Hollywood Prankster Vitalii Sediuk on Avoiding Jail, His L.A. Live Ban and J.Lo Obsession
"I’m still alive as you can see, still smiling," Vitalii Sediuk tells The Hollywood Reporter, days after learning he'd avoided a six-month jail term for his infamous Grammy-night stunt. The catch: He must keep his nose out of trouble for three years, and never step foot on L.A. Live again.
Last February, the eccentric reporter for Ukraine TV channel 1+1 rankled Hollywood and made international headlines for crashing the music awards, where he snatched Adam Levine's seat and mounted the stage moments after presenter Jennifer Lopez read out Adele's name. The spontaneous prank, broadcast to 28 million viewers, landed the joker in jail overnight.
Sediuk, 24, thought he'd be let go with a stern warning, but then-City Attorney Carmen Trutanich had other plans. In April, Trutanich said he intended to prosecute Sediuk to the full extent of the law. He charged Sediuk with one count of willfully leaving a spectator area and entering a performance area and one count of interfering and delaying program participants. The charges carried with them the possibility of six months in jail.
"In this age of heightened security, any person who intentionally crosses that line and acts in an irresponsible manner will be held accountable for his or her actions," Trutanich said in a statement.
Speaking out for the first time since his June 20 hearing, Sediuk reveals that he was stunned to learn that his gatecrashing appearance might carry with it serious consequences.
"I was in Boston, covering the story of the bombing explosion because my editor asked me to do that," says Sediuk, a celebrity junkie occasionally tasked with covering serious news for his Eastern European outlet. "It was a really tough day. I had five live broadcasts and I came back to my hotel and I see notification by e-mail and [a report on] TMZ that I might face up to six months in jail, which came as a complete surprise to me. I was totally exhausted but I passed it along to my employers."
1+1 hired Sediuk a lawyer, Anthony Willoughby, who was instantly bemused by his oddball client, whom he categorizes as "harmless" and a "nice guy."
"He pled no contest and it was a deferred entry of judgment," Willoughby tells THR. "If he stays clean for three years, he'll be able to withdraw his plea and the charges will be dismissed."
According to Sediuk, lawyers for 1+1 looked into Trutanich's intentions and concluded that he was using the high-profile case for political leverage among security-obsessed celebrities in an election year. (Trutanich would go on to be defeated May 21 by Mike Feuer.)
"It all looked like political PR for him," Sediuk says. "It was elections and he wanted to do some good stuff. But I didn’t feel like a victim. I knew this was my fault and I could face anything they could give to me."
Willoughby concurs: "It's like taking a bazooka to a fly."
As part of his plea agreement, Sediuk has sworn never again to set foot anywhere on L.A. Live, the 27-acre entertainment complex that houses Staples Center and the Nokia Theatre -- two venues that play host to countless Hollywood events.
Sediuk shrugs off his Nokia non grata status.
"Let’s be honest," he reasons. "There are only two major events in L.A. Live: the Emmys and Grammys. I think I can survive not attending those two events. There’s so much happening in Los Angeles."
That may be easier said than done for Sediuk, a shameless attention fiend and mischief-maker who once kissed Will Smith on a red carpet and showed up at the Oscars in a Bjork-inspired swan dress -- and was handcuffed there by police tipped off ahead of time by the Academy.
For example, Sediuk says he was preoccupied throughout his hearing with the knowledge that Jennifer Lopez -- who yanked him offstage at the Grammys with such cool composure, most viewers didn't even notice the prank had happened -- was scheduled that same day to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame .
"I was like, ‘I need this to be in time just to be there and congratulate her, you know?’" Sediuk says, smiling. "I was a little late but I made it." He filed a report from the scene, but never managed to get close enough to Lopez for an interview.
As for what's next, Sediuk says that despite his L.A. Live ban, he's still trying to figure out a way to cover the Emmys, which air live from the Nokia Theatre on Sept. 22.
"I’ll have to think of something," Sediuk says. "Maybe I'll report from a distance."