It appears MTV’s annual Video Music Awards will go ahead in Miami on Sunday -- but for now the party’s off.
Hurricane Katrina, which intensified throughout the day Thursday, shut down MTV’s run-up to the extravaganza, forcing the cancellation of dozens of outdoor concerts, poolside cocktail parties and promo events.
Heavy rains and high winds also prompted the revocation of all location shooting permits, starting the removal of tents, elaborate outdoor sets and camera positions as the precipitation fell harder.
Sunday’s show, live from the city’s waterfront American Airlines Arena for the second consecutive year, was again planned with a heavy outdoor component, featuring stars making their red carpet arrivals by yacht and helicopter. The weather should be almost clear by Sunday, but by late Thursday it was too soon to know how storm damage, flooding or lack of time to re-set the stage would affect production or the many affiliated events.
“The show is going on 100% Sunday night,” MTV spokesman Graham James said. “We have a ton of contingency plans in place -- for everything from light rain to lightning to a full-on storm. We’re just rolling with it. We’re watching it carefully hour by hour.”
The National Hurricane Center was predicting 75 mph winds, up to 10-15 inches of rain and issued flood warnings through Saturday. Most offices, public buildings and schools were to remain closed throughout South Florida. MTV’s South Beach offices were not expected to be open Friday. The storm made landfall north of Miami on Thursday night, knocking down trees, leaving hundreds of thousands without electricity and causing at least two deaths.
The weather threw a wrench into the paths of arriving talent, media, producers and such, with major airport closings Thursday -- the day most were to arrive.
“It will be a challenge and we’ll work on it and we’ll try and get everybody to the show,” James said.
A concert by country superstar Tim McGraw set for Thursday night at the nearby Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Fla., was canceled. Punk rockers Green Day -- likely to be among the big winners Sunday with a leading eight nominations for their album ”American Idiot” -- were standing by to play Friday at the Office Depot Center near Fort Lauderdale.
City steps inNo sooner had the doors opened Wednesday at The Doubletree Surfcomber Hotel on South Beach -- which MTV bought out and temporarily renamed Hotel MTV for the week -- did the city of Miami Beach step in and shut down the festivities. The network had even crowned the hotel’s rooftop with one of its signature “moonmen,” but that, too, had to go.
MTV had no comment on costs affiliated with nixing such promo events, striking outdoor camera scaffolds and setting it all back up. One Miami Beach official said the majority of the work had been contracted out to local vendors, who were expected to work through the night once the weather cleared.
Stars expected at the show and at events in town included Jessica and Ashlee Simpson, Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson, Pamela Anderson, rappers Big Boi, Kanye West and Snoop Dogg, along with singer-songwriters John Legend, Nelly and Usher.
Latin pop crooner Ricky Martin was set to use the week to launch his new record; designer Kimora Lee Simmons had planned a launch of her new fashion line Saturday night.
Confirmed by MTV to either present or perform were Eva Longoria, Hilary Duff, Alicia Keys, Jessica Alba, Orlando Bloom, Kirsten Dunst, Lindsay Lohan, Joss Stone and Jeremy Piven.
For all the chaos, MTV appeared to be taking a calm approach.
“I can’t go into hypotheticals,” James said. “All we can do is watch the situation carefully, wake up in the morning and see where we are.”