BET Orders Movie-Backdoor Pilot From Mara Brock Akil & Salim Akil With Diggy Simmons

EXCLUSIVE: More than two decades after Will Smith launched his acting career with The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, another young rapper is transitioning to scripted comedy with the help of a husband-and-wife writing/producing duo. BET has greenlighted the Untitled Diggy Simmons Project, a two-hour backdoor comedy pilot/original movie starring 17-year-old rapper/blogger Daniel Dwayne Simmons, aka Diggy Simmons, and executive produced by Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil, the team behind BET’s hit comedy The Game and upcoming original movie/backdoor pilot Being Mary Jane, which is set to premiere next year as part of the BET Premiere Cinema movie franchise. Being Mary Jane, starring Gabrielle Union, is expected to go to series.

The Diggy Simmons project, said to have an Entourage vibe to it, is described as a fresh and edgy look at Diggy Simmons, his life as a blogger, and the close group of loyal friends who hold him down on his rise to the top. Simmons will play the main character Blake. Also cast in the project are Allen Maldonado as Manny, Blake’s best friend. Manny lives with his twin sister Tae (Teyana Taylor), who is Blake’s ex-girlfriend, after their grandmother died. Chris Brew will play Dot, a tech geek, now a student at NYU, and a childhood friend of Blake and Manny. Bria Murphy will play Manny’s girlfriend Nia. Stephanie Charles will play Sheri, Dot’s ex-girlfriend. 

Executive producing the movie with Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil are Kenya Baris (The Game, America’s Next Top Model), who wrote the script, Chris Lighty, Laurie Dobbins, and James Dubose. Simmons and Kevin Liles are co-executive producing. Salim Akil will also direct the film/backdoor pilot, which will shoot later this year. He also recently helmed the feature Sparkle, which was written by Brock Akil. The duo has a rich multi-project deal with BET. Diggy Simmons is a son of Joseph “Rev. Run” Simmons. Along with his parents and five siblings, he starred on the MTV reality television show Run’s House. The Akils are with ICM Partners; Barris is with Principato-Young and Pradigm.

In addition to the Diggy Simmons project, BET recently greenlighted standard comedy pilot What Would Dylan Do? (working title) from writer Julian Breece and showrunner Warren Hutcherson starring Kelly Rowland as a relationship blogger.

Comments (20)

  • Would love to see BET actually doing some real programming/developing instead of just pedaling stereotypes.

    Comment by Marshmallow Man — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 5:02pm PDT  
  • Congrats to Kenya! He’s probably one of the most underrated and talented writer’s in Hollywood. Recently heard his podcast on Nerdist and was amazed at all the projects this guy had going on (Tyra Banks, Will Smith, Hulu, etc…). Diggy is a star and together these guys are gonna be HUGE!

    Comment by Kevin — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 5:12pm PDT  
  • Niec Job Kenya Baris!!!

    Comment by Lionel Rucker — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 6:00pm PDT  
  • Anyone who is accusing BET of “pedaling stereotypes” is certainly not Black and probably hasn’t watched BET for years. They’ve made a real effort to invest in original programming both scripted and unscripted and though not all of it works, they’ve definitely cleaned it up and are not a network to be embarrassed about anymore.

    Comment by RLS — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 6:37pm PDT  
  • Wow, this is crazy !
    I’m a huge fan of Diggy Simmons, I’ve always idolized him.
    Seeing him from Run’s House & looking at how he’s grown up mentally is outstanding.
    He’s starting his career & he’s already made it big.
    He’s going far I can tell, I’m truely proud of him.
    Big ups to Dig ! :)

    Comment by DiggyFan. — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 6:39pm PDT  
    • You idolize a kid?

      Comment by b — Tuesday August 21, 2012 @ 12:04pm PDT  
  • I am Looking forward to this new project. Daniel puts his all in all of his achievements & I’m happy for him.

    Comment by Elle — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 6:48pm PDT  
  • Im looking forward to watching it. :)

    Comment by Jnai Gibson — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 7:05pm PDT  
  • Worked with Kenya and I was so impressed with this guy. Hate to use the term “Black” writer, but he happens to be, and he made me change my mindset on ever defining someone by that again. This dude is just plain TALENTED!! I’m shocked he’s not on an overall for a major studio and that he’s even avail for this. Good job BET! Maybe this means they’re headed for a change. That’s a big maybe.

    Comment by David L. — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 7:08pm PDT  
  • I’m so proud of Diggy !! He’s always pushing himself and finding new things to experience in life. I am a HUGE jetsetter and it makes me so happy to see Diggy doing thins like this !! <3

    Comment by Leilanny — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 7:10pm PDT  
  • I’m really interested in the kelly show. I read that some of the same people from everybody hates chris and the bernie mac show are involved. I’m thinking these productions will shoot in Atlanta? If someone is reading, please consider casting raw talent from the city. I’m telling you, you guys have tried this over and over with recycled black names. Give someone else a chance. Also, whatever happened to jacob latimore’s show that was similar to smart guy? I’m looking forward to seeing all of these black shows..maybe even get a latino show going..there is a market you know…hopefully some of these productions will lead to an interest for major networks like nbc, abc, ect to bring back black quality productions. BET you guys really need to dig deep…shows like let’s stay together, reed between the lines, now the game, ect have been non funny and awful along with tyler perry shows. I do know the wayans brothers will be coming back with the new generation, rickey smiley, ect are coming….I also cringed at the thought of teyana taylor…homegirl has a potty mouth and nasty attitude….kind of hard to look at….I hope BET gets back to showing music..but yeah …keep em coming and get some new talent in the southeast please

    Comment by lolo — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 8:01pm PDT  
  |  More Comments

Sorry, comments are closed for this article.