*BET has released more details of its returning sitcom “The Game,” which will premiere its 22-episode 5th season on Tuesday, Jan. 10 at 10 p.m.

Picking up where it left off, Melanie (Tia Mowry Hardrict) contends with Derwin’s (Pooch Hall) abortion accusation; Malik (Hosea Chanchez) and Tasha (Wendy Raquel Robinson) struggle to wrangle an intoxicated Jenna (Tika Sumpter); and Kelly (Brittany Daniel) is still off in the world trying to find herself, leaving Jason (Coby Bell) forced to come to terms with his feelings towards black women.  The new season also ushers in a new love interest for Jason.

Brandy Norwood joins the cast this year, and season 5 also welcomes the return of the prodigal sports manager Irv Smiff (PJ Byrne); the mother of Derwin’s son, Janay (Gabrielle Dennis); Malik’s former assistant turned entrepreneur, Tee Tee and his famous Wing Truck (Barry T. Floyd).

The momentum continues with a number of exciting new guest appearances, including Shawn Marion, Estelle, Selita Ebanks, DeRay Davis, Nene Leakes, Rockmond Dunbar, and the Emmy-award winning Loretta Devine among others.

In the audio below, show creator and executive producer Mara Brock Akil takes us down memory lane to the audition of Tia Mowry Hardrict.  At the time, the world hadn’t really experienced Tia at length since her teen sitcom “Sister Sister” with twin Tamera Mowry.

Akil, speaking to TV critics along with Tia and the rest of the cast, admits she was a bit nervous to tell the actress, even though she was in her mid-20s, what grown-woman behavior would be required of her character.

Mara Brock Akil on Tia Mowry’s early stripper pole scene by CherieNic