August 26, 2005

Hurricane rains on MTV’s parade in Miami

By Deborah Wilker

MIAMI (Hollywood Reporter) - 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

"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.

No 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

For all the chaos, MTV appeared to be taking a calm

"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."

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter