Jacksons Take the VMA Stage
NEW YORK - Members of the Jackson family reunited at the MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday night.
Jermaine and father Joe Jackson looked on as Madonna walked out to introduce the opening number: Janet Jackson's tribute to her brother Michael, whose death at age 50 on June 25 rocked the music world.
The dramatic production began with Madonna recalling her encounter with Michael and reminding the audience that "Michael Jackson was a hero." And while "he seemed otherworldly," she added, "he was also a human being."
And then, the performance began. Dancers crept up on stage with original Thriller video airing in the background. The dancers' moves duplicated the ones being performed on the video. Then a sequence of Michael's hits played. Bad and Smooth Criminal led to Scream, his duet with Janet, who broke through glass to make her way onstage and sing along with the video. The loud, almost angry performance had the audience on its feet.
It was the number many were excited about before the show. On the red carpet, singer Sean Paul said he couldn't wait. He was "really looking forward to seeing Janet Jackson perform. It will be emotional. I think everybody in music was influenced by Michael Jackson."
Singer Sean Kingston agreed on the must-see performance of the evening. "Janet Jackson," Kingston said. "That's gonna be big."
Shakira, who saw some of the rehearsal for the tribute, said she believed it would be "very emotional."
TV talk-show host Jimmy Fallon said he also was looking forward to the tribute. "Michael Jackson made MTV, and MTV made Michael Jackson. You know that MTV will have a really well-done, touching tribute."
Still, there were other music-related news items that guests were talking about on the carpet. American Idol's Kara DioGuardi was asked about her new colleague at the judge's table, Ellen DeGeneres. "I feel fantastic. I feel ecstatic. I can't wait for January when we can all be on the panel."
DioGuardi added that she has been in touch with DeGeneres' predecessor, Paula Abdul. "Of course I'm a friend, and she was so much a part of the show and treated the contestants with such compassion," DioGuardi said. "I've spoken to her, and she seems to be doing really well, and that's what matters." Abdul is set to play host at the VH1 Divas special on MTV's sister music network on Thursday night (9 ET/PT).
But veteran actress Faye Dunaway had two divas she was looking forward to seeing on Sunday at the VMAs. "Lady Gaga and Beyoncé. How could you not love Beyoncé?" Dunaway asked.
Count Nelly Furtado among the celebrities looking forward to seeing those two women perform.
Akon had his sights set on one of the ladies. "Lady Gaga. Lady Gaga. That's why I'm here," Akon said. Lady Gaga, who arrived at the show with date Kermit the Frog, is signed to Akon's distribution company, Kon Live.
But Ne-Yo echoed Dunaway's sentiment. When asked who he was rooting for, he replied, "Besides myself?" and then added, "I'm here to see Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Pink, everyone. I'm here just to enjoy the electricity."
And the atmosphere was electric.
Returning host Russell Brand doled out his brash brand of humor during the broadcast. Among the stars at the show: Jennifer Lopez, Alicia Keys, Kanye West, Katy Perry, actors Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner.