The MTV Video Music Awards rocked NYC

Awards, what awards? the MTV Video Music Awards, held Aug. 29 at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall, were about anything but the trophies. Upstaging the giving of Moonmen were the onstage barbs — Eminem, the night’s big winner taking home four prizes, generated jeers from the audience for his harsh gibes at both Moby and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog — and the performances. The evening began with Bruce Springsteen’s rousing rendition of ”The Rising,” while a long-lost Guns N’ Roses closed the three-hour-plus show. (That surprise stunned everyone — except maybe Moby. ”I had this dream that they were performing,” he revealed. ”And that Axl Rose had a Mohawk.”) In between were standout appearances by a booty-shaking Shakira, P. Diddy (who hosted an opulent after-party at Cipriani), and an ‘N Sync-less Justin Timberlake, a highlight for singer-songwriter John Mayer. ”Any time you can watch someone come alive in front of your eyes it’s incredible,” he says. ”Justin’s a classic.” Meanwhile, other guests — who included Britney Spears, Michael Jackson, J. Lo, and even former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani — were unapologetically apathetic about the ceremony. ”I don’t even know who’s nominated,” Kelly Osbourne confided backstage. But it was Hives frontman Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist who summed it up best: ”I’m interested in watching the spectacle more than the artists.”