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BET's new series 'Boomerang' is a sequel striving to be original

“There’s a thing where you’re seeing dope black shows that are not on BET. And that time has come to an end,” exec producer Lena Waithe said at Sundance.
Image: Tetona Jackson, Joey Bada$$
Tetona Jackson is Simone Graham and Joey Bada$$ is Simone's ex-boyfriend, Camden, on the new BET series "Boomerang."Annette Brown / BET

PARK CITY, Utah — At this year's Sundance Film Festival, the energy was infectious as the cast and crew of the new TV series “Boomerang” celebrated the show and BET Networks’ renewed commitment to original prime-time programming.

“There’s a thing where you’re seeing dope black shows that are not on BET,” Lena Waithe, an actress who is the executive producer of “Boomerang,” said at the series’ premiere Saturday. “And that time has come to an end.”

The series is based on the 1992 romantic-comedy movie “Boomerang,” starring Eddie Murphy as Marcus Graham and Halle Berry as Angela Lewis, two young black advertising professionals living and loving in New York City. The womanizing Graham gets a taste of his own medicine when Jacqueline Broyer (Robin Givens) becomes his boss. The relationships transform and Graham becomes conflicted about his feelings toward Jacqueline and Angela.

The BET series picks up after Marcus and Angela get married, start their own ad agency and have a daughter, Simone (Tetona Jackson), who becomes involved with Jacqueline's son, Bryson (Tequan Richmond). Simone and Bryson lead the new series, which debuts on BET on Feb. 12. (Berry also serves as executive producer.)

In the first two episodes, Simone, who works for her father at the Graham Agency, wants to branch out on her own, while Bryson wants to move beyond his mother’s shadow so he can pursue his own dreams. There is a "will-they-or-won't-they" sense of anticipation on whether they will fall for each other like Angela and Marcus did, giving audiences a good reason to keep tuning in for the 10-episode series.

NBCBLK spoke with Waithe, the show's executive producer/showrunner Ben Cory Jones and director Dime Davis about the decision to make a sequel, how the show depicts marketing and advertising, and what they hope viewers take away from the series.

Talk about the collaborative process of how this TV series came to be.

Jones: We had a great diverse team of writers, had a great diverse team of directors. Our actors are amazing. And what I personally enjoy is that everyone brought their A-game from top to bottom. We collaborate, we talk, we crack jokes, we communicate with one another. But when you all have the same goal at the end there's no challenges you can't get through. There's no creative decision you can't make together because we all have the goal of putting our heart into this show. And so everybody brought that, which is special and kind of unique in my opinion.

Waithe: I think we did rack our brains a lot in terms of figuring out, where do you begin or what do you do? Honestly, because I kept thinking, "What's the opposite of the basic thing?" And even I said, “Well, the basic thing is to give [Marcus Graham] kids.” And we just kept trying to figure out what's better than that? How can we beat it? We couldn't really beat it, and then we just embraced it. My fear initially was, "Oh, that's what people are expecting, blah, blah, blah, so I'm going to do the unexpected." But I think sometimes you should do the expected. And then the cool thing is the rest of the show is unexpected. Marcus and Angela had a daughter, Jacqueline had a son. But everything else that follows is original and new and fresh, which I'm really proud of.

Davis: I also think like we actually challenge each other. And that is honestly where the best work comes from. There's always "could this be better?" Or "why are you doing this?" Specifically, if I'm setting up a shot or something, they'll ask, "Well, why are you doing it?" And if I can't answer it that's kind of a problem. But it’s really that we challenge each other too; we have fun; we have a great time, but we do the work.

There are a lot of black marketers and black advertisers who saw the film "Boomerang" growing up and were inspired to go into that field. How much does the show get into the advertising and the marketing world?

Jones: I'm a former publicist. I used to do public relations communications at Bank of America in New York City. One of our writers was a former advertising exec. I want to shout out the Marcus Graham Project, which is an organization in Texas that trains people of color in the advertising industry. But also, we're writers and our job is to do the research and to absorb and come into any world.

Waithe: It's not a show about marketing. Marcus Graham and Angela started their own ad agency, which is where Simone and Bryson work, but the truth is that quickly kind of becomes the background, and we deal with them as people, what their emotions are, that kind of stuff. So unfortunately, [if people are looking for a] marketing lesson, you’re kind of at the wrong show. So for me it's like that's just the backdrop, and we're going to do the same thing here with the series.

What do you want viewers, whether they’re fans of the original "Boomerang" or not, to take away from this series?

Jones: I think everybody has to find whatever the show means for them. We want people to come into it with an open mind and open heart, just to see the art we've created.

Waithe: Yeah, and I think honestly if you're a person that has never seen a movie and generally enjoys the show, that's a win. If you're a person that is obsessed with the movie and really gets a kick out of the show and makes you want to go revisit the movie, that's a win. We always say if somebody wants to see the movie, they should go ahead and put it on. If you want to see something new or fresh and a sort of retake of it, then come to our show.

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