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MTV's Video Music Awards are hot. Literally. It feels like 100 degrees on the red carpet here on the Paramount lot in Hollywood.

But the hot topic for the day: Britney Spears! Will she walk the carpet? Is she going to perform? Or, perhaps, is she going to open the show atop an elephant?

Yes, there is an elephant being hosed down outside the awards. And remember, there was an elephant in Spears' and host Russell Brand's promo spots for the show, as in "the elephant in the room."

The red carpet is now rolling. Read on for all the highlights...

Smooching Britney?
It's 5:45. I gotta run to Stage 16, where the awards are taking place. Only six minutes to showtime!

The audience warm-up guy gives a shout-out to Jordin Sparks as she makes her way to her seat. There's Nicky Hilton looking A LOT like her sister, Paris.

Just three minutes to go. John Legend takes his seat at the side of the stage. Britney is gonna be startin' the show. "We have a huge guest opening the show," the audience warm-up guy says. "Give her a huge ovation."

OMG! The show is opening with a video of Jonah Hill and Britney! He's trying to convince her to kiss him so she can relax! As if.

And now the real Britney in the flesh. She looks amazing, in a short silver dress, and gets the night started right: "This is the 25th annual VMAs."

Opening act is Rihanna, performing "Disturbia." The show is on. I'm outta here, but rewind the red carpet by reading on.

Vamping with the Vampires
5:00...Twilight rules! Taylor Lautner, who plays Jacob in the upcoming vampire flick, isn't exactly used to the attention he and the movie have been getting. A fan recently sent him a woman's thong emblazoned with "Team Taylor."

He got a bigger taste of the pandemonium at Comic-Con. "It was a little scary," he says. "I was backstage and hearing the roar of 6,500 fans."

Meanwhile, Rob Pattinson, who stars as Edward in Twilight, is a bit surprised MTV chose fellow Brit Russell Brand to host the awards, but he's looking forward to the bad-boy comic. "You just know he's going to do something controversial," Pattinson says. (I promise to have more from the Twilight guys tomorrow).

McLovin' It
Someone is screaming from across the carpet, "Is that McLovin?"

Yup, it is!

McLovin screams back, "Is that Chris Brown?"

Yup, it is. They shake hands. They do the one-arm bromance embrace.

4:50...Corbin Bleu from High School Musical says the tween world is going to get some old-school musical lessons when the third installment of HSM is released next month. One number in the flick is inspired by the late legendary Chicago choreographer Bob Fosse. "That's what's so great about High School Musical," Bleu says. "It's musical theater for this generation."

Redstone, or Red Herring?
4:40...Viacom honcho Sumner Redstone just insisted to me that it's not up to him if Tom Cruise reunites with his former longtime home studio, Paramount. "I think he's a great actor, but that's up to Brad [Grey] and others at the studio," Redstone said. "I don't make those decisions."

Oh, and get this. He's trying to convince me that he doesn't necessarily know if Britney is performing tonight! "Sometimes they don't even tell the boss," he said.

Janet Jackson's VIP Lingerie Show
4:26...Jermaine Dupri says he's not sweatin' it on the carpet despite wearing a tie and vest. "When you're hot, you're cool," he says with a laugh.

Yes, he'll be joining girlfriend Janet Jackson on her new tour, which kicks off Wednesday in Vancouver. But no gifts to wish her good luck. "Just hugs and kisses," he says.

So what about that new lingerie line, has he seen any of it?

"She models it for me all the time," Dupri says with another laugh.

Pachyderm Particulars
The elephant's name is Tai. The elephant is female. She's 40 years old. She isn't for Britney. Rapper T-Pain in a huge red top hat (channeling his inner Bootsy) actually arrives on the elephant (see photo above).

Not Real Britney, Real World Britney
It's 3:10 p.m. and the first "celebrities" walk onto the carpet. But who are they? Um, cast members from Real World Hollywood: Britney, Joey, Will and Nick.

I wouldn't usually wanna talk to them, but it's getting a bit boring on the carpet, so why not? Maybe they've seen the real Britney...

Well, they haven't. Britney (the Real World one) wants Spears to perform. "I love Britney," Britney says. "I love her music. I love everything about her."

Nick, on the other hand, thinks Kanye West will be quite upset if Spears performs because she'll definitely take the focus away from his closing-show number. "Kanye will cry like a girl," Nick says.

The carpet is hardly rockin' but there's Mel B. She's in a short little sparkly dress and matching killer heels. Looks like she's still got her Dancing With the Stars body. Her husband must be melting. He's in a full suit and tie.

Stephanie Pratt is here. She looks way Amanda Bynes. Unbelievably, Pratt is not doing any press. Excuse me? Stephanie friggin' Pratt ain't talkin'! What in the world is going on?

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