NEW YORK — The action might have been on the stage at Thursday night’s “A Night for Vets: An MTV Concert for the BRAVE,” as 50 Cent, Ludacris, Kanye West and Linkin Park paid tribute to the troops, but behind the scenes at the Nokia Theatre, there was no shortage of activity either.
Media stars, musicians and even Olympic gold-medalists provided the show behind the show, mingling in the venue’s two VIP green rooms — not to mention the “TRL” studios upstairs, where even more folks were packed away — watching the concert live on flat-screen TVs, cracking jokes, exchanging digits and posing for photos.
Early on in the evening, 50 Cent , Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo held court outside their dressing room, with an army of assistants, photographers and label workers nearby. After a few minutes of hanging out, Fif kicked the door to the room shut so that he could put on his camouflage pants in peace. He emerged a minute later (pants on), telling an associate that he was excited for the night’s performance, “because I can reach the troops, and I don’t have to go back to Iraq to do it.”
Later, after finishing their performance, the entire G-Unit clique posed for photos with sprinter LaShawn Merritt, who won two gold medals in the Beijing Olympics (and, yes, he was wearing them backstage). After the photo op, 50 went back into his room to change, and Banks — decked out in a massive Pelle Pelle jacket — checked out Hinder’s set, nodding in time to the pounding drum beat.
Across the hallway, as Hinder were screaming through their set, Ludacris was having a tough time of things. Not only was he visibly limping (as is generally the case when your left foot is immobilized in a giant cast), but the walls of the venue were preventing him from getting cell phone reception.
“I only got one bar down here, man,” he said to a security guard, before limping into an open area to try his luck again.
On the other side of the theater, in a bizarrely Moroccan-themed VIP area, Eve reclined on a couch while having her hair styled and talking to a friend about the World Series. And though she’s a Philly girl, she didn’t exactly sound like she had been paying attention to recent events.
“I’m not really watching it. I know the Phillies are in it, but who are they playing?” she asked the room, which included comedian Jeffrey Ross and CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “Who? The Tampa Bay Rays? OK, now I know what to say if people ask me.”
Eve was escorted to the stage, leaving Cooper to check out Angels & Airwaves’ performance on a flat-screen, and Ross and comedian Whoopi Goldberg to exchange pleasantries and pose for a few pics.
Upstairs in the “TRL” studios, things weren’t nearly as jovial. Sure O.A.R. seemed content in their dressing room, but the real drama was between rival rock acts Hinder and Saving Abel. No one seemed to be able to say just what the beef was about, but several headset-wearing members of the MTV production team were whispering about it. It bears mention that though the two bands shared adjacent dressing rooms, no one came to blows (though the guys in Hinder did request some Sprite, which, given their hard-partying personae, was a bit of a disappointment). Perhaps, in keeping with the spirit of things, both sides decided to quash their beef for one night only.
Don’t miss “A Night for Vets: An MTV Concert for the BRAVE,” presented by MTV’s Choose or Lose campaign and CNN to support veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The show features performances by 50 Cent, Ludacris, Kanye West, Linkin Park, Hinder, Saving Abel and more, and airs tonight at 8 p.m. ET on MTV.