Las Vegas was the center of attention on three simultaneous and competing TV network primetime shows Sunday night and wound up the winner. Maybe Madonna’s see-through fishnet mini-dress displaying her thigh-high stockings and garter belt and Ke$ha showing her bare thighs in a side-less two-piece black Roman orgy outfit or Nicki Minaj grinding away on Lil Wayne in a provocative, sexiest-ever censor-heart attack lap dance propelled the 2013 Billboard Music Awards to the top slot in the ratings battle.
NBC had Donald Trump’s “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice” with our The Rio magic headliner Penn Jillette. CBS had Venetian headliners Tim McGraw and Faith Hill with his “Tim McGraw’s Superstar Summer Night” special recorded last month at MGM Grand Garden Arena, the site of ABC’s BBMAs. Pitbull, Taylor Swift and hometown hero Ne-Yo were part of the special and the awards.
When Neilsen released its numbers Monday, the BBMAs had nearly 10 million viewers, Tim more than 6 million and The Donald’s series, where Penn won the $100,000 Walgreens ice cream check for Opportunity Village as runner-up, had more than 5 million. The BBMAs were first all night and in the key 18-to-49 demographic. It was a 33 percent jump over last year and a 10-year high.
It was a night of fashion faux pas and fabulosity: Our Caesars Palace headliner Celine Dion was regal in gold, while 54-year-old Madonna raised eyebrows with her black lacy lingerie show. Miley Cyrus sparkled in a one-piece silver jumpsuit that didn’t distract from the giant rock on her ring finger. Shania Twain was elegant in a light blue mermaid floor-length gown, while Nicki Minaj showed off her shredded stockings.
J.Lo was fierce on the blue carpet in her breast-baring gold gown and backstage in her red thigh-high boots. Jenny McCarthy had cutouts head to toe on her black outfit, Avril Lavigne wore a ballooning poof leather dress with boots, and Carly Rae Jepsen and Jennifer Morrison both showed skin. Even Selena Gomez had a peek-a-boo skin flash from shoulders to legs.
Our contributing photographer Tom Donoghue captured the outrageous outfits and the glamorous gowns on the blue carpet, Las Vegas Sun photographer Steve Marcus shot the awards and carpet, and Richard Corey recorded the arrivals on parade in his video posted on YouTube.
Our Las Vegas resident boxer Mike Tyson explained that he brought his wife to the show because they were “on date night.” Las Vegas fans who had lined up more than 6 hours before the show for prime spots were rewarded and thrilled when J.Lo walked over to sign autographs and pose for photographs with them.
Las Vegas was in focus right from the get go as host Tracy Morgan joked from the stage to our hometown hero Wayne Newton that the entertainment legend is his father. Caesars Palace headliner Matt Goss was recognized by his Dirty Virgin dancers from his show performing to his song “Lovely Las Vegas” in the show opening.
But it was the Jabbawockeez from their new show “Prism” at the Luxor and several cast members from Cirque du Soleil’s “Ka” at MGM Grand who wowed in the ultimate production number with superstar Taylor Swift. It was a fantastic routine for her song “22” from backstage to the rear entrance of Grand Garden Arena for her bicycle arrival through the aisles and onto the stage. It gets the award for best use ever of MGM Grand. Truly spectacular.
No wonder Taylor was the top artist of the night, dominating with eight awards, and she came backstage to meet our media mob. Also there, Celine, who returns here June 4 through Sept. 1, although I believe she has been recording her new album at Studio at the Palms.
The only thing that went wrong all night in the highly complex production was when heartthrob Miguel accidentally kicked audience members in their heads dancing in the front-stage mosh pit and crash landed on one person’s head.
Backstage, our “Loberace” at Planet Hollywood headliner CeeLo Green delighted in snapping photos with Madonna, Celine and many other stars. He presented the Milestone Award to Justin Bieber, who defended his achievement at just 19 years of age. CeeLo revealed that he has three albums — Goodie Mob, Gnarls Barkley and a solo project — ready for release, along with his return to “The Voice” on NBC. He hopes to tour this summer before the new TV season and then return afterward to another run of Planet Hollywood shows.
Justin and Selena attended Cirque’s “The Beatles’ Love” at The Mirage.
Taylor celebrated her eight awards with dinner at Nobu Caesars Palace. Singer and friend Kacey Musgraves accompanied her.
Hayden Panettiere and rumored fiance boxer Wladmir Klitschko, DJ Afrojack, Jenny McCarthy and David Arquette were at the season opening of XS’ nighttime swim party.
Christina Aguilera dined at Wolfgang Puck’s Cut steakhouse in the Palazzo.
CeeLo, Ne-Yo and Ed Sheeran dined at chef Barry Dakake’s N9NE Steakhouse at the Palms.
Boyband After Romeo, NBA great Dan Majerie and CeeLo were at Wolfgang Puck’s Bar & Grill at MGM Grand before the awards.
And J.Lo stayed on Monday with boyfriend Casper Smart and the twins at Sugar Factory in the Paris, followed by “Prism” at the Luxor on Monday night. She danced in her seat and took part in the audience participation number led by the masked dance troupe and “America’s Best Dance Crew” Season 1 winners.
ABC officials told me that they were thrilled with the show, production and ratings and look forward to returning a year from now.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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