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MTV EMAs Producer Discusses Show Plans, Miley Cyrus, Host Redfoo

Miley Cyrus Robin Thicke VMA Performance - H 2013
Rick Diamond/Getty Images
Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke performing at the MTV VMAs

Viacom International Media Networks' star-studded marquee event takes place in Amsterdam on Sunday with a party theme and will, for the first time, air on the flagship MTV network in the U.S.

LONDON – Viacom's MTV is set to pull out all the stops on Sunday when it puts on the 20th edition of its Europe Music Awards, which have become the biggest event of the year outside the U.S. for the entertainment company.

Viacom International Media Networks, the conglomerate's international arm, recorded 39.4 million viewers for last year's edition in Frankfurt, Germany, making it the most-watched edition of the event, and 184 million votes were cast online to decide winners. The show also reached an EMA record for tweets during the show with 5.7 million, up 104 percent from 2011.

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This year, voting totals are already well ahead of 2012's pace, and have already set a record, according to the company. And the hope is that the TV event will once again draw a big, global crowd in the roughly 160 territories where it will be seen.

"For Viacom International Media Networks, this is our biggest event of the year, our crowning jewel of all the events we do," said Bruce Gillmer, co-executive producer of the show and executive vp talent and music programming/events at Viacom International Media Networks. "Of course, the VMAs Japan are also big, and we do huge Africa events, our World Stage events and Isle of MTV in Malta. But this is really the centerpiece and reaches the biggest audience. It is our loudest and biggest event."

While MTV isn't predicting how many viewers the 20th anniversary edition of the EMAs will draw, Gillmer said the show is once again designed to reach the biggest audience possible by serving MTV's core demo of 12-24 year olds, "but also playing beyond that."

In the U.S., the EMAs have previously aired on MTV2, but this year the show will air on Sunday evening on the flagship MTV channel. Last year, the event drew 263,000 U.S. viewers, the highest rating ever for the EMAs stateside. Observers expect the move to the main MTV channel will provide a further boost this year.

"Last year, we got incredibly strong numbers," said Gillmer. And the event was the most social TV show in the U.S. that day despite competition from Sunday Night Football and the elections. "That gets us super excited to be on the main channel this year," he said. "There is a desire by the network in the U.S. to wrap its arms around another big event, especially in the music space."

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The lineup for the MTV EMAs, emanating from Amsterdam's cutting-edge Ziggo Dome venue, reads like a who's-who of the music industry. LMFAO star Redfoo will serve as host.

Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke will be among the big-name performers at the show. They recently performed together at the much-discussed MTV VMAs outing. Katy Perry, Bruno Mars and The Killers will also perform, as will Snoop Dogg and Afrojack, while Will Ferrell will promote Anchorman 2 by providing backstage hosting work as Ron Burgundy. Singer/songwriter Ellie Goulding, singer/actress Carice van Houten (Game of Thrones) and Colton Haynes (Arrow, Teen Wolf) will be among award presenters.

If that wasn't enough star power already, nominees include Justin Timberlake, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis -- with five nods each -- Cyrus, Thicke, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber (four each), Taylor Swift, Mars, Green Day, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Daft Punk, Rudimental, Icona Pop, One Direction, Afrojack, Imagine Dragons, Rihanna, Perry, Eminem, Jay Z, Bastille, The Killers, Paramore, Rita Ora, Drake, Avicii, Calvin Harris and Iggy Azalea.

Was Cyrus booked for the EMAs for her ability to draw headlines? "Miley was actually one of the first artists we had booked – and before she was doing any other show," Gillmer told THR. "There has been a lot of buzz around her new record, and she has been on the show before and is perfect for our demo. But we were pleased after all the attention and increased profile after the VMA performance. We thank our MTV U.S. family for elevating her profile even higher."

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Asked if she will be twerking on Sunday, Gillmer said: "Miley is always looking to break creative boundaries. You can count on her not doing the same thing twice. She will figure out another way to blow people's mind."

His team also tries "not to script things too heavily," he explained. "We like to let moments happen. We have very dynamic personalities in one room who bring their own energy to the event. If you try to overproduce, the audience senses that."

Redfoo's personality helps here, especially since the theme of this year's EMAs is that of a big party, Gillmer revealed. Last year, Heidi Klum hosted the circus-themed show.

"We pride ourselves on coming up with a creative angle beyond celebrating artists," the executive and show producer said. "This year, we have a unique set piece that will involve the audience more, and it's all built around the concept of the biggest music party on earth in the most renowned party city in the world."

Redfoo fits that theme given his reputation as a party starter. "We wanted to get out of the realm of a traditional host and have more of an MC who will move the evening along in a less formal way," Gillmer said. "It will be less business, less 'coming up next' and more presenting and accentuating some of the moments with his organic energy. There will be wiggle room for his personality to shine."

Gillmer declined to discuss the budget for the show, but said the EMAs get "by far our biggest budget for any international event we do." He added: "But it serves us well and is worth it. The numbers we get for the event always astound us."

Music industry insiders also look to have fun in Amsterdam. "It's one part promotion, one part party, one part art exhibit and another part vaudeville freak show," The Killers drummer Ronnie Vannucci, Jr. told THR. "That's the essence of that show and weekend. It's cool to be part of that dynamic."

He added: "I look forward to rocking on live TV. But importantly, it's a party, so I'm looking forward to being swept into the craziness of it all."

Eminem (13 awards), Justin Bieber (10), Lady Gaga, Linkin Park and Britney Spears (eight each) are among the artists with the most EMA honors.

E-mail: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai