BET confirmed last week during their upfront presentation for advertisers and media guests the speculation that the 35th season of their long-running “Bobby Jones Gospel” will be its final season.
The farewell season ends Dr. Bobby Jones’ reign as the longest-running original series on cable. The 75-year-old Grammy winner will retire from hosting his BET series, but will maintain his performance career and additional entertainment ventures.
Now the question is being asked whether BET should cancel the series following the retirement of Dr. Jones or continue his legacy by bringing on a new host to carry the torch.
The iconic music performance franchise “Soul Train” also had a 35-year run on television and holds the distinction of being the longest-running first-run, nationally syndicated program in American television history.
The series was created and hosted by Don Cornelius, who ended his run as host after the 22nd season in 1993. Cornelius continued as the show’s executive producer and oversaw the behind the scenes aspects of the show. Celebrity guests hosted the show for the first four years following him stepping down.
In 1997, comedian Mystro Clark took over the hosting reigns at “Soul Train” for two seasons; followed by Shemar Moore, who helmed the show for four years; and then actor Dorian Gregory, who served as host from 2003 to 2006.
Like Cornelius did with “Soul Train,” couldn’t BET continue the “Bobby Jones Gospel” franchise with someone else at the helm? Why end the most-popular Gospel performance series on television and take away the only consistent platform the genre’s artists have for TV visibility?
AlwaysAList.com has three potential hosts BET should consider to takeover the reigns following Dr. Jones’ retirement.
Isaac Carree: The award-winning Gospel star is best known for hits like ‘In The Middle’ and ‘Clean This House,’ but the former Men of Standard member actually guest-hosted an episode of “Bobby Jones Gospel” during the 2014 season to rave reviews. Carree has made it known he has interest in television hosting, and recently co-hosted the Trumpet Awards red carpet special for TV One. He’s witty, reaches a younger demographic and could be the perfect person the carry on the legacy of Dr. Jones.
Lexi: Like Dr. Jones, Lexi has balanced a career as a singer and television host. The Detroit-bred talent previously split time between hosting a self-titled show on The Word Network and singing her praise and worship songs like ‘Abide’ and ‘As Long As I Have You.’ Most recently, Lexi has become a viral video sensation with a collection of comedic web series and spoofs that poke fun at the Black church experience. She’s guest-hosted “Bobby Jones Gospel” at least a dozen times and has the same appreciation for glamor and pizazz that Dr. Jones’ does.
Flex Alexander: This actor and comedian isn’t synonymous in the gospel industry, but he’s never shied away from his passion for gospel music. A man of faith, this Hollywood star has hosted the televised Allstate Gospel Superfest several times. His former UPN sitcom, “One On One,” featured his wife, Shanice, and former gospel artist Tonex on the show’s theme song. No stranger to BET, Alexander did a series of guest host stints for BET’s former late night series “Live from L.A.” Now featured on the OWN network reality show, “Flex and Shanice;” Alexander could bring a Hollywood appeal to the faith-based franchise and broaden the reach of the iconic series.
Whether BET looks at these three personalities – or the ubiquitous Kirk Franklin or hot-like-fire David Mann, AlwaysAList.com feels that “Bobby Jones Gospel” is important to the gospel music industry and is a franchise worth continuing.