By Kathleen Newman-Bremang
While an all-star amalgamation of pop, rock and hip-hop acts rocked it out onstage at Z100's Zootopia concert on Saturday, in my opinion, the best stuff went down backstage.
The MTV News crew packed into a pretty old-school rental car and headed to the Izod Center in New Jersey for the annual event, which featured appearances by the Kelly Clarkson, Black Eyed Peas, Flo Rida, the All American Rejects and Ciara to name a few.
When we arrived backstage at the press tent, I was fully prepared to take on my normal internly duties: help set up our equipment and discreetly stare at the bevy of celebs on the lineup. Little did I know, I'd be asked to do much more.
Tim Kash was busy gearing up for his one-on-one interviews with Kelly Clarkson and Sean Paul (more on those later), while our resident pop writer Jocelyn Vena was focusing on covering the actual concert. That left me to handle the action at the press conference. All of the acts were passing through the tent before they hit the stage, and our producers had prepared a few general questions.
So, there I was, sitting next to a team from Fox News, hands shaking and palms sweaty as I got ready to out-shout the other reporters. I probably would've buckled under the pressure if it weren't for our shooter, Akshay Bhansali, who was right behind me manning the camera and giving me a supportive thumbs-up.
Jersey's own Jesse McCartney, looking dapper in a simple white T-shirt and black leather jacket, strolled into the room first and posed for pictures before heading over to the Q&A session. I mustered up the courage to call out questions about this year's MTV Movie Awards host Andy Samberg and to ask Jesse his pick for Best Movie (it's "Slumdog Millionaire").
Jenny Humphrey — I mean, "Gossip Girl" star Taylor Momsen — was next. She echoed the "Slumdog" praise and expressed her love for Lil Wayne. Not only is the aspiring rocker stunning in person, she's also freakishly tall.
By the time Soulja Boy Tell'Em and the All American Rejects hit the press room, I felt like a pro. But I did have to refrain from laughing when Tyson Ritter mispronounced Flo Rida's name (think "Flow Rider," Tyson, not "Florida"). In the Rejects' defense, they admitted they aren't big hip-hop fans.
Before I had the chance to pat myself on the back for a job well done, we were rushing to Sean Paul's dressing room for his interview with Tim. Relieved to leave the reporting to a seasoned vet, I was a little more than excited to meet Jamaica's prized export and my favorite pop star: the one and only Kelly Clarkson.
I'd love to give you the all the dirty backstage details but you'll have to check back in the coming days for more on our exclusive interviews with both artists. For now, you'll have to settle for one last press-conference tidbit: The free sandwiches were yummy.