True Stories Behind The MTV Video Music Awards Most Memorable Moments

What will host Miley Cyrus do to make VMA history this year?

VMA Madonna Britney Kiss

Just about anything can — and usually does — happen at the MTV Video Music Awards.

The VMA’s have become a must-see live event, thanks mostly to moments that seem too over the top to have ever been scripted.

Who can forget Diana Ross groping Lil’ Kim’s breast (1999)?  Or Michael Jackson kissing Lisa Marie Presley (1994)?  Or Lada Gaga arriving in a dress made of raw meat (2010)?

As we strap ourselves in and wonder what in the world this year’s host Miley Cyrus will do to up the ante, here’s the incredible true stories behind some of the VMA’s most outrageous moment — as told to the AP by the show’s executive producer, Van Toffler.


“It wasn’t necessarily Madonna, Britney (Spears) and Christina (Aguilera),” Toffler says.  “J. Lo. was in the mix for a little while but then dropped out and I thought the whole thing was going to disappear.”  During rehearsals for the performance, Toffler got a mind-blowing call from the show’s director:  “She said, ‘Van, you’re not going to believe this. They’re rehearsing now. They’re all together. And Madonna actually kissed Britney on the lips.’ And I said, ‘Please do me a favor. Don’t tell any other human on the planet that this is happening.’”


Tay Tay was humbly accepting her first (of many) Moonman statues when they hip-hop bad ass decided to hijack the spotlight and proclaim to the world that the honor should have gone to Beyonce!

“So, we have an artist who was disrupted from her speech. We had Beyonce, who looked like a deer in the headlights. And we had Kanye, who was a little bit opinionated and let’s say a little bit lit,” Toffler recalls.

Complicating things, a visibly-shaken Taylor was set to perform live just a few minutes later.  While one team of producers dealt with West and Beyonce, it was Toffler who had to help Taylor shake it off and get her ready to perform.  “Being a nurturing father, not just to my own children, comes in handy,” he said.


This one seemed shocking even by MTV standards:  20 year-old Miley Cyrus grinding out an overtly sexual performance of “Blurred Lines” with Robin Thicke, 36.

“Cyrus danced provocatively, but everybody knew her as Hannah Montana,” Toffler remembers. “She chose that moment to say, ‘I’m an adult. Look at me…The next day on the TODAY show, one of the hosts called for me to be fired … And I’m like, ‘Really? For Miley dancing with Robin Thicke that way?”

THE 2015 VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS airs Sunday August 30 on MTV.

Sean Daly

Sean Daly

Editor-In-Chief at
Sean Daly is a veteran entertainment journalist.His work has appeared in People, Us Weekly, The Toronto Star and other top publications. He was the west coast TV reporter for The New York Post from 2008 - 2013. Sean is the author of Inside AGT: The Untold Stories of America's Got Talent and Teen Mom Confidential: Secrets and Scandals From MTV's Most Controversial Shows.
Sean Daly