Last week’s MTV Video Music Awards may have suffered from disappointing ratings (this year’s viewership was only half of last year’s all-time high 12.45 million) and a dearth of big wow moments, but there’s no shortage of bonkers events to look back on in the show’s past.
In fact, we recently caught up with MTV Music Group President Van Toffler to discuss some of the wildest, wooliest, and most unforgettable water-cooler moments from the VMAs’ nearly three-decade run — and got some previously unpublished revelations on everyone from Britney Spears (did you know that she wasn’t actually Madonna’s first-kiss choice back in 2003? Or that her 2001 snake-charming had a seriously unfortunate side effect?) to Kanye’s infamous speechus interruptus. Read on (with video links in the headers, when available).
Kanye Storms the Stage and Interrupts Taylor Swift (2009)
Toffler: “There’s no way any of us could have predicted that — we didn’t orchestrate it. He came with a bottle of alcohol, so he was in a festive mood to begin with. But we all were in shock in the [production] truck when he walked up on stage and took the mic from Taylor. I remember turning to one of the producers and going, ‘Do we not have security?’ [But] we don’t put those big bulky guys on camera in front of the talent. Maybe this guy thought Kanye belonged on the stage.
I said to our line producer, ‘You need to go talk to Kanye and probably have him exit the building, and I will go deal with Taylor.’ And she was about to perform right after that break! She was a champ. I would be lying if I said she and her mom weren’t crying when I saw them, but she pulled it together. This was one of the most absurd VMA moments for me, having to talk to her and her mom, and they’re crying and upset, and this was her first time on the VMAs, and she had been used to working on country shows with polite artists. This was a little bit more chaotic than she was used to. And then I walked back behind the stage to find Beyoncé crying about the incident. Ultimately I talked to her and her dad and then went back to Taylor after her performance, and an hour later Beyoncé brought Taylor back out so she could have her moment.
It all played out okay in the end, but there was a lot of drama in between. Beyoncé had the wisdom to bring Taylor out on stage, and Taylor stayed to have her moment instead of leaving.”