SA can learn from the BETs

2011-07-08 07:52

There are lessons to be learned from international shows such as the BET Awards, which I attended last week at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

Flashbacks of this year’s shambolic SA Music Awards (Samas) haunted me as I walked on to the yellow carpet (ironically similar to the Samas) at the show. But that’s where the similarities ended.

At the BET Awards, unlike the recent Samas at Montecasino, I didn’t need to worry about marauding crowds pushing and shoving, and possibly losing my ­cellphone and my newly acquired Blackberry Playbook in the chaos.

It’s not only the Samas that have left a bitter taste in my mouth. Major award shows such as the Channel Os, MTV Africa Music Awards, The Metro FM Music Awards and the SA Film and Television Awards (Saftas) are known to be messy affairs.

Back to the Shrine Auditorium, where everything was slick and precise. It was the planning that went into the awards that made the ­experience a pleasant spectacle.

The Auditorium is much like the Pretoria State Theatre, where the Saftas have been held. It also doesn’t differ much from the Samas’ former home, the Sun City Superbowl, ­accommodating the same crowd capacity of
about 6300.

From the moment the event kicked off, there was no ­confusions about who was ­supposed to go where. There was a public entrance and another one for the ­celebrities. There was a space dedicated for photographs. The media was allocated specific spots, with names of their respective publications in full view so that the celebrity guests could chose ­whoever they ­preferred to be ­interviewed by.

To add value, there were ­performances held on a stage set outside the main venue before the ceremony, where nominees were given a chance to perform their hits. The recent Samas had a ­second stage outside the venue that would have worked perfectly for this purpose.

Pre-event interviews were ­conducted by presenters Terence and Rocsi of the music show 106 & Park on the outside stage.

Our ­local version could have used SABC1’s Live presenters. Sizwe Dhlomo and ­Bonang ­Matheba would have been perfect as co-presenters ­before the event, leaving the main ceremony with only Phat Joe as the key MC. ­Comedian Kevin Hart was the BET’s main presenter and delighted the audience with his “Real ­Husbands of ­Hollywood” skit and irreverent humour.

This was reminiscent of Loyiso Gola at the Metro FM Awards and Trevor Noah’s brilliant job as a host at the Samas.
Local award shows tend to be ­lenient when it comes to guests ­arriving late during the
live ­broadcast.

What usually ends up happening is that people constantly loiter about and obstruct cameras. None of that happened at the BETs. ­People only stood up during the interval and if they had not ­returned by the time the show went live again, the doors were shut and “seat fillers” temporarily sat on the seats.

It was ironic that the only time the BET organisers tried to be ­fancy – by doing a live-stream ­performance of Beyoncé from ­Britain’s Glastonbury Festival – it turned out to be a flop.

Other than that, most performances relied mainly on the artists’ showmanship. The best performance of the night was by Kelly Rowland. It was simple yet sexy and entertaining.

The performance by DJ Khaled, Rick Ross, Drake and Lil’ Wayne of their hit I’m On One amped
the crowd.

The BET Awards showed up just how far local production companies for award shows have to go to get to the same level of proficiency.

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