The BET Awards included very much still-alive former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown during the ‘in memoriam’ segment of this year’s ceremony overnight.
The 2020 awards – which recognises black excellence in entertainment – were held virtually but that didn’t stop the numbers from noticing Willie Lewis Brown Jr was listed as among the notable people to have died over the last 12 months.
Note: Willie Lewis Brown Jr is not dead.
The politician – who served in California’s State Assembly for 30 years and became the first black person to serve as mayor of San Francisco – was sandwiched between the trailblazing actress Diahann Carroll and soul singer Bill Withers, despite the 86-year-old still being alive.
Many felt BET might have confused the retired mayor with former American football star Willie Brown, who did sadly die in October last year, at the age of 78.
Show organisers Black Entertainment Television (BET) is yet to comment on the mix-up, despite social media having a bit of a giggle at the blunder.
Brown himself commented on the palaver, saying he was alerted to the mix-up by his niece, before being contacted by a BET executive who ‘profusely apologised’.
He told the San Francisco Chronicle: ‘I couldn’t figure out why the phone was all lit up. Finally, my niece called and she was pissed off — she said, “If you’re going to die, you’re supposed to tell me”.’
He added: ‘I also said, “Whatever you do, please don’t fire anybody”.’
Others who were (correctly) included in the segment were boxer Roger Mayweather and actresses Ja’Net Dubois and Nikita Pearl Waligwa.
Hip hop stars Juice Wrld and Pop Smoke, who both died in the last 12 months, were also given a tribute.
Basketball star Kobe Bryant and rock and roll pioneer Little Richard had standalone tributes during the ceremony.
It’s hardly the first time in memoriam segments have got it wrong, after the 89th Academy Awards in 2017 included an image of still-alive Australian producer Jan Chapman next to the name of Janet Patterson, a costume designer who had died months earlier.
While this year’s Emmys TV academy apologised after using the wrong picture while paying tribute to the late German composer Andre Previn.
Metro.co.uk contacted BET for comment.
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