Snooki’s guido baby? The fab five Olympic Gymnasts? Kim and Kanye filling the oddball kissing slot? Moonman statutes in the likeness of Neil Armstrong?
While any of these viral-enabled visuals would "Eastwood" across the twittersphere Thursday night when MTV’s Video Music Awards takes over the Staples Center for the first time, the afternoon timing of the live show leaves plenty of time for anything to happen at a buffet of after parties.
For the first time since 2001, when 'N Sync performed with Michael Jackson at the Met in New York about 100 hours before the Sept.11 attacks, the show returns to its historical post-Labor Day Thursday slot. With a Sunday show seven out of the last eight years, the VMA party scene usually takes over an entire three-day weekend across Los Angeles.
Whether because of Fashion Week in New York or the following day’s Stand up to Cancer mega-telecast and Macy’s Passport event, this year it's on a Thursday, and every host is competing to make news.
With the crush, the only musician who regularly appears on MTV -- DJ Pauly D -- is double-booked to play two separate after-parties, and a Coachella headliner will blast Beverly Hills.
Here's the best of the party lineup from the only made-for-TV awards show that still fosters a robust economy of unaffiliated parties, dinners, and lounges.
InTouch’s Icons and Idols
Bar Marmont/Chateau Marmont, 9 p.m.
Logline: Celebrity newsmakers and those with an adjective before the word “wives” on their paychecks.
This once-a-year party is the place to see the fissures of the "Jersey Shore" success hierarchy laid bare. The more successful Snooki and JWoww used to arrive separately from the chorus, and this year DJ Pauly D is the featured entertainment.
In the past, you might have seen Kid Rock sharing a couch and a smoke with David Spade as Leona Lewis performed.
“Icons and Idols is our tentpole; it’s our signature event,” Charlie McNiff, vice president/group publisher, Bauer Entertainment Group, told TheWrap. “Some other magazines have smaller parties that could be in honor of someone or could be a pouring opportunity for a brand. For us, this is really something that we plan a year ahead.”
After a 2011 foray at the Sunset Tower, organizers insist there is no mismatch in returning to a semi-draconian property that bans journalists for tweeting and a celebrity weekly that wants to cover what happens beyond fashionable driveway greeter Anya Varda the other 364 nights of the year. “The Chateau has been very, very kind to us. It’s a great way to bring in young Hollywood to an established iconic location,” McNiff insisted.
This is the event that most closely mirrors the VMAs itself, in that they always draw whoever is most in the pop culture eye at the moment. “Vanity Fair is always going to do the Oscars,” McNiff added. “The VMAs is really about what’s cool and what’s happening right now, and our party mirrors that.”
The weekly successfully re-channeled soft drink Sun Drop from on-air integrations in actual MTV programming like “The Real World” to sponsoring this off-air unaffiliated MTV event targeting the same demographic.
Insider Tip: The fire marshal has put in a door hold frequently in the past, and that area of Sunset is not used to barricaded lines. Arrive early.
House of Hype and Esquire Magazine Power Players Dinner and Party
Beverly Hills Hotel
Logline: The A List.
Britney Spears’ conservators decided she should spend the post-VMAs hours last year with the traveling House of Hype, just one trick in the magic act that has produced Katy Perry (left, at the 2011 event), Rihanna, Kanye West and the execs who sign their deals, all without appearance fees.
What’s gotten into the Beverly Hills Hotel? Starting with its three-day 100th Birthday blowout earlier this summer, the once staid pink-and-green palace has sprung a fountain of youth. In addition to luring this dinner and Svedka after party away from the SLS this year, it’s also hosted recent poolside soirées with the WWE and the gelled-blowout digital musician who shall not be named for a fourth time in this roundup.
Top Draw: Kaskade, a guy who is used to exponentially bigger crowds. This year alone he’s headlined Coachella (going head-to-head against Radiohead both weekends), Miami’s Ultra Music Festival and the Electric Daisy Carnival in Vegas. This is a major get, and totally out of place at the Beverly Hills Hotel (right) on any other night of the year.
Bottom Line: Jeffrey Katzenberg and the MPTF will be hoping they clean up in time for the “Night Before” party on Oscar eve.
Beats by Dr. Dre & Lil Wayne
Playhouse in Hollywood
Logline: Hip hop’s late night.
When you make $100 million off headphones in a year and sneak multiple millions more in ambush marketing exposure during the Olympics, you can afford holograms of dead rap icons and new endorsement deals with very-much-alive Lil Wayne.
Dr. Dre welcomes the prolific rapper and rising pitchman (“Mountain Dew”) to the headphone family with a post-show party at Playhouse.
Insider Tip: Because Lil Wayne parties have a habit of running on a “Cajun call sheet,” don’t race here early. On Grammy eve, fellow Cash Money artist Drake (right, with Lil Wayne) was on the Paramount lot stage after 3:00 a.m.
SBE’s VMA After Party
Logline: The Party Professionals.
Ninety minutes after Pauly D hands off the decks at the Chateau, he’ll hit his second post-show job of the night – a two-hour set on La Cienega. This one isn’t open just open to well-connected revelers, but also those who can pay. $80 tickets are available here.
XBOX VMA Lounge and After Party Benefiting VH1 Save the Music Foundation
The Ritz-Carlton Residences at LA Live; Daytime Gifting, Post-Show After Party
Logline: The swag suite with real loot.
Before Kevin Hart and Frank Ocean even leave the Staples Center stage, Xbox’s VMA after party will kick off at 7 P.M. across the street in the high-rent district – the Ritz-Carlton.
In the “career was nowhere near this a year ago” category, YouTube success story Karmin will perform. With a famine of gifting suites in the VMA landscape, the daytime lounge is a smart choice for proximity pre-rehearsal or pre-carpet, and Xbox consoles and games are nothing to sniff at.
Insider Tip: This doubles as a debutante ball for Jen Betts and R.J. Rousso, who recently merged their respective firms to form Pivotal PR, the group overseeing the activation.
102.7 KIIS FM Pre-Party and Gifting Suite
Mixing Room at the JW Marriott, Noon-5 PM
Logline: Kris Allen, Greyson Chance and Mark Ballas will perform at a young-skewing hybrid performance/gifting suite.
Insider Tip: Now that MTV has officially drained the hot tub on “Jersey Shore,” any cast member who hasn’t already spun off a lucrative DJ career with Larry Rudolph and Adam Leber – or any Twilight cast member lower than 5th on the call sheet – should heed Chris Rock’s famous advice delivered to a VMA audience of days gone by: “Don’t make no plans to see somebody here next year because a lot of y’all ain’t going to be here next year. Here today, gone today.”
Vinnie, Deena, Sammy, and Ron-Ron should run-run for the swag-swag while there’s still a car waiting for them to carry the loot home.
As of posting time, Lady Gaga’s management team was still formulating a dinner party at the Andaz on Sunset, though details were in flux.
Photos: Pauly D by Christopher Polk/Getty Images; Lil Wayne and Drake by Larry Busacca for Pepsi; Katy Perry by WireImage; Beverly Hills Hotel by Jason Merritt for Gerry Images; Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre by Denise Truscello/WireImage. All others by Mikey Glazer.