film stars, and we couldn't be happier to have BET Networks as our cable premiere partner.”


THE FIRST FAMILY–In a humorous twist of art imitating life at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Centric premieres a star-studded scripted comedy about a presidential African American family residing in the White House. Christopher B. Duncan is President William Johnson and Kellita Smith stars as his wife, First Lady Katherine Johnson. Together, they run the free world and raise four children. Co-stars Gladys Knight, Jackeé, John Witherspoon, and Marla Gibbs round out their dynamic extended family.


MR. BOX OFFICE–One of Hollywood’s most bankable stars got himself into trouble with the law, and is ordered to give back by fulfilling an unlikely sentence: community service as a high school English teacher in South Central Los Angeles. Bill Bellamy leads an all-star cast in this scripted comedy that looks at the human side of stardom. Also stars Jon Lovitz, Vivica A. Fox, Gary Busey, Essence Atkins, Tim Meadows, and Rick Fox.


The deal was negotiated by Barbara Zaneri, Executive Vice President, Program Strategy, Scheduling and Acquisitions, BET Networks and Byron Allen, Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer, of Entertainment Studios.


About BET Networks
BET Networks, a subsidiary of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIAB), 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 90 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom and sub-Saharan Africa. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions:, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; CENTRIC, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the 25- to 54-year-old African-American audience; BET Digital Networks - BET Gospel and BET Hip Hop, attractive alternatives for cutting-edge entertainment tastes; BET Home Entertainment, a collection of BET-branded offerings for the home environment including DVDs and video-on-demand; BET Event Productions, a full-scale event management and production company with festivals and live events spanning the globe; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET in the United Kingdom and oversees the extension of BET network programming for global distribution.

  • JR35

    I haven’t caught “The First Family,” but it did premiere last fall, didn’t it?

  • detroit_fan

    why isn’t anyone complaining about the lack of diversity in this cast? if this was an all white cast the PC police would be up in arms, but when it’s an all black cast that’s ok?

  • Stop the Flop

    I’ve seen a few episodes of both shows and the sets were very cheap-looking. Maybe that’ll change now that they’re going to be on a network.

  • Ravenrei

    @JR35: Yep, as did Mr. Box Office. My local station (Houston area) plays them in horrible timeslots, so I’ve never had a chance to check them out, though the commercials have looked good. Hopefully they’ll have a better shot on BET.

  • Ravenrei

    Er, make that on Centric. Whatevs. ^_^()

  • Fred

    I’ve watched a few episodes of First Family. It has the aura of those old fashioned sitcoms from the 70’s and 80’s. More like a play.
    There are some real laughs with this show. Recommended for anyone who used to watch BENSON, JEFFERSONS, 227 etc…..

  • Damiker

    Those shows are horrible… but what can you expect from Centric.

  • JR35

    I recall reading that The First Family had an order of 100+ episodes, which seemed odd for a new syndicated program (especially since there hadn’t been a syndicated sitcom in some time). But, it may maker more sense with BET behind it.

  • Eddie R

    So these two lame shows are going to appear only on Centric? BET should have saved their money, and purchased something more entertaining!

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