NEW YORK - At 7:30 p.m. on New Year's Eve, hundreds of thousands of revelers had already begun packing into Times Square, chanting and posing for photos (many would also later don questionable hats). And though it was still early, it was just as hectic high above it all in the MTV studios: a frantic mix of cables, cameras and controlled catastrophes.
It was the final rehearsal for MTV's "Iced Out New Year's Eve," and lights had to be arranged, lines rehearsed and the set decorated. The celebrities were all safely in their dressing rooms, tables and tables of sushi had been arranged, and the MTV crew — all decked out in matching white jumpsuits — was running through final preparations for the live show. With so many celebs in the house, so many live performances scheduled and so many people watching around the world, everything had to go according to plan.
And they pulled it off. The show was a near-flawless good time. And while the weather outside might've been frightful in most of the country (except New York, where it was a balmy 50 degrees), the temperature inside the studio was red-hot. Here's a behind-the-scenes look at the "Iced Out New Year's Eve" celebration you didn't see. (Click for photos from backstage at "Iced Out New Year's Eve.")
Lindsay Lohan kicked things off with a live performance from Times Square, and she looked cool and calm doing it. But before cameras rolled, everything was up in the air. As she stood backstage, a trio of stylists added last-minute dabs of makeup and a string of diamonds around her neck. And then there were dress issues.
"This dress is falling off," Lohan stressed to her assistant. "That's all I need, for Us Weekly to see me like this!"
Team Lohan managed to apply a few strategic safety pins before she was whisked to the "TRL" green room, which was serving as a makeshift press-tent. As flashbulbs popped, Lohan was bombarded with questions ranging from the serious (what she thought of the tsunami tragedy in Southeast Asia) to the, um, frivolous (what her favorite fashion trend of 2004 was). Meanwhile, as the paparazzi cornered Lohan, Ryan Cabrera ambled by. Upon spying him, many of the photographers began snapping away.
"Oh man, I'm not even dressed yet!" Cabrera laughed, and ducked into his dressing room.
But he couldn't hide for long. His drummer tried several times to force his way into the dressing room, pounding on the door loudly and yelling, "Ryan, are you naked?!?"
"Come on, man!" Cabrera yelled back. "Do you want to see me naked or something?"
"Yeah," his drummer hollered. "Everybody out here does!"
While the press waited with bated breath to see if Cabrera would emerge in the nude, Green Day's drummer Tre Cool was patrolling the green room (now devoid of Lohan). He approached the open bar and immediately became infatuated with a bucket of "Iced Out New Year's" novelty ice cubes. He asked the bartender for as many of the blinking cubes as he could carry, plunked them in his drink, and then spent the next 10 minutes showing somewhat terrified green-room occupants his now-glowing beverage.
"These things are so cool!" he yelled. "These things are Satan!"
Then he cornered "TRL"'s Damien and upon seeing his beverage, threw himself into a mock fit of rage.
"Unfair! You got two glowing ice cubes in your drink, and you didn't even have to ask!" Cool laughed.
And even though Cool and Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong were decked out in white linen suits and eyeliner, they still proved to be a pair of punk-rock hell-raisers. As they made their way to the stage, they both drew the ire of studio security: Cool for beating his drumsticks against the hallway walls, Armstrong for smoking (security first assumed the smell was "one of the smoke machines on fire.")
After Armstrong chucked the smoke, the whole band was corralled by Ashlee Simpson, who first hugged Armstrong and then made a move toward Cool.
"Stop touching me!" he fake-freaked. Then, after pausing a second: "OK, touch me again."
Simpson laughed and followed the group inside to catch its performance. As the bandmembers waited for the show to return from a commercial break, they launched into a series of punked-up covers (Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back" and Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It"), much to the delight of the studio audience.
And back in the green room, Fat Joe was living it up, posing for pictures and laughing with fans. Ja Rule approached him and the two hugged. As Ja began whispering in Joe's ear, a couple of party girls began to giggle and scream, "New York! New York!" After a minute, Ja finally acknowledged them with a laugh and a shout of "Yo, that's my song," followed by a Casanova-worthy series of blown kisses.
As Kelly Clarkson took the stage, Damien and Christina Milian were filming a live spot stage left. Clarkson's fans whispered to her that they loved her, and she nearly spoke directly into her stage mic, catching herself at the last minute. After her performance, she nearly walked off with her mic-pack, but a stagehand stopped her at the last minute.
"I wasn't going to steal it!" she laughed.
As the crowd in Times Square began to count down the seconds until 2005, Snoop Dogg finally made his appearance backstage, his truly awe-inspiring entourage (his Uncle June Bug, the Archbishop Don "Magic" Juan, body guards, etc.) filled the hallways. And when Snoop took the stage for his surprise jam session with the guys from Green Day, the celebs in attendance pushed their way into the packed studio to catch a glimpse of history in the making.
Simpson and Cabrera waded into the crowd, jumping up and down like just another pair of excited fans. Don Juan brushed right past them, sauntering toward the stage and denying about 1 million requests from kids to let them drink out of his massive pimp cup.
Matthew Fox of "Lost," looking like he'd just caught the last flight in from his uncharted desert island (scruffy beard and beat-up motorcycle jacket), nodded along to the performance. And Jimmy Eat World's bassist, Rick Burch, also watched from the studio floor, decked out in a shiny silver suit.
But after the ball dropped and the show had ended, it didn't mean the partying was over. Ja Rule wandered the backstage hallways, bottle of champagne in hand, yelling "Happy New Year!" to anyone who would listen. As Fat Joe made his grand exit, he shook hands and posed for picture after picture. If he wasn't screaming "Where the party at?!?" you would have mistook him for a very large politician. And when he headed out of the building, a couple of 40-year-old moms shouted "Lean back!" at him, and he did a sorta-version of the rockaway. Joe laughed and waved. Maybe he is running for office.
As the studio (and Times Square below) emptied, Snoop Dogg stopped at every dressing room and posed for pictures. Christina Milian gushed over Snoop's young daughter. Ja Rule walked by with his bottle of bubbly, hugging first Don Juan (who bestowed a hearty "chu-uch" on him), then Mario (telling him to "keep doin' what you doin'.")
Finally Ja reached Snoop himself, and as the two made their exit, the Inc. rapper placed his arm around Snoop's shoulder and whispered in his ear, "Big night, yo."
He couldn't have put it any better.