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MTV awards lure stars to German financial capital

Global music channel MTV will hope to bring a little international glamour to Frankfurt Thursday when Germany’s buttoned-down financial center hosts its European awards show.

Although Frankfurt is better known for staid bankers than flashy rockstars, MTV expects to draw up to a billion viewers worldwide for the 2001 European Music Awards with a line-up including performances by Kylie Minogue, R.E.M. and Depeche Mode.

Presenters will include local German favourites such as tennis star Boris Becker and supermodel Heidi Klum, as well as American actor Ben Stiller and Spanish director Pedro Almodovar.

The show will be hosted this year by British cult comedian Ali G, alias Sacha Baron Cohen, whose trademark spoof rap “gangsta” lingo and attire has become known worldwide after he appeared in a recent video for U.S. singer Madonna.

At a pre-show news conference Wednesday, Ali G, wearing an oversized bright red suit, bowler hat, a number of necklaces and flanked by 10 women in transparent black dresses, said he was looking forward to hosting in Frankfurt.

Ali G, who specialises in mixing up his facts, mystified some reporters by telling them: “It’s great to see what a success unification has been and it’s hard to believe that only three years ago Frankfurt was divided by the Berlin Wall.”


The awards are designed to honor the best musicians on the European scene, but, like last year, Americans figure heavily in many categories, including all the nominations for best hip-hop and almost all the slots for best rock, R&B and pop.

Despite all the glitz, the show will still have to contend with the shadow cast by the attacks in the United States in September.

Security precautions have been increased for the show, but both Janet Jackson and R&B group Destiny’s Child chose not to come to Frankfurt to perform as planned.

And in a fitting commentary on the era of pre-fabricated boy bands, the imaginary cartoon band Gorillaz leads the field this year with six nominations, including best group and best song for the single “Clint Eastwood.”

While Gorillaz is no more than an animated solo project vehicle for Damon Albarn – frontman for Britpop band Blur – the cartoons will also go up against big beat maestro Fatboy Slim and British pop playboy Robbie Williams for the best video award.

The winners are picked by an 800-member “voting academy” consisting of key record executives in the music industry and MTV viewers from across the continent.

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