Changes are afoot at the MTV Movie & TV Awards — and not just because MTV has added “TV” to its traditional Movie Awards title.
As executive producer Garrett English tells EW, “We’ve done a lot of different things this year, which is really exciting. The show has always been about reinvention and being a little irreverent and sort of shirking some of the traditional award show things. That’s what the Movie Awards have always been about and I think we’re doing it on a couple different levels this year.”
Here, to expand on what’s new, what else is ahead, and what wild items made it into this year’s gift bags — because let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good gift bag deep-dive? — English and fellow executive producer Casey Patterson walk us through the show.
To television and beyond…
So, how is the addition of TV shaking things up? “It’s bringing an entirely new energy to the show,” Patterson says. “It makes the show feel much more current and relevant because we’re able to celebrate what’s happening right now across all platforms for content, which is amazing.”
Patterson adds, “I think people are very emotional about their television content. It’s really in your life. It’s a part of your social life. You fall in love with these characters. The storytelling has never been better, so it’s a pretty amazing addition to the show and the movie studios love it. The idea that we have such a vibrant room of musicians, young people, actors from TV, actors from film — I don’t think the MTV audience sees the world through the traditional award show lens.”
Echoes English, “We’re breaking down the barriers between film and television and streaming and online and the rest of it and celebrating performances and content that our audience loves, sort of irregardless of where it might come from. I think that’s a delineation for our audience that doesn’t really exist, so I’m really excited about widening the show and looking at performances as performances, regardless of platform.”
But does that mean the show will be, like, an extra 2 hours?
We all know how long award shows can go, but odds are the MTV ceremony won’t go on forever — despite the changes. “It could easily be, but they won’t let me,” Patterson reassures. But, that said: “I would do a two-night event if I could.”
In other cool news, categories are now gender neutral
In addition to looking for more platforms, English is also thrilled to be “breaking gender barriers, saying a performance is a performance and for our audience, and I think for us, there really isn’t a distinguishing factor between a male performance or a female performance. I think breaking down some of those barriers has been really interesting for us to evolve the show to a new space. Our audience increasingly doesn’t really recognize those barriers that are sort of traditional and we’re always going to be pushing that.”
For Patterson — who was brought in last year for the show’s 25th anniversary — the change strikes a personal chord. “I know in my own life, in my own experience when someone calls me and says, ‘You’re on a woman’s producer list,’ all I hear is, ‘You’re a really great producer for a woman.’ Those aren’t necessarily the lists I’m looking to be on. I don’t feel honored by that. That distinction doesn’t exist for me. I know that it doesn’t exist for the talent community.”
She continues, “Good work is good work. Performances of the year are performances of the year regardless of the size of the screen or gender, so those walls have really come down and this was the right year to evolve the show to be a natural, organic reflection of the audience and how it consumes and how it sees the world.” What’s more, having been a part of the 25th-anniversary celebration, part of her thought process behind this was thinking about what the show will become for the next 25 years.
Adds performer Noah Cyrus — who will be a part of the top of show, in a performance that she describes as fun, light, and happy — of taking gender out of the equation, “That’s super dope. We’re all doing the same thing, so I think it should be like that. I never noticed that it’s not like that actually. If it was my award show, I would do it like that.”
How political are things going to get?
After a very political awards season and categories like Best Fight Against the System, how are politics going to play into this show? “We’re not necessarily looking at [that category] as a political thing as much as it is this year in film, there just seemed to be, for us, a real celebration of films that have real social conscious and social message — or just the celebration of people taking a stand for things they care about,” English explains.
“Then, I think in our culture here writ large, that’s obviously happening all over the place. It felt right to us to celebrate that theme in a big way and I think our audience has always been and continues to be active in political and social issues and the rest of it,” he adds. “I think this is just a reflection of that, but more importantly, or equally, it’s important it’s a reflection of how film has also embraced or started to tell the stories of people who fought against injustice or fought against the system in some way — just being able to celebrate felt like that was a good place for us to be this year.”
Patterson says of how politics, more broadly, relate to the show this year: “I think anytime you do a show that’s of the year you have to be wide awake to the world around you and really reflect what your audience went through that year. With the election and so much changing in the world, we saw…our audience has always been very socially minded and socially active and MTV, certainly, it’s a part of the DNA of the brand that they are loud and proud and noisy and active on issues that are important to the audience. Rock the Vote, Choose or Lose — it’s always been a part of the brand.”
She continues, “This year was a really significant year in that way. We saw that our demographic for this show was out and organized and speaking out on issues that mattered to them and incredibly active and passionate, so I thought it was very important, MTV felt it was very important, to reflect that in the show, to acknowledge what’s happened in a year and be honest. It’s an honest expression of where our audience is at this moment in time.”
Let’s not forget host Adam DeVine!
“He’s perfect for everything,” Patterson says of why the Workaholics alum is the ideal funnyman for the job. “He’s hilarious. We’ve had so much fun with Adam. He moved in with us a month ago. He’s written most of the show himself. He writes all his own stuff. We shot some super funny short films and surprises for the show last weekend, which he had a heavy hand in writing. He directs some of the scenes himself. He’s an amazing stand-up. He does it all. He sings, he dances. Everything he does goes viral. He literally couldn’t be a better host.”
Expect to see some of that magic happen in the show’s opening. “I’m really looking forward to the open,” Patterson continues. “We’ve been working on it for a really long time and you’re going to get to see Adam at his best — everything that he does. We have stunts coming. I think it’ll be surprising. It’s a very different look for MTV in the open, so we’re most excited about that.” Adds English, “It’s frighteningly big and dangerous and fun and Adam is fantastic — we’re so lucky to have him. His open to the show will be massive.”
Adds English, “It’s frighteningly big and dangerous and fun and Adam is fantastic — we’re so lucky to have him. His open to the show will be massive.”
Other things to get excited about? “Get Out will have a big night and some really fun things,” Patterson hints at surprises in store. “I would look out for some parody films and cameos.”
Also important — gift bags!
Gift bags can be real outlandish, and these are no exception. They’ll go to celebrity nominees, presenters, and performers, and some of the wilder items include a four-night stay at El Castillo Boutique Luxury Hotel in Costa Rica and a trip to Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai. Also on the list: a Bombata briefcase, Hasbro games, 1MORE Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones, McFadin goods, and more (see picture below). “I wish I would’ve been sending this out when I was sending out talent offers,” Patterson quips. “I should have led with this.”