Notes From Backstage At The BET Awards

News and notes about OutKast, T.I., Sean "Diddy" Combs and Lil' Kim from backstage at the 2006 BET Awards, held last night (June 27) at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles

News and notes from backstage at the 2006 BET Awards, held last night (June 27) at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

In line with BET's tradition of surprise appearances, it had been rumored that this year's awards show would feature a salute to the Jackson family and that Michael would be in the house as well. However, despite sightings of patriarch Joe Jackson backstage, the only Jackson who took the stage was Janet. She reunited for a brief moment with former "Good Times" cast mates Jimmie Walker, Bernadette Stanis and Ralph Carter during a segment preceding T.I.'s performance. Janet portrayed Penny in the now-syndicated sitcom.

It looks like BET may be spinning off a new hip-hop awards show. BET president of entertainment Reginald Hudlin and senior VP of corporate communications Michael Lewellen acknowledged there was a "shred of truth to the rumors," but declined to reveal any further details. Stay tuned for a possible announcement in the next two weeks.

Onstage and backstage, OutKast touted the long-awaited release of their next album (Aug. 22) and new movie "Idlewild" (Aug. 25). Of the latter, Big Boi would say only that it is "not a typical musical and features two stories going on at the same time." Asked about the album, Andre 3000 described it as a "new OutKast album and not a traditional soundtrack."

And though Andre will still record and work in the studio with Big Boi on other projects, he is giving up the live performance aspect of his career. "I lost the love for it," he said. "But Big Boi will be out there hitting the road." Andre is gearing up for the fall premiere of his Cartoon Network show, "Class of 3000." When asked about the status of his involvement in a proposed movie about Jimi Hendrix, Andre answered cryptically, "I can't talk about it right now. But keep your prayers going."

Lil' Kim's mom Ruby and brother Christopher announced backstage that the imprisoned rapper is scheduled for early release next week. The most tasteless reporter query the pair graciously answered: How does it feel to have an incarcerated child.

Asked how he's gotten through all his trials and tribulations, rapper T.I. noted, "I have five kids. I look at them; their wants never let up." As for any future acting gigs, he described his turn in "ATL" as "enlightening. I have a lot of [other acting] opportunities lined up but no decisions have been made yet." On his immediate schedule are upcoming albums by his Grand Hustle artists Young Dro (who accompanied T.I. backstage) and Governor.

Accompanied by two of his new acts, Young Joc and Cassie, Sean "Diddy" Combs acknowledged that Bad Boy has "gone through a little drought. But these two artists show how strong Bad Boy is right now." Young Joc has been riding the top of Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart with "It's Goin' Down," while Cassie is climbing the same chart with "Me & U."

Diddy, who will receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this year, noted that his own album is now due Oct. 3 and will bring people back to the dance floor. He also declared that the album will be his last as a solo artist and that he plans to "transcend into more movies." He's due to begin filming a new film adaptation of "A Raisin in the Sun" (he also starred in the Broadway revival of the play) this September, due for theatrical release next May.

Hip-hop veteran Father MC says he has a new album, "Unexpected," due on Aug. 18, but did not reveal what label is releasing the project.

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