×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

VH1 Big in 03

Siting through the taping of "VH1 Big in 03" leads one to appreciate the invention that makes television great: the remote. Stuck in the Universal Amphitheater, there was no escape, no clicking away from unfortunate bits of business such as Tracy Morgan and Aisha Tyler's parody of Ben and J.Lo and Ashton Kutcher simply being Aston Kutcher.

With:
Bands: Kid Rock, Matchbox Twenty, Shania Twain, OutKast.

Siting through the taping of “VH1 Big in 03” leads one to appreciate the invention that makes television great: the remote. Stuck in the Universal Amphitheater, there was no escape, no clicking away from unfortunate bits of business such as Tracy Morgan and Aisha Tyler’s parody of Ben and J.Lo, the largest massing — outside of the unemployment office — of reality TV cast members and Ashton Kutcher simply being Aston Kutcher. One just has to sit and endure.

“Big in 03” is VH1’s entry into the already crowded field of faux awards programming. Its intent is to honor, if that is the word, the people, events and trends that made 2003 the most recent year in human history.

There’s certainly a wealth of material out there, not that the show’s writers showed much imagination. Host D.L. Hughley’s monologue, filled with references to Paris Hilton, Rush Limbaugh and Michael Jackson, could have been cobbled together out of Leno rejects. A taped skit with Jessica Simpson as an undercover genius working for the government was a clever exception to the mundane jokes. The political material showed a distinct anti-war slant, with Iraq named biggest mistake of 2003 (“and No. 4 and 5 and 6 and 7,” as Hughley added in one of his more trenchant moments), and Dixie Chick Natalie Maines took some free swings accepting the show’s biggest quote kudos, commenting that she and the president have at least one thing in common: “Neither of us knows how those words got into our speeches.”

But mostly the show contented itself with naming the year’s biggest gay heroes (the Fab 5 from “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” who cavorted with a lost-looking Liza Minnelli) or biggest guilty pleasure (Fox’s “The OC”).

That left the music, and it was a mixed bag. Kid Rock was first up, performing his just released, respectful cover of Bad Company’s “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” complete with a pyrotechnic display that, when part of the stage caught fire, turned into an inadvertent reminder of Great White, the year’s biggest musical tragedy. (It was quickly put out but still managed to fray some nerves). Matchbox Twenty, accompanied by a children’s choir, brass and string sections on the overwrought “Bright Lights,” showed that even if you’re given everything you asked for, you can’t always get what you want.

Based on this appearance, Shania Twain should be named the nation’s official half-time entertainment. Her lip-synched perf would have worked just as well at center court or on the 50-yard line as it did here. The only question when she takes the stage is which of the three released versions of “I’m Gonna Getcha Good!” will she and her band mime (for the record, it was the pop version).

A surprise appearance by Al Green marked perhaps the most stirring perf of the evening. The punchline to a flat routine featuring Katie Holmes, an ill-used Bernie Mac and some iPods, Green had the aud on its feet during his a cappella “Let’s Stay Together.” Only one band on the bill was capable of following him, and OutKast was more than up to the task. Explosive performances of Andre 3000’s “Hey, Ya!” and Big Boi’s “The Way You Move” whetted the appetite for a full concert by the Atlanta rappers.

OutKast should have been the evening’s finale, but for some reason the group’s performance was followed by an anticlimactic appearance by Beyonce, who accepted the award for year’s biggest entertainer in front of a muted, half-empty house.

“VH1 Big in 03” premieres on the channel Sunday at 9 p.m.

Popular on Variety

VH1 Big in 03

Universal Amphitheater; 6,250 seats; $75 top

Production: Presented by VH1. Hosted by D.L. Hughley. Reviewed Nov. 20, 2003.

Cast: Bands: Kid Rock, Matchbox Twenty, Shania Twain, OutKast.

More Scene

  • US record producer The-Dream arrives for

    Top Music Publishers Come Together for Songs of Hope Honors

    The 15th annual Songs of Hope honors united songwriters, music industry insiders and more than a few preeminent doctors at producer Alex Da Kid’s Sherman Oaks compound on Thursday night. Jimmy Jam returned to host the event, which served as a fundraiser for the ever-vital City of Hope medical treatment center as well as a [...]

  • Renee Zellweger Rufus Wainwright Sam Smith

    Renée Zellweger: Judy Garland Was 'My Childhood Hero'

    Awards buzz is building around Renée Zellweger for her performance as Judy Garland, emerging as a frontrunner in the Oscar race for best actress. But for her, the real prize was paying tribute to Garland, of whom she’s been a lifelong fan. “Nobody was prettier, nobody sang prettier…the adventures she had, [she was] my childhood [...]

  • Keke Palmer BlogHer19 Summit

    Keke Palmer Brought to Tears Accepting Truth Teller Award at #BlogHer19 Creators Summit

    Keke Palmer stood surprised and wide-mouthed on the #BlogHer19 Creators Summit stage as she was presented with the Truth Teller Award for her recent acting work — and her viral “sorry to this man” clip. “This means so much,” the multi-hyphenated star softly whispered as she got teary-eyed upon accepting the award. Last week, the [...]

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 19:

    Emmys 2019: Inside All the Hottest Pre-Parties

    It’s (Emmys) party time! Before the 71st annual Emmys go live on Sunday, stars and execs are keeping busy by party-hopping in the days leading up to the big show. Here, Variety gives you the inside details on who was where and what they were doing. Keep checking back right here throughout the weekend for [...]

  • Jennifer Lopez Green Dress

    Jennifer Lopez Closes Out Versace Show in Famous Green Grammys Dress

    Jennifer Lopez has found her way back into the Versace dress that broke the internet in 2000. The “Hustlers” star closed out Versace’s Spring 2020 show in a re-worked version of the revealing, bright green silk chiffon dress that she wore to the Grammy Awards 20 years ago. The dress quickly became a pop-culture phenomenon, [...]

  • 10 Storytellers to Watch

    Variety Celebrates Inaugural 10 Storytellers to Watch Event

    Storytellers from across the spectrum of entertainment — film, literature, podcasting and play writing — were honored Thursday at Variety’s inaugural 10 Storytellers to Watch luncheon at Gramercy Park Hotel, hosted with partner the Independent Filmmaker Project and presented by Audible. Honorees Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, author of “Friday Black”; “Limetown” podcasters Zack Akers and Skip Bronkie; [...]

  • Demi Moore Corporate Animals

    Demi Moore Teases Upcoming Memoir 'Inside Out,' Talks 'Corporate Animals' Team Bonding

    As Demi Moore gears up for the Sept. 24 release of her autobiography “Inside Out,” the actress says she feels like a weight has been lifted. “Even the stuff that I may have been nervous about is completely lifting…because it’s a process,” Moore told Variety at the premiere of her upcoming film “Corporate Animals” at [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content