ET Networks announced new original scripted miniseries “Uptown.” The three-part television event will tell the comprehensive story of Andre Harrell’s iconic New York City record label, Uptown Records. Launched in 1986, following a joint venture deal with MCA, Andre Harrell’sUptown Records played a vital role in the careers of some of the most influential voices in hip hop, soul and R&B, including Heavy D & The Boyz, Russell Simmons, Lyor Cohen, Mary J. Blige, Jodeci, Father MC, Al B. Sure, Christopher Williams, Teddy Riley, Notorious B.I.G., Sean “Diddy” Combs and many more. Each gripping episode will take viewers from the label’s inception to current day, featuring the music and powerhouse hit-makers that helped mold what would come to be known as the Uptown ‘sound’ and define a musical era that would impact generations to come. “Uptown” is scheduled to premiere on BET in 2020.
“We are proud to bring the story of Uptown Records to life and celebrate the indelible imprint the label has made on the industry, transforming the sound, face, and business of hip-hop and R&B,” said Scott Mills, President, BET Networks. “We look forward to partnering with music industry titan Andre Harrell and powerhouse producer Jesse Collins on the Uptown miniseries, bringing viewers premium content that reflects and celebrates Black excellence.”
“I am thrilled to partner with BET Networks and Jesse Collins Entertainment to share my story, the rise of Uptown Records and successful black entrepreneurship, and the management and cultivation of some of the most iconic artists to come out of the late 80s and 90s hip hop, R&B, and soul music era,” said Andre Harrell.
“Andre Harrell is a true visionary and culture creator. It is such an honor to tell the story of a label and an icon that not only gave us such great music, but was the blueprint for black excellence through entertainment,” said Jesse Collins, CEO, Jesse Collins Entertainment.
“Uptown” is executive produced by Jesse Collins (“The New Edition Story,” “The Bobby Brown Story”) for Jesse Collins Entertainment and Andre Harrell (Honey, “New York Undercover”). Writers Charles Murray (“Luke Cage,” “Sons of Anarchy”), Carlito Rodriguez (“Empire,” “The Leftovers”) and Barry Michael Cooper (New Jack City, “She’s Gotta Have It”) have penned the scripts.
ABOUT BET NETWORKS:
BET Networks, a subsidiary of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIA.B), 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: BET.com, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture and news; BET HER, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the African-American Woman; BET Music Networks – BET Jams, BET Soul and BET Gospel; BET Home Entertainment; BET Live, BET’s growing festival business; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET around the globe.
ABOUT JESSE COLLINS ENTERTAINMENT:
Jesse Collins Entertainment (JCE) is a full service television and film production company founded by entertainment industry veteran and Emmy® Award nominee Jesse Collins. For more than a decade, the company has played an integral role in producing some of television’s most memorable moments in music entertainment including groundbreaking and award winning television programming including the BET Awards, Soul Train Awards, BET Honors, UNCF An Evening of Stars, ABFF Awards and the BET Hip Hop Awards. On the scripted side, JCE has produced numerous shows for BET including Real Husbands of Hollywood starring Kevin Hart as well as the critically acclaimed The New Edition Story, a biopic on the boy band that aired as a 3-part mini-series. It posted record ratings for the network and attracted nearly 30 million viewers. It was followed by The Bobby Brown Story, which chronicled the talented but troubled singer’s exit from the popular ’80s boy band through his solo success, and was the highest rated non-tentpole program on the network since The New Edition Story. The company’s second season of American Soul, the critically-acclaimed period drama based on the untold rise of the iconic music and dance program Soul Train, will debut in 2020. For VH1, JCE has produced the network’s annual Mother’s Day special, Dear Mama and the hit game show Hip Hop Squares and for HBO, the hit comedy special, Amanda Seales I Be Knowin’. JCE also produced Rhythm and Flow where judges Cardi B, Chance the Rapper and T.I. searched for the next breakout hip-hop star in this music competition series for Netflix and Nashville Squares for CMT. Collins is also a producer for The Grammy Awards and was on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop 100 Power Players list. He has been featured in numerous publications including Ebony magazine’s Power 100 issue and on the cover of Vibe magazine. Go to http://www.jessecollinsent.com/ for more information on the company.
ABOUT ANDRE HARRELL:
Andre Harrell is one of the leading entertainment entrepreneurs and cultural architects of our time. His legacy includes the founding of the seminal music label, Uptown Records, the launching of Bad Boy Records, serving as the CEO of Motown Records, the Creator and Executive Producer of Fox TV’s “New York Undercover” – the first multicultural major television network drama ever, the Creator and Executive Producer of the two motion pictures that launched the careers of both Halle Berry (“Strictly Business”) and Jessica Alba (“Honey”), and the founder of the “cross-cultural” advertising agency, “Nu America.”
With Uptown Records, Harrell launched and molded the careers of Heavy D, Jodeci, Al B. Sure, Teddy Riley, Guy, Sean Combs, and the legendary queen of hip hop soul, Mary J Blige, effectively changing the sound of R&B music and receiving the Billboard Magazine award for the most number of charted singles in a single year. As the CEO of Motown, Harrell oversaw the careers of iconic artists such as Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, and Queen Latifah, while launching the careers of Mario Winans and 98 Degrees. In 2002 Harrell founded his second record label, Nu America Records, where he signed Robin Thicke and executive produced the biggest single and most played song in the history of radio with Thicke and Pharrell’s “Blurred Lines”.
Harrell identified a set of cultural behaviors and consumption patterns in the 1990s within the black community and coined what has since become two of the most popular phrases: “Ghetto Fabulous” and “Black Excellence” which he defines respectively as, “ a highly aspirational fashion and lifestyle approach developed by black Americans that allowed them to define their self-worth and self-dignity on their own terms”, and “an embrace by the young black community of the notion of excelling within mainstream culture.”
Harrell’s legacy is that of one of the top executives and architects of hip hop culture who effectively changed the way not only America, but the world now identifies with and emulates black American culture on a global stage. Ultimately, Harrell’s work and mission has been to serve a higher purpose: to elevate black culture in a way that gives black Americans a sense of self-worth and self-dignity, while providing a pathway of empathy so that all people can relate to and draw from the beauty of that culture.