OWN rescinds ‘Love Is_’ renewal after Salim Akil domestic violence charges

Originally posted Wednesday, December 19, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

OWN has taken back its renewal of its romantic drama “Love Is_” following allegations against executive producer Salim Akil of domestic violence by an ex lover, who also accused him of stealing ideas from her to create the show. 

“OWN has decided not to move forward with the second season, ” the network said five months after giving the drama a second season

“The TV memoir was inspired by the real-life love story of married producers Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil,” the network added, without referencing the lawsuit. The fact actress Amber Dixon Brenner alleged a long affair with Salim made the entire premise of “Love Is_” less tenable. 

The first season was shot in metro Atlanta and season two was already in pre-production. The cast and producers were contractually committed and Deadline.com says they are going to get paid even though the season will not even get off the ground.

WBTV, the production company for both “Love Is_” and the CW series “Black Lightning” did an inquiry and found no problematic behavior on Akil’s part on either set. Akil remains the show runner for “Black Lightning” and was executive producer for “Love Is_” with his wife Mara, who was the show runner. 

“Black Lightning” has continued production in Atlanta and Akil has kept that job. 

“Love Is_” was loosely based on their relationship but uses different character names and situations, Mara said in an interview with me at the time. 

But Brenner recently filed two lawsuits, a state lawsuit accusing Akil of domestic abuse while they were lovers for 10 years and a federal lawsuit alleging Akil stole ideas from her 2015 screenplay “Luv & Perversity in the East Village” to create “Love Is_”

Now that “Love Is_” is dead, Brenner dropped the copyright lawsuit. But the lawsuit regarding their allegedly tumultuous relationship remains in effect, though Akil has categorically denied them. 

“Love Is_,” despite its renewal, was the lowest rated scripted drama on OWN behind “Greenleaf” and “Queen Sugar.”

RELATED: My preview of “Love Is_” from June, 2018

ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 03: Director and showrunner Salim Akil speaks during a screening and Q&A for 'Black Lightning' on Day 3 of the SCAD aTVfest 2018 on February 3, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for SCAD aTVfest 2018 )
Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images for SCAD aTVfest 20

The Akils have been considered a “power couple” in Hollywood after successful collaborations on BET “The Game” and “Being Mary Jane,” both shot in Atlanta. 

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.