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May 1, 2014

The Benediction: BET Cancels “Celebration Of Gospel”

Charlie Wilson

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, SWVCandice Glover, Donnie McClurkin, Tasha Page Lockart, India.ArieJonathan McReynolds, Erica CampbellRance Allen Group, Tasha CobbsTye 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.”

Tamela Mann

“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.

JJ Hairston & “Sunday Best” winner Tasha Page Lockart

 

UPDATE:

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.

Dr. Bobby Jones

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.

 

 

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.

 







  1. Overseer Leon Thomas Jr

    Since BET will not bring it back; I hope ASPIRE takes it over.


  2. JRoc85

    BET is messing up BIG TIME if they cancel Celebration of Gospel!!! It has become a huge staple in Gospel Music television (along side The Stellar Awards)!


  3. Ms1zzy

    BET is already lacking in good quality television shows as it is. However you get the best ratings ever on something with a powerful and religious support background and you yank it off the air?? Yeah I already quit watching their network a few years a god…time to cancel it off my viewing list all together… #ReRuns and #PoorActing


  4. Sammoto Yomosa

    I think BET is in a great need of renovation, bT would benefit from a new marketing staff new management, dedicated individuals who are very creative and innovative. If I was the owner of this corporation I would not be enthusiastic with paying huge salaries to individuals who cannot market a very simple and will needed program.


  5. smecse

    I think canceling “COG” is the worse decision BET has ever made…at this point the word network needs to pick it up and continue. BET is officially cut from my viewing line up…no Gospel no watching. PERIOD!


  6. trisha

    Don’t cancel celebration of gospel


  7. Shawndra C. Johnson

    B.E.T. being run, managed and maintained by an almost BLACK staff like it was at it’s inception might solve more than half the problems they are currently experiencing. There is something to be said about black people truly KNOWING the black experience and what appeals and relates to us. IJS


  8. Gary Horne

    I thought this last installment was the least enjoyable. It has always been entertaining to watch secular artists go back to their roots. It was straight up footer this year. BYE FELICIA


  9. KayCee

    BET makes the dumbest decisions ever! I hope Tyler picks it up and moves it to OWN. Then BET can die peacefully.



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