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Eminem Absent From Music Awards Win

January 14, 2003

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Eminem upstaged newcomer Ashanti at Monday’s 30th annual American Music Awards, collecting trophies in all four categories in which he was nominated. Ashanti collected two new artist awards.

Eminem didn’t attend the show, which was broadcast on ABC, but his ``8 Mile″ co-star Mekhi Phifer accepted the hip-hop album prize on his behalf.

``Hey y’all, this is Eminem on the phone!″ Phifer said as he carried a cell phone onstage after the rapper’s first win.

R&B ingenue Ashanti took honors for favorite new hip-hop/R&B artist and new pop artist. She came into the competition with a leading five nominations.

She was up against Eminem in two of those categories, favorite album in both the pop/rock and hip-hop/R&B categories, and he won both.

``Definitely got to say, thank God for giving me the strength to do this,″ said Ashanti, best known for the singles ``Foolish″ and ``Happy,″ while accepting the hip-hop award.

The show, broadcast live on ABC, was hosted by the frequently foul-mouthed Ozzy Osbourne, his wife Sharon, and kids Jack and Kelly. Rarely seen daughter Aimee was billed as a presenter but was a no-show.

The Osbournes gave network censors a workout. They were bleeped so much during their opening introduction that it was hard for television viewers to understand what they were saying.

The Osbournes took the stage, bellowing and teasing former pop star couple Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears, who were sitting apart but seemed to take the kidding well.

``Why aren’t you two gorgeous people together?″ asked Sharon before quipping about Justin: ``I’m going to have to take him, Britney!″

After Sharon let slip the F-word while marveling at the size of the audience, Ozzy laughed and shouted, ``You can’t take the (bleeping) lady anywhere anymore!″

Two bands that did not attend the event had two awards each. Hard-rock band Creed was honored for favorite rock group and alternative performance, and the Dixie Chicks won for favorite country band and country album for ``Home.″

Mary J. Blige _ another absentee _ was named favorite female hip-hop artist and OutKast was chosen as favorite hip-hop group. Tim McGraw, who sang a ``Tiny Dancer″ duet with Elton John at the start of the show, left for Nashville before winning favorite male country artist.

Sheryl Crow won favorite female pop-rock artist. Wearing a T-shirt reading ``War is not the answer,″ the singer of ``Soak Up the Sun″ thanked band mates and managers before ending her speech with: ``Peace, peace this year!″

She later kept up the pro-peace talk while introducing Toby Keith and Willie Nelson, saying: ``Hey everybody, I know this is an award show but I just want to encourage everybody to get involved in some kind of movement for peace.″

``Blessed″ singer Martina McBride accepted the award for favorite female country artist and thanked her husband for staying home in Nashville with their two daughters so the youngsters didn’t have to miss school.

Alabama, which took home the award of merit, had one of its biggest fans for its presenter, former President George Bush, who made a taped announcement.

``I’m very proud to be part of tonight’s tribute honoring one of the most highly successful bands country music has ever known,″ Bush said. ``Their name tells you a lot about them: their birthplace, their close family ties, their respect for traditional artists and music, their courage to bring new ideas to country music, and most of all, their lifelong love of home, state and country.″

The Christian foursome Avalon accepted the honor for contemporary inspirational performance, with group member Jody McBrayer quipping, ``I know you don’t know who we are, but thank you.″

In an announcement before the telecast, Celine Dion won favorite adult contemporary artist and Enrique Iglesias received the Latin music award.

Among the performers was Christina Aguilera, who was modestly dressed, compared to her more recent flesh-baring outfits. Comedian David Spade introduced her by saying, ``Here she is for the first time in public with her clothes on, Christina Aguilera!″

Nominees are chosen on the basis of record sales, with winners selected by a survey of about 20,000 listeners.

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