Why So Few Parties Around the VMAs in L.A.?

By Alesandra Dubin September 10, 2008, 10:47 AM EDT

With MTV's Video Music Awards in Hollywood this year—the place with the highest concentration of celebrities anywhere—common logic might have led one to believe that the awards-related party circuit would have been as robust as ever. But not so much.

Apart from MTV's official after-party at Paramount, In Touch Weekly's bash at the Chateau Marmont may have been the biggest of the night. And although the rest of the weekend was indeed cluttered with the usual gift and hospitality suites and miscellaneous parties, it seemed to lack some of the big-ticket luster of past years. Last September's incarnation in Las Vegas included at least 10 big parties—not including all those suites—a number that makes this year's handful of bashes look rather anemic. One vendor told us last year, “There were so many concurrent events in town that it was chaos. This was huge—a huge feat.” This year an anonymous vendor said in contrast, ”We noticed that events were way down—the parties are definitely down.”

So, why?

One reason may be that last year Rolling Stone planned a packed slate of parties in Las Vegas to correspond with the magazine's 40th anniversary celebration, and this year there was no such coincidence. Certainly the economy could be a factor in hosts' decisions whether or not to spend money on a party.

In 2007, Maxim (also celebrating an anniversary) planned a massive bash for 1,200 complete with a Joss Stone concert and private casino for party guests. Maxim had no presence on the scene in Los Angeles this year, although Alpha Media Group sister publication Blender did host a cocktail reception for about 150 at Bardot in honor of Katy Perry, who did not perform. A PR rep for Maxim declined to be interviewed on the subject.

Todd Cooper, partner at Toast, which produced Rolling Stone's events at last year's VMAs, suggested that the idea that because so many celebrities live in L.A., there should be more parties here, might be the opposite of how it really works. “You had everybody traveling to Vegas last year, and nobody wants to just sit in their hotel rooms when they go out of town. When you're traveling, you go to events most every night—it's the same thing that happens around the Super Bowl,” Cooper says. He added that casino dollars can support things like major concerts that a typical nightclub cannot.

Off the record, we heard a littany of comments about the MTV show’s general lack of oomph—about how the public's (and planners') general negative attitude to the award show this year did not lend itself to a glut of eager party hosts. If ratings are any indication, there’s something to that theory: The 2008 VMAs pulled only 8 million total viewers, whereas NBC's Sunday Night Football on the same evening drew more than twice that figure.

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