Sunday, June 16, 2024

With Writers on Strike, How Are the BET Awards Able to Press On?

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Though the writers’ strike continues to rage, with picket lines shutting down one high-profile production after the next, BET is moving ahead with its BET Awards this coming Sunday night.

While that may raise eyebrows given that BET is owned by Paramount, the host-free show is unscripted and performance-driven, so it doesn’t typically employ any WGA members, and neither BET nor Jesse Collins Entertainment, the production company behind the show, are signatory companies of the Guild. (A spokesman for the WGA did not respond to requests for comment.)

A signatory company is an employer that has signed a collective bargaining agreement with WGA—something that’s not necessary for Collins, whose JCE has also produced the Grammys and the Super Bowl halftime show. Just last month, the BAFTA TV Awards were held in London, where presenters winged their intros and winners offered up public shows of support for the WGA.

Dubbed “Culture’s Biggest Night” and uniting old- and new-school acts, the BET Awards are celebrating 50 years of hip hop with a diverse array of performers ranging from trap music to bounce, dance hall, and Afro beats. Today it announced a tribute to Tina Turner led by Patti Labelle. 

Airing live on BET from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday, June 25 at 8 p.m. ET, the show will feature performances by 69 Boyz, Big Daddy Kane, Chief Keef, Dem Franchize Boyz, DJ Unk, D-Nice, E-40, Erick Sermon, Fabolous, Fast Life Yungstaz & Easton (F.L.Y.), Fat Joe, Ja Rule, Jeezy, Kid ‘N Play, MC Lyte, Percy “Master P” Miller, Redman, Remy Ma, Soulja Boy, Styles P, The Sugarhill Gang, Trick Daddy, Trina, Tyga, Uncle Luke, Warren G, YG, Ying Yang Twins, and Yo-Yo. 

They’ll be joined by BET Awards nominees Coco Jones, GloRilla, Ice Spice, Latto, and Lola Brooke, who will perform on the BET Amplified stage, as will Kaliii. Hitmakers Doechii and Lil Uzi Vert will also join the party, while hip hop artist Mad Lion is set to perform live. Canadian rapper Drake received the most nominations with seven, followed by GloRilla with six, 21 Savage and Lizzo with five each, and Beyoncé, Burna Boy, Chris Brown, Ice Spice, and SZA all with four.

Meanwhile, BET has announced that Busta Rhymes will be recognized with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. The coveted honor commemorates industry pioneers who have impacted culture and the entertainment industry in a powerful way.

Bia, Coi Leray, Cutty Ranks, Dexta Daps, M.O.P., Rah Digga, ScarLip, Spice, Supercat, Swizz Beatz, and surprise guests will take the stage to celebrate Busta Rhymes and his 30-plus-year musical legacy as an award-winning multi-platinum rapper, songwriter, and record producer.

Past Lifetime Achievement Award recipients include industry legends Sean “Diddy” Combs, Whitney Houston, Prince, Queen Latifah, Anita Baker, Mary J. Blige, Samuel Jackson, Lionel Richie, New Edition.

BET has been in the headlines recently with rumored reports that Tyler Perry is finalizing a purchase of the network along with sister channel VH1.

Indeed, the BET Awards are a smart investment. The live show has been the #1 cable award show among all adults 18-49 for the last two consecutive years and is the #1 cable award show among Black adults 18-49 for the 21st consecutive year, from 2002 to 2022. The BET Awards franchise remains the #1 program in cable TV history among African-Americans, and it is the #1 telecast for BET every year, according to the Nielsen Company, which measures TV ratings for the industry.

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