BET AWARDS Tells Shrine Bye-Bye

Nicki Minaj at the 2012 BET Awards. Photo: Carmen Williams

With all the hysteria and hype still reverberating from the 2012 BET Awards, a seismic shift for the hit urban awards show went somewhere under the radar and became largely overshadowed by all of the fuss over the big-time celebrities who showed up for the one night celebration honoring black music and entertainment.

The big deal is that the famous, but structurally outdated Shrine Auditorium will no longer play host to the BET Awards, which has housed every year since 2006.

It’s on to bigger and better things for the folks at BET and Viacom, Inc., which owns the cable television network. Instead of a one-night party gig at that Shrine, the BET Awards have been drawn into the lair of the now hip L.A. Live compound in downtown Los Angeles for three days of festivities.

If you’re about something, L.A. Live and Nokia Plaza is the place to be at. L.A. and downtown Los Angeles has now officially become the mecca of high-profile, celebrity-driven events, all of which encompasses sports and entertainment.

The Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Kings make their home at Staples Center, a mere walk across the street within the confines of Nokia Plaza and L.A. Live, which includes the Nokia Theatre, Conga Room and houses the ESPNZone. Simply put, when it comes to the surrounding night life activities around the area, this is the place to be for the growing BET Awards.

This is the same venue where the American Music Awards are held. MTV’s Video Music Awards are also entrenched at the L.A. Live facilities. For good measure, Nokia Plaza and L.A. Live also play host to the ESPYs, ESPN’s X-Games, live boxing, high-end music concerts, and the men and women’s Pacific Life Pac-12 Basketball Tournament.

Gospel star Yolanda Adams at the 2012 BET Awards. Photo Credit: Carmen Williams

With no thriving night life surrounding it, the move for BET officials to transition their highest-rated awards show from the Shrine Auditorium was one made with bottom-line business astuteness. And they did in style. Making its grand finale at the Shrine Auditorium this year, the BET Awards resembled the best of the best in black entertainment as the show put on a moving tribute to the late Whitney Houston by bringing in powerhouses Mariah Carey and Chaka Khan, among others, to do musical tributes to the fallen star.

This year’s BET Awards seemed to leave no stone unturned when it came to drawing the celebrity card. The show was hosted by Samuel L. Jackson, saw Jay-Z and Beyonce sitting front and center, while D’Angelo, Usher, Kanye West, Rick Ross, Chris Brown and Nicki Minaj did their thing onstage.

Besides the homage being paid to Houston her musical peers, her mother, Cissy Houston, and fellow actors Angela Bassett and Loretta Devine, the BET Awards also rendered tributes to the late Heavy D, Etta James, Nick Ashford, Dick Clark, Vesta and Don Cornelius. The Rev. Al Sharpton, perhaps this generation’s leading civil rights activist, was presented with the BET Humanitarian Award.

With Academy Award-winning actor Jamie Foxx, fellow actors Kerry Washington, Meagan Good and Taraji P. Henson on hand, it seems almost inevitable to think that the BET Awards had outgrown the Shrine Auditorium. It also makes good business sense to move to a location where your competitors also lay there head instead of holding the forte at a popular-declining facility.

So, beginning next year, the one-day BET Awards show celebration will become a three-day festival called the BET AWARDS Experience. With high-end hotels such as the Marriott Los Angeles and Ritz-Carlton thrown in the mix of Nokia Plaza and L.A. Live, the BET Awards seem to have found a perfect home.






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