BET Awards Eye Los Angeles Exit After 16 Years

BET Awards 2018 (Credit: YouTube)

The biggest night in urban entertainment may be looking for a new home outside the entertainment capital of the world.

The contract for the BET Awards, which have been held at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles since 2013, ends this year opening the door for the show to move to a different city, an individual with knowledge of the matter, who wasn’t authorized to speak on behalf of BET, told me backstage during Sunday’s awards.

AEG owns L.A. Live, a large entertainment campus that includes the Staples Center, Microsoft Theater, a movie theater, hotels, restaurants and the Grammy museum.

The 2018 BET Awards took place inside the Microsoft Theater. Actor and comedian Jamie Foxx served as host of the live broadcast, which included performances by Nicki Minaj, Migos, Meek Mill and a tribute to R&B legend Anita Baker.

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“They don’t want to renew,” the individual said about BET and its contract, adding that management is mulling making changes to the show following the departure last month of BET Networks chairman and CEO, Debra Lee, after 32 years with the company. A second person familiar with the matter confirmed the person’s account.

The Bobby Brown Story Cast (Credit: Anita Bennett)
Bobby Brown poses backstage with the cast of “The Bobby Brown Story” (Credit: Anita Bennett)

BET has turned the awards, which celebrate African-American achievement in entertainment and sports, into a four-day festival called the BET Experience.

The multi-day event offers concerts, panel discussions and seminars in the days leading up to the BET Awards.

This year’s concert lineup included Chris Brown, SZA, Rae Sremmurd, LL Cool J Ludacris, Ne-Yo, Kamaiyah, Ella Mai and Wondagurl.

The BET Experience draws more than 100,000 fans each year who spend money on hotels, transportation and meals.

While L.A. Live has different venues available for all of the BET Experience activities, my source said the cable network wants the event to be “more like Coachella.”

The person said L.A. Live is also “too restrictive,” adding that “there’s so many things that they don’t allow.”

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There was a massive police presence on Sunday around the Microsoft Theater.

While heavy security is needed, particularly after the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest music festival last year in Las Vegas, Sunday’s security team faced criticism for crashing BET’s live red carpet pre-show.

As hosts Terrence J and Cassie interviewed singer Tank, security/fire department personnel stepped in front of the camera and demanded the hosts and camera crew leave the area.

While some fans asked on social media if the awkward exchange was staged, my source said security “didn’t do a good job” at the show, and it was too difficult to get around the venue.

The insider added that BET’s management team is considering moving the awards to Atlanta, Houston or Austin.

But BET and AEG say not so fast. They told me in a joint statement they’re planning future negotiations to extend the L.A. Live contract.

“BET and AEG executives are reviewing the just concluded 2018 BET Experience weekend and will begin discussing a contract extension for the 2019 event in the near future,” the statement said.

The BET Awards launched in Las Vegas in 2001 and moved to L.A. the following year.

Since then, the show has been held at the Kodak Theatre (now the Dolby Theatre), the Shrine Auditorium and L.A. Live.

It remains to be seen if it will stay in L.A.