Vignettes from the 38th annual American Music Awards:
STARS COLLIDE: Just minutes before the show began, stars, set pieces and show workers literally collided in the wings of the Nokia Theatre stage. Presenter Samuel L. Jackson popped by wearing a black beret, just before Jenny McCarthy, who presented the night's first award, came through in a sparkly, one-shoulder minidress. She held her clutch purse and a script in one hand and checked her updo with the other as a throng of feather-clad, Mohawk-wearing dancers gathered for Rihanna's show-opening performance.
The Barbadian beauty brought up the rear. Wearing a bikini top and a cascade of red curls, she stood still for a last-minute dusting of powder, then climbed an orange construction ladder and perched herself atop the sculptural set. Producer Larry Klein scrambled backstage for a microphone to welcome the crowd inside the theater and fire them up for the performance-packed show.
Miranda Lambert sat patiently in her seat and producer Sean Garrett schmoozed with friends as an announcer's voice boomed: 30 seconds to showtime.
KEEPING IT COOL: An unusually chilly night in downtown Los Angeles didn't stop the stars from showing a little skin as they arrived for the American Music Awards. Miley Cyrus strutted down the Nokia Theatre's red carpet Sunday evening in a short ruffled gown with a flowing train, while Avril Lavigne rocked a geometric-print minidress, and Julie Benz shined in a strapless black-and-gold number.
"It's cold out here," said crooner John Legend, sporting a suit accented with piping.
Katy Perry was one of the few female artists who covered up on the red carpet. Between interviews, the "California Gurls" singer donned a long knit coat. She later ditched her entire ensemble when performing "Firework." Perry's male back-up dancers ripped off her red gown in the middle of her number to reveal a glittery pantsuit.
FOR THE FANS: Taylor Swift said she only wanted to thank the fans when she accepted her trophy for country female artist at the American Music Awards. Justin Bieber, Lady Antebellum and Michael Buble also gave love to their devotees during their acceptance speeches. But what makes one artist's group of fans any more special than another? The New Kids of the Block have the answer.
"Everyone thinks they have the best fans, but we know we have the best fans," said Donnie Wahlberg before the show.
"Because we're still here," added Joey McIntyre.
SKATING THROUGH: Olympic skater Johnny Weir presented the Latin music award on stage, then came backstage to dish about his latest effort: Serving as a judge on the new ABC show "Skating with the Stars." Weir said he was heading to the competition's production office when the American Music Awards ended to prepare for Monday's premiere.
"The set's gorgeous, the music's gorgeous, the costumes are great and the judges are wonderful," he said.
Weir attested that the show's contestants were training hard and that three front-runners had already emerged from the inaugural class of six celebrity skaters. While none will become Olympic contenders, he said they could learn some valuable lessons from skating.
"Skating has taught me so much, and the one thing it's taught me is never be afraid to fall down," he said. "I'm wearing heels and a dress, basically, with this blazer, and I'm not afraid, even if I fall down."
HEART THROBS: Before the collaboration between Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block closed out the show, celebrities on the red carpet were reminiscing beforehand about their teen idols. Kimberly Perry of The Band Perry picked New Kids as her favorite, while Gavin Rossdale said he favored Patti Smith in his youth. Michael Jackson and Liza Minnelli were among Michael Buble's favorites.
"I love Liza, and I'm not gay," said Buble. "I just love her."
Who did the teen idols idolize? Donnie Wahlberg of the New Kids said posters of Leif Garret and Shaun Cassidy graced the walls of his house when he was younger.
"That was my sister's wall, actually," he admitted.