By: Giovanni Zaburoni
“Being Mary Jane” is the biggest show on Black Entertainment Television. Back in the 90’s and early 2000’s younger people used to tune into BET to watch music videos and the occasional classic Black movies but the channel really was known for anything else. BET received a lot of criticism for showing music videos that depicted Black women as s*xual objects and promoted the thuggish pimp lifestyles to Black youth and that’s all they were known for. When shows like “Being Mary Jane” showed up on BET, mature Black audiences were finally given a reason to tune in, which is why it’s so shocking that the star of “Being Mary Jane,” Gabrielle Union is suing BET and Breakdown Productions for breach of contract. She’s seeking $3 million.
According to the Daily Mail, the network decided to combine seasons four and five, filming two 10-episode seasons back to back. Union says the network initially told her she would not produce more than 13 episodes per season. The lawsuit claims, “Although BET represented and assured Ms. Union before she agreed to perform in Being Mary Jane that it would never produce more than thirteen (13) episodes per season of the series. BET now wants to shoot twenty (20) episodes of the series back-to-back and cram all of the episodes into a single season in order to fraudulently extend the term of Ms. Union’s contract, with no additional consideration, and to deprive Ms. Union of her agreed-upon compensation for the next two seasons of Being Mary Jane. It is outrageous that BET would treat one of its biggest stars in this manner after all she has done to support the network and contribute to its success.”
According to Deadline, BET has responded to the lawsuit with this statement: “While we hold Gabrielle Union in the highest esteem, we feel strongly that we are contractually well within our rights and are committed to reaching a swift and positive resolution in this matter.”
The Daily Mail says, “A corporate policy required in her contract included a provison that allowed for a minimum of 10 episodes and a maximum of 26 episodes.” Union is supposed to get $150,000 for season four and $165,000 for season five, but if the seasons are shot consecutively, she may not receive that pay raise.
Season four of the hit show started filming in September and Union was told about the additional episodes a week before the show started filming.