In 2019, MTV held the VMAs in Newark for the first time. For the past two years, the network moved back across the Hudson River to New York for the annual awards show, but come August the spotlight will again shine on The Brick City.
MTV announced April 21 its 2022 VMAs will air live to more than 170 countries worldwide from Newark’s Prudential Center on Aug. 28.
“We are extremely proud MTV has chosen Prudential Center to once again host its marquee showcase, the 39th Annual Video Music Awards,” Prudential Center President Jake Reynolds said in a prepared statement. “Prudential Center has enjoyed our long-standing partnership with MTV which highlights our world-class venue as a must play destination for acts of all genres.
“We could not be more excited to host one of the entertainment industry’s most celebrated award shows and recognize the industries brightest stars, while adding to the rich history of music in New Jersey,” he added.
That history is known to many state residents, proud to call Bruce Springsteen their Boss. But stars such as Queen Latifah, who attended the 2019 awards show, Gloria Gaynor and George Clinton have called the Brick City itself home.
“We are excited to have the MTV Video Music Awards return to Newark this year. It is fitting that Newark is once again the host city, as it is the birthplace of many of the biggest names in music, and has so much to offer its visitors – a vibrant arts and culture scene, historic downtown, and diverse cuisine,” Mayor Ras Baraka said in a prepared statement. “On behalf of Newark residents, we are happy to welcome everyone attending and are very much looking forward to one of the biggest nights in entertainment.”
The VMAs’ residence at Prudential Center opens up opportunities for other operators in the city, as well. During the 2019 show, Newark Symphony Hall – which has subsequently seen success hosting other televised programs – served as a rehearsal space for performers of the awards show, like Missy Elliot.
“The very first show that happened at Newark Symphony Hall was actually the VMAs,” that venue’s CEO and president Taneshia Nash Laird recounted at an unrelated event in March. “So the VMAs was actually happening at the Prudential Center, but they shot a commercial at Symphony Hall. And then Missy Elliot found out … [and] used us for rehearsals. And then, Normani came for rehearsals, and then Wyclef–so everybody came. And then when the executives came and they looked at the concert hall, because we always give tours, they said can we use that?”
They could and they did.
“So go back, look at that presentation – that tribute to Missy Elliot,” Laird advised. “That first portion was actually shot at Symphony Hall in what they call a look-live, so it was supposed to look like it was actually happening at Prudential Center but it happened here.”
That experience helped primed Laird and the venue for America’s Got Talent. During that production, she said she wanted to ensure local residents could participate, which led to the launch of a Production Assistant Training Program, giving Newarkers an entrance to the industry.
The opportunity also gave a boost to the venue: “[W]e earned a lot of money that week,” Laird said of the 2019 VMAs event.
On the big night, many artists in attendance shouted out their favorite local spots, like Iberia and R U Hungry. Making it anyone’s guess how far the show’s reach will spread this summer.
“We are thrilled to be back in New Jersey for this year’s VMAs live from Prudential Center,” said Bruce Gillmer, president of music, music talent, programming & events for Paramount and chief content officer, Music at Paramount+. “Our 2019 show in Newark was undoubtedly one of our biggest and most successful shows yet and we’re excited to bring back the incredible fan energy for one of music’s most anticipated and iconic nights.”