Eminem wins (bleeping) American Music Awards

With the Ozzy Osbourne clan playing host, perhaps it was no surprise that foulmouthed rapper Eminem was the big winner at the 30th American Music Awards, broadcast Monday night on ABC from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

Although he wasn’t there to collect any of his pointy pyramid prizes, the Detroit phenom won favorite pop/rock male artist, pop/rock album, hip hop/R&B male artist and hip hop/R&B album. Several other honorees weren’t on hand, including multiple winners the Dixie Chicks and Creed, who each won two awards.

The oddest no-show was Tim McGraw, who began the show singing “Tiny Dancer” with Elton John but was headed “back home to Nashville” by the time his favorite country male artist award was announced.

R&B diva Ashanti began with the most nominations – six – and quickly picked up her first award, for favorite new hip hop/R&B artist. Later, she was named favorite new pop/rock artist, but got nothing else.

They didn’t win any awards, but the Osbournes gave a vivid, if heavily censored, turn as presenters. The family’s infamous predilection for profanity frequently threatened to swamp the show with silence. Rather than the artfully bleeped dialogue of their MTV show, ABC censors just turned down the volume each time they swore, resulting in long, unintelligible gaps.

But one clean gag had immediate impact, when Sharon Osbourne threw gasoline on the scorched relationship of former cute couple Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake.

“Why aren’t you two gorgeous people together?” she asked as Jack and Kelly Osbourne perched themselves on the estranged lovers’ laps. “I’m going to have to take him, Britney.”

The night’s other winners included Sheryl Crow – who made several anti-war statements – for favorite female pop/rock artist; Outkast, named favorite hip hop/R&B group, and Martina McBride, who took favorite female country artist. Country rockers Alabama were given a lifetime Award of Merit, which included accolades from former President George Bush, who described himself as “a longtime country music fan.”

AMA nominees are selected from the Radio & Records and SoundScan sales, and radio airplay charts. A mail survey of 20,000 households determines the winners.

Among the performers were Mariah Carey, Ja Rule and Bobby Brown, Christina Aguilera and Nickelback. Carey earned a long ovation for “Through the Rain,” a song about surviving her well-publicized emotional breakdown last year.

Sharon Osbourne later made up with Timberlake when she asked him to kiss Mini, her tiny Pomeranian.

Timberlake agreed, but then Sharon flubbed the introduction of the favorite pop/rock band nominees. “I’ve already opened the envelope,” she announced. “I know who it is. It’s Creed. Nuts.”