BET Music Awards Revamp to Add Tributes to the Late Michael Jackson

Associated Press
Monday, June 29, 2009

LOS ANGELES, June 28 -- The BET Awards became the official Michael Jackson TV celebration on Sunday, with joyous tributes to the King of Pop -- from a New Edition medley of Jackson 5 songs to host Jamie Foxx's tender monologue delivered in that classic red leather zipper jacket and white glove.

Joe Jackson, the singer's father, was on hand to represent the grief-stricken family. "I just wish he could be here to celebrate himself," he said. "Sadly, he's not here, so I'm here to celebrate for him."

He also read a statement on the red carpet asserting that he and his wife, Katherine, have sole authority over the late pop star's affairs, including his three children.

The BET show at the Shrine Auditorium, already an event with major star wattage, was thrown under a white-hot spotlight in the wake of Michael Jackson's death Thursday.

Foxx kicked off the program with a reenactment of the choreography from Jackson's iconic "Beat It" video. "No need to be sad. We want to celebrate this black man," the host said.

Producers of the annual awards show -- which recognizes the best in music, acting and sports -- revamped it to meet the moment.

New Edition, the 1980s teen sensations who were considered that generation's Jackson 5 with their own version of bubble-gum soul, ran through several of the Jackson 5's greatest hits, from "I Want You Back" to "ABC," mirroring their idols right down to the group's original choreography. Ne-Yo sang one of Jackson's most sensual songs, "Lady in My Life."

And winners acknowledged Jackson when they received their awards.

"We all know none of us in this room wouldn't be here for Michael Jackson," said Lil Wayne, as he picked up his award for best male hip-hop star.

"My heart and prayers go out to the whole Jackson family," said basketball star LeBron James, who won best male athlete. "What they did for us . . . for the whole world was amazing."

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