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VMAs, Hollywood style

September 05, 2008|Charlie Amter | Times Staff Writer

Who IS the biggest star at MTV's Video Music Awards? Before and after Sunday's show, it's the resurgent Hollywood night-life scene. After stops in New York, Miami and a critically maligned program last year inside the Palms casino in Las Vegas, the VMAs are back in Los Angeles for the first time since 1998, and some nightclubs are poised to capitalize.

MTV Networks has effectively dropped a second mini-Grammy weekend in the middle of Hollywood, potentially filling up a number of nightclubs with star-studded parties in the same way the Grammy Awards liven up the scene downtown and beyond.

No fewer than 15 events are planned around the award festivities, which began Wednesday with an event featuring rapper the Game at the 39,000-square-foot Kress club in Hollywood. The parties include splashy MTV-sponsored soirees, private gatherings at mansions in the Hollywood Hills (one celeb-heavy event is simply called "House of Hype") and unofficial, open-to-the-public happenings hoping to cash in.

The nights are part of MTV's marketing efforts to build excitement for the ceremony, which will take place on the lot at Paramount Pictures and will be shown Sunday night on the cable channel.

MTV's return to Los Angeles coincides with a Hollywood night-life renaissance, and the halo effect around the main event should benefit new Hollywood club owners such as the Kress' Mike Viscuso.

"The whole reason I designed the Kress the way I did was for events like this," said the 51-year-old, stationed inside his multi-story Hollywood Boulevard hot spot before the Wednesday kickoff event that doubled as a two-year anniversary party for the L.A. edition of 944 Magazine. "About a third of my business is special events," added Viscuso, who hinted that he may even be close to snagging a Vanity Fair party after the Academy Awards this winter.

Steve Adelman, one of the owners of the Avalon, just blocks away from the Kress, ramped up construction on his new lounge atop the Avalon -- Bardot, formerly the Spider Club -- to accommodate a private party for chart-topping songstress Katy Perry that will take place this weekend.

"The Grammy Awards are huge, but they are [usually] here," said Alesandra Dubin, Los Angeles bureau chief of event-planning trade magazine BizBash. "The VMAs offer sponsors and hosts the opportunity to do something different and unexpected."

Though it remains to be seen just how "unexpected" any of the events will be, more parties than usual will go off in and around Hollywood over the next few nights -- with just a touch of the extra electricity (usually in the form of celebrities other than cast members from "The Hills") that accompanies award show parties.

"VMA-related events rely on performance as the draw," Durbin added. "It's not necessarily about decor and food like at the Grammy Awards parties but more about the talent."

For example, a large advertiser such as Pepsi is spending big money on its "blue carpet event" Sunday at the Avalon, where rappers Fabolous and Tyga will perform. In Touch magazine has tapped Good Charlotte and the Veronicas for their invite-only bash at the Chauteau Marmont on Saturday; that same night, video game maker Harmonix has corralled Panic at the Disco to play a benefit for the AIDS/HIV-prevention charity Lifebeat at the House of Blues. And tonight, local promoter Pete Guttenberg and partners are hosting an open-to-the-public bash at Boulevard 3 honoring producer and songwriter Jason Boyd, promising RSVPs from the likes of P. Diddy, Akon and Rihanna.

"When we thought about bringing the VMAs back to L.A., part of the thinking behind it was the excitement that Hollywood is generating right now," said Tim Rosta, MTV's executive vice president of integrated marketing, via e-mail. "The events [help] the entire experience for celebrities, artists and viewers alike."




VMA Weekend

Partyers (and party-crashers), start your engines. A sampling of a few MTV Video Music Awards-related parties:

Today: "History in the Making," the Official VMA Kickoff Party, hosted by Jermaine Dupri: Fabolous and Q Da Kid perform. Avalon, 1735 Vine St., Hollywood. 10 p.m. (323) 462-8900. Guest list only.

Today: MTV VMA Pre-Party hosted by Lupe Fiasco (unofficial): Songwriter- producer Jason Boyd celebrates. Boulevard 3, 6523 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. 10 p.m. $40. (323) 466-2144. Open to the public.

Saturday: VMA Celebration Party (unofficial): DJs Rob Patterson, IMG, Ricky Rocks and performances by Bias and Lisa D'Amato. Mood, 6623 Hollywood Blvd., L.A. 10 p.m. $20. (323) 464-6663. Open to the public.

-- C.A.

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