BET Awards to honor the memory of Michael Jackson after last-minute ‘total overhaul’By Sandy Cohen, AP
Sunday, June 28, 2009
BET Awards to highlight Michael Jackson’s legacy
LOS ANGELES — After three days to process the shock and grief, attendees at the BET Awards — a show thrown into “total overhaul” by the death of Michael Jackson — were preparing for what was sure to be a spectacular celebration of the King of Pop, put on by a dazzling collection of the artists he influenced most.
Fans lined up early Sunday outside the show’s site as workers put the finishing touches on an outdoor stage near the Shrine Auditorium’s entrance.
At the front of the line were Raia Lee and Lauren Jones, who had planned to watch the show on television but instead arrived shortly before 8 a.m. in the hopes of getting close-up looks at celebrities.
Already an affair of major star wattage, Sunday night’s show was thrown under a white-hot spotlight in the wake of Jackson’s death, adding attendees and guests, doubling the number of media requests and even lengthening the red carpet to accommodate all who want to take part.
It was not immediately clear whether any members of the Jackson family, who had been gathering at their Encino compound over the weekend, planned to attend or take part.
Producers of the annual awards show — which recognizes the best in music, acting and sports — say they scrapped their plans and revamped the show to meet the moment.
“It’s a total overhaul,” network Chairwoman Debra L. Lee said. “Luckily we have enough time to do that.”
Previously announced performers, such as Beyonce and Ne-Yo, who worked on their performances for weeks, hoped to change them to honor Jackson, producer Stephen Hill said. Other artists who hadn’t planned to attend the ceremony, including Usher and Justin Timberlake, tried to catch last-minute flights to Los Angeles to participate, Hill said.
Lee said the network would still present awards, but the show would be “more geared toward Michael Jackson.”
Beyonce and T.I. were top contenders for trophies, with a leading five nominations each. She was up for best R&B female, best actress and video of the year. He was in the running for best male hip-hop, best collaboration and video of the year. Lil Wayne, T-Pain and Keri Hilson were tied with four nominations each.
Hosted by Jamie Foxx, the BET Awards telecast was extended by 30 minutes to accommodate various Jackson tributes.
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