Quest to Find MTV VMAs Host 'Down to the Wire'
Concerts featuring Cobra Starship, Joe Jonas, Miguel, Swizz Beatz, Chiddy Bang and Wallpaper have been booked as part MTV's VMA-themed weekend in Los Angeles.
Swizz Beatz, Chiddy Bang and Wallpaper will perform Friday at Taco Bell's MTV2 VMA concert at the Music Box Theater in Hollywood and Cobra Starship, Joe Jonas and Miguel will perform Saturday at mtvU VMA Concert to Benefit Lifebeat - Music Fights HIV. Held at the Sunset Strip House of Blues, MTV.com will live stream the performances from Joe Jonas and Miguel Saturday at 9:30 p.m. PT.
Swizz Beatz and Chiddy Bang will be filmed at the show for a portion of MTV2's Aug. 28 episode of "Sucker Free."
As weekend festivities are coming together for the Video Music Awards, the show has three or four more artists to announce in addition to a host. Amy Doyle, the executive producer of the awards show and MTV executive VP for Music and Talent, laughed when asked about the lack of an emcee announcement. "We hope to say who it is before the show," she joked.
On a more serious note, Doyle took Billboard through the process of putting together the VMAs.
Billboard: So far you have announced Adele, Lil Wayne, Chris Brown, Young The Giant and Bruno Mars as performers. How many do you hope to book?
Amy Doyle: We will wind up with eight or nine performances. Some things are coming together creatively that will dictate the total. It's eight at a minimum.
Last year's show, with Chelsea Handler as host and Lady Gaga in a meat dress, had the largest audience for any MTV telecast in the previous nine years. It seems you get your biggest television audiences when there's outrageous behavior, but how much do you attribute the bookings to your success in recent years?
The audience tunes in for performances that are unique and not typical performances that you see on "Letterman" or other awards shows. You aren't going to see this level of performance elsewhere. I think the major hook to the VMAs is things like Pink doing 'Sober' live while flying around. We surround every performance with the best creative teams and these performers create memorable moments.
How do nominations affect the acts you book and what they perform on the show?
We take nominations into consideration. Prior to their announcement we have some booking already done. We start talking in January, if not sooner, what city we'll be in.
And for the first time since the 1990s, you are returning to a venue two years in a row, the Nokia Theater at L.A. Live.
We love that space. The opportunities are immense so it won't feel like the same show as last year. You won't recognize it as the same space.
When they built the space they emphasized its "black box" set-up. Is that a big factor?
They definitely made it attractive for this show. Artists want to fly? Not a problem. You go to the Met (opera house in New York), you get the Met.
Usually you have a host helping to promote the show. Is there a possibility there is no host?
It's going down to the wire. Hosting is such a unique element. We feel we got it right by putting new talent on the stage like Chelsea (Handler) and Russell (Brand). We're really challenging ourselves to find the right person so that the show feels complete.
You said the booking process begins eight months out from the show. How do you reach out to talent before the show even has a structure or you even have a sense of who will be popular in August?
Very early on we determine what the set looks like to show in short films to artists and managers and get them inspired. That's our goal. We show them the theme and that starts the conversation. They take it from there. Our first goal is to create the best show with the most exciting live performances. The best-selling artist on tour might not be best for us. We need to develop performances that people will be talking about the next day. It does come down to who does the audience want to see.
Getting ratings is obviously crucial but it feel like every year there's a new strategy in terms of how often the show is rerun. What will happen this year?
That's one of those year-to-year things and it really depends on what we think will have an audience. We have a repeat strategy going in but it evolves (after the initial telecast). We try to make as much as possible of the show available online on demand.