The star-studded BET Awards got under way without "the greatest star in the world," Joe Jackson, father of the late Michael Jackson, said on Sunday night.
“I wish the world had recognized him when he were living,” Joe Jackson told CNN’s Don Lemon outside the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. “Right now he’s bigger than ever. But I wish he was here to see all this, to hear all this,” Joe Jackson said. When asked about circumstances surrounding his son’s death, he said, “I have a lot of concerns but I can’t get into that. … I don’t like what happened.” At the show, host Jamie Foxx came out in a red, leather “Billie Jean” jacket and capped his opening monologue with a crowd-pleasing but wobbly moonwalk. Before the show, instead of asking celebrities what designer they wore, pre-awards show hosts Terrence J. and Rocsi asked about favorite Michael Jackson moments or songs. ” ‘Beat it’ and ‘Billie Jean,’ ” recording artist Amerie gleefully said into the microphone, before rattling off several other hits. On the red carpet outside the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, former “America’s Next Top Model” contestant Toccara Jones quickly complimented entertainers on their outfits, then moved to the subject of the day: Jackson. When asked about Jackson’s influence, Hollywood personality Arsenio Hall said, “The only thing we need to know about him was that he was the ‘King of Pop.’ ” “My son couldn’t understand that MTV didn’t play black music back then. They had to change the rules when Mike dropped ‘Billie Jean,’ ” Hall said. The annual event is a premier one for the network and this year’s plan had been to present the Lifetime Achievement Award the legendary soul trio the O’Jays. Artists Alicia Keys and Wyclef Jean are to be honored with the Humanitarian Award for their respective charitable work. BET CEO Debra Lee said Sunday’s show will be dedicated to Jackson and will also pay tribute to his legacy. Lee reflected on Jackson’s career and his importance to BET — which stands for Black Entertainment Television — in a prepared statement after his death, while also offering heartfelt prayers for the singer’s family and friends. “Michael’s influence is felt every day in so many ways at BET Networks, and it’s been that way throughout our network’s entire 29-year history,” she said. “We watched him grow up and, like everyone around the world, he feels like he is a member of our family. “He will be missed more than we can say … but his legend and memory live on in the artists, musicians, producers, dancers, fans and everyone else who looks to him for inspiration.”