In Depth

Viacom's BET Plans Inaugural Ball

A second Viacom cable network is planning its own ball at the inauguration of Barack Obama.

BET Networks will join with America’s Promise Alliance, the nonprofit organization set up by former Secretary of State Colin Powell and his wife, Alma, to host an inaugural ball to be held Jan. 20 in Washington.

BET joins Viacom’s MTV, which earlier announced it would hold its first inaugural ball in 16 years.

The Jan. 20 BET ball will be the first for the cable channel. Besides supporting American’s Promise, it will support Washington’s Dunbar High School and the Duke Ellington School of the Arts.

BET also will air an hourlong special during the ball called “Yes We Will. BET’s Inaugural Celebration” that will include some live shots from the ball along with taped footage of inauguration related events.

BET also is hosting its second annual BET Honors Jan. 17 in Washington. Actress Gabrielle Union will host the event this year, with honorees including Mary L. Blige, Tyler Perry, choreographer Judith Jamieson, Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Rep. James E. Clyburn, D-S.C. That event will air Feb. 9 on BET.

Jeanine Liburd, executive VP of BET, said the decision to do an inaugural ball wasn’t a hard one.

“This is really a historic moment for the country. It is a proud moment to be an American and even a prouder moment to be an African-American,” she said. “If we're ever going to do a ball, this would be the moment.”

Entertainment for the ball is still being finalized. While some tickets to the event will be offered to BET viewers, the price will be $500 per ticket. Ms. Liburd said BET will provide some tickets to local high school students and give some away as prizes.