By Daniel Montalto
The guests may still be lined up around the block, freezing their butts off as they wait to get into the official Youth Inaugural Ball, but for those of us lucky enough to be working this event, the action is well under way. And if the rehearsals are even close to the real thing, tonight's guests are in for some amazing performances.
Crews have been busy nailing, taping and dressing the ballroom for the party, but as they worked, they were just treated to a full-on soundcheck by Fall Out Boy. I don't want to give everything away, but they powered through "I Don't Care" and their newest single "America's Suitehearts." They were sporting some pretty sweet light-up instruments as well.
Kanye's band took the stage next and jammed without him for a while, until 'Ye showed up to sing on "Amazing." No Young Jeezy sightings to report just yet. Don't really want to give away much more, but I will say that Kanye's currently bringing down the (now empty) house with "Love Lockdown." Kanye may just be getting warmed up, but so far, fans expecting vintage Kanye material will be disappointed. Luckily for me, 808s & Heartbreak is exactly what I'm looking to hear tonight.
Kanye just asked that no one take any photos because he's "not dressed yet," so I can't send the picture we just took. He said it's OK "to put it on your MySpace, though." Unfortunately, I'm more of a Facebook guy.
Watch "Be the Change: Live From the Inaugural" online now, and come back Thursday for the full performances from Kanye West, Kid Rock and Fall Out Boy. Stick with us for wall-to-wall coverage of the inauguration and of the scenes in Washington, D.C., New Orleans and Kenya.
I wasn't in Iowa on that cold, bright morning in January of last year when President Barack Obama made his first improbable step to the White House. I watched from home, and like a lot of people, I was shocked that this freshman senator was able to pull off such an audacious feat against a two-time first lady whose coronation seemed all but assured by the pundits.
I wasn't on the campaign trail, where the quiet, steady confidence of a man whose story followed the arc of America's own crooked path to equality won over voters one by one, then by the thousands, then by the tens of thousands, then millions. The wins kept coming, and this insurgent campaign that was given long odds began to take shape. Watching as the usual suspects bashed and swatted at each other, saying and doing all the things that for the past five election cycles had soured me on what felt like the most mean-spirited and petty way to choose our leaders, I began to notice small things. Obama said he would try to run a cleaner campaign, one that didn't recede into negative attacks and political petulance. And, for the most part, he did. Read More...
WASHINGTON, D.C. — It was just incredible: Millions of people gathered in one spot, waiting on one man. Travelers from across the globe stood for miles wanting to be a piece of Barack Obama history. Walking to the National Mall around 9 a.m. was relatively comfortable. At that point, thousands upon thousands were already in place.
People were up as early as 4 a.m., waiting for the D.C. subway system to open, so they could get to their destinations.
The route to the National Mall down 18th Street was part parade, part civil-rights march. People stood on the sidelines holding up signs that read "From Slavery to History," "Martin Is Smiling Down on Us" and "Prayer Changes Everything" — just an amazing mix of triumph, hope and pride. Read More...
By Rya Backer and Nicole Guanlao
We don't know if you heard, but we kind of got a new president today. And like all exciting things, we decided to take our joy out into the streets. So, at around 11:30, we (Nicole, executive assistant, and Rya, production assistant) took to our front yard in Times Square to check out the scene. While it wasn't nearly as crowded as on Election Night — it was about 3.4 degrees outside — the streets were still fairly filled, and only grew as the proceedings inched closer to Obama’s oath of office.
The audio didn't kick in until right before Chief Justice John Roberts took the podium, but the closed-captioning on all five (maybe six?) JumboTrons left everybody rapt. The men and women who work in the Times Square Sephora, the patrons inside the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and — naturally — those sipping lattes inside a Starbucks all had their attention turned to a screen, cheering whenever they felt like it (read: all the time).
By Garth Bardsley
Backstage at the rehearsals for tonight's official Youth Inaugural Ball, it's definitely controlled chaos. Kid Rock is on stage rehearsing his set, Fall Out Boy came swinging through bundled up in winter coats and scarves and Sway is standing at the MTV home base rehearsing his script for tonight's live show, "Be the Change."
Everyone is rushing to get as much done as possible, because right outside the ballroom door stands a bevy of suited Secret Service, getting ready to kick us out in order to do their security sweep. No sight of Kanye West yet, or the night's two guest reporters, Rosario Dawson and Usher. There's lots to do before President Obama shows up tonight to dance with first lady Michelle in front thousands of young volunteers who were invited by Obama himself to attend this ball.
So, right now, everyone's enjoying Kid's jam and counting the minutes until Obama arrives.
The room is starting to look like a place for thousands of young people to party, but at the moment it's full of cranes and bike racks. There are MTV people everywhere as well as members of the Presidential Inaugural Committee. Whenever a band stops rehearsing, a sound man starts hitting the drums, getting the audio ready for the performances tonight.
As stressed as we all are, everyone here still stopped and searched around the complex for a working TV so that we could watch President Obama take the oath. It was ironic that a bunch of people who work in television took forever to find a TV, but eventually we did, and then union guys, producers and Sway all stood in silence as Obama made his speech. Even the most jaded were moved.
By Erica Anderson, Gil Kaufman and Sarah Maslin Nir
Washington, D.C., has seen many inaugurations, but Barack Obama's is by far the biggest to date. The city is expecting 1 to 2 million people for the swearing-in ceremony for the 44th president (head here for the day's schedule), and we've got reporters on the ground, jockeying for position. (You can watch the inauguration live streaming on MTV.com, and of course Barack and Michelle Obama will be at the Youth Inaugural Ball and other events throughout the evening.) Here's what our team is seeing and hearing (wireless reception permitting, of course!) ...
Gil 9:44 a.m. There's not a single car on the streets of Washington, D.C., but the avenues are teeming with people, all flowing in the same direction, all walking with a brisk purpose in their step. Yes, it's frigid and they're trying to stay warm, but they're also in a race to secure a spot for The Moment. The Secret Service has cordoned off an area more than 20 blocks in either direction, with clusters of Marines in humvees manning every corner.
Gil 9:48 a.m. As you approach the National Mall, the energy rises, with hawkers peddling everything from Obama buttons, coins, T-shirts, scarves, plaques and stickers to a guy selling tissues for a dollar — as in a dollar for a single tissue.
Sarah 9:55 a.m. My amazing friend Jenny works for a senator and has just put her staffer ticket into my hand! We are stuffed with layers of clothing and heading into the fray! Read More...
WASHINGTON, D.C. — As if Nick Cannon isn't busy enough (he's working on his first comedy album, by the way), the multi-hyphenate told us tonight at the Hip-Hop Inaugural Ball that he's lobbying for a cabinet position in the new Obama administration: official White House DJ.
Cannon — who manned the 1's and 2's for an old-school set as honorees such as LL Cool J, Young Jeezy, Bow Wow, MC Lyte and T.I. took their seats in the Harmon Center for the Arts — said he would love to provide the official soundtrack to the new administration.
"I heard the White House needed a DJ and everything, so I'm the minister of music," he said before taking the stage. What does he have in mind? Some Kanye, a bit of Motown.
By Akshay Bhansali
NEW ORLEANS — Robin Albers of Chalmette, Louisiana, is a strong woman. She's 33 years old, and her resilience, conviction and belief in humanity will leave you in awe.
In August 2005, Robin did what any responsible parent living in the New Orleans area would have done: She packed her family into a car and tried to evacuate the city.
"I knew this would be the mother of all storms. It was our time to go," she told MTV News. But a health complication with her mother would eventually have her return home just as the storm approached.
Wading in foot after foot of Hurricane Katrina's wake, Robin waited on rooftops. She would forgo her safety, telling police to save others first. She commanded a flatboat with her then-preteen daughter, Denise, her mother and the family dogs (both hers and her mother's, which gave birth to a fresh litter during the storm).
After the waters receded, Robin's home was set for demolition, and she has since moved six times in three years. She began to collect and purchase things for her future new home — all stored in a U-Haul with the possession that meant the most: her family picture album. She was devastated when the U-Haul was later stolen.
I was sitting around waiting for the always swoon-worthy Jonas Brothers to hit the stage for the "Kids' Inaugural: We Are the Future" concert, when my co-worker Alex Shapiro made a shocking revelation: He was very, very excited to see the guys perform "Ladybug."
Hey, Alex ... I think you meant you were excited to hear "Lovebug," but then again, who wasn't?
We know there were two girls in particular in the crowd who were beyond "Burnin' Up" for Joe, Nick and Kevin to take the stage: Sasha and Malia Obama. They were dancing in the aisles as the guys ran through a string of hits: "S.O.S.," "Lovebug," "Burnin' Up" and their new single "Tonight."
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Hollywood studio system couldn't make it happen, but President-elect Barack Obama pulled off a bit of movie-worthy magic today. No, he didn't make the country's trillions of dollars in debt disappear via high-tech FX overnight before he even moves into the White House; he brought Superman and Spider-Man together in the same room to fight for the good of the nation.
OK, so maybe it was actually actors Tobey Maguire and Brandon Routh. They were on hand at Abram Simon Elementary to perform some community service as part of the president-elect's call to community action on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. But the momentous meeting was the kind that comic geeks salivate over.
Maguire was hard at work with volunteers in a classroom at the school trying to figure out how to build the IKEA-style shelving units, when Routh walked by just behind him, but the superheroes-in-street-clothes barely acknowledged each other as they pitched in while wearing their civvies.