UNIVERSAL CITY, California — Television super-producer Mark Burnett is responsible for more than a thousand broadcast hours on prime-time TV and has given us shows like "Survivor" and "The Apprentice." These days, he's putting the finishing touches on this year's MTV Movie Awards — and has learned to trust in things like
"I have a really good team. My philosophy on shows is: I want to hire people under me who are better than me," Burnett explained. "There's nothing more annoying than to be working on a project and the person in charge is always second-guessing you, micromanaging you.
"The way I look at things is this: Imagine you bought a guard dog, and every time the doorbell rang, you barked yourself," he laughed. "It would piss off the dog."
This year, his crew has marching orders that only the MTV Movie Awards would permit: Keep it loose, keep it crazy.
"The great thing about the MTV Movie Awards is that MTV is edgy, a little nutty and allows the crazy sh-- to happen," Burnett explained. "And that's a beautiful thing."
Among this year's crazy elements are the unpredictable Eminem — who Burnett insisted he has no plans to censor. "I really don't. I've never met him, I look forward to it. I'm a street guy from East London, he's a street guy," he reasoned. "He just wants to do his thing, so we should give him the canvas to do his thing. We're just blessed to have him here — we're very grateful. I'm a huge Eminem fan, huge. To have him come back and do this in a big venue is exciting. And whatever happens is gonna happen."
Another element Burnett singled out this year as a main focus is the ascension of "Twilight" — and the exclusive trailer the stars will be bringing to the show with them.
"They're really, really important. Last year, so much of the media was like, 'Who the hell are these people? What is this thing?' Now, it's the biggest thing for the media," he grinned. "We are so lucky that Summit allowed us to show this clip."
Although Burnett remembers the "Twilight" buzz from last year's ceremony, it wasn't until recently that a family member reminded him of how huge Sunday's exclusive clip is going to be. "Here's how I judge things: I have three kids: a 12-year-old boy, a 13-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy. At the dinner table, when it first was raised privately in my family that this ['New Moon' trailer] might happen, my daughter levitated off the dinner table," he recalled. "When she was finally able to talk about it, her entire school was buzzing. Every young girl in America is tuned in to see this.
"People love the movie, love the books. I've seen nothing like it," he said, explaining that he is also a fan. "Even when the poster was revealed it created news. I love when new things come out in America, things that touch people in a positive way. There's so much negative news ... this is positive. 'Twilight' is love. It's a forbidden love story. I love the movie, I've seen it a number of times. It's great for us."
All in all, such mismatched elements as Eminem and "Twilight" are what makes the MTV Movie Awards what they are. And Mark Burnett wouldn't have things any other way.
"It's the warts and all — you set up situations that could combust," he grinned. "And then you let it go, man."
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Will the vampires grab more trophies than the slumdog? What was the year's ultimate onscreen WTF moment? It's up to you to decide the winners of the 2009 MTV Movie Awards. Vote now, and tune in on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET, when the big show airs live from the Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City, California.
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