Wednesday, June 27, 2007

2007 BET Awards: Working the Room

The undefeated champion of cable award shows is finally over and the reviews and votes for favorite whatever have all been tallied. So depending on who you ask, the show was either a total knockout or a winner by decision. Personally, I am undecided.

Yes, I was at the biggest event for Black Hollywood in Hollywood but only saw approximately three minutes of the show. My view of the entire event consisted of members of the press eager for ready-to-edit soundbites and red carpet photos, celebrities, and lots of black suits--the required dress for day of show. However, I was able to sneak a peak of the "dynamite" Dreamgirls duet and the "Beyonce and 'em" performances while working the busy press room for print outlets. And I also met many of the show attendees and participants like Public Enemy, Alicia Keys, Ashanti, Mo'Nique and the gorgeous new trio consisting of Tyrese, Tank, and Genuine--definitely the highlight.

This year my job could best be described as gate keeper. Before talent made it to the platform for questions from print outlets, I obtained information concerning their upcoming or current projects and helped manage celebrity flow in and out of the print media area . Sounds relatively easy doesn't it? Well, sounds can be deceiving. This job wasn't brain surgery, but it definitely took an advanced degree in celebrity and general people handling.

As most know there is a certain hierarchy in Hollywood defined by lists--the A,B,C, excetera. It is used to explain to a "ghetto superstar" that just because his or her single went gold, it does not guarantee them access to elite red carpets and award show press stages. Likewise, a similar hierarchy is implemented in inviting media outlets to cover the show that limits the number of reporters and photographers on the red carpet and in the press room.

So what media god or goddess decides who gets a coveted spot in the media rooms or on the carpet? That varies from show to show, but generally the event's publicist or publicity department makes that difficult decision. And the process begins several months in advance. The 2007 BET Awards press conference was held back in May.

Back to earning my degree in talent handling. One major skill used was dealing with egos. The ego is a delicate thing, especially for most celebrities--real and make believe. However, ego alone doesn't sell magazines or generate high traffic on websites unless it gets out of hand. Got a new album coming out? How about a movie or tv show? Have neither? Then don't be surprised by the sound of crickets becoming your theme music when standing before the press. Business-savvy celebs realize that soon as their 15 minutes of fame is up, so is the press's interest, generally. Unfortunately, not every talent in Hollywood realizes this, so it was my job at the BET Awards to help some of them come to the conclusion on their own. However, every decision was first approved by those managing the press stage.

After approval each person coming onto the stage was announced to the press. Then reporters were selected by the announcer to ask questions. Each Q & A lasted around 5 minutes. Once the show ended the flow of talent, entourages, and security increased drastically. Mostly everyone that desired press time received it.

By show's end I had been on my feet for nearly six hours straight. My seven and halves felt twice their size and hurt badly. So bad, I knew partying was out of the question. Truly, I was too tired to party like a rock star like planned. I partied like a narcoleptic instead. But all in all the experience was a good one.

Thank you Donna!

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