BET, Centric Set Don Cornelius Tributes

(Updated) BET and Centric will air several specials in tribute to Soul Train producer Don Cornelius, who died this morning.

Cornelius, who produced the syndicated Soul Train music/dance series for nearly three decades, was found dead this morning of a gunshot wound. He was 75 years old.

"Don Cornleius was the heart of Soul Train," Centric general manager Paxton Baker told Multichannel News. "There were so many different things he affected through a one-hour television show that was nothing short of amazing. Much like BET and [network founder] Bob Johnson, Don Cornelius provided to African Americans in particular the opportunity to start working in this business in positions that were otherwise closed to us."

Debra L. Lee, BET Networks chairman and CEO also said in a prepared statement: "We are deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Don Cornelius. He was a pioneer in the television and music industries and his legacy and influence on American culture will continue to live on for many generations to come. He made Soul Train a destination for lovers of Black culture and music and connected the world to our culture and we are forever grateful. We owe so much of our success to him, he built the space for the creation of a BET, built a platform for the music that our audience loves and gave a voice to countless artists that shaped black culture and beyond-his impact can't be measured. He will be missed, but remembered at every wedding, party and family reunion forever with the enduring Soul Train line."

The tribute schedule is as follows:

Feb. 1

6P - 106 & Park: 106 & Park Pays Tribute to Life and Accomplishments of Don Cornelius' Life - special
8P - Soul Train: Hippest Trip in America -- documentary

10P - Soul Train Hippest Trip in America -- documentary
12M - 24-Hour Soul Train Marathon

Feb. 2

8P - Soul Train Awards 2011

Feb. 3

Centric -
9P - Soul Train Awards 2011

Feb. 4

10A - 12-Hour Soul Train Marathon

Feb. 5

9A - 12-Hour Soul Train Marathon

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.