Thursday, September 09, 1999

9|9|99 the day of Hip Hop and Awards

Madonna smirked, Little Kim got felt up (by Diana Ross), the BackStreet Boys were heckled by Stuttering John of the Howard Stern show, Mark McGrath was full of one-liners, Ricky Martin had 5 outfit changes, and the Beastie Boys had a serious message. The 1999 MTV Video Music Awards, held on the magical date of 9|9|99 at Lincoln Center's Metropolitan Opera House effused energy and hip hop despite the tortential rains that danced on eager fans heads below.

The coming weeks will be a flood of conferences on convergence, eTV, Digital Hollywood, venture, and other Internet World-like shows. I took advantage of a decidedly established hip world venue for my Thursday night activities and at the invitation of MTVi, attended the MTV award show. The music industry has been turned on its ear for a few years now, as the Internet changed the way artists distribute, reach audiences, sell and market themselves. Last year was the year of music and Internet comingling. This year, it's all about cable and TV and the Internet and how they'll come together.

Now what's the Cyber Scene got to do with the music scene you say? Well, there were some cyber elements. For instance, AdWheels promotional staff on rollerblades, "Skatertizers," decked out in gear, rolled through the busy streets and screaming fans. The group of skaters were equipped with a flatscreen color TV strapped to their chest, playing an explosively visual promotional reel and blaring music to keep the party going. The "Skatertizers" distributed paraphernalia, free CDs, and water to cool off the crowd. And MTVi was webcasting their interviews for streaming on their site and offering online polls and a Johnny Fame ATT message center.

Nicholas Butterworth's entrance to MTVi as president also marks a significant milestone in the development of the Alley. What was one a niche is now mainstream. And our once digerati superstars are now becoming true superstars -- or at least mingling with them. Although Nicholas shouldn't be too shy of cameras considering it was early in his life when he was in front of the camera himself, on Boston-based "Zoom!"

And zooming were the stars in the press room. Tommy Lee, dressed as a flasher, flashed Pamela Anderson Lee, who was under a big pink fluffy top hat and in a tres-fitted corset with beige spangly pants. Renee Zellwegger was popping out through her see-through black sequenced Versace mini-dress, when she wasn't hiding behind her long crimped blond hair or Jay Mohr in his Donna Karan. Little Kim had a special creation of purple sequence with just a pasty on her left breast.

I scooted over to the television and radio section and watched Aerosmith and Run DMC, along with bare-chested Kid Rock yukin' it up on the Howard Stern show, while I went over and said hello to the morning show crews (ABC, CBS). Mark McEwen introduced himself to me and I asked him if he'd gotten any good interviews. Just then the striking model Iman in a smooth yellow-gold dress with fire-y red hair and her husband David Bowie brushed past me and Mark said, "gotta go!" David was doing his best to look like a skateboarder.

The Beastie Boy's brought a sense of responsibility and seriousness to the show, with the recognition of the horrible rapes and violence that went on at this year's Woodstock. He called everyone to action to "protect our girls and women at these concerts." And to create and maintain a safe environment for people to feel comfortable. After his remark, most of the performers addressed this issue with the press.

Speaking of the press, I sat down with Joseph Gallivan of the NY Post and his wife Spring, to hear the amazingly talented and cute 13 year old Charlotte Church giggle her spritely answers. In response to why there weren't many other English teenagers on the music scene in America she replied, "there's lots of American artists, which is why they've *over-ruled* us…heeheehee!"

Mark McGrath kept the laughter going as he offered up one good one-liner after another. He filled the room with rumors of him and Madonna, but the one true woman in his life is his little dog, Lola. He also addressed the violence at Woodstock and put the blame on the people who organized the event in '99 and in '69. Will Smith also spoke to violence in our culture and being a role model. He proudly stated that "I never killed anyone in my records and I never use profanity." Amen! Will Smith also entertained the press with the title of his new album "Willenium," scoops like his next film with Robert Redford, and inspiration with his tribute to his son Trey and wife Jadah. Mary J. Blige, in her green getup, said her album's titled "Mary" because she was tired of all the other names and this album has real music on it.

75-year old Buddy Hackett, who's on Jay Mohr's new show, likened today's music to 500 Bob Fosse's--there's a different energy, it's a different era and it's wonderful.