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Taylor Swift in tears, Axl gone AWOL, Britney breaking out in a rash: MTV's top exec tells EW the stories behind the wildest moments in VMA history

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wooliest, and most unforgettable water-cooler moments from the VMAs’ nearly three-decade run — and got some previously unpublished revelations on everyone from Britney Spears (did you know that she wasn’t actually Madonna’s first-kiss choice back in 2003?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.”

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Anthony Bourdain has drinks, gets tattoo with Sleigh Bells in 'No Reservations' premiere: Watch it here

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Chef/author/general wild man Anthony Bourdain has been to some wild, far-flung locales on his No Reservations show. And in the Travel Channel show’s Sept. 3 third-season premiere, he drops in on one of the world’s most chaotic events: South by Southwest.

There, Bourdain finds Sleigh Bells playing their face-melting set at ACL’s Moody Theater and decides, “You know what, I’m gonna hang out with these kids today.” And hang he does! Bourdain tags along with duo Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller at their SXSW home base, a nice backyarded house away from the squalor of downtown.

The band’s friends join the party as well, and soon everyone’s enjoying a good crawfish boil, getting “drunk as s—” (Bourdain’s words) on avocado margaritas, and giving certain Reservation-ists permanent tattoos on their arm.

Watch all the high jinks go down in the video below:

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Nicki Minaj brings 'Starships' to 'Today' show: Watch it here

Call it a Pink Tuesday?

The hyperactive blond alien we earthlings refer to as Nicki Minaj landed her spaceship in the Today show’s Rockefeller Center studios for a live outdoor performance this morning. Decked in a red skintight number and golden tresses, she and her cadre of shirtless backup dancers bounced around on stage during their live rendition of “Starships.” 

The show was exactly as bonkers as you might expect, particularly when Minaj descended into the youthful crowd and elicited one of those scream frenzies that makes moms litigious.

Check out Minaj’s Today show appearance in the clip below:

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'Royal Pains' star Mark Feuerstein: What's on my iPod

Royal Pains‘  fourth season continues tonight with an episode directed by star Mark Feuerstein. But while wearing multiple hats can (and does!) make for some busy days, the actor, who also is a favorite recurring co-host on Live! with Kelly, took some time to peek into his iPod for MusicMix.

Read below for his top five picks — and some highly entertaining stories.

1. “Lady in Red,” Chris de Burgh. “In college we had a roommate from the Caribbean who cranked this song on full blast all day-everyday. Finally I knocked on his door and said ‘Lyndon, how can you listen to that song 24 hours a day/7 days a week?’ His response, ‘Mark, man, how can I not?’ READ FULL STORY

'True Blood' star Stephen Moyer: What's On My iPod

The courtly True Blood vamp, who’s expecting twins with costar Anna Paquin, will also do double duty on the show, directing his first episode July 29.

But when he’s not fighting for Sookie and the fate of the empire, Moyer spends his time listening to raspy-voiced troubadours, genteel indie folkies, and bath-time anthems. Check out what the British actor likes to jam out to below:

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James Murphy visits Jimmy Fallon, reminds us he could've been a 'Seinfeld' writer: Watch it here

The upcoming documentary Shut Up and Play the Hits focuses on LCD Soundsystem’s last days, but DFA ringleader James Murphy has an equally compelling origin story that includes a job offer in one of comedy’s finest writers rooms. (Hint: it rhymes if Feinseld. Also, it’s in the headline.) Watch the video below to see him discuss that and other tribulations on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon:

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Watch Gym Class Heroes perform 'Stereo Hearts' with Patrick Stump on VH1's 'Unplugged' -- EXCLUSIVE

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Did Adam Levine go blond? Do you need glasses? Just kidding, it’s Patrick Stump!

For their upcoming episode of VH1’s Unplugged series, the band performed a stripped-down version their breakout hit “Stereo Hearts.” With a twist: they replaced The Voice of Maroon 5’s Levine (see what we did there?) with that of former Fall Out Boy Stump, the guy who originally helped put Gym Class in a top-five Chokehold back in 2006. Sneaky move, Heroes.

Don’t believe us? Well, we’ve got an exclusive clip of the performance here. Check it out for yourself in the video below:

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Iggy Pop and Bethany Cosentino on 'True Blood'-approved duet -- Hear it here!

This is a pretty strange story, even by True Blood‘s standards.

Influential Los Angeles radio station KCRW premiered a new collaboration between famed Detroit protopunk Iggy Pop and Best Coast’s Spin covergirl Bethany Cosentino called “Let’s Boot and Rally.”

The new cut’s snaking guitars and Cali surf-rock vibes strike an interesting balance between the two artists’ respective styles, though given Best Coast’s recent taste for the subdued melancholy, the song tilts toward Iggy.

What really makes it intriguing, though, is that the song was co-written by KCRW DJ and True Blood music supervisor Gary Calamar and composer James Combs — plus the fact that it will be featured in the HBO program this Sunday.

Writes Calamar:

“Each episode is named after a song that is used in that show. We had a situation where we had an episode called ‘Boot and Rally’ but we really didn’t have a song that was True Bloody enough to use. What to do. Should we change the title of the episode? I suggested that maybe we can have someone write a new song called ‘Boot and Rally’…..Everyone agreed to give it a try and I started brainstorming.”

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VH1's '40 Greatest R&B Songs of the '90s': Bobby Brown, Ginuwine, Boyz II Men -- EXCLUSIVE

Despite Chris Rock’s protestations (“It’s just people singing over rap beats!”), R&B had a fruitful and vibrant decade from 1990 to 2000: The rise of New Jack Swing, the innovation of hip-hop soul, a bevy of breakout stars, and the ever expanding and collapsing boundaries of the genre.

To celebrate the Age of Irony’s best booty shakers and slow jams, VH1 is airing “40 Greatest R&B Songs of the ’90s” on Thursday night at 9 p.m. With the assistance of stars like Usher and Keith Sweat, the countdown special tips its hat to smashes like Ginuwine’s “Pony,” Boyz II Men’s “Motownphilly,” and Bobby Brown’s immortal “Humpin’ Around.”

In fact, all three of those songs appear in the bottom 10 of the countdown. Check out entries 40 to 30 in an exclusive reveal below.

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Fiona Apple tells Jimmy Fallon about her famous meltdown, plays two songs: Watch it here

Fiona Apple had some ‘splaining to do last night.

During her appearance on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, the host brought up Apple’s now-infamous 2000 Roseland Ballroom meltdown — which, as it happens, was preceded by a ten-minute comedy act from Fallon himself.

“The whole thing was crazy,” Fallon said, recalling how he was having a drink with Apple’s then-boyfriend when it all went down. “I was worried about you, pal.”

Apple addressed the issue by asserting her humanity. “The short answer is that I’m a human being,” she said. “And that I was reacting to life.”

The singer says she was feeling “overwhelmed” at the time, citing her Saturday Night Live appearance that month.

“I started crying” she continued. “And I could not physically stop crying. I couldn’t.”

Watch her interview with Fallon in the video below:

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