In January, Jennifer Lopez told E! News that she and Britney Spears were supposed to perform with Madonna at the 2003 MTV VMAs, but because she was shooting a movie, Christina Aguilera was swapped in — and Madonna made headlines by kissing them both. Now, EW has confirmed that J-Lo was, indeed, Madonna’s first choice.
A new Rolling Stone article marking the 20th anniversary of that unforgettable moment — August 28, 2003 — says that Madonna was told to do whatever she wanted with her medley of “Like a Virgin” and “Hollywood,” so she chose to sing and dance with J-Lo and Britney. When J-Lo had to leave to make the movie Shall We Dance, Madonna picked Xtina to replace her.
According to the article, MTV executives didn’t know that Madonna planned to kiss both women until the director watched the rehearsal and spilled the beans — they were literally “high-fiving,” according to Rolling Stone. But that night, the directors decided to cut directly from the Britney/Madonna kiss to Justin Timberlake‘s reaction to it, missing Madonna’s smooch with Christina entirely.
Christina’s team wasn’t happy, according to then-MTV president Van Toffler, who tells Rolling Stone, “That caused a little bit of grief coming my way. It didn’t make life easier that night, but you have to make choices in a live show.”
Ex-MTV exec Tom Calderone tells Rolling Stone that Christina’s team asked the MTV to re-edit the performance for future broadcasts to include her kiss, but they refused.
Christina didn’t respond to EW‘s request for comment, but back in 2018, she admitted to Andy Cohen that she felt “left out” when she saw the headlines the next day, adding, “It was weird.” She called the Timberlake reaction cut “a cheap shot.”
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