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Sky's the limit for MTV Movie Awards stars

June 06, 2005|Chris Lee | Special to The Times

It was a one-of-a-kind pop-cultural gumbo: bad-boy comedian Andy Dick and cinema sweetheart Sandra Bullock, rapper Fat Joe and stick-thin reality-TV star Nicole Richie, rocker-director Rob Zombie and fine-boned actress Ziyi Zhang, all standing cheek-by-jowl in a roiling celebrity stew.

"It's a party," exclaimed Zhang, blowing air kisses.

A singular mix of tween queens, A-list stars, hip-hop luminaries and Hollywood's old guard came to the Shrine Auditorium for the taping of the MTV Movie Awards on Saturday -- a kind of unbuttoned alterna-Oscars.

Unlike the Golden Globes or Academy Awards, where fashion choices are scrutinized with all the competitive zeal of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, many of the nominees and presenters chose either lavish gowns or expensive jeans and limited-edition sneakers for a show emphasizing entertainment value as much as the recognition of movie merit. And then there was Jessica Alba, in a category all her own: She wore a diaphanous number that became transparent when illuminated by flashes from the cameras.

The event, aimed at the 13-to-34-year-old demographic, will beam into some 400 million homes when it airs Thursday night. It also served as an entry-level awards ceremony for certain members of the throng. "I personally haven't been invited to any other awards show," said Johnny Knoxville, former star of the MTV gross-out stunt show, "Jackass," who appears in this summer's big-screen remake of "The Dukes of Hazzard." Go figure.

Despite a surfeit of movie stars, pop-idol appreciation was the order of the day.

Bubblegum songstress Jessica Simpson, in a curve-hugging black cocktail dress, received more applause from fans overlooking the red carpet than Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly, casual in black jeans and a blazer. Likewise, tween sensation Hilary Duff in a form-fitting brown frock created more fan frenzy than Hilary Swank in a billowy hippie dress.

"On the red carpet at this event, people don't ask what you're wearing as much," said Molly Ringwald, who was on hand with cast mates from "The Breakfast Club" to commemorate the film's 20th anniversary. She quickly volunteered that she was wearing an outfit by designer Alice Temperly.

In the early evening, stretch limousines and big black SUVs bottlenecked behind the theater as "the talent" pulled up to the designated drop-off. Steve Carell, star of NBC's "The Office," narrowly missed getting run over by a limo that had dispatched Terrence Howard of the ensemble drama "Crash." And Taylor Hackford, the director of "Ray," nearly lost his foot to a Lincoln Town Car.

The evening's most eagerly awaited guests, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, slipped in quietly on Cruise's motorcycle, skipping red carpet promotional duty altogether. Inside the greenroom, a basketball-court-sized enclosure swathed in white -- and christened the "Virgin Mobile Red Room," in a handy bit of corporate sponsorship -- young female stars were clear winners of the celebrity-popularity derby. Lindsay Lohan's mini-entourage encountered Jessica Biel and her chaperons near a banquet table covered with sushi. Attired respectively in a flowing gray dress and a '70s-style satin gown, these two teen idols looked glamorous but not quite grown-up -- as though they might have raided their mothers' closets for the event.

"Oh my gawd," Lohan said as she air-kissed Biel. "I looove your dress!"

In the auditorium, several rows of seats had been ripped out and replaced with modish chairs and sofas to create a relaxed -- and less typically award-show-like -- atmosphere. The biggest stars, Nicole Kidman, Dustin Hoffman, Samuel L. Jackson and Swank, were strategically seated in the front row -- a fact that didn't go unnoticed by Hoffman, who won best comedic performance for his role in "Meet the Fockers."

"I'd like to thank MTV for putting me in the first row," he said in his acceptance speech. "The academy never did that."

After accepting the award, a metal statue of a box of popcorn, he was hustled outside to the photo tent. In an off-the-cuff expression of joy, Hoffman tossed his statue up in the air. Several photographers got the picture while others loudly shouted at him do it again. The actor obliged -- five more times -- for the cameras.

The casual seating plan belied certain uncomfortable professional relationships. Cruise, on hand to receive a lifetime achievement award from his new girlfriend, Holmes, had been scheduled to sit just nine seats away from Kidman, his ex-wife. He remained backstage, however.

And Lohan and tween rival Duff sat one row apart, separated by a single chair.

"The Longest Yard" costars Adam Sandler and Chris Rock lounged on a red sofa during host Jimmy Fallon's opening monologue, whispering to one another -- even while Fallon told jokes about them.

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