President Scott Mills Reflects on the Show and the Network – Billboard

BET President Scott Mills wants viewers of this year’s BET Awards to understand one thing from the start: Don’t call it a virtual awards show.

It’s a “complete misunderstanding of what the show is about,” says Mills of the BET Awards who, like many other special events, had to shift gears as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the ceremony will air Sunday night (June 28) and will also make its national debut on CBS.

Noting that other outlets have called the show virtual, Mills continues, “We actually never described it as virtual. We said we were doing the awards and not doing it in front of a live audience.

To explore

See the latest videos, graphics and news

See the latest videos, graphics and news

Mills further points out that the show will not feature artists simply performing from their homes. Instead, the performances will take place in various locations.

“We were absolutely determined,” he adds, “not to do a couch performance show.”

Ahead of Sunday’s BET Awards telecast, Mills hints at what fans can expect, Amanda Seales’ “critical” role as this year’s host, her favorite awards moments and the future of the BET brand as the cable network simultaneously celebrates its 40th anniversary.

Can you preview what the BET Awards will look like?

With what’s happening in this country – especially what’s happening in the context of African Americans and the heartbreaking focus on racial inequality – artists are really [being] decided to use their voice to draw more attention to these issues. We also know that artists are first and foremost creative human beings. We’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of the BET Awards and a lot has already been done on stage. So we said to the artists, “We’re not going to do this at the Microsoft Theater. [in Los Angeles]. Now you have flexibility. where would you like [perform]?” And people picked amazing places.

The opening of the show is going to be so powerful, talking about the moment we find ourselves in as an African American community. It will be absolutely and deeply current and moving. It will also show how the issues we are fighting today are the ones we have been fighting for so long. It’s a really powerful opening that I think will set the tone.

How does host Amanda Seales and presenters fit into this overhaul?

Amanda is a great host for this because part of what you need to be is really flexible and able to respond to very dynamic situations. The host plays a critical role—potentially an even more critical role this year—because it’s up to the host to bring all the pieces together and help make the experience cohesive. The good news is that there are some powerful legacies this year, as you can imagine, given all that is going on in the world. [Amanda] shoots his segments on sound stages and will be the person who weaves together all the different moments, introductions, tributes, tributes and honors throughout the show. We will have other people presenting. But we’re really going to be heavily dependent on the host given the runs.

What are some of your favorite awards moments over the past 20 years?

Michael Jackson stepping out to honor James Brown in 2003 is a favorite moment. Kanye West in “Jesus Walks” [in 2004] with Yolanda Adams was another incredibly powerful moment. When Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith hosted in 2005; Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar’s performance [“Freedom”] in 2016… I could go on and on. That’s what I love about the show: extraordinary moments that are so specific to our culture.

When we presented the Icon Award to Tyler Perry in 2019, [his speech] was so moving. If you were an 18 year old watching, this was a powerful message for you. If you were a 52-year-old viewer, this was a resonating message for you, too. I love this ability of our platform to allow important people in our community to speak to our community on such a scale.

How would you describe the lasting impact of the BET Awards?

The awards show is that unique opportunity for people who deeply respect the black community, who deeply respect black culture, who deeply care about black people to come together, above all else, to recognize and celebrate all that is amazing in our community . And also to use it as a platform to express our anger, our fear, our indignation, our concerns while also expressing our triumphs, our joys [and] to celebrate the most extraordinary people in our community. It’s fascinating because given what’s happened between the twin plagues — COVID-19 and deadly racism — the 2020 BET Awards are needed more than ever before. That’s really the way we approached it [the show] every year.

Given the recent merger between Viacom and CBS, is BET planning to bring back its regular news programming?

Absolutely yes. The key is to do it in a way that resonates with our audience. Now that Viacom and CBS are together, we have an amazing partnership with the CBS News team. This has greatly expanded our access to information gathering resources, which has been a big plus for us. Now there’s an absolute place for what we call a weekly news digest show through which important people in our community can come together, talk about what happened the week before and what happened next. comes from it. This is particularly important with elections looming on the horizon. Prominent journalists have come to us and said, “I did some very important work a while ago on race and America, and it’s appalling how little has changed. I want to come back and take that back in 2020 with a vengeance and really use that as a vehicle to drive change in important areas.

We’re also working on an African American newsmagazine type program, picking up a very important topic of the week and also featuring some amazing African Americans. Everyone knows the successful and extraordinary artists and athletes in our community. But there is also an incredible array of business people, academics, and people in the social justice field who are unprofiled.

What future for the network brand?

This is one of the reasons we launched BET+. Our responsibility is to ensure that BET is as relevant and robust in 40 years as it is today. We need to make crucial decisions today to ensure that happens, as we have seen brands in the African American community that were extremely relevant and powerful, but are virtually irrelevant today. It’s not that anyone expected this to happen. It’s that there’s been a series of missed opportunities or a series of critical decisions that weren’t made optimally. If we want to be important to people 10+ years from now, we have to have products that serve those people. Our job, just as it was with BET Experience and with digital two decades ago, is to continuously monitor and understand our audience.