MTV AWARDS Stars stay on best behavior

MTV used a tape delay for the first time at the awards.
MIAMI (AP) -- There was no Madonna-Britney Spears kiss, no partly-clad Howard Stern coming down from the rafters, and certainly no wardrobe malfunctions.
The MTV Awards show on Sunday featured typical frenetic energy and sexy style, and a few musical surprises, but it was mostly a kinder, gentler version of past shows.
Usher showed as much skin as anybody, preening in front of the camera bare-chested as simulated raindrops fell on his chiseled body during the opening performance of "Burn." And the sometimes raunchy comedian Dave Chappelle even kept it relatively clean -- despite teasing that he wouldn't.
"It's the biggest mistake you made since Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl," he jokingly warned, alluding to the MTV-produced Super Bowl halftime flesh show that created a firestorm earlier this year.
There may have been plenty of sex appeal on show in Miami -- cleavage was the main fashion trend for women, cool colors for men -- but little shock appeal on hand.
Tape delay
MTV was ready, though, using a several-second tape delay for the first time. The audio delay, used for years, was in heavy use during the hip-hop medley, which featured Lil Jon, Petey Pablo and Fat Joe.
The change of scenery for the awards, typically held in New York or Los Angeles, helped raise the decadence level at the celebrity-soaked affair, held at the downtown AmericanAirlines Arena.
OutKast's vivid "Hey Ya!" -- perhaps best described as the old Ed Sullivan show on acid -- won four awards, including video of the year. Jay-Z's "99 Problems," the most nominated video with six, also won four. That gritty black-and-white video depicts the singer's own killing as a metaphor for his much-ballyhooed retirement.
"I felt like I was trying to push the envelope," Jay-Z, dressed in a dapper white suit and hat, said as he accepted an award -- called a moonman after the channel's logo -- for best rap video. "That was my punishment and this is my reward."
Usher won his first moonman as he took best male video for "Yeah!"
"This is my first time coming up here -- let me take my time with this," a beaming Usher said. "I'm so damned happy right now I don't wanna leave."

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