Mega Superstars Join in Celebrating BET's Silver Anniversary
Whitney Houston, Diddy, Alicia Keys, Usher, Mary J. Blige, R. Kelly, New Edition, John Legend and others Commemorate the Network's Monumental 25-Year Milestone
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- On Wednesday, October 26 at LA's famed Shrine Auditorium, BET celebrated 25 years of ground-breaking programming with the production of a star-packed 3-hour telecast, 25 STRONG: THE BET SILVER ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL. This once-in-a-lifetime gala featured performances and appearances by a mix of veteran acts, contemporary artists and A-list celebrities such as Diddy, Bobby Brown, Alicia Keys, Usher, Queen Latifah, LL Cool J, Nelly, Mary J. Blige, R. Kelly, Serena Williams, John Legend, Jermaine Dupri, Snoop Dogg, Bow Wow, Arsenio Hall, Hammer, Earth, Wind & Fire, Parliament Funkadelic, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Method Man, Donnie Simpson, Steve Harvey, Yolanda Adams, Pastor Shirley Caesar, Kirk Franklin, Donnie McClurkin and New Edition among many other illustrious entertainers, including a surprise appearance from Whitney Houston. This landmark special premieres on BET Tuesday, November 1 at 9 p.m. ET/ 8 p.m. CT.
The night began with a star-studded red carpet arrivals scene, featuring high-wattage celebs in high glam gear strolling down it's length including: Quentin Tarantino, Gayle King, Michael Keaton, Golden Brooks, Anthony Anderson, Nick Cannon, Megan Goode, Duane Martin, Tisha Campbell Martin, Tommie Davidson, Laila Ali, Delroy Lindo, George Duke, Herbie Hancock, Christopher "Kid" Reid, Mike Jones, Victoria Rowell, Howard Hewett, Jimmy Jam, Tito Jackson, Judge Mablean Ephraim, Paul Wall, Tamala Jones, Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth, LisaRaye, Mary Mary, Kenya Moore, F. Gary Gray, Big Gipp, Da Brat, Chante Moore, Kenny Lattimore, Elise Neal, Flex Alexander, Kel Mitchell, Khamani Griffin, Tempestt Bledsoe, Warren G, and others. The BET 25 STRONG: PRE-SHOW hosted by Terri J. Vaughn, Tony Rock and Aly Al (formerly "Hits") kicks things off at 8 p.m. ET/PT tomorrow night with red carpet interviews, fashion footage, an exclusive premiere by Bow Wow, performing his new single "Fresh Azimiz," as well as collaborations with Jermaine Dupri, Da Brat, and Dem Franchise Boyz.
"It's an incredible night filled with special memories and tributes, wrapped around some of the best performers ever to appear on BET during our 25 years," said BET President and CEO Debra Lee. "We hope viewers will not only remember this fabulous night for the entertainment, but also for the special meaning it has for all of us as BET Founder Bob Johnson receives some well- deserved recognition for his amazing career and contributions."
As soon as the lights went up at the Shrine Auditorium, the night clearly belonged to BET -- from beginning to end the celebration had the standing- room-only crowd of 5,000-plus on its feet. BET has a reputation for pulling out all the stops in their specials, and this event was certainly no different. In addition to celebrating more than two decades of unforgettable entertainment, BET bid farewell to retiring Founder and Chairman, Robert L. Johnson in a special tribute.
The A-list assortment of celebrities inside the house to fete BET's silver anniversary milestone also included Mike Tyson, Tyrese, Bill Duke and Viacom CEO Tom Freston, as well as current and former BET hosts Ananda Lewis, Big Tigger, AJ Calloway, Jacque Reid, Ed Gordon, Melyssa Ford, Joe Clair, Kym Whitley, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Julissa, Mari Morrow, Tanya Hart, Chris Thomas, Aly Al (formerly "Hits"), Anthony "AD" Dorsett, Liza Michelle, Joe Torry, Michael Colyar, Rachel, Madd Linx, Laz Alonso, Kitty Troy ("Cita"), Big Lez, Dr. Rovina "Ro" Brock, who also made appearances.
BET again teamed with Cossette Productions, famed producers of the GRAMMY Awards(R) and five record-setting BET AWARDS shows, to handle production of the telecast. 25 STRONG was filled with emotion, wonderful surprises, exciting performances and memorable moments from BET's past 25 years, divided into five-year segments hosted by Queen Latifah (1980 - 1985); Arsenio Hall (1985 - 1990); Usher (1990 - 1995); Diddy (1995 - 2000); and Bow Wow (2000 - 2005), as well as tributes to recently fallen Civil Rights legend Rosa Parks and the unforgettable Luther Vandross.
"If you've been alive for the past 25 years, it's impossible for you to not love this show," said Reginald Hudlin, BET President of Entertainment. "Nights like this, I think I have the best job in the world."
John Legend serenaded the crowd from his piano with an unbelievable tribute to Vandross, which was introduced by Steve Harvey and the incomparable Whitney Houston. Snoop Dogg, Bow Wow, Parliament Funkadelic featuring George Clinton and Bootsy Collins rocked the house with songs from the roller-skating era to the present in a funk-inspired old school/new school pairing. New Edition -- joined by former member Bobby Brown in a well-received national television performance comeback -- had the crowd reminiscing of the "Candy Girl," days, and Alicia Keys crooned some of the hits that made her an award- winning superstar.
Hip hop soul diva Mary J. Blige joined Method Man in a rare performance of their classic hit duet "You're All I Need," and also world-premiered a performance of her song "Can't Hide From Love." LL Cool J "Rocked The Bells" from the 80's to the present with a hard-hitting set backed by break dancers, and of course, it wouldn't be a BET celebration without singing the praises of gospel music. The gospel medley featured Yolanda Adams, Pastor Shirley Caesar, Kirk Franklin, Donnie McClurkin and our very own Dr. Bobby Jones. By the time Nelly blazed the stage accompanied by Jermaine Dupri, Big Gipp, Paul Wall and Ali in a Dirty South-flavored, bling-laced collaboration of his world premiere single "Grillz," the show was a lock as THE hot topic for 'morning- after' water cooler conversation.
"It was clear even in rehearsals that the performers were insistent on bringing their A-game to this production," said Stephen Hill, Executive Producer and BET Executive Vice President of Entertainment and Music Programming. "The love they have for BET...and we for them...is evident and ongoing. There were performances of classics, the electric reunion of New Edition and Bobby Brown, and world premieres from Mary J. Blige and Nelly. And after hearing Nelly's new song," Hill joked, "I think I'ma go visit Paul Wall and get me a grill."
BET wraps up the evening with a half-hour telecast of 25 STRONG: THE POST SHOW at 12 midnight ET/PT hosted by BET News' Jacque Reid and introduces BET's newest face, former CNN Pop Culture correspondent Toure. The show features back stage one-on-one interviews with top celebs such as Usher, Diddy, LL Cool J and Snoop Dogg, and also takes a look at the changing face of BET through intimate conversations with past and present hosts including Ed Gordon, Ananda Lewis, new ComicView host Sheryl Underwood, Dr. Bobby Jones and Donnie Simpson as they recall their own personal favorite BET moments; red carpet highlights; a special feature look at some of the most prolific music video directors of today, Billie Woodruff, Hype Williams and F. Gary Gray; and a post-event analysis of the biggest moments of the night.
BET.com is giving online users a window into the inner workings and backstage highlights of this huge telecast with their ALL ACCESS feature on the site, hosted by former BET host Big Lez. Extensive photo galleries and other online features put users virtually in the mix with a next-best-thing- to-being-there experience at the hottest ticket of the year. A BET historical interactive timeline chronicles the history of the network since its founding in 1980. The timeline, developed by New York-based digital marketing and branding agency Thrust360, takes BET.com visitors on a nostalgic journey through the many milestones of the network through text, photos and exclusive video clips -- from groundbreaking interviews and one of a kind network performances, to flashback clips from BET shows and events.
And the network is marking a quarter century of serving the African American community in other ways as well -- in the most extensive graphic and attitudinal makeover ever by the network, BET is unveiling an all-new look and image campaign whose timing coincides with the premiere of 25 STRONG: THE BET SILVER ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL on Tuesday, November 1. The galvanizing anthem "It's My Thing" remains the network's signature tagline, but is now spread across connective tentacles of culture, style, voice, network, choice and the world as seen through the individual and collective eyes of BET viewers. "Bold . . . Black . . . Beautiful . . . Confident" are just a few of the touchstone phrases motivating the campaign, which launches in massive force with new television advertising on BET and other networks, along with print and on-line creative with leading trade magazines, websites and African-American publications.
BET will air encore performances of 25 Strong: The BET Silver Anniversary Special on Friday, November 4 from 8-11 p.m. ET/PT; Thursday, November 10 from 8-11 p.m. ET/PT; and Thursday, November 24 from 8-11 p.m. ET/PT.
BET, a subsidiary of Viacom, Inc. (NYSE:VIA)(NYSE:and)(NYSE:VIA.B), is the nation's leading television network providing quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs programming for the African-American audience. The BET Network reaches more than 80 million households according to Nielsen media research, and can be seen in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. BET is a dominant consumer brand in the urban marketplace with a diverse group of branded businesses: BET.com, the Number 1 Internet portal for African Americans; BET Digital Networks - BET Jazz, BET Gospel and BET Hip Hop, attractive alternatives for cutting-edge entertainment tastes; and BET Event Productions, specializing in a full range of event production services, including event management, venue selection, talent recruitment, sound, lighting and stage production.
ABOUT COSSETTE PRODUCTIONS
Cossette Productions is Hollywood's most unique and comprehensive production company, with more than 35 years of experience offering diverse and creative consultation, direction and execution of entertainment production. To its credit, Cossette Productions has produced 33 years of the Grammy Awards telecast; eight weekly television series totaling more than 500 episodes; numerous award-winning Broadway theatrical plays and musicals; 50 major performance specials, award shows and celebrity tributes; corporate events for the nation's largest companies; and countless made-for-television motion pictures and mini-series.
ABOUT THE SHRINE AUDITORIUM
The Shrine Auditorium, located at 665 W. Jefferson Blvd., comprises the single largest theater in North America, with some 6,300 seats and an adjoining 54,000 square foot Expo Center. Over six decades old, the Shrine is owned and operated by the Al Malaikah Auditorium Company (part of the Shrine Al Malaikah Temple). On January 11, 1920 the Shrine Auditorium burned to the ground. It took another six years of planning and funding before the new Auditorium was completed. Once rebuilt, it was unique among the theater structures of the world because of its size, versatility and unique interior and exterior design. It is a major cultural center on the West coast and is recognized as a historical monument for its contributions to Los Angeles' history. Playing a dual role as Southern California headquarters for the Shrine fraternity, as well as a public rental facility for live and televised arts and entertainment productions, theater productions, operas, movie screenings, meetings, conferences, trade shows and conventions, today's Shrine Auditorium continues to be improved and renovated and remains one of the most admired and respected Auditoriums in the world.
Visit us @ http://www.bet.com/pr
Source: BET (Black Entertainment Television)
CONTACT: Tosha Whitten-Griggs, +1-202-246-7875,
Tosha.Whitten-Griggs@BET.net, or Marcy Polanco, +1-212-975-3327,
Marcy.Polanco@BET.net, both of BET; or Amber Koger of Bobbi Marcus PR,
+1-310-889-9200, firstname.lastname@example.org, for BET
Web site: http://www.bet.com/
NOTE TO EDITORS: Screeners, b-roll footage and interview opportunities are available upon request; please contact Tosha Whitten-Griggs at (818) 655-6712 or Zabrina Horton, BET Corporate Communications at (818) 655-6737 email@example.com. Downloadable images and logos are available at our PR website, www.bet.com/pr.