Cuba Gooding Jr. and the Rev. Jim Lawson

Cuba Gooding Jr., left, and Freedom Rider the Rev. Jim Lawson at a December 2013 event in Beverly Hills. (Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times / December 17, 2013)

BET, which in the last few years has moved forward with its first scripted comedies and a drama, is now moving into the miniseries arena.

The cable outlet will produce a six-part miniseries, "The Book of Negroes," a historical drama based on the prize-winning novel by Lawrence Hill. The project will star Cuba Gooding Jr., Louis Gossett Jr. and Aunjanue Ellis.

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The miniseries will revolve around Aminita Diallo, an 11-year-old girl living in a West Africa village who is kidnapped and sent to South Carolina as a slave. The story chronicles her capture and enslavement and will conclude with her eventual emancipation in England.

BET executives announced the project at their upfront presentation in New York, where they also announced the renewals of comedies "The Game" and "Real Husbands of Hollywood." A pickup for the second season of drama "Being Mary Jane" had been announced previously.

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