Even with all the different stages and performances at Sunday night's VMAs, a lot of excitement happened that didn't make it into the main show! Check out some of the highlights that our eagle-eyed reporters picked up behind the scenes, as they happened ...
From the red carpet ...
7:16 p.m. ET — Heavy D walks up. No car — just calmly strolling and talking on his BlackBerry. Soon the roar of the motorcycles traveling with Young Jeezy can be heard: They're nowhere in sight, though, they just have very loud pipes.
7:18 p.m. ET — Sean Garrett just told us he's working with Beyoncé. He said it was supposed to be a secret, but now the secret is out.
7:23 p.m. ET — The Cab frontman Alex DeLeon appears super blown away by the star power of preshow co-host Taylor Swift. "We were behind her and all the photographers were like 'AAAAH!' " he laughed. "And then when we rolled up, they were like 'Eh.' " No matter, though. "Last year we just hung out in Fall Out Boy's suite. This year we get to see Kanye perform. Plus, no one knows who we are, so I can get drunk!"
7:25 p.m. ET — A dapper Donnie Klang and two bodyguards stop for a minute to enjoy the view of Lauren Conrad while she does an on-air hit with MTV News' Tim Kash. Audrina Patridge walks by, and I swear she was talking to her publicist about a hot dog stand. Seriously!
7:27 p.m. ET — All you hear in the parking lot leading up the entrance of the red carpet is "My president's black/ My Lambo's blue/ I'll be g--damn if my rims ain't too." Young Jeezy is sitting on the back of his all-black old-school convertible. Meanwhile, he's accompanied by what looks to be a couple dozen guys on choppers. If Jeezy were to ever hold office, chances are the Secret Service and the police wouldn't be guarding him. Meanwhile Lupe Fiasco shows up in a fly jockey outfit. He fixes his shirt right before stepping on the carpet.
7:42 p.m. ET — Pink blew by on a golf cart in a black-and-red-striped dress and hair out to there, like a modified version of Tokio Hotel's Bill Kaulitz, which will probably only make Bill happier if he meets her — she's the one star he told me he can't wait to meet today.
7:47 p.m. ET — Speidi spotting! Spencer actually looked quite polished in pinstripes. He had a happy-looking Heidi at his side in a '70s-era off-the-shoulder glittery black minidress and studded black boots. (Head here for a full report on VMA fashion!) The power couple already gets my vote for glammest couple of the night. Ooh, here comes Pete Wentz, who just gave them both a hug, and Spencer fixed Pete's Amish-guy tie. It's like an MTV family reunion!
7:49 p.m. ET — T.I. Is walking up to the carpet. It's just Tip, his lady Tiny, a female friend and Tip's publicist. On the way to the carpet, Travis Barker walks up and they all shake hands and hug. Paul Wall walks up a few minutes later and joins them.
7:56 p.m. ET — Rihanna boards a golf cart headed for the main show, and as she's leaving, she pokes fun at her assistant's particularly flamboyant porkpie hat. "Oh my God, are you a Jonas?" she laughs. The Plain White T's hang around by the security checkpoint, apparently waiting for their tickets. "We got here really early this time, 'cause last year we almost missed the opening of the show," frontman Tom Higgenson says. Minutes later, they receive the coveted tix and head inside.
8:07 p.m. ET — Tom Kaulitz claps his hands to the beat as Tokio Hotel stand up in the back of their monster truck. The truck is in position as the driver waits his cue. As they approach the carpet entrance, the only thing louder than the roar of their truck is the rock music blasting out of the speakers.
8:12 p.m. ET — T-Pain, looking very much like a gilded ringmaster, describes his red-carpet entrance (atop an elephant, FYI) to a member of his posse: "It's very hot, and my b---s hurt." Good to know! (Check out a full report on VMA artist arrivals right here.)
8:34 p.m. ET — Corbin Bleu — in a sleek, dangerous-looking motorcycle jacket and hair that'd make the gods envious — stopped for a backstage photo as Lauren Conrad teetered by (avoiding a scary-looking grate) holding a glass of champagne, Busta Rhymes rolled by wearing a diamond watch bigger than my face, and Ne-Yo played the part of the gentleman, slinging his jacket over his shoulder. Oh, and he was wearing a hat, obvs. Ooh, and Nicky Hilton looks the chicest — and richest — I've ever seen her!!
8:48 p.m. ET — "Twilight" stars Kristen Stewart in a gorgeous Phillip Lim dress and Robert Pattinson just stopped for a snap (looking like a real-life couple) with T-Pain right behind them.
8:50 p.m. ET — Michael Phelps will have to wait just a little longer to meet one of his favorite rappers, Lil Wayne. Phelps is getting interviewed with Kid Rock — and who pulls up in a golf cart right behind them? Weezy. Phelps had no idea, and before Wayne could say hi, the rapper was directed to another part of the carpet. The Olympic gold medal winner did get a chance to chop it up with Kid for a few minutes. "Congratulations," Kid said. "Thanks, man," Phelps replied. "What are you up to?" "Trying to ride the wave like you," Kid answered with a grin. Ciara pulled up while they chatted.
8:51 p.m. ET — Paramore are in a couple of Smart Cars, one red and one blue. Chivalry is dead, though: As the guys pop out, who comes up out the trunk? The only female, Hayley.
8:59 p.m. ET — We have Jonas! In the golf cart! And I'm fangirling out because Kevin yelled out to me, "How you doin'?" My heart just grew another heart, and that heart is making the little Jonas heart sign with its little heart hands!!!
The show begins ...
9:04 p.m. ET — Britney!!! She's back!
9:11 p.m. ET — One of T-Pain's clowns is mesmerized as he watches Rihanna perform "Disturbia" with her own clan of face-painted misfits. He looks like he belongs onstage with them.
9:21 p.m. ET — Miley Cyrus is standing like four inches from me. Her dress says "next Madonna" to me (but not the rapping version). And Lindsay Lohan is a fox on heels, but you knew that. Also, I'd punch my own mother for the tartan dress Vanessa Simmons is wearing. Oh, Katy Perry just walked by — I'd kick my cat for her shoes. Ooh, Kid Rock just walked by and refused some random guy's photo. DENIED!!!
9:33 p.m. ET — OMG. Lindsay Lohan just sprinted by in her next look: a modified tux vest held together in the back by like something no more substantial than a human hair!
9:55 p.m. ET — Uh-oh: The venue is packed to capacity and the fire marshal ain't lettin' no one back in. Which means I'm watching Vanessa Hudgens' handlers work their handling magic on the security guys at the side door. Same thing Paramore's people just had to do. (I'll bet Jim Cantiello doesn't have to deal with this!) Ooh, Pussycat Dolls and Keri Hilson are all exchanging pleasantries!
9:59 p.m. ET — T.I.'s team loves Katy Perry. For the past 10 minutes, they've been singing "I Kissed a Girl" to each other. Clay especially — when he sees me, he grabs me and serenades me a little with the song, and then adds, "I want to kiss a girl!" Females backstage, you've been warned ...
10:04 p.m. ET — Katy Perry got teased by security as she tried to make her way backstage. "No beer on the premises," a guard joked, pretending to block her. Katy's response? She hoisted the bottle above her head — as if to toast him — and strolled on through, laughing.
10:06 p.m. ET — Did Lil Wayne have a wardrobe malfunction? His team is all atwitter that he had his shirt off and was showing off his tattoos — that was most definitely not according to plan. They just managed to get a plain white T on him before he made his entrance to Stage 16.
10:16 p.m. ET — On the hunt for a bathroom, Seth Green found Slash instead, by talent check-in. "Slash doesn't want to go in right now," his rep said while the hug-fest ensued.
10:21 p.m. ET — Seth Green and LL Cool J's bro hug was one of the funniest moments I'd seen — until I just almost walked directly into Slash's wife's ginormous rack. Slash, his wife and a few of Slash's other friends are singing happy birthday to someone ...
10:23 p.m. ET — Slash is hungry. He wants to go to Lucy's, but his wife, Perla, wants Nobu. But so many people keep coming to hug him, he can't leave. "I just want to get out of here!" he yells to Perla as she walks away to find a bathroom.
10:27 p.m. ET — Britney is back ... at Studio 16. While most people walk or ride in a golf cart, Britney had a tram. But seconds after Britney walked through the side door, Christina Aguilera — in a cart — pulled up and followed her through.
10:28 p.m. ET — In the talent holding area, all eyes are glued to the big show, playing on a nearby flatscreen. Awhile back, Paramore's Farro brothers watched the Jonas Brothers' performance intently, heads in hands, like a couple of awestruck toddlers. Across the room, Kid Rock's drummer, Stefanie Eulinberg, was watching too, though she wasn't exactly awestruck by what she saw. "They look like [preschoolers' favorites] the Wiggles," she laughed to no one in particular, before leaning way back in her chair. Things aren't nearly as laid-back in Studio 16, where the main show rolls on. As a tech crew hustled in Paramore's "Whisky a Go Go" set, Pete Wentz was nearly crushed, forced to take cover behind a velvet curtain. "I have no idea what's happening right now," he said, eyes wide. "You can be killed at any minute if you're not careful."
10:33 p.m. ET — Looks like Slipknot might be leaving. "Especially with the masks, no one expects you to sit there for five hours," a rep tells injured bandmember Joey Jordison (whose broken ankle recently caused the band to postpone tour dates), who walks with the aid of two canes. Meanwhile, McLovin is getting some loving from Slipknot. "You've got to come to a show, man," they tell him.
10:40 p.m. ET — Looks like Nicky Hilton is getting some loving — a guy she's with is trying to kiss her, but taking a cue from her sister Paris, she looks bored.
10:45 p.m. ET — Christina has left the building! She runs out of the stage door as her dancers clap for her. "We nailed it!" one of them cheers as they pile into a golf cart. "Whoo-hoo!" Christina yelps as they drive away with everyone on the backlot applauding her.
10:52 p.m. ET — Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens were all smiles and holding hands as they walked out of the stage door — but when they got away from the crowd, the hands were dropped and their faces went cold. Looking much happier were Travis McCoy and Katy Perry, who walked out a moment later — despite no hand holding.
10:57 p.m. ET — An emotional Tokio Hotel are hugging their staff so hard that someone might break a bone. Achtung!!!
10:59 p.m. ET — Robert Pattinson from "Twilight" is lost, and who can blame him? This Paramount lot is confusing. Meanwhile, Paris Hilton is walking away when a random bystander wants to take a picture with her. She poses and tells the fan, "Have fun!"
11:01 p.m. ET — Apl from the Black Eyed Peas nearly ran me over in his golf cart. My fault, really. "Beep beep!" he jokes as he pulls away.
11:08 p.m. ET — After his performance, Kid Rock walks out and says, "I feel like an old man. I've been doing this for 10, 15 years." The ability to remember exact dates is the first thing to go, Kid ...
11:15 p.m. ET — Paris Hilton is the rare multitasker who can type on a BlackBerry and smoke a cigarette at the same time.
11:19 p.m. ET — When "Piece of Me" won Video of the Year, director Wayne Isham and his crew went bananas — screaming, hugging and snapping photos.
And after the show ...
11:20 p.m. ET — Rihanna and Chris Brown are going their separate ways — but only for 10 minutes. "You go do your thing, and you meet me right here," she tells him.
11:23 p.m. ET — Tokio Hotel and the Pussycat Dolls just hugged it out. Bill gave Nicole Scherzinger the two-cheek kiss and then went off to find a drink. Meanwhile, Angela and Vanessa Simmons sought out a bathroom, and T.I. tried to find a polite way to turn away an annoying reporter who was trying to hop aboard his golf cart.
11:25 p.m. ET — Chris Brown went to the spot where he was supposed to meet Rihanna ... and found Jamie Foxx instead. And a minute after that, McLovin (a.k.a. Christopher Mintz-Plasse). "Good to meet you," the "Superbad" actor told him.
11:28 p.m. ET — The Pussycat Dolls almost lost a member as they got into their tram. "Please don't leave without me!" Nicole Scherzinger cried while holding the train of her dress up to run to them.
The night didn't stop there! Check back later for a full report on the post-VMA parties and action!