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The 16th annual BET Awards is now a wrap. But here are a few behind-the-scenes observations and tidbits gleaned from the red carpet and inside the Microsoft Theater.

Where in the world was D’Angelo? The revered singer/musician was listed in initial BET press releases as joining the Roots, Janelle Monae and Sheila E. in paying tribute to Prince. However, D’Angelo was not among the tribute performers on the live Sunday telecast. Billboard has reached out to BET and D’Angelo’s management for comment and is awaiting a response.

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Purple Reign. In addition to the formal Prince tributes integrated throughout the awards show, salutes to the icon took other forms. Both BET honoree Samuel L. Jackson and Spike Lee wore purple Prince lapel pins. And BET staffers inside Microsoft Theater were garbed in purple T-shirts printed with Prince’s symbol on the back.

Getting into formation. Media that braved the sweltering red carpet (82 degrees with no overhead canopy) for two-plus hours were treated to an early clue about Beyoncé‘s surprise appearance. Most were perhaps too busy grappling with the heat to notice. But early into the carpet’s start at 2 p.m., an unaccompanied procession of ornately dressed women marched down the walkway in formation —without any other fanfare or comment.

Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar Open 2016 BET Awards with Surprise Performance of ‘Freedom’

Beyoncé’s wish list. A couple in the audience was overhead discussing the singer’s commanding performance. “If Beyoncé says she want a pool of water, you go and get it,” said the female. “And it was worth it,” added the male.

Kendrick for president. When asked what music artist she’d like to see run for president, singer/songwriter Bibi Bourelly, quickly declared Kendrick Lamar. “He’s extraordinarily intelligent,” explains the Def Jam artist. “He’s a man who cares about people and the quality of life.”

Celebrity sightings. Spotted in the audience during one of the award show’s commercial breaks was Empire producer Brian Grazer. And producer Jimmy Jam was seen walking down the red carpet just prior to it closing. As a former member of the Time — along with production partner Terry Lewis — it wasn’t too far-fetched to wonder if the duo might pop up as surprise additions to one of the various Prince tributes. Maybe with Morris Day and other Prince cohorts at next year’s Grammy Awards?

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Orange Isn’t the new black. In keeping with the evening’s political bent, the comedian entertaining the audience between commercial breaks at one point exhorted the audience to “please get out and vote. We can’t have an orange man running the country.”  6/27/2016 by Gail Mitchell

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