Arts & Entertainment

Amy Winehouse tribute to highlight MTV Video Music Awards

Amy Winehouse performs during the 46664 concert in celebration of Nelson Mandela's life at Hyde Park on June 27, 2008 in London, England.
Amy Winehouse performs during the 46664 concert in celebration of Nelson Mandela's life at Hyde Park on June 27, 2008 in London, England.
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Amy Winehouse never appeared on the MTV Video Music Awards during her short but celebrated career, but Sunday's show will pause to pay tribute to the British singer. Winehouse died a month ago after years of substance abuse. The show is being held at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, broadcast live on MTV from 9-11 p.m.

Tony Bennett will lead the tribute to Winehouse; her last known recording was with the 85-year-old crooner on his upcoming "Duets II" album. There is also word swirling that Winehouse's parents might appear, but MTV officials could not confirm that.

The tribute to Winehouse will likely be the rare moment of reverence in a show that is calculated to be as irreverent as possible. This year, the current queen of sexy daffiness, Katy Perry, is poised to be the belle of MTV's annual musical ball. She's up for the most Moonman trophies, including video of the year for her inspirational song "Firework."

Another female singer is also a top nominee: Adele, the year's best-selling artist so far with her album "21," is nominated for seven awards for "Rolling in the Deep"; Kanye West also has seven nominations.

Perry and Adele will compete for video of the year honors against Tyler the Creator's "Yonkers," Bruno Mars' "Grenade" and the Beastie Boys' "Make Some Noise."

Perry and Adele are also nominated for best female video, along with Beyonce's "Run the World (Girls)," Nicki Minaj's "Super Bass" and Lady Gaga's "Born this Way."

Up for best male video are Cee Lo Green for "F*ck You," Eminem featuring Rihanna for "Love the Way You Lie," Bruno Mars' "Grenade," West featuring Rihanna and Kid Cudi for "All of the Lights" and Justin Bieber with "You Smile."

West, always good for a colorful MTV moment (ask Taylor Swift), is not expected to perform at the awards. But there are plenty of other headline-generating performers, including Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Lil Wayne, Pitbull and Chris Brown, whose star continues to brighten two years after it was tarnished by his attack on Rihanna.

And then there was the headline-generating Irene, the hurricane-tuned-tropical storm that was pummeling her way up the Eastern seaboard on Sunday. MTV President Stephen Friedman said some VMA performers from the East Coast arrived in LA early to avoid the storm and resulting airport disruptions. But he was hopeful viewer disruption would be minimal.

"Our hope is our audience is cuddled up with their family and friends and don't want to be outside and want to watch the best night in music," he said.

Here is a complete list of nominees:

Video of the Year

Best Female Video

Best Male Video

Best Hip Hop Video

Best New Artist

Best Pop Video

Best Rock Video

Best Collaboration

Best Art Direction

Best Choreography

Best Cinematography

Best Direction

Best Editing

Best SFX (Special Effects)