UNIVERSAL CITY, California — At last year's Teen Choice Awards, as she stood on the press room stage with her "7th Heaven" co-stars, Ashlee Simpson told the few reporters who were listening that she was making a record.
What a huge difference a year makes.
At Sunday's show, Ashlee's "Pieces of Me" was the grand finale as well as the winner of Choice Song of the Summer, and she walked away with the Choice Fresh Face award.
About the only thing that hadn't changed was the singer's easygoing personality. When a radio DJ asked Ashlee in that same Universal Amphitheatre press room she visited a year ago if she could burp on command, she grabbed the microphone, let out an enormous belch and smiled. This is clearly not another Britney Spears and the reporters were loving it.
Speaking of the soon-to-be Mrs. Federline, she failed to show up to collect the Choice Single trophy for "Toxic." "Britney, if you want this, you gotta come to Brick City to get it," said Redman, who collected the surfboard in her behalf.
While Britney bailed, fellow pop singer Janet Jackson made an unannounced appearance to present the special Courage Award to Bethany Hamilton, the 13-year-old surfer who lost her left arm in a shark attack last fall.
Ashlee, Paris, Usher, Mischa Hit The 2004 Teen Choice Red Carpet
In the other music categories, Usher and Blink-182 cleaned house. Mr. Entertainment, who took the night off from his just-launched tour to attend the event (see "Usher Proves He's 'The Truth' At Tour Kickoff"), won Choice R&B Artist, Choice Album for Confessions and Choice R&B Track and Choice Hook Up for "Yeah!" with Ludacris and Lil Jon.
Along with shouting out the usual behind-the-scenes personnel, Usher thanked Halle Berry, who was sitting in the front row, for "looking so good tonight." Berry had a chance to reciprocate during her acceptance speech for Choice Movie Actress, Drama/ Adventure for "Gothika," but didn't.
Blink, who performed "Down" during the show, earned Choice Love Song for "I Miss You" and Choice Tour for their outing with No Doubt. The night was not really about awards for the trio, though — it was more an opportunity to goof off. Backstage, while Jennifer Garner posed for paparazzi, Tom DeLonge and Travis Barker took turns running out in front of her and making silly faces. When the band finally had its own chance for pictures, Tom interrupted the process to make sure the photographers had red-eye reduction.
Outside of music, Lindsay Lohan was the night's big winner, claiming the Choice Movie Breakout Actress, Choice Movie Blush, Choice Hissy Fit and Choice Movie Actress, Comedy titles.
Adam Sandler also had a big night, winning Choice Movie Actor, Comedy and Choice Date Movie for "50 First Dates," as well as Choice Comedian.
"This movie was dedicated to everyone who has a hard time getting a date," Sandler said. "The good thing is, if you can't get a date, you can't get herpes."
In the TV categories, "The O.C." won Choice TV Show, Drama/ Adventure and Choice TV Breakout Show, while Adam Brody won Choice TV Actor, Drama/ Adventure and Mischa Barton won Choice TV Breakout Female. Ashton Kutcher also fared well, winning Choice TV Personality, Choice Reality/ Variety TV Star and Choice TV, Reality/ Variety for "Punk'd."
When he took the stage to collect the surfboards, Kutcher brought along one of his trophies from last year, autographed it and gave it to a fan he thought had the worst seat in the house. "I better not see this on eBay," he deadpanned.
As the fan walked away and the cameras stopped rolling, "Punk'd" star Dax Shepard, sitting in the audience with his "Without a Paddle" co-stars, motioned like he was taking away the board from the fan. "You just got punked," he joked.
On the red carpet before the show, most of the big stars either rushed by (hosts Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, Jessica Alba, Usher) or avoided the press altogether (Mike Myers, Sandler, Lohan). That left "Napoleon Dynamite" star Jon Heder (who presented in character) as the main attraction, with stars like Tony Hawk lined up to meet him. "It's pretty nice to hear all these people liked the movie," he said.
The other hot name on the carpet was singer JoJo, who performed during the show. J-Kwon and "Summerland" star Jesse McCartney were among the guys anxious to meet the newcomer. When told of her fans, JoJo responded, "Really? I love boys!"