BET Brass Address 2011 Awards Backlash - Specifically, A Look At The Film/Actor Nominees

by Tambay A. Obenson
May 23, 2011 8:39 AM
14 Comments
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A slow news day post for a slow news day...

Apparently, after the nominees for the 2011 BET Awards were announced last week, a lot of folks felt rather strongly about some of the names and titles that made the cut, as well as those that didn't, but many felt should have.

The backlash must have been quite overwhelming that BET chose to formally respond; and they did so via Stephen Hill, President of Music Programming and Specials, and the executive producer of the BET Awards.

You can read the entire thing HERE, but I thought I'd highlight a few noteworthy points, as they relate to this site.

First, and maybe most important, an answer to a question that I think a lot of us were not aware of previously, and were curious about; specifically, how exactly the nominees are chosen each year.

Hill's response: "Like every time, there’s a collection of music industry folks, bloggers, music writers and, most importantly, a collection of fans that were gleaned from BET.com. We call it the Voting Academy. We had fans, music writers, bloggers and music industry folks."

And I always just kind of figured it was solely an "insider" thing; it never crossed my mind that the process sort opinions from a seemingly diverse group of people, who appear to not be affiliated with the network. But I'd recommend they diversify even more. Like, since their "Voting Academy" includes bloggers, how about looking to those of us here at Shadow And Act to become a part of the "Academy" of voters?

Next... I obviously wasn't paying close enough attention, but apparently The Book of Eli was initially nominated for Best Movie, but, for some reason, it was later removed from consideration. Why?

Stephen Hill's response: "Okay, so in some of our passion, we don’t always get it right. The Book of Eli is now no longer in the Best Movie category. We had an enthusiastic Denzel Washington fan who threw The Book of Eli into the possibles for Movie of the Year. And there are so many Denzel Washington fans and Hughes Brothers fans out there that they voted it as one of the nominations. The problem was that that it didn’t come out during the eligibility period. So we’ve removed it from the nomination... It was a good movie, but we’ve removed it from the nominations. We realized that it was a mistake, but we’ve corrected that mistake."

I couldn't find any info on what the eligibility period is; Hill didn't say. But, given that all the other films nominated in this category were released after April, and Eli was released in January, I'm guessing the "eligibility period" might begin in April?? *shrug* And in case you're wondering, or have forgotten, the films nominated in the final Best Movie category are... Death at a Funeral, For Colored Girls, Takers, and Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married, Too?. Two for Tyler Perry!

And lastly, still in a film-related category... Chris Brown's nomination in the Best Actor category was questioned by many (including some of you here, if my memory serves me correctly).

Hill addressed that by stating: "My thought on that is as follows: We assembled the [Voting] Academy. We try to make it as varied as possible. But when the Academy comes back with their results—again, it’s not any of our individual shows—that’s the decision we’ve made, to trust the Academy. When they come back with a decision, we stick by that decision... I want to be very clear. It’s not like, “Oh, we like four of them but we wanna stick Chris Brown in as an actor.” That’s who they voted for. Between music industry folk, bloggers, writers and fans, Chris Brown was nominated for an acting award."

I'll repeat what I said already... they need to diversify their pool of voters. And who are the other actors nominated in the Best Actor category? Laz Alonso, Don Cheadle, Idris Elba, and Jamie Foxx/. And with that list, riddle me this folks... now I don't know what exactly their criteria is in the "Actor" categories, but, assuming April 2010 is indeed the cut-off, what has Jamie Foxx done in the last year that would warrant him being on this list? I just checked his IMDB resume, and Due Date is it! And how significant was his role in that movie? Same thing with Laz Alonso. The only 2010 film on his resume is Just Wright; but his was a peripheral role. Common was the male lead in that film! For Don Cheadle, it was Iron Man 2. And Idris really could be for 1 of 3 films - Takers, The Losers, and Legacy.

There wasn't any discussion of the nominees in the Best Actress category; but, on first glance, what immediately stands out to me is that, while For Colored Girls is nominated in the Best Film category, just one of the actresses in the film is nominated in the Best Actress category; and it's not even one of the actress that most agreed gave the best performances in the film; it's not Kimberly Elise, not Phylicia Rashaad, Anika Noni Rose, or even Thandie Newton; Kerry Washington got the nod. Not that hers wasn't a good performance, but I didn't think it was the strongest. Unless they are giving it to her for another performance, like in Mother and Child, or even Night Catches Us.

And speaking of Night Catches Us... how do Chris Brown, Laz Alonso (in a supporting role), and Jamie Foxx in a thankless performance, get the nod over Anthony Mackie in that film?

Lastly, by the way, in addition to Kerry Washington, these actresses are nominated in the Best Actress category Halle Berry, Taraji P. Henson, Regina King, Zoë Saldana.

The 2011 BET Awards ceremony airs on June 26th.

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14 Comments

  • jessie's girl | May 25, 2011 1:36 AMReply

    I stopped watching the BET and Image awards a long time ago. They're a joke. I'm waiting for the Shadow and Act Awards! :)

  • Dankwa Brooks | May 24, 2011 11:38 AMReply

    One more thing about the acting catergories-

    “There wasn’t any discussion of the nominees in the Best Actress category; but, on first glance, what immediately stands out to me is that, while For Colored Girls is nominated in the Best Film category, just one of the actresses in the film is nominated in the Best Actress category; and it’s not even one of the actress that most agreed gave the best performances in the film; it’s not Kimberly Elise, not Phylicia Rashaad, Anika Noni Rose, or even Thandie Newton; Kerry Washington got the nod. Not that hers wasn’t a good performance, but I didn’t think it was the strongest. Unless they are giving it to her for another performance, like in Mother and Child, or even Night Catches Us.”

    I totally agree and while I really like Kerry and am looking forward to ‘Scandal’ I also totally agree with “Not that hers wasn’t a good performance, but I didn’t think it was the strongest.”

    This is what I said in my review (under my AKA Cool Black) of ‘For Colored Girls’-

    “The performances in this film are on the most part EXCELLENT, a word I never use lightly. The standout performances are Phylicia Rashad, Thandie Newton and Kimberly Elise. The rest of the cast do great jobs as well including Kerry Washington, Anika Noni Rose, Janet Jackson, Whoopi Goldberg, Loretta Devine and Tessa Thompson.”

    How the first three couldn’t get nominated is really an indictment. Pass the remote.

  • Dankwa Brooks | May 24, 2011 10:53 AMReply

    @Donnie Leapheart ITA with everything he said

    @Tamara "it actually reminded me of “The Soloist” and Jamie and Robert’s “chemistry” in working together toward some “Oscar-bait” that didn’t take." Hollywood Executive "These Magic Negro movies usually work. I'm forclempt."

    @SayNay Word!

    @Xi Word 2 the 5th power!

    @ Quentin "Did they even bother to look for the many independent films that went under the radar, like Night Catches Us, Mother and Child, Legacy, Mooz-Lum, etc?"

    In my Fonz voice "Exactamundo" How about squeeze in “Best Independent Film” award. Since I know they won’t give precious time to highlight the film via a taped piece like the Oscars, give them some publicity by pointing to their website. I’m sure a NAME black director(s) would come out to give the award. There’s your “name” right there. Something…anything.

    Personally, even though I still haven’t seen ‘I Will Follow’, I became a fan of Ava DuVernay after I read that she was also Director & Executive Producer of the BEST production I've ever seen on BET 'My Mic Sounds Nice: The Truth About Women in Hip Hop' (2010 TV documentary). Usually their programming SUCKS. That’s how TVOne came in and changed the game.

    I also tend to not watch ANY awards show besides the Oscars. My own guilty pleasure. This year I finally saw ALL TEN “Best Picture” nominees and yeah…the REAL Academy knows what they are doing. Really good to excellent films. Not a slouch among them.

    As far as these “black award shows”. Back in college studying film EVEN I was nominated for 3 Image Awards, 2 BET Awards and ½ a Source Award. That was my attempt (ill attempt? perhaps) at humor to highlight what lack of credibility they really have beyond a “glamour show” and party.

    Dankwa Brooks
    ‘Nother Brother Entertainment, LLC

  • Xi | May 24, 2011 5:04 AMReply

    "It's not worth an intelligent man's time to be in the majority. By definition, there are already enough people doing that."

    -G.H. Hardy

  • Dankwa Brooks | May 24, 2011 4:40 AMReply

    @Dusty Ayres I hear ya, but places like Shadow & Act can give good insight into what is good and what is not.

    ALSO there are a lot of "mainstream" Hollywood movies that are "BORING as frack" too, but the Academy seems to weed them out.

    Given the proper attention, there can be good qualifiers.

  • blakdiamon | May 24, 2011 3:18 AMReply

    The thing that I don't respect about BET is that they are fully aware of the fact that they are a joke (they banned those Boondocks episodes!), yet they don't really try to fix it. 106 and Park used to rival TRL back in the days, now it's straight garbage. I would say bring back the things that DID work very well (Teen Summit, BET News, Midnight Soul, that Caribbean show way back in the day), but I'd be afraid of the reincarnations.

    Every time they take one step forward (this time with original programming) they take 2 steps back.

    And lets be honest, none of their original programming will be syndicated other than on Centric and MAYBE TVOne.

  • Dusty Ayres | May 24, 2011 2:58 AMReply

    The BIG QUESTION that most people forget is:

    1. Who watches that much independent film?

    2. Who gives a shit about independent film?

    I don't (usually) because most of it is BORING as frack, and about the same things independent film is usually about. So if the BET Awards people choose only to like people who are big names, I can understand-I don't condone, but I do understand.

    Perhaps Black people want to see uplifting things, and Hollywood (mostly) shows that.

  • Ghost | May 24, 2011 2:56 AMReply

    Who wants to see an awards show with a bunch of nominees the audience has vaguely even heard of
    -------------------------------------------------------------

    And whose fault is that? BET can't introduce new blood onthat buffonfest 106 & Park? Or Monique's show?

    Hill can make all the excuses that he wants but BET chooses to ignore a lot of black related stuff.

    We can't get better if we ignore each other.

  • SayNay | May 24, 2011 1:47 AMReply

    I'm not surprised by what Donnie said because NAACP does the same thing for the Image Awards. I have no hope for BET. As has been said over and over on this site, all we can really do is go our own way and stop seeking legitimacy through mainstream channels. So I will happily support this site, the Black Reel Awards, and all of the other spaces where the diversity of our stories are being told.

  • Lynn | May 24, 2011 1:36 AMReply

    @ Quentin

    u are 100% right! BET is meaningless. It makes no sense they simply nominate the people of the "moment" the ones in attendance.

    BET has no clue about independent films like Night Catches Us, Mooz-Lum or Mother & Child. They ONLY know MEDEA and what's at the box office.

    BET network is just pointless to me. Who cancels news?? And dedicate 5 hrs of booty popping. smh

  • JMac | May 23, 2011 12:10 PMReply

    Damn Donnie, that's some crazy ish. Just more evidence on how badly BET still sucks.

  • Tamara | May 23, 2011 10:50 AMReply

    starting to really not care about these awards shows. they're pat-on-the-back, catch-ya-next-round awards. tit for tat. and it's such a shame...

    i mean, not to digress too much, but how do you give a billboards MILLENNIUM award to an artist who ain't been around for a millennium? *blinks* great performer, awesome popularity, but where in the world did this award come from and why?

    There's other awards that have been created, too, that I scratch my head at.

    politics. tit for tat/i gotcha back. sales, sales, sales!

    but back to the point. i get what BET is saying and it sucks for the actual talented, no-name, fresh-faced newbies. but at the same time, i get it. i don't like it. and i won't watch, but i get it.

    and it's always been political, right? i guess? these awards shows?

    Jamie in "Due Date" lasted about maybe 20 minutes or so, split into about 3/4 different scenes. Nothing lasting; nothing meaningful; nothing to remember really.

    No, I take that back, it actually reminded me of "The Soloist" and Jamie and Robert's "chemistry" in working together toward some "Oscar-bait" that didn't take.

    Yeesh.

  • Donnie Leapheart | May 23, 2011 10:23 AMReply

    Having worked on more than a few BET produced awards shows I can say that the "Academy" for many of the shows is typically a group of Viacom/BET network executives that decide (via cc'd emails and conference calls) who should be nominated based on popularity of the nominees and WHO WILL ACTUALLY SHOW UP at the show when recorded/broadcast.

    Initially I cried foul when I learned this but it actually makes PERFECT sense. Who wants to see an awards show with a bunch of nominees the audience has vaguely even heard of and/or the presenters are accepting awards on behalf of 3/4 of the no-show big name nominees?

    Neither Denzel or the Hughes Bros would show up to a BET Awards show...But Tyler Perry definitely will...Shots of Chris Brown in the audience to due to a best actor nod attracts more viewers than shots of Anthony Mackie. This is a business and Awards Shows are a product that must be marketable for advertising dollars.

  • Quentin | May 23, 2011 8:59 AMReply

    What a pretentious moron, this Stephen Hill guy!

    First of all, they shouldn't call themselves the Academy. I can see the bulge forming in his pants every time he refers to their "academy." It sounds too much like the legitimate Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made up of close to 6,000 film "professionals" who would've never voted for Chris Brown, even for the category of Best Knockout of a Female.

    Secondly, they can stick to the decision of Brown but not to The Book of Eli, which was a solid piece of filmmaking? Did they even bother to look for the many independent films that went under the radar, like Night Catches Us, Mother and Child, Legacy, Mooz-Lum, etc?

    Finally, a black more award more meaningless than the NAACP Image Award. Congrats BET.

    Bwa'ye.

    PS: The Black Reel awards are all we got, and that's not saying much...

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