The MTV Video Music Awards began Sunday night live at Radio City Music Hall in New York City with an emotional tribute to Michael Jackson, starring his little sister.
Madonna appeared on stage alone to open the tribute to the late King of Pop, citing the similarities between the two. She also related a 1991 dinner date with Jackson.
“I tried to get him to eat french fries, drink wine, have dessert and say bad words,” Madonna recalled. Later, the singer related: “The witch hunt began and the roar of the lynch mob was heard. I had abandoned him; we had abandoned him. We were all busy passing judgement.”
Recalling the glory days of MTV (when they actually broadcast videos, after all), the telecast cut to the network’s legendary Apollo rocket blast off moon landing sign-on with original MTV VJ Mark Goodman’s voice-over announcing: “the world premiere of ‘Thriller.’ ”
The stage then ignited with Jackson’s classic video recreated by dancers on stage, followed by “Bad” and “Smooth Criminal.”
And then part-time Atlantan Janet Jackson, clad in a tight black and white outfit, took to the stage live to re-create “Scream,” her classic duet with her big brother. Only this time, she was singing Michael’s part and impressively recreated the dance moves from the video as Michael gyrated on a video screen behind her.
The crowd responded with a standing ovation.