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4th Annual Merge Summit: Integrating Faith And Entertainment Conference


*OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network announced four new unscripted series for 2013, including a reality show surrounding comedienne Kym Whitley and her friends.

Additionally, the network has set May 29 as a premiere date for its first scripted series from Tyler Perry, drama “The Haves and the Have Nots” and half-hour comedy “Love Thy Neighbor.”

“Raising Whitley,” follows actress/comedienne Kym Whitley and her chaotic collective of friends – whom she calls “The Village” – as they attempt to do something none of them have ever done before: raise a baby…together.

When Kym signed up for the Big Sister program to mentor a troubled young girl, she never imagined she’d get a call from the hospital saying, “Your baby is ready for collection.” After learning that her mentee bolsted from the maternity ward leaving only Kym’s contact information, Kym chose to become a mother to the baby.

The Village banded together to help Kym bring up baby Joshua Whitley the best they know how, but sometimes it’s hard to tell who is more mature – baby Joshua or the adults tasked with raising him.

OWN has also given a series order to “Dogfellas,” about a mobster-turned-dog groomer; “Blackboard Wars,” about the efforts to improve a troubled New Orleans high school; and “Golden Sisters,” the special/backdoor pilot about three feisty octogenarian sisters that aired last month.

“All of these new programs reflect the best of the human spirit. From the funny to the dramatic, we are always shooting for to-the-bone real,” said Sheri Salata, president, OWN.

Returning with new episodes this year are OWN’s three Oprah series, “Oprah’s Master Class,” “Oprah: Where Are They Now?” and “Oprah’s Next Chapter” as well as “Iyanla: Fix My Life.”

Upcoming guests for the network’s flagship “Oprah’s Next Chapter” include Drew Barrymore, LL Cool J and Whitney Houston’s mother Cissy Houston on the one year anniversary of the singer’s death.

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