NEW YORK (August 30, 2006) — As the MTV Video Music Awards approached Thursday, the fiercest competition for the top honor included Diddy, Missy Elliott, Pharrell, Justin Timberlake, Jessica Simpson and 50 Cent — and had nothing to do with music videos.
While the VMAs may technically be the main event, for the celebrities who live their lives by the red carpet and the bright lights of the paparazzi, the pre-parties and after-parties are almost as important. And the celebrity who throws the most exclusive, decadent bash of them all is the biggest winner.
Diddy, the king of the party lifestyle, is among the top contenders: By midweek, he had already thrown parties that attracted the likes of Jay-Z, Beyonce and Kanye West. But not to be outdone, Timberlake joined with superproducer Timbaland and Nelly Furtado for a pre-VMA bash; Simpson had a roller-skating party; 50 Cent and LL Cool J are teaming up for a post-VMA soiree; and Janet Jackson is expected to join boyfriend Jermaine Dupri at another A-list bash.
Still, not all parties are created equal, and there are certain key entertaining rules that separate the “must go” bash from the “must avoid” debacle; from a full-page spread in Us Weekly to a back-of-the-magazine blurb in Life & Style.
Jonathon “Jono” Waks knows the difference. A self-professed “one-man show” — he has a PR company, Jono Productions, and has planned parties that people like Paris Hilton may be still talking about. In an interview with The Associated Press, Jono revealed his strategy for putting on a VMA bash to remember.
Tip No. 1: Hire a host.
Jono: I always want to have a great host — that person is the face of the party, whether it’s Jay-Z or whether it’s Mariah Carey or whether it’s even a Paris Hilton. If that person is associated with the event, then you’ll automatically have their friends and supporters coming. So, automatically, the guest list starts getting bigger.
Tip No. 2: Always “over-invite.”
Jono: This is a party where your room holds 500 people and you invite 3,000. The reason you have to overinvite is because if you invite 30 people for a room that holds 30, and only 10 show up, your party’s a failure.
Tip No. 3: Know how to spot a VIP.
Jono: Security and a good door person are very important. The more high-profile the party, the more a crowd and hangers-on are gonna start trying to infiltrate. You need someone at the door who knows the faces, knows the media. Someone who can identify socialites or identify rising stars.
Tip No. 4: Don’t turn away D-listers.
Jono: I think that the celebs who get turned away tend to be more of the reality stars, the ones that Kathy Griffin calls “the D-list people.” I would never turn Kathy away, and for the most part, I would never turn any celeb like that away. For lots of reasons. You wanna do favors for the publicist … and often we have greater relationships with the publicists than with the celebrities themselves.
Tip No. 5: Be prepared for Jay-Z to arrive unannounced.
Jono: What I find is that the biggest names that RSVP — that publicists put on tip sheets — never come. The ones that just show up are the ones that cause the biggest stir.
Tip No. 6: Work within your budget.
Jono: If you can get a great budget together, then it’s really important to do something that’s gonna make (the party) memorable. It could be a great gift bag, it could be a special performance by a big star, or just a brand-new venue that everyone wants to see.
Tip No. 7: Clone party-hopping celebrities.
Jono: There can never be too many Paris Hiltons! I mean, honestly, can there?