Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Mugshot

How did Lindsay Lohan end up in Chelsea Handler's opening skit of last night's MTV Video Music Awards?

Source tells us that MTV producers pitched the idea to LiLo last week.…

She signed on after she consulted with manager Larry Rudolph.

Lohan agreed to describe herself as a "drunk" in the skit as long as show host Handler said, "You turned your life around, maybe I can, too." Lohan had never met the E!'s late-night chat show host before they taped the segment on Friday, but we're told she was well aware that Handler has been pretty harsh about her and the rest of the Lohan bunch.

As we were the first to tell you, Lohan's appearance was to be a surprise, but buzz began after she was spotted she Handler were spotted together on Friday at the Nokia Theater Live. (Lohan vamoosed after the taping, and headed back to Long Island to spend the weekend with her family.)

Who else did producers try to get for the show? Paris Hilton!

"They really wanted her, but Paris was too scared ," a source said. "She was afraid of what Chelsea would say about her. She thought Chelsea would rip her apart."

Hilton is no stranger to being the target of an MTV awards show host's crude jokes. In June 2007, she was in the audience at the Movie Awards when Sarah Silverman took a swipe at her then upcoming jail sentence, saying guards were going to make her feel more comfortable by painting the bars like penises. "I just worry she's going to break her teeth on those things," Silverman cracked.

Just hours later, Hilton turned herself in to begin her infamous jail sentence.

The hotel heiress was recently arrested in Las Vegas for possession of cocaine, allegedly telling cops it didn't belong to her and she thought it was gum when she first saw it.

Another source close to Hilton says if she was approached by MTV, she probably didn't even consider it. "She's taking the Vegas thing very seriously," the source said.

Avoiding Handler and the VMAs was probably the smartest decision Hilton has made in a long time. Her rep declined to comment.

P.S.: Hilton's one-time maybe makeout partner, Hard Times of RJ Berger star Paul Iacono, is staying clear of her latest run-in with the law. "I'm a virgin and I've never tasted alcohol in my life, so all of those vices are foreign me," he said, while keeping a straight face on the VMAs red white carpet. "But I wish her the best and I hope she's doing well."

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