It’s been the scene of two of pop culture’s biggest kisses in recent memory — Britney Spears smooching Madonna a few years back, and then-newlyweds Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley demonstrating their love on stage a decade earlier — and now the MTV Video Music Awards are locking lips with Las Vegas.
On Sept. 9, the VMAs will broadcast live from the Palms, marking the raucous show’s debut in Sin City.
While the VMAs will be centered at the Palms’ posh new 2,500-seat music hall, The Pearl, the entirety of the property will be used.
“It’s going to be a living, breathing show where we’re all over the hotel,” says Jesse Ignjatovic, executive producer of the VMAs. “It’s going to emanate from The Pearl, we’ll use that as a jumping off point to go to different locations in the hotel, whether it be some of the fantasy suites or Moon.”
Palms owner George Maloof has given MTV carte blanche to use the Palms as they see fit.
“I told them, ‘The property is yours,'” says Maloof, who’s attended the VMAs twice. “I think they wanted to do something that was a departure from what they’ve done in the past and try something new. They want to do things more impulsively, they don’t want things staged. It fits well with what we’ve done here.”
Now in its 24th year, the VMAs have been traditionally been in big venues in New York, with a few excursions to Miami and Los Angeles.
In coming to Vegas, MTV is looking to expand the VMAs to a weekend-long event with happenings across town.
“The weekend is really going to involve the whole city of Las Vegas,” says Ignjatovic. “We’re going to have events all over town, building to Sunday.”
In a departure from years past, the origiinal broadcast will air once and won’t be subject to frequent reruns.
“I think you want people to tune in and understand that what you see tonight, you might not see again,” Ignjatovic says, noting that subsequent airings of the program will be reprogrammed with feedback from viewers. “It’s really about getting our audience excited about tuning in and possibly seeing some stuff go down that might not be there in repeats.”
One of the highlights of last year’s broadcast was Vegas rockers Panic! At the Disco scoring “Video of the Year” honors for their clip for “I Write Sins Not Tragedies,” the evening’s top award. “It was a complete surprise,” recalls Panic! drummer Spencer Smith of the star-packed ceremony. “We were sitting next to Paris Hilton and P. Diddy. I got my fill of celebrities just sitting there throughout the show.”
This city, of course, is teeming with celebrities, which is why Las Vegas and the VMAs seem like such a deliciously debauched match.
“It’s where everyone goes,” Ignjatovic says of Las Vegas. “I think it’s a Mecca of entertainment right now. It just makes sense for us to be there.”