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    Janet Jackson to do dance tribute for Michael to kick off VMAs

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    Smooth Criminal
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    Janet Jackson to do dance tribute for Michael to kick off VMAs

    Post by Smooth Criminal on Sun Sep 13, 2009 4:24 pm

    When Janet Jackson takes the stage Sunday night at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, she'll do so with dancers who were to perform with her brother Michael on his "This Is It" tour before he died in June.

    "This is not something that just came together - we've been in talks with [Janet] for a while," MTV general manager Stephen Friedman told The News. "We felt there was no one better than Janet to anchor it and send a really powerful message.

    "She's working with well-known choreographers who've all worked with Michael, as well as the dancers who were going to be on Michael's tour," added Friedman. "In a sense, she's carrying on her brother's legacy."

    The Awards will also feature the official trailer from Michael Jackson's "This Is It" film, with behind-the-scenes clips of the performer prepping for the tour.

    The Jackson tribute will kick off Sunday's event, broadcasting live from locations around New York City, including Radio City Music Hall.

    It has been two years since the show has been held in New York. And controversial British comedian Russell Brand returns as host.

    Last year, Brand offended many with jokes about the Jonas Brothers' purity rings and former President George W. Bush.

    This year, said Brand, he's taking a more loving approach.

    "I'm using the whole ceremony as an opportunity to flirt with Lady Gaga," Brand said.

    Gaga, along with Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Muse, P!nk, Green Day and others, are scheduled to perform.

    Brand said he culls material for his jokes by watching a lot of E! and reading papers to see what and who are headlines.

    Two seemingly easy targets, "The Hills'" Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt, can rest easy, however. Brand has never heard of them.

    Though MTV's programming strategy has veered away from music videos and into reality territory with shows like "Hills," Friedman says that the VMAs are still as relevant as ever.

    "Even though most of our audience goes online to watch music videos rather than wait for them to pop up on TV, they still want to celebrate them in a big way," he said. "The defining trait of our audience - the millennial generation - is that they look for communal moments, whether it's a sports event or cultural event, and want to come together and share and talk about it."

    Friedman has no doubt that on the night of the event, Facebook and Twitter will be abuzz with talk of the VMAs, thanks in part to the surprises planned.

    "Unexpected moments are a tradition of the show," said Friedman. "The artists have been coming to us with ideas to do things no one has ever seen before. It's going to get people talking."

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