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The evolution of BET

Lisa Olivia Fitch | 6/13/2012, 5 p.m.

Billed as "the biggest night in music," the Black Entertainment Television (BET) Awards has evolved since its start in 2001 into a major effort to celebrate the accomplishments of musicians, actors and sports stars.

All told, there are ... persons/acts nominated to receive honors in 20 categories at the July 1 event, and the music category is loaded with the majority of recipients. Actor Samuel L. Jackson, declared the highest-grossing movie actor of all time, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, will be this year's BET Awards host.

The Oscar-nominated actor is currently on screen in "The Avengers," part of his nine-picture deal with marvel Studios.

"We are massively excited about having Sam Jackson, the world's biggest box office star, host the BET Awards 12," said Stephen G. Hill, president of Music Programming and Specials with BET Networks. "His wit, presence and gigantic personality are the perfect match for our show."

Kanye West leads the pack with seven nominations this year--Best Collaboration, Video Director of the Year, and five notable nominations for 'The Throne' with Jay-Z.

'The Throne' also received nominations for Best Group, Best Collaboration, Coca-Cola Viewer's Choice and two nods for Video of the Year for "N*ggas in Paris" and "Otis."

Beyonce follows West's lead with six award nominations--Best Female R&B Artist, Best Collaboration, Video Director of the Year, Coca-Cola Viewer's Choice and two nods for Video of the Year for "Countdown" and "Love on Top."

Maze, featuring Frankie Beverly, will be honored with the "Cadillac Lifetime Achievement Award" during the show. But it's the live performances that everyone will be talking about the next day.

Chris Brown and Nicki Minaj will be the first performers to grace the Shrine Auditorium stage, followed by Usher, 2 Chainz, Big Sean and others.

"We have many more acts to come," added Hill. "We're just getting started and already the show is living up to its slogan: It's too big to miss."

Fans can visit www.BET.com/BETAwards to vote for the Coca-Cola Viewer's Choice Award, get up-to-date info on this year's show and take a look back at past BET Awards.

In the coming weeks, BET.com will launch a series of interactive games to make the event's digital experience the biggest it's ever been.

"Too Big to Pick" lets fans predict who they think will win the coveted BET AWARD and compare their picks with those of their Facebook friends.

"The Line-Up" is a fantasy sports-styled game that allows viewers to make predictions on the order in which performers will appear in the show and compares this lineup with their Twitter followers, Facebook friends, and favorite celebrities.

In June, BET Mobile will also launch the official BET AWARDS app on iPhone and Android devices with exclusive photo, video and interactive content.

Join the conversation on social media by logging on to BET's multiple social media platforms: On Twitter by using hashtag: #BETAWARDS, #2BIG2MISS; and following us @BETAWARDS.

On Facebook by liking the fan page at facebook.com/TheBETAwards; on Google plus at bet.us/gplusBET.