There are more than 8 million people living in New York City, and none of them are averse to speaking their minds about ... well, anything really. So with the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards returning to NYC on August 31, we decided to ask some of the city's most prominent residents their picks for the night's top honor: Video of the Year.
And much like the city itself, the panel we've assembled is a diverse one, including a billionaire mayor, a baseball-headed mascot, a radio shock jock and, well, a Naked Cowboy. And though they disagreed on plenty, there was one thing they all had in common: No one picked Panic! at the Disco.
Who: Multimedia mogul and 108th mayor of New York City
New York connection: Before he was elected mayor in 2001, Bloomberg worked for nearly 40 years on Wall Street, rising from a lowly floor trader to a general partner at the Salomon Brothers investment firm. In the early '80s, he started his own company, Bloomberg LP, which managed financial information for Wall Street firms. He eventually spun the company into a news service, then branched out into radio, television and the Internet. And despite being listed as one of the 500 Richest People in the World by Forbes magazine, he still regularly rides the subway to work.
Video of the Year pick: "As mayor of New York, this is really a tough [decision]. I could go with Christina Aguilera, because she was born in Staten Island. I could go with Madonna, because she made it big here in New York. But I think I'm going to have to go with Shakira ... those hips don't lie."
Who: Eternally enthusiastic, epically domed mascot of the New York Mets
New York connection: Mr. Met made his Major League Baseball debut in 1964 when the team opened Shea Stadium in Queens. Since then, through good seasons and — mostly — bad, he's dished out more than a million of his patented "high-fours" to unsuspecting Mets fans (like most good mascots, he lacks a ring finger on each hand).
Video of the Year pick: We're guessing Madonna. Mr. Met never speaks, but as the Material Girl's "Hung Up" video played on the Shea JumboTron, he did break out in a series of hand claps, chest pounds and head nods, punctuated with two very enthusiastic thumbs up.
Who: Massive-haired real estate monolith and TV star, and Donald Trump Jr., son of massive-haired real-estate monolith and TV star
New York connection: A consummate New Yorker, Donald Sr. was born in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, and made his initial fortune in the cutthroat world of Manhattan real estate development, before expanding his empire into casinos, golf resorts, book publishing and reality television, making employee termination an art form on "The Apprentice." His son, Donald Jr., got his start working as a dock attendant at his dad's marina, graduated from the prestigious Wharton School of Business and now works in property acquisition for the Trump Organization. He too has awesome hair.
Video of the Year pick: Donald Jr.: "Here are the nominees for the Video of the Year. ... You've got Christina, Madonna, Shakira, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Panic! at the Disco.
Donald Sr.: "Who do you think is going to win?"
Donald Jr.: "I think the Chili Peppers are going to win."
Donald Sr.: "I disagree with you. And I'm not happy with your choice. You're fired."
Donald Jr.: "You can't fire me. I'm your son."
Donald Sr.: "Oh, I forgot about that."
Who: Bone-dry, impeccably coiffed morning news anchor for New York 1
New York connection: Despite actually hailing from Canada, Kiernan has been a New York breakfast-hour staple on par with the bagel since 1997, when he took over hosting duties on NY 1's morning newscast. Since then, he's earned a cult following based largely on "In the Papers," a segment in which he offers his sardonic two cents on the current events of the day. Over the past year, he's seen his fame grow beyond the five boroughs as the host of VH1's "World Series of Pop Culture."
Video of the Year pick: "Obviously, the city is abuzz as we roll out the red carpet at Radio City Music Hall for the VMAs. But the big question is: Who will take home the Moonman for Video of the Year? I've got my money on the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the retro-rock chronology of 'Dani California.' "
Who: Radio host, drama siphon and self-proclaimed "Queen of All Media"
New York connection: When she's not blasting celebrities, engaging in beefs with her on-air rivals or outing rapper's wives as cancer patients (classy!), Williams is holding it down as the mouthpiece of "The Wendy Williams Experience," the highly rated and ultra-controversial afternoon talk show on New York radio station WBLS. Known for her confrontational interview style, over the years Williams has gone toe-to-toe with a host of hip-hop and R&B heavyweights, including Tupac Shakur, Dame Dash, Whitney Houston and Diddy.
Video of the Year pick: "I see Madonna is nominated for 'Hung Up.' Please don't give it to her. There is nothing original about the leotard anymore, Madonna. Not that exciting. Christina Aguilera's got the hottest song in the country right now — urban radio plays her, pop radio plays her, they all love her — and I think the video for 'Ain't No Other Man' deserves to win. Every time she does that song, it's exciting. So I'm looking forward to her performing that song and winning the award for Video of the Year."
The Naked Cowboy
Who: Unofficial Times Square ambassador, musician and tighty-whities enthusiast
New York connection: In 1997, the Cowboy (real name: Robert John Burck) was working at a TGI Friday's in Cincinnati when he decided he wanted to be a country music superstar. After years spent kicking around unsuccessfully in Nashville, Tennessee, he ditched his clothes and began performing in his underwear. In late 1999, he permanently relocated to New York City, and he's been performing for wide-eyed Times Square tourists ever since (weather permitting, of course). Through his Web site, NakedCowboy.com, he sells T-shirts, customized underwear, CDs of his music and "Naked Cowboy Hand Painted Guitars," which go for $800 apiece.
Video of the Year pick: "I picked Shakira for Video of the Year because [dramatic pause, wild shaking of posterior] the hips don't lie."
Check out all the latest news and pictures from the big show, and reports from previous VMAs, at our VMA news archive. For everything we've got on the 2006 VMAs, vma.mtv.com.