NEW YORK – Eminem was the winner of the night at the MTV Video Music Awards Thursday, taking home four awards including the best video of the year trophy.
The rapper also riled audiences, who booed him after a confrontation with techno artist Moby.
Bruce Springsteen officially kicked off the show with a poignant performance of "The Rising" outside in front of the American Museum of Natural History.
But the night really got started with host Jimmy Fallon at Radio City Music Hall when he performed a send up of several of the night's big nominees including Eminem, Avril Lavigne, Dave Matthews, Nelly and Enrique Iglesias.
Some of the night's highlights came in the second half of the show. P. Diddy performed the most extravagant number of the night complete with performers bungee jumping from the ceiling. Pink, who won for best female video, announced "I'm too drunk for this" while accepting her award, and metal band Guns n' Roses closed the evening out, reviving some of their hits including "Welcome to the Jungle."
But Eminem provided perhaps the evening's biggest shocker when he was booed after winning the award for best male video for "Without Me."
The tension started when his nemesis, Christina Aguilera, presented him with the award. Then, he took a pot shot at Moby, (Moby irritated Eminem last year by criticizing his lyrics as misogynist).
"Yeah, keep booing," Eminem said to the audience. Then, referring to Moby Eminem threatened, "I will hit a man with glasses."
Beside Guns n' Roses, the night's surprise guest stars included legendary Godfather of Soul James Brown and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who introduced Sheryl Crow's Sept. 11 tribute.
But in the show's most heartfelt moment, MTV's Carson Daly announced the formation of the MTV Lisa Lopes AIDS Scholarship. Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, a member of the group TLC, was killed in a car accident earlier this year. The remaining two members of the group cried through an emotional speech, thanking fans for their support.
In perhaps the most awkward moment, Britney Spears presented Michael Jackson with a birthday cake, but a confused King of Pop thought he'd won the "Artist of the Millennium" award. An MTV spokesman later alerted the press that Jacko had received no such award - just a cake, the New York Post reported. Shots of the audience showed several people looking more stunned than anything to see the King of Pop, who was celebrating his 44th birthday.
In terms of awards, among the early winners was No Doubt, which won best pop video and best group video for their song "Hey Baby," and Eminem, who won best rap video and best male video for "Without Me."
Jennifer Lopez won best hip-hop video for "I'm Real," her collaboration with Ja Rule. Lopez was dressed conservatively -- at least for her -- in a black dress with a plunging neckline.
But between the show's bright moments there were several lulls. Justin Timberlake's much-anticipated solo debut fell flat and much of the scripted banter between celebs made little sense.
Things did get wild before the awards started, as rapper Ludacris performed a profanity-laced song in front of Radio City Music Hall, on top of a bus. Censors had to bleep out his performance at least four times. The rapper had a tough day as Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly took him to task over his explicit lyrics and got Pepsi Co. to drop their contract with Ludacris.
The wild fashions that often accompany the show were toned down this year, with a few exceptions. Spears arrived in a black leather outfit with a cap that made her look like a member of the Village People. Pink looked punk with a short black hair style, tattooed arms and a black-and-green striped dress, although she changed several times during the show. A streaky-haired Aguilera donned a halter top that barely seemed to cover her.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.