In a sign that BET is recommitting itself to news, the network has signed Atlanta-based CNN weekend anchor T.J. Holmes to an agreement that includes a still un-named television show.
Holmes presumably will do some sort of news-oriented show. The last time BET had a regular news program was 2005 with BET Nightly News, which ran four years.
The 34-year-old Arkansas native has been at CNN for five years, doing reporting and weekend anchoring.
Holmes, who has been married for about a year and a half, said in an interview Thursday that he will likely relocate to New York, where BET is headquartered, though he said he won’t uproot himself immediately.
CNN “has been a valuable learning experience,” he said. “CNN is an incredible company that has a reach like no other. People recognize me in the Caribbean and Europe.”
BET, he said, wants to bolster its news presence, especially during a presidential election year. “It’s something the audience has been asking for,” he said. “It’s desperately needed. It’s a huge void that’s missing. I hope to fill it.”
The most noteworthy news/talk personality BET has cultivated is Tavis Smiley, who had a talk show in the 1990s but left in 2001 after BET became upset when he sold an exclusive interview to ABC News. BET did not renew his contract. (Smiley has since thrived on public radio and TV.)
“Tavis was able to build his audience,” Holmes said. “They’ve followed him. I applaud what he’s been able to do. He has done a great service for the black community.”
On BET, Holmes really likes Malcolm-Jamal Warner’s new show “Reed Between the Lines” and he still enjoys “106 & Park.” He enjoys hip-hop such as Jay-Z, Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco. He’s gotten to interview T.I. several times. He has attended The Soul Train Awards and BET Hip Hop Awards.
Holmes, who currently lives in Mableton, said he thinks his final day on CNN will be Christmas Day.
One thing he won’t have to deal as much with once he’s over at BET: being mistaken for fellow African-American weekend anchor Don Lemon. “At first, we had fun with it but after awhile, it kind of got annoying,” he said. “If someone calls me Don, I ignore them. They probably think Don is a jerk!”
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk