BET Awards 2012: Network President on How the Show's A-List Whitney Houston Tribute Came Together
The talk on Twitter and certainly inside downtown Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium, where the BET Awards were held on Sunday, was of unanimous praise -- that finally, one music awards show, pulled together a proper tribute to the late Whitney Houston.
It consisted not just of stellar performances by the likes of Brandy, Monica and Chaka Khan (with stars Jamie Foxx, Kanye West, Beyonce and Jay-Z in the audience), but also a reunion of the singer-actress's Waiting to Exhale costars Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine and Lela Rochon. But the most moving moment in a series of touching remembrances, including iconic photos of the R&B superstar, had to be the performance of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by the late singer's mother Cissy Houston.
Speaking to reporters after the show, BET president of entertainment and music programming Stephen Hill revealed that plans for a tribute started some "24 hours after Whitney Houston passed [when] we started getting tweets [asking] what our tribute is going to be like, and knew that he had to get Cissy involved."
Once she was on board, the rest of the pieces came together without compromising the show's mission. "We wanted a tribute that included family, peers, people that Whitney Houston had influenced and people who had influenced Whitney Houston," said Hill, who's been with the network since 1999. "That's exactly what we got."
Mariah Carey was drafted to introduce the over 10-minute segment and Hill revealed that the two had talked the day after Houston's accidental death in a bathtub at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Grammy weekend. "She told me about last seeing her in London and some other stories about Whitney and that's how it all came together -- that the BET Awards would be where Mariah would come out and speak about it."