Backstage notes from the 25th annual MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday.
1. After winning three Moonmen, including video of the year, Britney Spears got cold feet before she met the press. She peeked into the media room with personal assistants and camera crew in tow, then promptly turned around and left.
A few moments later, Chris Brown hurried in to take her place — prompting a round of disappointed “Awwwww!” from disappointed Britney-wannabe paparazzi (a reaction that seemed to miff Brown, who maybe didn’t understand that he wasn’t being booed personally.) Never fear, Britney returned after Brown; she said nothing and posed for just a few quick pictures as she juggled her trophies. After the show, host Russell Brand described the event as “the resurrection of Britney Spears. I saw stigmata.”
2. Impromptu “Best Dressed” MTV Awards were handed out on the red carpet — winners included Ne-Yo for his Louis Vuitton sunglasses and blogger Perez Hilton for his pale yellow plaid suit. The awards were a far cry from a Moonman, however. They were actually wind-up toys of a kiwi bird glued to a 99-cent store-quality plaque.
3. Video game “Rock Band 2” set up shop at the end of the red carpet, where talent could get their riff on before entering the awards show. T-Pain played the game with the most gusto, taking turns on both the drum kit as well as the guitar on the Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer.”
4. Tokio Hotel’s gigantic four-by-four truck competed for space with, yes, the omnipresent blinged-out VMA elephant in the Paramount lot six hours before the show started. The truck was bigger — barely. Before the show, Tokio Hotel frontman Bill Kaulitz said that he hadn’t prepared any remarks because there was “no way we’re going to win … there is NO WAY we’re going to win.” And, in true VMA karma, the band won the Moonman for best new artist two hours later.
5. The show was filmed in Lot 16 at the 62-acre Paramount Studios; it’s the furthest from the main studio entrance on Melrose Avenue, so once talent did their red carpet duties, the limos drove them through the studio’s back lot to the stage. The non-famous were moved back in golf carts (ala the exit from Britney Spears and Russell Brand) or in shuttles — or hoofed it by their own power.
6. As they went down the red carpet, rookie rapper Shwayze and impresario Cisco Adler tried to start a number of rumors about the unannounced performances to follow: Michael Jackson was going to appear with Kanye West, Britney Spears was going to ride in on the elephant, Snoop Dogg and Willie Nelson were going to play a game of “old-fashioned Thai ping-pong.” They saw rehearsals, they swore. Trust them.
7. Yep, one of the big applause lines of the night was Russell Brand’s appeal: “Please elect Barack Obama, please. On behalf of the world.” Sure enough, Obama gear was omnipresent on the red carpet among the entourages of stars. Alex DeLeon of the Las Vegas rock band the Cab wore a black-and-white wristband showing his support for the candidate, and Atmosphere arrived in a car decked out with Obama swag.
8. So what do the celebrities walk off with in their goodie bags? Among other baubles, a five-day stay in a five-star resort in the Dominican Republic, a pair of Fendi sunglasses, a purse made of “woven, bronze metallic patent lambskin,” a full year of Rhapsody service, enough cashmere goodies to fill a wardrobe and a Baby Quasar, “a revolutionary photo rejuvenation anti-aging and acne skincare system.” Not, apparently, for use on babies.
9. The audience inside the auditorium was served several rounds of champagne during the show. This did not aid the audience in getting the correct answers to the trivia questions they showed on screens during commercial breaks. (Who’s won the most Moonmen for Best Rock Video in VMA history? Aerosmith, FYI.)
10. So who won the professional categories that weren’t shown on TV? Gnarls Barkley’s “Run” won for best art direction and best choreography; “Honey” by Erykah Badu won for best direction; “I Will Possess Your Heart” by Death Cab For Cutie won for best editing; “Conquest” by White Stripes took the Moonman for best cinematography; and Kanye West and T-Pain won for best special effects for “Good Life.”