MTV Seeks Balance With VMA Awards
With a lineup including comedian Jimmy Fallon, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, Bruce Springsteen, Pink, Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Lopez, Eminem, and Michael Jackson, this year's MTV Video Music Awards are onWith a lineup including comedian Jimmy Fallon, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, Bruce Springsteen, Pink, Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Lopez, Eminem, and Michael Jackson, this year's MTV Video Music Awards are on track to be another wild, crazy, and indulgent party. Yet the network is keenly aware that with the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks approaching, the mood tonight (Aug. 29) at New York's Radio City Music Hall might not be quite as irreverent as in the past.
"It's gonna be definitely in everyone's heads and everyone's minds, I think," said Fallon, this year's host, who was co-host of the MTV Movie Awards last year. Last year's Video Music Awards were held on Sept. 7. This year, because of the approaching anniversary, MTV moved up the date of the show, usually held after Labor Day. The network also had planned to move the show to Los Angeles this year, but decided to stay in New York as a show of support for the city.
"After Sept. 11, we felt that we could not abandon our hometown," said Tom Calderone, senior vice president of music and talent programming at MTV and MTV2. "We're going back to L.A., but this is not the year to do it."
Springsteen, whose new Columbia album "The Rising" is filled with musings on Sept. 11, will open the show with the E Street Band via satellite. In addition, Sheryl Crow will sing a song about the spirit of New York. Other poignant moments could include tributes to some of the entertainers lost in the past year, notably TLC's Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, who was killed in a car accident in Honduras in April.
Yet Calderone said that overall, the show's format won't change -- in other words, expect a party atmosphere. "With all the Sept. 11 reflection, we want to make sure that it doesn't get too dark," he said. Said Fallon: "I wanted to make it more of a fun time as opposed to a sad remembrance."
Fallon also promised not to subject the celebrities in attendance to the kind of searing jokes that previous hosts such as Chris Rock or Jamie Foxx doled out. "It's definitely going to be a different tone, not so much in your face. It's just gonna be goofy," says Fallon. "I'm not taking this seriously at all."
Michael Jackson was a surprise guest last year, joining 'N Sync at the end of its performance. This year, the awards coincide with his 44th birthday, and the new dad will make his first public appearance since calling the head of his record company a racist and a devil. Lisa Marie Presley, now his ex-wife, will also be part of the show. She wed actor Nicolas Cage earlier this month.
Other exes who might run into each other at the show include Jennifer Lopez and Combs, MTV personality Carson Daly and actress-singer Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Britney Spears and Timberlake. If that's not enough tension, caustic Simon Cowell and his "American Idol" cohorts, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson, are to be on hand.
Other presenters and performers include Ja Rule, Ashanti, Pink, James Gandolfini, Avril Lavigne, and Shakira. Perhaps the most anticipated performance will be Timberlake's, as the 'N Syncer makes his solo debut. He'll premiere "Like I Love You," the first single off his upcoming Jive album, "Justified."
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