BET's 'College Hill' "first ever Black reality show" premiering January 28
By Reality TV World staff, 01/28/2004
Billed as "television's first-ever Black dramatic reality show," BET's new College Hill series will be premiering, tonight, January 28 at 9 PM ET/PT.
An apparent all-black old-school takeoff of sorts on MTV's The Real World (back when the cast did more than drink, party, and whine about their production-arranged "job" every episode and instead actually lived their lives) the 13-episode College Hill will follow eight college co-eds as they live their lives under the single roof of a house located on the campus of Southern University, a popular Louisiana Black college.
"There is college life, and then there's Black college life. And those who have been around historically Black colleges and universities know there are social, cultural and attitudinal differences from the more mainstream institutions," said Stephen Hill, BET Senior Vice President of Music Programming and Talent. "What we're capturing in College Hill is a one-of-a- kind look at college life through eight very diverse and interesting co-eds. Our BET cameras will capture the ups, downs, tears, joys, successes and failures as these young people become adults and pursue higher learning at the same time."
Edmonds Entertainment Group, producers of Showtime's award-winning scripted SOUL FOOD drama, produced College Hill for BET. Tracey Edmonds, President and CEO of Edmonds Entertainment and executive producer for College Hill, sees the show as much more than just cameras following college students around campus.
"To legitimize a reality series, you must afford the cast every opportunity to be themselves, to be absolutely real with their daily lives and issues. That's exactly what we've done with these eight students at Southern," said Edmonds. "There are some hysterically funny parts of this series, and there are some areas that are deep, troubling and sometimes a little painful. But that's what reality television should portray -- real emotion, real situations and real people."
BET will supplement the launch of College Hill with a special 13-week "Watch and Win Scholarship Sweepstakes," giving away more than $25,000 in scholarship money to either college-bound or college-enrolled students. During each College Hill episode, an on-screen password will appear. Students can then log on to www.bet.com/collegehill and enter the sweepstakes.
There will be 13 winners -- one chosen following every new episode -- with each lucky student receiving a $2,004 scholarship check. Supporting the overall show launch and sweepstakes will be a substantial multi-media advertising campaign leveraging radio ads in 14 major markets; ads in the campus newspapers of 38 historically Black colleges and universities; and various outdoor billboard, bus shelter and mall displays.
Edmonds Entertainment and BET sought diversity in tabbing the eight cast members, something that Edmonds thinks will keep the show and its plot intriguing from week to week.
"The diversity of the cast and some pretty outrageous twists in how they relate to each other gives this show a different level of reality," said Edmonds. "At times, the whole scene is amusing. But there will be other times when life under this roof will be a real cause for concern. I think BET has a prime time hit on its hands."
The College Hill cast members aren't household names -- just yet. But by the time the series concludes, the network is convinced that "each will have left indelible marks on the show, and maybe on each other."
The eight students comprising the cast will be (listed only by first names; hometown in parenthesis):
• Nina (Shreveport, Louisiana); Senior - Marketing Major
Profile: The cheerleader and diva of the group; competes in pageants; sophisticated attitude; socialite
• Kevin (Los Angeles); Junior - Sociology Major
Profile: Jock and ladies man; college football and women are all that matter; has a lazy streak
• Delano (Los Angeles); Senior - Mass Communications Major
Profile: Rapper/aspiring actor; charmer; class clown; still dealing with recent death of his mother
• Shalondrea (Shreveport, Louisiana); Sophomore - Elementary Education Major
Profile: Country girl at heart; instigator and trouble-maker; has a "not-so-secret" secret to deal with
• Kinda (Baton Rouge, Louisiana); Freshman - Undecided Major
Profile: "Wild Child" of the cast; men get their "freak" on - why can't she?; daughter of a school administrator
• Gabriel (Dallas); Senior - Biology/Pre-Med Major
Profile: School band and fraternity member; "Big Man" on campus; smooth operator with an ulterior motive
• Veronica (Houston); Sophomore - Marketing Major
Profile: Rich girl and spoiled rotten; another diva for the group to deal with; beautiful and she knows it
• Jabari (Chicago); Junior - Computer Science Major
Profile: An academic genius, literally; has a "nerds-are-us" look; video games and dancing are a high priority