The 2017 MTV Video Music Awards broadcast gave viewers plenty to talk about, but the action continued off-screen. From the red carpet to the Forum’s VIP seating area to the after-parties, Variety was there to witness the VMA moments.
1. Was Miley Cyrus’ dad worried about another potentially risque performance? To the contrary, Billy Ray Cyrus glowed with pride on the red carpet as two of his daughters — Miley and Noah Cyrus — had appearanced ahead of them. “Miley is a true musician,” he told Variety. “Miley’s bold and she’s strong and she stands up for her beliefs with passion. Many people talk about their beliefs but they don’t do anything about them. She’s a doer, not a talker, and I’m really proud of her.”
2. Did Rod Stewart know who DNCE were when the idea was first proposed to update his 1978 classic “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” According to wife Penny Lancaster, Rod “had to do a little research” on the Joe Jonas-fronted band. “He hadn’t met them before, but [Rod] said Joe’s such a charming guy — really really lovely to work with.”
3. How did Lil Uzi Vert prepare for this VMA night? “By smoking [weed] all day,” he revealed on the red carpet, adding, “I’m pretty high right now.” After winning the song of the summer category, the rapper said he planned to “go home and watch a good movie like ‘Forrest Gump.'”
4. Who was on parent duty while Pink did red carpet interviews? Dad Carey Hart watched over daughter, Willow, who was a bundle of energy on the carpet. He was attentive and warm, wrapping his arms around his little girl protectively while mom did interviews. In between soundbites, Pink ran over to the fans to take selfies.
5. Dropping the gender designation from award categories was long overdue, said Samantha Ronson. “I think it’s about time,” she told Variety. “We had already started taking gender off of bathrooms, it was time to take the gender off of these categories.”
6. For a moment, there was a boy band logjam on the red carpet, but it seems PrettyMuch has a head start when it comes to breaking out, judging by the number of fans lined up even outside the Forum gates to get a peek at the group’s pre-show performance. Inside, the guys met some of their musical idols including Katy Perry, Calvin Harris, and Fifth Harmony. They also snapped a picture with Lil Yachty and got BeBe Rexha to sing their debut single, “Would You Mind” — a moment captured (and shared) on Twitter.
7. As criticism erupted on Twitter when the broadcast cut off Julia Michaels’ performance, was she aware that the show would cut to commercial before she had reached the first chorus of “Issues?” According to a member of Michaels’ team, the network had explained that they needed the extra time to plug in bumpers highlighting the best new artist nominees. Michaels’ performance was viewable in its entirety on the livestream. Look carefully and you could see Hailee Steinfeld, who didn’t budge from her spot after introducing her friend and songwriter, standing in shadow and singing along to every word of “Issues.”
8. Who got the biggest applause of the night? Ellen DeGeneres, who was on hand to present Pink with the Video Vanguard award. Cher was supposed to do the honors, but pulled out at least two days earlier for reasons unknown as of yet.
9. Also MIA from the VMA lineup: The Weeknd, who was previously billed as a performer on the show. What happened? According to sources, he too pulled out in advance of the last round of announcements. No official reason has been cited, and the singer’s label, Republic, would not comment, though we are told all is OK with the singer and there is no cause for concern.
10. What was the reasoning behind Fifth Harmony’s push-off-the-plank stunt? To show that “they’re one cohesive unit,” says an insider. It was “a moment” — a controversial one, yes — but its purpose was to make that statement — that the four members of Fifth Harmony, Ally Brooke, Normani Kordei, Dinah Jane, and Lauren Jauregui, “are united.”
11. How did Pink warm up for her VMA medley? By dancing to Future’s “Wicked” as it pumped through the arena. She also graciously waved to fans in the back rows before taking her position behind a convertible that would fly through the space.
12. Who wins for most social celebrity audience member? Jack Antonoff, whose band played the VMA pre-show. He was spotted sipping wine as he talked with Lorde (hopefully, the admitted germophobe kept his distance, seeing as the “Green Light” singer was battling the flu), while Olivia Munn was in deep conversation nearby with Jack’s sister, fashion designer Rachel Antonoff; DJ Khaled, meanwhile, had a different social activity in mind: he was spotted typing away on his phone in the back of a black Rolls Royce as it sped away from the venue.