Michael Jackson’s father joins star-studded list of celebrities at BET Awards

By Sandy Cohen, AP
Monday, June 29, 2009

Michael Jackson’s father attends BET Awards

LOS ANGELES — Michael Jackson’s father has joined a star-studded list of performers and celebrities turning out to honor the King of Pop at Sunday’s BET Awards.

Joe Jackson will make an onstage appearance, according to show publicist Bobbi Marcus.

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 Thursday, adding attendees and guests, doubling the number of media requests and even lengthening the red carpet to accommodate all who want to 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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