After spending 2013 ensconced in Brooklyn, the MTV Video Music Awards return to Southern California this year, landing Aug. 24 at the Forum in Inglewood. It will mark the first awards show at the arena since it reopened earlier this year after a $100-million makeover by Madison Square Garden Co.
"Every year we ask the question, 'How do we do it differently?'" MTV President Stephen Friedman told The Times. "We had never done it at the Forum. When we heard it was being overhauled and really elevated in terms of quality and sound and look, this year we felt like the Forum would be a perfect place to do it."
The VMA ceremony has been held in a variety of locations over the years, last year at the Barclays Center arena in Brooklyn, and previously at Staples Center and the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, and Radio City Music Hall in New York. Last year's VMA show drew 10.1 million viewers, according to MTV, a 66% increase over the 2012 viewership.
"This event is very important to us," said Sid Greenfeig, MSG's senior vice president of West Coast operations for the Forum. "Since we revitalized it, the Forum was built to be the home for music and entertainment events, award shows, special events — everything. The VMAs, given the impact they have in the industry, is another event that fits in line with our business plan."
The Forum was the dominant concert and sports arena in Southern California from its opening in 1967 until Staples Center arrived in 1999. Staples supplanted it as the home of the Los Angeles Lakers, the Kings, the Clippers and the vast majority of arena-level pop music concert activity.
But how much will the venue factor into a show built around one-of-a-kind live performances and off-the-wall pop culture moments?
"We've got to try to figure out what is that angle with L.A., and how we play off that history," Friedman said. "We feel that if you're watching the show in India, you're going to have a sense of its footing and its historical grounding. Where we set the show and how we try to bring out those elements makes it a right choice."
Beyond the exposure that the Forum will receive as viewers tune in to this year's show, hosting the awards will also allow the performers and their managers to get a good look at its new facilities, which Greenfeig believes will have an effect down the line when they are routing their own tours.
"They'll not only get to walk through," he said, "they'll get to see the venue in action."
As for next year and the VMAs, Greenfeig said, "We'd love to continue to host this award show and any other special event."
For Friedman's and MTV's efforts toward annual reinvention of the event, "Every year we ask the team to go canvas the country. We're always looking for different locations. It all has to align timing-wise, and this felt right this year. But I think we will go back to phenom locations and we would always consider going back to the ones where we've been before."
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