Review: ‘PAW Patrol: The Movie,’ starring the voices of Will Brisbin, Iain Armitage, Lilly Bartlam, Marsai Martin, Ron Pardo, Yara Shahidi and Jimmy Kimmel

August 20, 2021

by Carla Hay

Zuma (voiced by Shayle Simons), Rocky (voiced by Callum Shoniker), Skye (voiced by Lilly Bartlam), Chase (voiced by Iain Armitage), Marshall (voiced by Kingsley Marshall) and Rubble (voiced by Keegan Hedley) in “PAW Patrol: The Movie” (Image courtesy of Spin Master/Paramount Pictures)

“PAW Patrol: The Movie”

Directed by Cal Brunker 

Culture Representation: Taking place in the fictional Adventure City in North America, the animated film “PAW Patrol: The Movie” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with a few African Americans, Latinos and Asians) representing the middle-class and working-class.

Culture Clash: A boy and his team of rescue dogs must stop a villainous mayor, whose demented plans to control everything end up causing dangerous hazards to people in the city.

Culture Audience: “PAW Patrol: The Movie” will appeal primarily to fans of the “Paw Patrol” TV series and people who want escapist entertainment that can be enjoyed by viewers of of wide age ranges.

Mayor Humdinger (voiced by Ron Pardo) in “PAW Patrol: The Movie” (Image courtesy of Spin Master/Paramount Pictures)

“PAW Patrol: The Movie” is a lightweight, family-friendly animated film with multi-generational appeal. It’s not going to win any major awards, but the movie has positive messages about teamwork, self-acceptance and caring for mental health issues. It also doesn’t fall into a common trap that tends to plague animated films from major studios: trying to cram in as many storylines as possible, and thereby making the film too cluttered.

The simple plot of “PAW Patrol: The Movie” works well because it’s easy for very young kids to follow, and the pacing is just right for this story. A lot of family-oriented animated films seem to forget that many children in the movie’s target audience are too young to understand movies that pile on complicated subplots. And some animated movies get so enamored with world building, it results in too many characters being introduced. Sometimes people just want to see an uncomplicated “good versus evil” story.

Directed by Cal Brunker (who co-wrote the screenplay with Billy Frolick and Bob Barlen), “Paw Patrol: The Movie” thankfully does not assume that everyone watching this movie has seen the “Paw Patrol” TV series, a show that originated in Canada in 2013. The series is televised in Canada on TVOKids and in the U.S. on Nickelodeon You don’t need to see the “PAW Patrol” TV series to enjoy or understand the movie.

What might disappoint fans of the “PAW Patrol” series is that certain dog characters in the movie don’t get the spotlight as they would in the TV series. Newcomers to the “PAW Patrol” franchise who see this movie and don’t know anything about the TV series will come away only remembering the personalities of only three or four (or about half) of the dogs in the movie.

But the filmmakers seem to know this movie’s target audience, because there’s only so much you can put in an 88-minute movie like this one that a TV series would be allowed more time to have. For example, in the TV series, there are 12 dogs and one cat that are part of the PAW Patrol. In this movie, there are six dogs that are part of the PAW Patrol and one dog that’s an aspiring PAW Patrol member.

In “PAW Patrol: The Movie,” Ryder (voiced by Will Brisbin) is a 10-year-old boy who’s in charge of a team of rescue dogs that have the voices of human kids who are around the same age and can do many things thagt humans can do, such as drive vehicles. Ryder and the dogs all live in Adventure City, which is somewhere in North America. Members of the PAW Patrol help the community in various ways, by acting as unofficial police officers and firefighters.

The dog who’s closest to Ryder is a male German Shepherd named Chase (voiced by Iain Armitage), who has a reputation for being the bravest dog in the pack, with a keen sense of sight and smell. Chase is allergic to cats though, which is a hindrance since this movie’s villain has several cats. All of the other PAW Patrol dogs look up to Chase in some way as their “alpha dog.”

In addition to Chase, there’s Skye (voiced by Lilly Bartlam), a bold 7-year-old female tan cockapoo, who has aircraft skills and a custom-made pink-and-grey helicopter. Marshall (voiced by Kinsgley Marshall) is a goofy 6-year-old male Dalmatian with firefighter and paramedic skills and a custom fire engine truck. Rocky (voiced by Callum Shoniker) is a 6-year-old grey-and-white male Schnauzer/Scottish Terrier mixed-breed dog, who is skilled at recycling and handyman duties, and he has a green recycling truck.

Zuma (voiced by Shayle Simons) is a 5-year-old male brown Labrador Retriever whose specialty is water rescues. He has an orange hovercraft that can be used on water or on land. Rubble (voiced by Keegan Hedley) is a 5-year-old male white-and-brown bulldog who is the team’s construction expert, and his custom vehicle is a yellow bulldozer.

In “PAW Patrol: The Movie,” the team is moving to new headquarters that Ryder has chosen for them. Going along for the ride is another dog who eagerly wants to become a member of the PAW Patrol. She’s smart and sassy Liberty (voiced by Marsai Martin), a brown dachshund, who only has a beat-up play wagon as her vehicle. Liberty, who is a new “PAW Patrol” character introduced in this movie, feels like she has to prove herself to be a worthy member of the PAW Patrol. Liberty meets Ryder and the team when she helps navigate them out of a traffic jam—an indication that she has an excellent sense of direction.

Around the same time, Adventure City is about to experience new leadership with the newly elected Mayor Humdinger (voiced by Ron Pardo), an egotistical and cruel blowhard who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. (Pardo also voices the character of marine biologist Cap’n Turbot, a TV series regular who makes a brief appearance in this movie.) Mayor Humdinger likes to wear top hats and loves to get attention for himself.

The mayor also owns several cats, which are the only living beings that he doesn’t mistreat. The movie doesn’t portray cats in a positive way—the PAW Patrol dogs dislike cats and make sour faces when cats are mentioned—but viewers who love cats shouldn’t be too offended, since the cats don’t really do anything wrong in the story. In addition to having cats as his companions, Mayor Humdinger has two boneheaded and bulky henchmen who are at his beck and call: dark-haired Butch (voiced by Randall Park) and blonde Ruben (voiced by Dax Shepard), who frequently argue about which of them is smarter or more well-liked by their boss.

In Adventure City, a brilliant scientist named Kendra Wilson (voiced by Yara Shahidi) has been leading a team to build an invention called the Cloud Catcher, which sucks clouds out of the air. She tells Mayor Humdinger that the purpose of the Cloud Catcher is so that clouds can be studied and examined. However, once Mayor Humdinger finds out about the Cloud Catcher, he orders Kendra and her team to use it so that every day in Adventure City can be sunny.

Mayor Humdinger makes some more awful decisions, such as building an outdoor subway track that looks more like a circular amusement park ride. Not surprisingly, things go very wrong, and a subway train gets stuck hanging upside-down from the track. Its one of several hazardous events that need the PAW Patrol’s help. There’s an environmental disaster that also occurs due to the Mayor Humdinger’s misuse of the Cloud Catcher.

Early on in the movie, during a rescue of people from a burning building, Chase gets stuck on his parachute rope because he didn’t activate the parachute correctly. He’s very hard on himself because of this mistake. And as a result, he loses a lot of self-confidence and starts to have anxiety attacks in stressful situations. It’s a mental health issue that’s handled with grace and sensitivity in this movie, which also hints that Chase has become a workaholic who’s in need of taking a break for self-care.

The movie isn’t all gloom and doom. There are several moments of comedic levity, many of which come from an overly ambitious TV journalist called Marty Muckraker (voiced by Jimmy Kimmel), who wants to get news scoops and uncover scandals at any cost. Mayor Humdinger and Marty both have huge egos. It’s inevitable that both of them will have personality clashes with each other.

If you’ve ever had real-life experiences with a narcissistic, incompetent tyrant who’s been given too much authority and is on a power trip, then you’ll get some laughs out of watching what happens to Mayor Humdinger in this movie. Adults who watch this movie with any underage kids should tell those kids that even though Mayor Humdinger is a fictional character, there are plenty of toxic bullies like him in the real world. A cartoon villain like Mayor Humdinger isn’t too far off from how power-hungry and vain oppressors act like in real life.

All of the voice actors get the job done in a highly satisfactory way, but not in a particularly outstanding manner. What stands out in “PAW Patrol: The Movie” is how well the story makes use of a uncluttered plot, in addition to the real-life lessons that the movie tries to teach, without being preachy. “PAW Patrol: The Movie” also has a very good gender balance in who gets to do the heroic actions. There are certainly more intricately made, higher-budgeted and more dazzling animated films than “PAW Patrol: The Movie.” But for people who are looking for some good, clean fun in an animated movie that doesn’t get dull or overly complicated, then “PAW Patrol: The Movie” is a solid choice.

Paramount Pictures released “Paw Patrol: The Movie” in U.S. cinemas and on Paramount+ on August 20, 2021.

Review: ‘Spirit Untamed,’ starring the voices of Isabela Merced, Marsai Martin, Mckenna Grace, Walton Goggins, Julianne Moore and Jake Gyllenhaal

June 4, 2021

by Carla Hay

Abigail Stone (voiced by Mckenna Grace), Lucky Prescott (voiced by Isabela Merced) and Pru Granger (voiced by Marsai Martin) in “Spirit Untamed” (Image courtesy of DreamWorks Animation)

“Spirit Untamed”

Directed by Elaine Bogan; Co-directed by Ennio Torresan

Culture Representation: Taking place sometime in the early 1800s or mid-1800s in an unnamed Southwestern part of the United States, the animated film “Spirit Untamed” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with a few African Americans and Latinos) representing frontier people living in the Wild West.

Culture Clash: A 12-year-old girl defies her father’s orders to ride a horse, and she teams up with two other girls to fight bandits who have stolen a team of horses led by an intelligent mustang stallion named Spirit.

Culture Audience: “Spirit Untamed” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of the Netflix animated series “Spirit Riding Free,” on which this movie is based, but many viewers might be unimpressed with the bland storyline, unremarkable animation and an origin story that isn’t very original.

Lucky Prescott (voiced by Isabela Merced), Aunt Cora (voiced by Julianne Moore) and Jim Prescott (voiced by Jake Gyllenhaal) in “Spirit Untamed” (Image courtesy of DreamWorks Animation)

In this lukewarm origin story for Netflix’s “Spirit Riding Free” animated series, the animated feature film “Spirit Untamed” does a watered-down and unimaginative Disney Princess version of “Spirit Riding Free.” All of the elements of a Disney Princess story are there: The 12-year-old female protoganist has an absentee or dead mother. She has “daddy issues” with a father or father figure who’s usually overprotective. And she fights gender biases that expect girls to not be as adventurous as boys.

However, “Spirit Untamed” is not a Disney film. It’s from DreamWorks Animation, which has been trying for years to play catch-up to Disney’s dominance of the animated movie business. Unfortunately, “Spirit Untamed” is not an example of a highly creative or visually stunning animated film. It’s so mediocre and formulaic that it doesn’t even look like a movie that needs to be seen in a movie theater.

And it’s disappointing that the movie isn’t better, because “Spirit Untamed” is a rare animated film released in cinemas that has a female-majority team of directors, writers and producers. The movie is the feature-film debut of Elaine Boga, who has previously directed episodes of DreamWorks Animation series such as “3Below: Tales of Arcadia,” “Trollhunters: Arcadia,” “Dragons: Race to the Edge” and “DreamWorks Dragons.” Ennio Torresan co-directed “Spirit Untamed,” which was written by Kristin Hahn, Katherine Nolfi and Aury Wallington.

When a TV series has a feature-film spinoff that’s released in cinemas, it should deliver a story that’s epic, so that people will feel like the story was worth seeing on a theater big screen. “Spirit Untamed” just looks like a story from some leftover script ideas that didn’t make it into the show’s pilot episode, but with different (bigger-named) actors voicing the main characters in the movie. Just because the movie had a bigger budget and more famous actors than the TV series doesn’t mean that the quality is any better than the TV series.

“Spirit Riding Free” is based on the 2002 DreamWorks Animation Film “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron,” which hardly has anything in common with the TV series and “Spirit Untamed,” except for the mustang stallion character Spirit, an intelligent horse that refuses to be tamed and held captive. “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron” is told from the horse’s point of view (with Matt Damon providing the narration as the voice of Spirit) and it’s a very male-centric movie.

In “Spirit Riding Free,” the main protaganist is 12-year-old Fortuna Esperanza Navarro Prescott, nicknamed Lucky. She’s a slightly rebellious, very adventuresome girl who has moved from a big city to a small frontier town called Miradero in an unnamed part of the Southwestern United States. The story is set in the early 1800s or mid-1800s, and where Lucky is living is considered a Wild West territory that has not yet been become an official state in the United States.

In the TV series, Lucky (who is an only child) lives with her widowed father Jim Prescott Jr. and her aunt Cora Prescott. She befriends a mustang stallion named Spirit, who heads a team of other wild horses. In the first episode of “Spirit Riding Free,” Lucky rescued Spirit from a group of horse wranglers. The “Spirit Untamed” movie is essentially the same story, except there’s more background information about how the death of Lucky’s mother has affected the family.

“Spirit Untamed” also has the same sidekicks for Lucky: two girls who are about the same age as she is: Prudence “Pru” Granger and Abigail Stone. Pru has a horse named Chica Linda, while Abigail has a horse named Boomerang. Spirit doesn’t want to be owned by anyone, but Lucky is one of the few people who can ride Spirit without Spirit trying to knock them to the ground. In “Spirit Riding Free,” Lucky goes to school. In “Spirit Untamed,” the closest reference to school is near the beginning, when a homeschooled Lucky is still living in the city and she’s reluctant to do homework that was assigned to her by her math tutor.

Viewers will have to suspend disbelief or get used to how this “Spirit” world isn’t historically authentic in many ways. The “Spirit” world is supposed to be set in the early 1800s or mid-1800s, before cars and electricity existed, but many of the characters in the movie dress, talk and use a few things to make it look like this story takes place in the 20th century. For example, in “Spirit Untamed,” Abigail blows and pops some bubble gum, which wasn’t invented until 1928.

The movie’s characters (especially the women and girls) also wear their hair and clothes that look more like they’re in a TV ad for Levi’s jeans, not living in an era before electricity was invented. Yes, many people watching this movie will be children who are too young to know better. But a lot of viewers will be people who are old enough to know that these characters are too modern for the 1800s. And these observant viewers won’t like how this movie was made as if the filmmakers think that people are too stupid to notice.

The historical inaccuracy in “Spirit Untamed” is the least of this movie’s problems. Because “Spirit Untamed” is just a longer retread of the first episode of “Spirit Riding Free,” it comes across as quite lazy that the screenwriters couldn’t come up with a more original story for this movie. “Spirit Untamed” opens with the death of Lucky’s mother Milagro Navarro (voiced by Eiza González), who died when she was thrown off of the horse that she was riding in a rodeo. Lucky’s father Jim Prescott Jr. (voiced by Jake Gyllenhaal) witnessed this death, which happened when Lucky was a baby.

Jim was apparently so grief-stricken that he didn’t think he could raise Lucky as a single father. And so, Lucky (voiced by Isabela Merced) was raised in the city by Jim’s sister Cora (voiced by Julianne Moore), while Jim stayed in Miradero. It’s shown near the beginning of the movie that Jim’s father James Prescott Sr. (voiced by Joe Hart) is running for governor. The Prescotts seem to be a well-to-do family because they can afford a private tutor for Lucky.

However, Jim and his father are no longer on speaking terms because James Prescott Sr. is not impressed with what he thinks is Jim’s lack of amibition and small-town life. And it’s implied, but not really said out loud, that Jim lost respect from his father because Jim handed off the responsbility of raising Lucky to Cora. And there are hints that the death of Lucky’s mother hasn’t been discussed enough in the family, so the emotional wounds still cut deep.

These are family issues that could be too heavy for an animated film that’s made for children as a large part of the movie’s target audience, but these issues could have been explored better in “Spirit Untamed.” It can be done: Pixar Animation Studios (owned by Disney) has built its brand on making animated films about heavy life issues while still being entertaining to people of all ages. Instead, “Spirit Untamed” just glosses over these issues in a shallow way.

Lucky is shown sulking on a window ledge because she wants to go to a party that her grandfather is having for his political campaign. However, Cora explains that Lucky is not allowed to go to the party because Lucky has to study and work on her math lessons. There’s a squirrel named Tom that Lucky has befriended. And somehow, this squirrel ends up at the party, lands on James Prescott Sr.’s face, and a newspaper photographer caught the amusing spectacle on camera. (This party is never shown in the movie.)

A photo of the squirrel on James Prescott Sr.’s face ends up on the front page of the newspaper. And apparently, he was so humiliated and angry about this squirrel, that he blamed Lucky and sent her away to visit his estranged son Jim (Lucky’s father) in Miradero for a few months. It’s a clumsy way to explain why Lucky and Cora have to go to Miradero, but there it is in this movie.

While riding by train to Miradero, Lucky looks outside a window and sees Spirit for the first time, when he’s running with his team of horses in a nearby field. She’s immediately drawn to this horse and can’t take her eyes off of him. The horse makes eye contact with her, so even if viewers know nothing about the “Spirit” franchise before seeing this movie, it’s obvious that Spirit and Lucky will end up becoming friends.

At one point in the journey, Lucky is at the back of the train and leaning over a rail to get a better view of the scenery. She almost falls over, but she’s caught in time by a rough-looking man named Hendricks (voiced by Walton Goggins), who is traveling with four other men on the train. (Hendricks’ unnamed companions are voiced by Jerry Clarke, Gino Montesinos, Lew Temple and Gary Anthony Williams.) Cora and Lucky thank Hendricks for preventing Lucky from having a dangerous fall. Hendricks seems polite, but it’s soon clear that he’s going to be the story’s chief villain.

Shortly after arriving in Miradero, where people immediately tell Lucky how much she looks like her mother, Lucky has an awkward reunion with her father Jim, who lives in a cluttered house that looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in a while. Jim doesn’t endear himself to Lucky right away when he sheepishly admits that he forgot the date that Lucky and Cora were arriving, so he wasn’t fully prepared when they showed up at his door.

Most of the house is a jumbled mess, but Jim has thoughtfully redecorated a bedroom where Lucky will be staying. It’s the only neat and clean room in the house, but Jim has gone overboard in decorating the room with strawberry art. The wallpaper even has strawberries on it. He explains to Lucky that she used to love strawberries as a baby, so that’s why the room has a strawberry theme.

Lucky doesn’t think the room suits her taste, but there’s nothing she can do about it. And besides, the plan is that she and Cora will only be visiting for a few months. Behind her bedroom, Lucky finds a secret room with mementos and other personal items that belonged to her late mother Milagro. It’s here that Lucky discovers how much her mother was a well-regarded rodeo horseback rider.

Meanwhile, because of the way that Milagro died, Jim is strict in forbidding Lucky to ride any horses. And, of course, everyone watching this movie knows she’s going to break that rule. Cora takes Lucky to a rodeo, where she meets Pru (voiced by Marsai Martin), who’s a skilled horseback rider. Pru’s father Al Granger (voiced by Andre Braugher) is there too.

Later, Lucky meets a hyper kid, who’s about 7 or 8 years old, named Snips Stone (voiced by Lucian Perez). And it’s because of Snips that Lucky meets his older sister Abigail Stone (voiced by McKenna Grace). Abigail thinks that Snips is a brat, so there are a few bizarre and unnecessary scenes where Abigail has him tied up, because she doesn’t want him pestering her.

The capitivity abuse of Snips is supposed to be funny, but it comes across as cruel. Imagine the outrage if a boy had his sister tied up or hanging by ropes, even in an animated film. Snips and Abigail’s parents are never seen in “Spirit Untamed.” It’s another glaring omission from the film that doesn’t explain why Abigail and Snips don’t seem to have any adult supervision.

Abigail is actually more annoying than Snips in this movie. She brings a banjo with her and starts singing at inopportune moments. Abigail, who also tends to talk too much, has it stuck in her head that she, Pru and Lucky should be in a band. Lucky and even Jim have a few moments where they break out into song too. The movie’s original songs—including “Better With You” (peformed by Merced) and “Fearless” (performed by Merced and González)—are mediocre and forgettable.

Pru has the same deadpan sarcasm that’s in the “Spirit Riding Free” TV series. Lucky and Pru are smarter than Abigail, while Lucky is the biggest risk-taker, the most persistent and the most optimistic of the three friends. Just like in the TV series, Pru, Abigail and Lucky see that the first letters of their first names can be spelled as PAL. And they have friendship bracelets with the world PAL engraved on it.

Hendricks and his gang of horse wranglers are in Miradero because they’ve been hired to break/train some wild horses that were found by Pru’s father Al. Spirit is one of these wild horses, and that’s how Lucky sees Spirit and his team again and gets to know the horses better. Every time Lucky sees Spirit, she can’t resist letting him loose from the ropes that bind him to the corral.

Al is married to Pru’s mother, but Pru’s mother is never seen in “Spirit Untamed.” In fact, Cora is the only “mother figure” or adult female character with a significant speaking role in this movie. The lack of adult female characters with major roles in this story somewhat undermines the feminist intentions of the movie, which basically makes Lucky, Pru and Abigail look like the adolescent Wild West version of Charlie’s Angels when they decide to chase down the bad guys.

That’s because Hendricks and his cronies are really there to steal Spirit and the rest of the wild horses, so that these thieves can auction off the horses into a life of captivity and strenuous labor. And it’s up to Lucky, Pru and Abigail to save these horses. Spirit manages to escape, so Pru rides him on this mission to hunt down the thieves. Everything that follows is entirely predictable, with nothing that hasn’t been seen already in a “Spirit Riding Free” episode.

There are the seemingly impossible horse leaps from one cliff to the next. There are moments when it looks like the villains are winning because they outnumber the heroes. There are the scenes where horses get lassoed and try to break away and seem to be in pain. We all know how this movie is going to end anyway, so there’s no suspense, but the filmmakers should have at least come up with better obstacles for the heroes than the same old scenarios.

All of the voice actors do serviceable jobs in the roles, but no one is going to win any animation awards for “Spirit Untamed.” Toward the end, the movie gets a bit too slapstick for its own good. It’s as if the filmmakers didn’t know if the movie should be more of an action drama or more of an action comedy.

Coming from a major animation studio like DreamWorks, “Spirit Untamed” should’ve had outstanding visuals, but the movie looks incredibly generic. The screenplay should have offered more suspense and a less superficial look at the Prescott family dynamics to give more emotional depth to Lucky’s backstory. Now that Lucky’s origin story has been established in a feature film, if there’s another “Spirit” movie based on the “Spirit Riding Free” series, let’s hope that the end results look like money well-spent instead of a cheap knockoff of better-quality animated films.

DreamWorks Animation released “Spirit Untamed” in U.S. cinemas on June 4, 2021.

2019 BET Awards: performers and presenters announced

June 3, 2019

The following is a press release from BET:

BET Networks announces the first group of performers for the 19th annual “BET AWARDS” including Cardi B, DJ Khaled, Migos, H.E.R., Lil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus, Lizzo, Mustard, Lil Baby, City Girls’ Yung Miami, Lucky Daye and Kiana Ledé.  Hosted by Regina Hall, the “BET Awards” 2019 will air LIVE on Sunday, June 23rd at 8 PM ET from the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles, CA on BET.

Additionally, the network announced the first group of presenters who will take the stage including Taraji P. HensonTaraji P. Henson, Lena Waithe, Morris Chestnut, Yara Shahidi, Lena Waithe, Morris Chestnut, Yara Shahidi, and Marsai Martin.

“The BET Awards stage has become synonymous with powerful and groundbreaking performances that are authentic and bold, celebrating the influence and power of black culture,” said Connie Orlando, Executive Vice-President, Head of Programming at BET. “We are thrilled to continue to be the launch pad and home for some of today’s most talented and inspiring voices, as BET continues to showcase the impact of established and up-and-coming artists, providing them a global stage to share their art and creativity.”

As previously announced, Cardi B leads this year’s nominations with a total of seven, including Best Female Hip-Hop Artist, two separate nods in both the Best Collaboration and Video of the Year categories, Album of the Year and the Coca-Cola Viewers’ Choice Award. Drake follows with five nods for Best Male Hip-Hop Artist, Video of the Year, Best Collaboration and the Coca-Cola Viewers’ Choice Award. Other leading nominees include Beyoncé, Travis Scott and J. Cole who received four nominations each, with  Bruno Mars, 21 Savage, Childish Gambino, H.E.R. and Ella Mai each scoring three nominations.

The “BET AWARDS” 2019 will simulcast LIVE at 8 pm ET across seven Viacom networks in the U.S. including BET, BET HER, MTV, MTV 2, MTV Classic, VH1, and Logo.  Internationally, the show will simulcast for the first-time on BET Africa at 2 am CAT on June 24th, followed by international broadcasts in the UK on June 24th at 9:00 pm BST, South Korea on June 25th at 9 pm KST and in France on June 25th at 9 pm CEST.  Internationally, BET will honor Best International Act in-show, along with the fan-voted category Best New International Act and BET International Global Good Award during the live red carpet pre-show.

Connie Orlando, Executive Vice-President, Head of Programming at BET will serve as Executive Producer for the “BET AWARDS” 2019 along with Jesse Collins, CEO of Jesse Collins Entertainment.

BET.com/betawards is the official site for the “BET Awards” and will have all the latest news and updates about this year’s show.

ABOUT BET NETWORKS

BET Networks, a subsidiary of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIA.B), is the nation’s leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET channel reaches more than 90 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom and sub-Saharan Africa. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions: BET.com, a leading Internet destination for black entertainment, music, culture and news; BET HER, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the African-American woman; BET Music Networks – BET Jams, BET Soul and BET Gospel; BET Home Entertainment; BET Live, BET’s growing festival business; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET around the globe.

ABOUT “BET AWARDS”

The “BET Awards” is one of the most watched award shows on cable television according to the Nielsen Company. The “BET Awards” franchise remains as the #1 program in cable TV history among African-Americans, and it is BET’s #1 telecast every year. It recognizes the triumphs and successes of artists, entertainers, and athletes in a variety of categories.

 

ABOUT JESSE COLLINS ENTERTAINMENT

Jesse Collins Entertainment (JCE) is a full-service television and film production company founded by entertainment industry veteran Jesse Collins. For more than a decade, Collins has played an integral role in producing some of television’s most memorable moments in music entertainment. Collins has produced groundbreaking and award-winning television programming, including “BET Awards,” “Grammy Awards,” “Soul Train Music Awards,” “BET Honors,” “UNCF an Evening of Stars,” “ABFF Awards” and “BET Hip Hop Awards.” Collins was an executive producer of the hit TV series “Real Husbands of Hollywood,” starring Kevin Hart, and the critically acclaimed “The New Edition Story,” a biopic on the boy band that aired as a three-part miniseries on BET in January 2017. He is also the executive producer of VH1 shows “Dear Mama” and “Hip Hop Squares” with Ice Cube. Most recently, JCE executive-produced “The Bobby Brown Story.” The miniseries picked up where “The New Edition Story” miniseries left off and chronicled the talented but troubled singer’s exit from the popular 80s boy band through his solo success. It debuted on BET in September 2018 and was the highest-rated non-tentpole program on the network since “The New Edition Story.” Next for JCE is the second season of “American Soul” on BET and Netflix’s upcoming series “Rhythm and Flow.”

2019 BET Experience: Mary J. Blige, Cardi B, Migos, Meek Mill, YG, H.E.R., Yara Shahidi, Lena Waithe, among celebrity participants

May 20, 2019

The following is a press release from BET:

BET Networks announced the highly anticipated BET Fan Fest lineup as part of the BET Experience at L.A. LIVE presented by Coca-Cola® June 20 – 23, 2019. The annual festival will include the return of Genius Talks, BET Experience 3-on-3 Celebrity Basketball Tournament, Celebrity Dodgeball Game, BET X House of Fashion & Beauty, Coca-Cola Music Studio, DJ Hed presents Kicksperience sponsored by Sprite®, Casting Call along with a newly added activations, Roller-skating Party, Next Rap Star.

FRIDAY, JUNE 21 AND SATURDAY, JUNE 22

COCA-COLA MUSIC STUDIO

The BET Experience Coca-Cola Music Studio will debut some of today’s emerging acts including Elhae, Killumantii, TJ Porter, Ceraadi, Bobby Sessions, Earth Gang, Control the Sound, Happy Birthday Calvin and other special guests.

BET X HOUSE OF FASHION & BEAUTY

BET X House of Fashion & Beauty will be a destination that celebrates and highlights the best of urban hip hop culture through the lens of fashion, beauty, music and dance. Embracing the diversity of hip hop and the nuance manifestations of the international cultural experience, House of Fashion & Beauty will feature the authentic stories of the “streets” through a global perspective with music, fashion and beauty being at the center. Participating talent include

GENIUS TALKS

The always-inspirational Genius Talks returns with prominent personalities across various industries joining fans for uplifting conversation and gems of guidance based on their experiences. This year, Lena Waithe, Yara Shahidi, and Marsai Martin join the series alongside moderator, Jemele Hill, to share their knowledge and keys to success with fans. Past guests have included illustrious stars such as Snoop Dogg, Kobe Bryant, Ava DuVernay, Floyd “Money” Mayweather, DJ Khaled, Tracee Ellis Ross, Tip “T.I.” Harris and Yvonne Orji.

CELEBRITY DODGEBALL GAME

The annual BET Experience Celebrity Dodgeball Game returns, four teams of celebrity challengers will face off in the all-new Celebrity Dodgeball Game taking place on Friday, June 21.

DJ HED PRESENTS KICKSPERIENCE SPONSORED BY SPRITE®

The fresh interactive sneaker event, Kicksperience is back! DJ Hed Presents Kicksperince sponsored by Sprite® will highlight the sneaker culture phenomenon, bringing together generations of culture defining sneakers, streetwear brands, art, and music to the robust BET Fan Fest line-up. The electrifying pop-up will incorporate artists and tastemakers, authentic to sneaker culture, for the ultimate sneaker experience. The activation will host a sneaker customization space with renowned Artist, Chad Cantcolor, brands ranging from Puma to Sprayground, live taping of BET Digital’s Colorways & Toeboxes, and opportunities to purchase shoes on site. Selected by LA’s own DJ Hed performers include Rapsody,1TakeJay, AzChike, Azjah, GPerico, John Hart, Morgan Westbrook, Reason, Sneakk (SOB X RBE), Villain Park, Yhung T.O., Shoreline Mafia, Cupakke, Kamaiyah, and more!

GAMING TOURNAMENT

A dedicated gaming lounge within the BET Experience will give gamers an opportunity to play against and with celebrities and professional gamers for an opportunity to win one-of-a-kind prizes. Fans will compete with/ against our influencers in a variety of games from NBA2k to Fortnite including iPodKing Carter, The Lopes Brothers, Cheeseaholic, iDropzBodies, Bunnny MightgameU, Sunzi, Black Krystel and more

BET EXPERIENCE FOOD COURT *DUBSMASH MEETUP

A meet & greet experience featuringThe WickerTwinz, Essence and some of today’s up and coming hip-hop acts. Come hang and hit a challenge with some of your favorite dancers.

MCDONALDS STAGE PERFORMANCE

BJ The Chicago Kid to perform with other special guests.

NEXT RAP STAR

Do you have what it takes to be the next Cardi B, YG, or Drake? BET Experience is looking for the “Next Rap Star” in an once-in-a-lifetime competition to showing off your skills and charisma for a distribution deal with Island Records and the chance to perform at the 2020 BET Experience.

CASTING CALL

BET is on the search for fresh new faces to hit the airwaves. Come show off your acting chops in front of an esteemed panel of casting directors and BET Executives who will select an actor to win the opportunity to potentially join the cast of a BET Movie, TV Series or commercial.

3-on-3 CELEBRITY BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT

Four star-studded teams will go head-to-head for bragging rights and for a charity at the 3-on-3 Celebrity Basketball Tournament. Download the BETX ’19 App to exclusively purchase your tickets for the Celebrity Basketball Game.

BET HER AWARDS

The empowering night honors the innovation and marked successes of women of color across various industries who have unapologetically broken barriers in the entertainment, arts and technology industries. Additionally, The BET HER Awards will include a special spotlight on two deserving nonprofit organizations dedicated to uplift and empower women of color.

BET EXPERIENCE AT L.A. LIVE PRESENTED BY COCA-COLA®

BET Networks, an entertainment powerhouse, once again brings the BET EXPERIENCE AT L.A. LIVE (BETX), June 20 – 23, 2019 presented by Coca-Cola®. This four-day event will be filled with music concerts taking place at The Novo by Microsoft and STAPLES Center; the BET Fan Fest at the Los Angeles Convention Center including seminars, celebrity basketball games, celebrity meet & greets; and other special interactive events. The weekend will be capped off with the “BET Awards” on Sunday, June 23, 2019 at Microsoft Theater.

Staples Center concerts:

June 20, 2019: Mary J. Blige. H.E.R., Summer Walker, Queen Naija, Bri Steves

June 21, 2019: Meek Mill, YG, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Blueface, Roddy Ricch

June 22, 2019: Cardi B, Migos, Lil Yachty, Lil Baby, City Girls, Trippie Redd

HOW TO ATTEND:

The BET Fan Fest wristbands return to the fan experience this year. All attendees will be required to wear their wristband upon arrival in order to enter the free BET Fan Fest. Beginning May 6, attendees will be able to register for the BET Fan Fest wristbands by downloading the BETX ’19 app or going to www.betexperience.com. The BET Fan Fest wristband grants attendees access to some of the hottest events happening during the BET Experience weekend; including the House of Fashion & Beauty, Coke Stage, DJ Hed presents Kicksperience sponsored by Sprite, and year three of the BET Casting Call. Additionally, tickets to the BETX Celebrity Basketball game will be available for purchase starting today.

VIP Packages for the BET Experience at L.A. LIVE are on sale NOW. In addition to VIP amenities throughout the weekend and incredible seats for STAPLES Center shows, four levels of BETX VIP Packages offer guests the only opportunity to purchase tickets to the highly anticipated BET Awards, broadcast live from Microsoft Theater. Full package amenities and pricing for the Diamond, Platinum, Gold Plus and Gold Packages can be found by visiting https://www.betexperience.com or by calling (877) 234-8425.

General tickets for the BET Experience at L.A. LIVE presented by Coca-Cola® are available NOW at http://www.axs.com/betexperience.

ABOUT THE BET EXPERIENCE APP:

The BET Experience App is your interactive personal guide that takes you inside every installation, performance, and celebrity pop-up during BET Awards Weekend. Custom alerts let you stay up to date on all BET FanFest show schedules in real-time, celebrity meet & greets and other surprises throughout the ultimate four-day event. Go to the Apple Store or Google Play and download the BET Experience app today! Available on iOS & Android. Download it at BETExperience.com/app.

Follow the BET Experience on Twitter @betexperience for the latest and greatest and join the hottest conversation by using #BETEXPERIENCE. Feel free to also check us out online at http://www.betexperience.com.

About BET Networks

BET Networks, a subsidiary of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ:VIA)(NASDAQ:VIA.B), is the nation’s leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET channel is in nearly 85 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, sub-Saharan Africa, France and South Korea. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions including BET.com, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; BET HER, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the African-American woman; BET Music Networks – BET Jams, BET Soul and BET Gospel; BET Home Entertainment; BET Live, BET’s growing festival business; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET Networks around the globe.

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