“We have a business model that works with the best entertainment in our community,” exclaimed BET Networks’ Debra Lee as she tried to attract the attention of the otherwise distracted crowd that showed up at the Book Bindery in Culver City for the fifth annual pre-BET Awards celebration dinner on Saturday night.
Lee had succeeded in filling the room with lots of famous faces, including Ashanti, Jenifer Lewis, Trey Songz, Keri Hilson, Eric Benet, Goapele, MC Lyte, Malcolm Jamal Warner, Hill Harper, Tichina Arnold, Boris Kodjoe, Nicole Ari Parker and Anthony Anderson, who co-hosted the glittery evening.
Anderson struggled as much as Lee did to get the crowd’s attention, at one point yelling into the mic, “Distinguished group of black folk, can I have your attention, please?” But to little avail. They also pretty much ignored the live perfs by Bilal and Cameo that topped off the night.
Things were a bit more intriguing at the Shrine Auditorium on Sunday for the BET Awards. Especially fun was the moment when contest winner Tiffany Green announced the winner of the just-voted-on Audience Award as Chris Brown, then changed it to his ex-girlfriend Rihanna. Drake accepted for her, then oops, she didn’t really win it. They later gave it to Brown after all. He was a big winner, as were Nicki Minaj, Kanye West and Jaden and Willow Smith, whose parents Will and Jada looked on proudly.
And in a weird turn of events, NFL star Michael Vick, in absentia, took home the BET trophy for best sportsman. Guess they didn’t get the memo that his favorite sport isn’t football.