Britney Spears Returns To MTV To Join The Likes Of Timbaland, Rihanna, 50 Cents...

Britney Spears hasn`t had a hit in years. MTV stopped playing music videos years ago.

The two former music industry stalwarts will join forces in Las Vegas this evening for the 24th annual MTV Video Music Awards, an event long considered a looser, hipper version of the Grammys, the top honors show in the record business.

MTV is bringing the show to Sin City for the first time, hoping to reverse a sharp slide in viewership for its flagship awards bash.

Last year`s ceremony in New York drew 5.8 million viewers, down from 8 million in 2005 and 10.3 million in 2004, according to Nielsen Media Research. Both those shows took place in Miami. The only other city to host the show has been Los Angeles, most recently in 1998.

The ceremony harkens back to MTV`s heyday as the maker and breaker of musical acts. The cable channel long ago ditched its basic diet of music videos after realizing that its youthful viewers would surf to other channels when a clip came on that they did not care for. It is now a lifestyle-programming network, focused on reality shows like "The Hills" and "The Real World."

The leading nominees this year are pop singer Justin Timberlake and R&B star Beyonce with seven nominations each, while hip-hop star Kanye West has five.
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The "awards" part of the show usually is overshadowed by the performances and the chance that something outrageous will happen, like same-sex kisses or naughty utterances. The lack of excitement in recent years, amid a government crackdown in media decency, has been blamed for the slide in ratings.

Britney comeback

The ceremony will kick off at 6 pm on Monday from the Palms Casino Resort, with Spears performing her new comeback tune, "Gimme More." The 25-year-old performer, whose professional achievements have been overshadowed by her personal crises in recent years, has used past MTV shows to cavort with a snake and make out with Madonna.

Spears is reportedly working on her first album in more than four years, having been distracted by two marriages, two children and two rehab stints. In that time, fellow Mickey Mouse Club alumni such as Timberlake and Christina Aguilera have seen their careers soar.

The MTV awards performers are drawn mostly from the urban music field -- rappers such as West, 50 Cent, Common, and Soulja Boy, as well as R&B singers Akon, T-Pain, Timbaland and Rihanna. The only rock bands on the bill are the Foo Fighters and Fall Out Boy.

The show itself is almost a footnote to a busy weekend of related parties and concerts throughout the city. Performers at various venues included West, rapper Snoop Dogg and rock band Linkin Park.

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