Stephen Hill, BET’s now former Head Of Original Programming just exited the network in a move that has shocked the entertainment industry to its core.
Hill has been a member of the Viacom family since 1995, and he has worked tirelessly at BET since 1999. In recent years, the network has made a dramatic shift with their programming, tackling diverse subjects with shows like Real Husbands of Hollywood, Being Mary Jane, The Quad, The New Edition Story and most recently, John Singleton’s Rebel which premiered last night.
Since BET has been on such a significant upswing under Hill’s reign, and with Viacom CEO Bob Bakish calling the network one of its six core components to rejuvenate the company, most people are at a loss. The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that for now, Connie Orlando, the Senior Vice President of Specials, Music Programming, and News, will take over as interim Head of Programming at BET.
In a memo to the BET staff, BET’s CEO Debra Lee wrote, “I want to let you know that Stephen Hill, President of Programming for BET Networks has decided to step down from his role. Who could ever forget THE Prince Tribute, James Brown and Michael Jackson, Beyoncé & Kendrick Lamar? This list can go on and on. The incredible “awww yeahhh” moments Stephen has created during his 18 years literally are too many to mention.Please join me in thanking Stephen for all the love and support he has given BET over the course of his remarkable career. Let’s wish him well in his next adventure.”
With freshman series like The Quad and Rebel still in session and the future of Being Mary Jane up in the air, we’re not sure what this will mean for the network moving forward. The news comes a month ahead of BET Networks’ annual upfront presentation in New York. We can only hope that Debra Lee is able to snap up someone whose vision will be as imaginative and robust as Stephen Hill’s has been.
In his last memo to the company Hill wrote, “I will miss you all. I will miss this. I will miss us. But I am so excited to see where you next take this powerful, agile, thrusting spacecraft of a brand. Imagine it and drive well.”
What do you think is going to happen with BET’s original programming moving forward?