Originally created 11/30/03

'Big in 2003' offers tribute to biggest pop culture moments

LOS ANGELES -- Big moments of 2003? War in Iraq. Turmoil in the Middle East. The space shuttle Columbia.

No, the other big moments - Ben Affleck and J.Lo, trucker hats and tadpoling.

With awards such as "Biggest Gay Hero" and "Biggest, Guiltiest Pleasure," VH1's "Big in 2003" offers an irreverent tribute that celebrates and skewers the year's biggest celebrities, trends and moments.

Combining clips from television, films and music videos with appearances by some of today's hottest stars, the result is a sometimes raucous, sometimes raunchy sendup of award shows.

"We're addressing everything in the year. The show is sort of a comedy-variety look at that," said executive producer Lee Rolontz.

The music channel's annual awards show, which airs Sunday at 9 p.m. Eastern, also features performances by matchbox twenty, Shania Twain, Kid Rock, OutKast and an audience singalong with the Rev. Al Green.

The show began four years ago as an Internet-driven program that allowed fans to vote for their favorite performers. It evolved two years ago into a campy comedy-musical salute to celebrity.

This year's show throws in a bit more politically pointed rhetoric than its predecessors.

"We sort of stepped it up. We wanted to have more of an opinion than we did last year," Rolontz said.

In one of the show's more serious moments, the Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines accepted the award for "Big Quote of '03" for her criticism of President Bush's handling of the war in Iraq during a concert in London.

"It's something that's great about being an American. A mother of one of the soldiers told us in a letter that freedom is something you live, not just something you write on the walls, and that is why we as Americans must vote and we must be involved and we must question. Why? Because we can," Maines said.

Some audience members at the taping booed Maines.

"Lastly I want to thank all the haters, because you make me strong, empowered, involved and proud," she said. "And to the haters, I thought you might like to know that we have a CD and a DVD coming out next week, which is great for y'all because you can burn one and stomp on the other."

Minutes later, actress-comedian Kathy Griffin took her own opportunity to lampoon celebrities making political statements.

She told the audience she wanted to take an unscripted moment to discuss something very important to the world.

"I'm just kidding," she said. "Don't you hate when people do that?"

In the "Biggest Mistake of '03, '04 and '05" category, nominees include the war in Iraq and the child molestation allegations against Michael Jackson.

But for the most part the show keeps it light.

Affleck and Jennifer Lopez were mocked repeatedly, including a skit featuring impersonators who jabbed at rumors about the couple's supposed breakup and Affleck's alleged dalliances, among other things.

For those celebrities who willingly participated in the show, it was an opportunity to poke fun at their own celebrity.

"If you can't laugh at yourself, what are you doing in this business," actress Vivica A. Fox said in an interview during the show's taping at the Universal Amphitheater.

The category "Made It Big" honored people "who came out of nowhere and went everywhere."

And Ashton Kutcher of "That '70s Show" was lauded for his trends, such as wearing trucker hats and his role in tadpoling - younger men dating older women - for his relationship with Demi Moore.

Kutcher was honored with the "Big Stylin' '03" award, which was presented by Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, another well-known celebrity trendsetter.

"I'd like to thank all the people who give us free stuff," Kutcher joked.

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