Philadelphia was in the house and represented well at this year’s BET Hip-Hop Awards. Philly’s own home-grown hip-hop royalty, Eve, presented veteran rapper MC Lyte with the “I Am Hip Hop” Award and superstar comedian Kevin Hart was a presenter and performed comedy skits with Snoop Dogg in between stage set ups; rapper Meek Mill performed and singer Musiq Soulchild was among the celebrities in the audience.
Snoop Dogg arrived on stage in a blue convertible car similar to the one used in Snoop and Dr. Dre’s classic video “Gin and Juice” to start the awards show. Kevin Hart, the first award presenter, came on stage armed with 10 police officers as he made fun of a few audience members followed by Philly native Meek Mill who performed “Dreams and Nightmares” and “Level.”
There a few must-see performances, including BET Hip-Hop Awards’ signature pre-taped cyphers that air between stage set-ups or during commercial breaks on TV and the pre-taped cyphers that feature “Real Husbands of Hollywood” cast members Nick Cannon, Boris Kodjoe, Duane Martin, comedian J.B. Smoove, Nelly and a shirtless Kevin Hart.
This year’s BET’s Hip-Hop Awards taping was uneventful compared to last year’s backstage brawl between Rick Ross and Jeezy and their entourages that abruptly and awkwardly ended the taping. Cellphones went off simultaneously as the fight was being reported via twitter in real time as the brawl was happening backstage.
This year’s taping started one hour late due to a generator problem according to a BET publicist. The stars arrived late on the Green Carpet as well. Notables walking the carpet included Juvenile, B.o.B., 2 Chainz, Yo-Yo, MC Lyte, and DJ Kid Capri; boxing champ Floyd Mayweather and Snoop Dogg arrived last.
BET tapes its annual Hip-Hop Awards in downtown Atlanta at the Atlanta Civic Center. The show premieres on Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 8 p.m.
Kenya Moore’s dramatic, yet hilarious, antics on the “Real Housewives of Atlanta” have made her a household name.
The former Miss USA has criticized for practically begging her then boyfriend, Walter Jackson, to marry her. It was later reported that she had recruited him to pretend to be her boyfriend on the show. She also verbally assaulted and then almost got into a physical altercation with fellow new castmate Porsha Stewart and she stole Phaedra Parks’ donkey booty exercise video idea.
Moore has single-handedly hijacked this TV show with her personal storylines, and fans tune in to see what this diva will do next.
Some believe her behavior clearly contradicts her Miss USA legacy as a role model, but Moore doesn’t think so.
“I have to disagree with that. Miss USA is about owning who you are, being independent, being a leader, and I think that’s exactly who I’ve been on the show,” said the 42-year-old Detroit native.
But when things don’t go her way her horns pop out. She had her Moore Vision Media company produce a vengeful, yet comical, video spoof about her nemeses, Posrsha and Phaedra. She hired a drag queen as Porsha and an obese woman wearing Phaedra’s infamous fishnet bathing suit to portray Phaedra. She also had a Walter look-alike.
She justifies her behavior and middle-aged women fighting on national TV as merely a part of everyone’s everyday life.
“This is a reality show, and you’re capturing people’s lives. In anyone’s life, if you follow them around, there’s going to be conflict, there’s going to be disagreements — I don’t think anyone is exempt from those things happening in real life.”
Nonetheless, Moore has become the breakout star of this season’s “Real Housewives of Atlanta” with her funny one-liners – she calls Porsha “dumb-dumb” and said “she’s so dumb, she can’t even make coffee,” and twirled away from a near-fistfight with Porsha by saying the now popular catch-phrase: “Gone-with-the-Wind fabulous.”
Beauty queen winners tend to disappear once they finish their reigns. Not Moore. After the beauty pageant and before reality TV, she had roles in movies such as “Trois” and “I Know Who Killed Me.”
Perhaps Moore’s gauche shenanigans are part of a calculated move to become the next NeNe Leakes, who has successfully transcended into a sought-after Hollywood actress with a role on the hit comedy “The New Normal,” or get her own spinoff show like Kim Zolciak.
“For me, being a part of mainstream again, that is one of the obvious benefits of being on any television show, let alone a top-rated reality show,” said Moore.
Chrissy brutally punched and kicked Kimbella on “Love and Hip Hop”; Evelyn threw a wine bottle, then jumped over a table to hit Jennifer on “Basketball Wives”; “Drita and Karen got into a brawl on “Mob Wives.” Violent fights that were a fixture on “Jerry Springer” are now a staple in reality TV shows centered on women's lives. Women with perfectly coiffed hair and makeup, dressed in designer clothes who live in country clubs get into shouting matches that inevitably lead to a hair-pulling slugfest.
These adult women’s meretricious behavior generates cruel comments from the general public and the press. Reality TV stars are regular tabloid fodder, constantly ridiculed on social media and on the Internet.
So, why do so these so-called successful socialites want to be on reality TV shows?
Take Sharlinda Parker, for instance. Parker, wife of R&B star Que of "112," is a successful businesswoman who co-owns “Tu La 2 Nail Salon” in Atlanta, and is a celebrity manicurist to A-list stars such as Tyler Perry, Queen Latifah and Gabrielle Union. She is the on-set manicurist for various Hollywood movies and TV shows, including "Steel Magnolias," "The Watch" and "Necessary Roughness." Parker, her daughter, Kahdijiha Rowe,and her twin sister, Sabrina "Brie" Rowe, are the latest set of African-American women who have made the foray into reality TV. They are the stars of the new "Big Rich Atlanta" cable TV show that airs on Style.
Parker explains why she decided to do a reality TV show.
"To become a household name, build your business, have fun with it, everyone knows you, that's the benefit of being on a reality show," said the 41-year-old Richmond, Va., native.
Parker had already been approached by Bravo TV to be part of the first cast of their popular “Real Housewives of Atlanta” franchise and was asked again to join the last season. She was also asked by Style to join the cast of “Big Rich Atlanta.”
"The reason I did not join the ‘Housewives’ and I decided to do the mother/daughter show (‘Big Rich Atlanta’), was because it was something new – being on TV with my sister and my daughter,” said Parker. “The ‘Housewives,’ I already knew what I was going into, it was already into its fourth and fifth season, I just knew what I was going up against, going in with drama that was [already] there. I already had my bullets in my chamber."
Parker may have made the right choice in her quest for fame, because the breakout controversial storyline for "Big Rich Atlanta" is the inevitable slugfest between her daughter, Kahdijiha Rowe, and another star of the show, former Miss Georgia Teen Ashlee Wilson-Hawn.
So, how does Parker, a respected businesswoman, one of Atlanta’s prominent manicurists and beloved celebrity wife, justify the undignified behavior involving her daughter?
“With the fight with Kahdijiha, Kahdijiha was provoked,” Parker explained. “You can’t put your hands on anyone, everyone has freedom of speech. You can say what you’d like to say, [but] you can’t touch anybody. I teach my daughter and my son to always protect yourself, if you get backed up into a corner and you need to defend yourself, by all means, defend yourself.”
When asked if the bad behavior on reality TV shows set a bad example for young people, considering Kahdijiha Rowe is part of the so-called elite of Atlanta, Parker said “No.”
Rowe defended her actions, saying, “At the end of the day, I will say that we are humans first. And just because it’s displayed on TV doesn’t make that any different. The specific case between Ashlee and I – that is a legal matter, so I’m not really going to touch on that. But about the image of it, at the end of the day, we’re real people. I truly believe that when put into certain situations sometimes people don’t always react the way you think they should, regardless if that was the appropriate thing to do. I stand by what happened – people get into fights all the time.”
People also wonder if the drama on “Big Rich Atlanta” is manufactured.
“You’ve probably heard from some of my other cast members that it’s suggested, but I will say it’s not suggested…drama sells,” said Rowe. “That does not mean we fabricated the drama. If we didn’t have drama, you would not watch.”
Rowes’ physical altercation with her cast member, Wilson-Hawn, may result in jail time as Wilson-Hawn has pressed charges for assault. When asked if she’s worried about going to jail, Rowe’s response was “No.” She then, added: “I’d like to know a show that you know with no drama that’s doing well?”
“Big Rich Atlanta” airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. on the Style Network.
If you’ve ever wanted to be an extra in a film or on television, you need to meet Christopher Gray. Gray specializes in casting extras for Hollywood’s big-budget blockbuster movies or network TV shows such as “Collateral,” “Amistad,” “Hustle and Flow,” “Men of Honor” and “How Stella Got Her Groove Back.” Extras, or background actors, are the people who are walking or sitting or chatting or standing in any movie or TV show with no speaking lines. Gray has made his mark in Hollywood casting extras for more than 100 Hollywood big-budget movies and TV shows.
Working in Hollywood wasn’t part of his career goal. Gray, born in Memphis, Tenn., is a graduate of Howard University and then studied law in California.
In California, a friend asked him to help out with casting and he caught the proverbial acting bug. He is among a handful of Black casting directors with 25 years of experience casting ordinary people to play roles in movies or TV shows.
Even though he has established himself as one of the casting experts in the movie and TV industry, Gray faces the same challenges that most African-American actors feel in Hollywood — there aren’t enough roles or opportunities for Blacks. According to Gray, in the casting department, there isonly a handful of Black casting directors in Hollywood.
“There are very few scripts for Black actors is the number one problem ... then you have the same actors vying for the same position (role). Sometimes when I go into production meetings, I am the only Black person sitting in,” said Gray, who operates his Christopher Gray Casting Agency in West Hollywood.
As one of the pioneers in Black Hollywood and among a handful of Black casting directors, Gray is not known in Hollywood production circles as a Black casting agent. He is the only African-American casting director to have cast extras with all of the major studios — 20th Century Fox, MGM Pictures, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney/Touchstone, Dreamworks, New Line Cinema and Paramount Pictures — and worked with blockbuster producers and directors, including Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Michael Mann and David Lynch.
And although he has cast millions of extras and his movie credits include A-list superstars such as Tom Cruise, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Denzel Washington and Will Smith, procuring the next movie or TV project remains an “everyday struggle.”
“Hollywood is who you know. It’s all about who you know. If you don’t know anybody, it’s really hard to break in,” explained Gray, who gave rare, behind-the-scenes insight on how casting directors are hired in Hollywood.
His advice for people who want to be the next Christopher Gray is to learn the behind-the-scenes areas of the movie-making or TV show production business, including wardrobe, costume design, hair or makeup, through apprenticeships. There are more opportunities behind the scenes.
Being an extra is also a way to get exposed to the world of movies and TV shows. It’s a way to see the mechanics involved — lighting, cameras, sound, set design and scene production. Gray says “90 percent” of the production work in Hollywood is from on-the-job training, not taught in schools.
You can see Christopher Gray Casting’s magic touch in “What To Expect When You’re Expecting,” starring Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz and Chris Rock in theaters now and the remake of “Steel Magnolias” starring Queen Latifah, Jill Scott, Phylicia Rashad and Alfre Woodard on Lifetime TV in September.
Rapper T.I., who was recently released from federal custody, kicked off the 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards in Atlanta on Saturday to the delight of the near-capacity crowd. The rapper, who spent the last several months in prison due to a parole violation, was in rare form and did not disappoint.
In between scene changes, a pre-taped freestyle by Cypher participants from across the country was shown on the screens. The Cypher scenes were filmed in September.
The notable presenters were Malcolm Jamal-Warner and Tracee Ellis Ross from the new BET show “Reed Between the Lines.” The funniest pairing of presenters was T.I. with basketball player Amare Stoudamire. The nearly 7-foot NBA star towered over the diminutive rapper/actor.
Other celebrities on hand included rappers Busta Rhymes, Wiz Khalifa, Nelly, Rick Ross, Wale, Roscoe Dash, Big Sean, Drumma Boy, DJ Khaled, DaBrat and LL Cool J, as well as singer Tyrese and El DeBarge and Philly’s own Charlie Mack.
Rap fans can look forward to dynamic performances by Wiz Khalifa, Wale, Meek Mill, Lupe Fiasco, Rick Ross, Roscoe Dash, and Big Sean. The legendary Heavy D capped off the show with a medley of the overweight lover's classic hits complete with the trendy dances of the ’90s. The old-school hip-hop veteran upstaged several young rappers’ with his litany of hit records and dynamic choreography.
Lupe Fiasco was accompanied by a live band — two guitars and a drummer — during his creative rap presentation.
A touching moment during the show was when LL Cool J received the I Am Hip Hop Icon Award and the rap pioneer's well-deserved standing ovation.
Compared to previous BET Hip Hop Awards in Atlanta, this year’s awards show was noticeably understated. There was no pre-awards show and the after-parties were all at nightclubs that were open to the general public. There were no lavish BET-sponsored or artist-sponsored private parties for the nominees, presenters and guests. Interscope-Geffen Records and T.I. were the only big-budget sponsored parties related to the BET Hip Hop Awards.
The 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards will air on Oct. 11 at 8 p.m.