BET Networks is developing a scripted anthology series with veteran industry executive Irv Gotti. Tales, produced and created by Gotti and his Visionary Ideas production company, will adapt the lyrics of classic hip-hop songs into three-act, 60-minute narratives. Among the tracks being transformed into cinematic “song stories”: N.W.A’s “F*ck Tha Police” and Beyoncé and Jay Z’s “On the Run.”
Slated for second or third quarter 2017, Tales will be helmed by a different director, screenwriter and cast each week, all drawn from a mix of established and emerging talents. The series will be presented in a multi-platform cross-collaboration with Tidal in which the global service will stream exclusive director’s cut versions of the episodes following their initial airings on BET.
“Obviously, BET played a lot of videos in its infancy,” says Stephen Hill, president of programming for the network. “Now that storytelling has evolved as we work to bring viewers new exciting content that reflects some of the greatest stories that hip-hop has told in the 20th and 21st centuries.”
Gotti, the founder of iconic R&B/hip-hop label Murder Inc., was acquitted of money laundering charges after a three-year federal investigation. Taking a five-year sabbatical from the music industry (“I wasn’t feeling the whole energy of the business”) to spend more time with his two sons, Gotti, who previously starred in the VH1 reality series Gotti’s Way, is back with the first of several planned television, film and music projects, among other ventures, under the Visionary Ideas umbrella. Promising compelling stories that will blow people’s minds while making them talk and think, he sums up Tales’ bottom line in three words: “Entertain. Entertain. Entertain.”
Adds Gotti, who will also write and direct some of the episodes, “This isn’t no reality show shit and not a video. I’m going to tell a story like only I can tell a story and involve the hip-hop culture, which is colorless. Visionary Ideas is DreamWorks times 100, which is a crazy statement as big as DreamWorks is. But that’s my goal.”