Scoring an invite to one of Diddy’s dazzling, decadent bashes is a notoriously difficult get.
But on Sunday, Diddy is relaxing his stringent admittance rules for a celebration that’s not just for the sexy people, but for everyone. The only requirement is to tune to MTV for the Video Music Awards, where Diddy is set to host what may be his largest, wildest extravaganza to date, with a guest list that includes Mariah Carey, Jessica Simpson, 50 Cent, Green Day, Kelly Clarkson, Usher, Eva Longoria and Kanye West.
“We’ve had so many different kinds of people hosting the show, and what Diddy brings to it is this incredible sense of party,” said Christina Norman, president of MTV. “He’s a showman, he’s a master of ceremonies, his own parties are legendary. ... He’s the one to get on the mike and rock the mike and make sure that everybody has a good time.”
Though he’s known for his braggadocio, Diddy seemed downright humble when he talked about his upcoming duties, despite joking (we think) about plans to run onstage naked during the festivities.
“It was definitely a privilege and an honor. The timing is right,” Diddy told The Associated Press in an interview last week at MTV’s midtown studios. “I think a lot of things that I’ve done has built me up to this moment ... hosting is a certain art form, and hosting all those parties and showing people a good time is what I specialize in.”
Diddy styleLike a Diddy party, the MTV awards will incorporate his signature soiree style. The red carpet is out, Diddy’s white carpet is in (“hopefully my lawyers have finished trademarking it,” he cracked). And while there will be no strict dress code, Diddy does expect celebrities attending — even the grungiest rockers — to be decked out in their most fashionable duds. He’s even giving $50,000 each to the best dressed male or female celebrity, to go to their favorite charity — and he’s coined it the Diddy Fashion Challenge.
“It’s not even a thing that I want you to come in gowns and things. That’s for the Oscars,” said the Sean John designer. “I’m talking about be artistic in your fashion style and celebrate. We’re celebrating each other that night, it’s a celebration. And that’s what I’m hosting, I’m not hosting an awards show, I’m hosting a celebration, and a moment in musical history.”
The hip-hop mogul formerly known as P. Diddy, Puff Daddy and Puffy plans TO start that moment even before the 8 p.m. ET Sunday kickoff. He’s set to host pre-parties in the days leading up to the event, helping transform the already club-centric city into an all-star party-hopping mecca. Among the other celebrities holding court at their own events: Ludacris, Nelly, Usher, Pamela Anderson and Missy Elliott.
“You’re not just coming to an awards show, you’re coming to a whole weekend. You can only compare this to Super Bowl Sunday — that’s why I tagged it VMA Sunday, where you have youth culture converging on Miami,” said Diddy.
Of course, Diddy has no say over Katrina — not to be confused with Katrina & the Waves, one of the 1980s’ pop sensations.
Katrina became a hurricane Thursday, forcing MTV and the Miami Beach mayor’s office to suspend all outdoor activities at the temporarily set-up Hotel MTV for Friday. Saturdays events will be held, weather permitting.
Some artists originally scheduled for Thursday and Friday are being rescheduled and will be added to Saturdays lineup.
Green Day leads all nominees with eight for the videos “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “American Idiot,” and rapper/producer Missy Elliott has six for her clip “Lose Control.” Gwen Stefani and U2 have five each. But focus of the night will be on the evening’s performers, potential scene stealers and mayhem makers.
Prison-bound Lil Kim is scheduled to be a presenter, while R. Kelly — trying to keep out of prison on child pornography charges — is due to perform. Those two alone are likely to be watercooler fodder for the next morning.
Others slated to take the stage: Carey, Coldplay, Ludacris, the Killers, Green Day, Clarkson, 50 Cent and West.
Norman says this year marks the most performances ever booked for the event. “The show is all about wall-to-wall music,” she said.
The missing element will be ongoing comedic commentary. Unlike previous hosts such as Chris Rock, Jimmy Fallon or Jamie Foxx, Diddy won’t have a monologue and doesn’t plan to crack jokes or poke fun at the evening’s winners or losers.
“The plan is to be myself, and to be comfortable. Anytime I’ve tried to not be myself and to read off a teleprompter and be somebody else, that’s when it hasn’t been successful,” he said. “The moments that are going to be funny, they need to be natural funny moments, things that I’m comfortable with, and the rest of the time I need to make sure that I host the show and keep it moving.”
And while the Video Music Awards may carry the Diddy stamp, it won’t be Diddy-centric: He’s enough of a party planner to know the best parties are all about the guests — and not about the host.
“It ain’t the Diddy show, it ain’t the MTV show, it’s the show for the fans and the recording artists,” Diddy said. “I’m there entertain.”