MTV Video Music Awards: Meeting Mario Vasquez


When Mario Vasquez dropped out of American Idol in 2005, the media speculated wildly about why a young and unknown talent would refuse to compete in the show. One of the rumours that circulated  on the net pointed to the singer's alleged homosexuality and that he left the show to avoid the intense scrutiny that comes with the American Idol territory.

Vasquez remains coy about his sexuality and refuses to comment about personal matters "Do you know how many artists are gay in the music industry? That shouldn't even matter," he told me backstage at the VMAs last week. "Music is the most thing on my mind and that's all that I focus on right now."

The Bronx, NY singer just released "Gallery," the first single from his forthcoming debut album that was penned for him by Las Vegas crooner Ne Yo. The album hits stores on Arista Records on September 26 and was executive produced by Clive Davis. The record is "a collage of music" that includes a bunch of different genres that Vasquez loves, from ballads to R&B and from Latino pop to reggaeton. A safe bet for a debut album that appears to have some crossover appeal that once worked for Ricky Martin.

Watch Mario Vasquez "Gallery"

MTV Video Music Awards 2006: Andre 3000 Speaks About Homophobia in Hip Hop


Outkast's Andre 3000 does the ATL proud. The savvy hip hop artist took a few questions in the backstage press room during the VMAs after he presented the award for Best Hip Hop Video to The Black Eyed Peas. Casually dressed in a white shirt, baseball cap and brown leather knee boots, he took the opportunity behind the podium to talk about Outkast's new movie "Idlewild." He also dispelled rumours that he and Big Boi split and plan to put an end to Outkast. "That is not going to happen," he said.

He also revealed that he has written three songs for Gwen Stefani's new album that she is currently recording. He hopes she will use the tracks he's submitted for her.

Andre 3000 is widely recognized as an innovator in hip hop music. I was curious what his thoughts were about Kanye West's remarks last year about putting an end to homophobia in rap and hip hop. Without any hesitation, Andre used this very public (and mainstream) VMA forum to show his support for gays as well.

"Honestly, when I was younger I used to be in the same position that most people in hip hop feel about it because you just don't know, you don't know a lot about it," Andre 3000 said in response to my question. "As I got older, I had to step back and say, well, the name of my group is Outkast and I represent all kinds of outcasts so it would be crazy for me to down a group of people [who] have their own viewpoints, and so my thing is that whatever floats your boat that's your thing. I'm not with downing people."

Listen to his entire statement:

MTV Video Music Awards 2006: Timbaland Runs the Show


Timbaland is turning from a behind the scenes operator into a real celebrity. Dr. Beat also made a brief appearance on the VMA Red Carpet but was rushed away during the pre-show to get into Radio City Music Hall on time to prep for his performance with Justin Timberlake. In passing, I asked him how he felt about the evening's VMA show. He smiled at me and said "I own this show!" A little cocky, but with his involvement in some very popular acts he is setting a trend in much of popular music today. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

MTV Video Music Awards 2006: Jared Leto Bitch Fest


Some people just take themselves way too seriously. Jared Leto showed off his snarky side backstage at the VMAs when he met with the press after his group 30 Seconds To Mars won the MTV2 Award. It all started when Leto was asked about his alleged romance with Lindsay Lohan a while back. "Next question," he snapped. I then asked about his fashion and style as a segue to inquire about gay fans. He either misunderstood me or he must have been simply to lazy to answer the question seriously. "I was four or five when I first put up lipstick and ever since I have been trying to find my innerself and now I'm working on a boob job and I will go to Tijuana to finish the rest off," he said followed by the bitchy "next question." His bitch fest continued and even a reporter from the New York Post wrote about his behaviour in Saturday's Page Six Column. Read it here.

MTV Video Music Awards 2006: Pink Raw & Uncut


One of the most surprising moments at the VMA's was Pink's win of the coveted Best Pop Video for her hilarious spoof video "Stupid Girls." Pink came to the press room to answer a few questions from reporters after walking off stage. I usually don't post raw audio files, but the brief chat Pink had with the media was a series of fun soundbytes that are worth sharing

She talked about the irony of receiving the award from Nick Lachey and Nicole Richie, covering Joan Jett, why she didn't visit Lil' Kim in jail, her new single and why some Europeans would like "Dear Mr. President" to be a single. (I had a moment to congratulate Pink personally after this public appearance and thank her for her public support of equal rights for gays. She is one of the very few pop artists who dares to speak her mind. Kudos to Pink.)