More than 2.6 million total viewers tuned in to BET’s annual special “Celebration of Gospel” when it premiered on April 6, making it the number one gospel/religious telecast on TV for 14 consecutive years.
A celebration of faith through music, this year’s special featured an all-star roster of performances including Tamela Mann, Kem, Yolanda Adams, Charlie Wilson, Lalah Hathaway, Zacardi Cortez, SWV, Candice Glover, Donnie McClurkin, Tasha Page Lockart, India.Arie, Jonathan McReynolds, Erica Campbell, Rance Allen Group, Tasha Cobbs, Tye Tribbett, Le’Andria Johnson and others.
Despite its stellar ratings and continued success, BET revealed during their upfront presentation to advertisers in New York that “Celebration of Gospel” would not return as one of its “Mega-Specials.” The network is bringing back the “BET Awards,” “Black Girls Rock,” “BET Hip Hop Awards,” and “BET Honors.”
“Celebration of Gospel” premiered in 2000 and comedian Steve Harvey hosted the show for 13 years. The “Original Kings of Comedy” funnyman didn’t return for the 2014 special due to his hectic schedule.
Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson took over “COG” as the host for the first time during this year’s telecast.
In 2010, Grammy winner Whitney Houston made a surprise appearance on “Celebration of Gospel,” where she performed a duet of her hit single ‘I Look To You’ with best friend Kim Burrell. The special, which aired in 2011, would be one of Houston’s last television appearances before dying in 2012.
AlwaysAList.com spoke to sources at BET said they “had no idea” why the network has opted to cancel the top-rated special.
We reached out to rep at BET for official comment on this story and at press time had not received a response.
There are several petitions online already from viewers asking BET to reconsider bringing the show back. Check out the petition from Root magazine below.
[divider][dropcap]UPDATE:[/dropcap] There is misreport being issued by a gospel newsletter creator that BET has not canceled “Celebration of Gospel.” That report is incorrect. Said newsletter person is basing her claim on a call with BET’s Dr. Bobby Jones on Monday. AlwaysAList.com had a call with Dr. Jones last Friday and he told us that he was told by BET’s Stephen Hill, President of Music Programming and Specials, that “COG” was “not canceled, but moved to a different month.” He went on to say that Hill asked him not to share the information publicly.
AlwaysAList.com has previously interviewed Hill on matters related to BET programming. We personally like Hill, but during our Nov 14, 2012 interview about whether BET was planning to cancel “Don’t Sleep with T.J. Holmes,” the BET executive denied that the program was going away. Read: BET’s President Stephen Hill: “We’re Not Who We Were Years Ago!”
In December 2012, Holmes’ show was quietly canceled and BET never commented on the matter again. Read: T.J. Holmes: “Don’t Sleep” Is Taking A Nap
As of May 5, 2014, BET has yet to respond to official inquiries about the cancellation of “COG.” AlwaysAList.com has learned that the network’s decision to end the 14-year franchise is based off the advertising department’s inability to sell the show to sponsors. Because “COG” is not financially lucrative for BET despite good ratings, they have opted to end the special.
AlwaysAList.com is also told that the network is overwhelmed by the response and outcry from the faith-based community regarding the demise of “COG” and could potentially reconsider. As of now, the show remains canceled.[divider][box_dark]READ: Split Apart: Has BET Canceled “Let’s Stay Together?”
Encore: Kirk Franklin Gearing Up For God’s Property Reunion[/box_dark][divider]
PETITION: Want to let BET know how you feel about canceling “Celebration of Gospel?” You can complete a petition by Root magazine here -> COG PETITION.