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MTV awards show might tone it down

August 27, 2004

NEW YORK (AP) - In the 21-year history of MTV's Video Music Awards, viewers have been treated to some eye-popping moments - Prince's bare buttocks, Lil' Kim's sequined pasty, Britney and Madonna's steamy kiss last year.

But after the firestorm over the MTV-produced Super Bowl halftime show, in which Justin Timberlake ripped off part of Janet Jackson's costume to reveal her bare breast, might we see tamer VMAs when they air Sunday?

MTV President Van Toffler isn't promising any flesh-baring moments. But he's also not promising a Nickelodeon-friendly affair.

"You never know what they're going to do or say," Toffler said of the various artists who will converge at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, where the awards will be held for the first time. "Our audience has come to expect of MTV, and this event, very unpredictable, compelling television. That is not going to change, regardless of the Super Bowl or the kiss."

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Still, there's talk of using a video delay for the first time on the live broadcast (it's had an audio delay for years).

"It simply happens when you put musicians and artists together: They don't always do want you want them to do," Toffler told The Associated Press in an interview.

That's usually the best part of the show, however. Few watch because of the awards - who can even remember last year's top winner for video of the year? (In case you forgot, it was Missy Elliott's surreal "Work It?") Instead, people watch to see Eminem threaten a sock puppet, Diana Ross fondle Lil' Kim's breast or Michael Jackson kiss then-wife Lisa Marie Presley.

"It's always a fun time, a time to relax and let loose," said Jessica Simpson, one of the performers slated for Sunday night.

Other presenters and performers include Usher, Jennifer Lopez, P. Diddy, Nelly, Christina Aguilera, Dave Chapelle, Will Smith, Hilary Duff and the Miami Heat's newest member - Shaquille O'Neal.

Toffler says MTV hasn't issued any edicts to performers to be on their best behavior.

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