Los Angeles Times

BET network promises Eminem's rap act will be sanitized

The nation’s most popular and controversial rap star has promised to deliver a PG-13 performance during a concert at Black College Reunion on Friday.

Black Entertainment Television -- the cable group sponsoring the concert for a select audience at the city’s band shell -- exacted that promise from Eminem and all the other rappers on the bill, BET spokesman Rob Santwer said.

Black College Reunion officially starts Friday, but many of the 120,000 expected attendees will start hitting town today, packing beachside roads, especially State Road A1A.

The event, in its 17th year, has long been sensitive about its image and bad publicity. Seeming to stand in contrast to that goal is Eminem, who drew national criticism -- and critical praise -- for his obscenity-riddled CD The Marshall Mathers LP. The CD depicts extreme violence against gays and women. Marshall Mathers is Eminem’s real name.

Exactly why he’s coming here was easy for Santwer to answer.

"Right now, he is the most popular guy in music. He’s big and he’s who our audience wants," Santwer said. Popular musicians equal high ratings and more advertising money in television mathematics.

While Eminem has some songs that talk of hate and even incest, that’s not what the select audience, nor any of the BCR attendees standing nearby on the beach, will hear, Santwer said.

"We have our on-air standards and our image to protect," he said.

Many of Eminem’s lyrics and song titles are unfit to print in the newspaper. BET, as well as MTV and most radio stations, air sanitized versions of his music.

The promises exacted from Eminem and others include: no obscenities, no inciting violence and no on-stage sexual acts.

Other rap stars scheduled to perform are Snoop Dog, Eve and Ja Rule.

Eminem is scheduled to perform three songs on Friday between noon and 3 p.m. with his band, D-12.

The audience will include what Santwer termed 350 "camera-friendly" members recruited from historically African-American colleges. Another 700 or so tickets have been given out at random around Daytona Beach, Santwer said.

A temporary chain-link fence covered in blue fabric surrounds the temporary stage at the band shell. Beachgoers will see little, if any, of the rappers. But they should be able to hear the concert, Santwer said.

In addition to shielding BCR from offensive lyrics, Santwer said that BET promised to edit out anything from the concerts that would reflect negatively on Daytona Beach.

"We want to air something that will be good for the community and show everyone the sun and the beach," he said.

The programs, part of BET’s "Spring Bling," will be edited to air on April 12 and 13 from 8 to 10 p.m. on BET. The cable network reaches 65 million homes.

The term "bling" is rapper slang for "something good," taken from the sound of a beeper going off.

Santwer said that if all goes well, the network might return for next year’s BCR.

Meanwhile, the Daytona Beach police have their eye on this year’s traffic. They expect A1A to become one long snake of cars and people -- moving very slowly.

Advice from the cops is simple: If you don’t need to be here, don’t come.

The city plans to use many signs to direct traffic to and from A1A and many officers to keep traffic moving.

Five bridges will be open to traffic, though the Main Street Bridge will be closed to everything except police cars and ambulances.

Police suggest that drivers use the bridge that’s closest to their destination on A1A. For instance, if you’re headed to the northern section of A1A, use the Mason Avenue (Seabreeze) Bridge. If you’re headed to the south end of A1A, use the Dunlawton Bridge.

Sgt. Al Tolley said there will be a legion of police officers and deputy sheriffs directing traffic.

"We want to keep the cars moving, and keep people on the sidewalks and keep the cars off the sidewalks," he said.

Rich McKay can be reached at rmckay@orlandosentinel.com or 386-253-2316.

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