The Fugees' Pras pulls Ol' Dirty Bastard out of the fire at the MTV Video Music Awards

This month’s broadcast of MTV’s 15th-annual Video Music Awards was a personal-injury lawyer’s dream of high-visibility disasters: Ben Stiller’s strenuously unfunny turn as emcee; Madonna’s tone-deaf assault on “Ray of Light”; Joe Perry’s facial hair. But only eagle-eyed viewers caught the most spine-tingling near calamity. Just as the Fugees’ Pras was wrapping his blistering rendition of “Ghetto Supastar,” guest vocalist Ol’ Dirty Bastard — the new crown prince of public spectacles — drifted perilously close to one of the exploding flash pots. Only a last-second rescue effort by Pras spelled the difference between ODB and DOA.

“ODB almost got killed,” said Pras a day after the show. “The people who were doing the pyro weren’t watching.” Pras, apparently still feeling the strain, is convinced that a dark day for ODB would have been even darker for the industry. “If something had happened to him, no one would ever be able to use pyro again in the history of music on MTV. It would’ve messed it up for everyone. I don’t even want to think about it, man.”