From Nicki Minaj keeping her “Anaconda” classy to Queen Bey bringing all the melodrama you can handle, TheWrap uncovers “secrets” from the showrunners and stars
The 2014 Video Music Awards are only 48-hours away, but you wouldn’t know it by touring the venue on Thursday. The stage is still being set at the newly renovated Forum, but MTV assured us that the production was on track as scheduled.
“All the artists are teed up,” the show’s executive producer Jesse Ignatovic told TheWrap. “They all have incredible performances. They’ve been a pleasure to work with.”
A pleasure, we’re sure, but we had to dig deeper. We were determined to figure out what audiences would be talking about at their office water coolers Monday morning. Which 2014 performance would earn itself a place next to Miley Cyrus‘ twerking and the Britney Spears/Madonna/Christina Aguilera make-out in the pantheon of outrageous VMA moments?
So, with carpenters hammering away at the stage and stand-ins announcing fake winners over the loudspeakers, TheWrap went deep undercover to find out. Our reconnaissance mission involved scrutinizing seating charts, prying secrets from show runners and making contact with the Moon Man.
Here are 13 things we’re fairly certain you can expect from Sunday’s telecast:
1. Girls, girls, girls.
If you’ve glanced over this year’s list of performers (which includes Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Iggy Azalea, Nicki Minaj, Ariana Grande, Jessie J, Fifth Harmony), you’ve probably already noticed it’s chock-full of wildly talented women.
“It’s this year in music,” the show’s executive producer Jesse Ignatovic told TheWrap. “Its strong women. It’s exciting for us because they’re bringing it. They’re not coming to be overlooked. Everyone will have their moments.” Fear not, men. Your gender hasn’t been totally overlooked. Sam Smith, Maroon 5, Usher and 5 Seconds of Summer are all set to perform.
2. ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge raised over $10 million in a recent 24-hour period and now MTV is hip to the times. A celebrity stand-in was practicing a scripted scene about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, so it’s probably safe to assume one of the presenters will eventually get doused in ice-cold water.
3. Beyonce is the belle of this year’s ball.
The “Flawless” female is performing and receiving the Video Vanguard Award, but her name is at the tip of everyone’s tongue for other reasons. The rumor mill has been working overtime, predicting a potential split with husband Jay Z.
The reports thus far have proven to be unfounded, but if you think MTV is above using this free drama to their advantage you’d be nuts. Show producers have sat Beyonce by herself at the end of a row. No sign of Jay Z, no sign of Solange and certainly no sign of Destiny’s other Children, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams who were seated at least twenty feet away.
MTV intentionally had each reporter walk by her seat and at least half a dozen of them asked producers who she was sitting next to. They would only smile slyly and offer up some canned variation of “tune in Sunday and find out.”
It was a shameless way for them to drum up controversy and though we really wanted to stay above it, but just couldn’t. We had to know. We had to ask: “Who’s sitting in those four empty seats next to Beyonce?”
“Those four seats are for me,” joked Ignjatovic, while smiling slyly. “I’m going to lay here and gaze up at her.”
4. Nicki Minaj performing “Anaconda” and “Bang Bang”… tastefully.
Nicki Minaj is collaborating with Ariana Grande and Jessie J to open the show with “Bang Bang” and later on in the evening she’ll perform her scandalous new single “Anaconda.” As TheWrap previously reported, that video dropped Tuesday after tons of teasing, an endless stream of racy promo pics and a booty bouncin’ teaser clip. And it’s was explicit as you’d expect.
But should the world expect Minaj to take the stage Sunday in a g-string? Not necessarily.
“It’s important for MTV to create a show their audience can watch,” said Ignjatovic. “I work with them as executive producer to do that. The network takes that very seriously and we make sure there aren’t surprises.”
That should be music to the ears of the Parents Television Council. The group wrote an open letter to MTV Monday, requesting the network at least give the VMAs an appropriate rating for the amount of sexual content it will contain. We asked Ignjatovic about the pressures from the PTC and he said the network was working with the performers to ensure the show doesn’t drift too far downmarket. “There has to be give and take,” he told TheWrap. “You have to make sure it’s tasteful.”
We asked him whether the artists are comfortable with those parameters. “Yeah,” he said. “They have to be.”
5. Chris Brown and Sam Smith could become besties.
MTV sat Chris Brown right next to Sam Smith, which is most unlikely pairing since peanut butter and bananas, but maybe they’ll become fast friends. Hopefully the network dedicates a camera to rewarding their every interaction.
6. Charli XCX’s Red Carpet performance of “Boom Clap” will chock full of leather and feathers.
Charli XCX famously collaborated with Icona Pop on “I Love It” and with Iggy Azalea on “Fancy,” but she’s flying solo this year during the VMA pre-show. She’s performing on the red carpet by herself this year and she couldn’t be more excited to step into her own. Her single “Boom Clap” was one of the songs of the spring and summer thanks to its inclusion on the soundtrack for teen hit “The Fault in Our Stars,” starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Egort.
“I’m performing my own song ‘Boom Clap,’ which will be the first time I’ve done it at an awards show,” she told TheWrap. “Its amazing doing collaborations. But Im an artist as well as a songwriter and feature artist, so its cool to do my own thing for sure.”
What can we expect for her pre-show performance? “It’s going to be super girl power, lots of leather and feathers,” she revealed.
7. The real host of this year’s show is The Forum.
One of the biggest stars of Sunday’s soon-to-be spectacle is venue itself, The Forum. Inglewood’s 8,000 square foot, 17,500 seat locale reopened Jan. 15 and is now considered largest indoor entertainment performance venue in the nation. “This venue has been redone. It’s resilient, it’s a mainstay of L.A. culture,” said Ignjatovic. “The Showtime Lakers; I remember coming here to see Prince –he did 17 nights in a row.”
“The fact that they invested in it and preserved this place to be the first broadcast in here since they redone it was exciting for us,” he added.
8. The Moon Man is real, and he’s totally cool with posing for selfies.
9. Sponsors®. Lots of sponsors®
MTV revealed the contents of the gift bags each attending nominee, presenter and performers will receive. From Botran® Rum to Body Bark® lounge wear, the network was eager to flaunt the contents of the celebrity swag bags and even issued a multi-page release detailing its contents.
10. At least one OMG, WTF or OOPS moment.
The executive producers for this year’s event said pre-production has thus far been smooth. “It’s such a well run facility, everyone has been so terrific,” he told TheWrap. “The challenges are typical: stage, cameras, it’s all part of the creative process.
Minutes later a visiting camera man fell off the five-foot stage. He thankfully wasn’t injured, but the scary accident did serve as a reminder that no matter how smooth things might appear to be going, anything can and will happen. Thankfully, he didn’t seem to injure himself,
11. Expect the unexpected.
We asked Ignjatovic whether he knew what audiences would be talking about come Monday. Will there be an outrageous collaboration to rival Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus’ twerk-filled “Blurred Lines” performance from 2013? Will an artist come out in a meat suit like Lady Gaga in 2010?
The EP wouldn’t say for sure. “Those moments typically come about on the day before a show or show day,” he told TheWrap. “Those aren’t ones that are there and you know they’re happening well in advance. I’d say there will potentially be things like [those moments], but I couldn’t tell you specifically what they are.”
“All the artists are teed up,” he assured us, “they all have incredible performances.”
12. Super bass.
The sound system in the newly renovated Forum is the real deal. Every time they blasted a bit of Lil Jon and DJ Snake’s “Turned Down for What” the entire venue would quake. Water bottles were seriously trembling like it was the T-Rex scene from “Jurassic Park.”
13. A “Mean Girls” reunion. Maybe. Hopefully.
“Mean Girls” fans across the world held their collective breath when stars Lindsay Lohan and Tina Fey posed together for a picture on Tuesday for Entertainment Weekly’s upcoming Reunions Issue. Is it possible they are also gearing up for a mini-reunion during the VMAs? Ignatovic wouldn’t spill the beans.
“We would love that,” he told TheWrap. “We’ll see. Again, it’s only Thursday. I mean, those are the types of things that come about at the last minute. That would be amazing. Lindsay was great last night on [Jimmy] Fallon, doing the bucket challenge. So that would be great.”
Watch the 31st annual MTV Video Music Awards are Sunday, Aug. 24.