It was a night in music nobody will ever forget.
The 2009 MTV Video Music Awards continues to spark conversation not for its live performances, but for one infamous moment: when Kanye West rushed the stage during Taylor Swift's acceptance speech, grabbed her mic and declared "Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time." It was the spark that lit a feud between West and Swift that continues to get buzz to this day.
Ten years later, former producers, journalists and music executives are speaking out to Billboard about all the juicy behind-the-scenes details we didn't see play out on-screen.
According to former MTV News correspondent and producer Jim Cantiello, West was supposed to be seated "several rows back," but producers moved him up front at the last minute.
"I cracked a joke like, 'Jeeeez, who decided to put Kanye alllllll the way back here? Who did he piss off at MTV? He's not gonna be happy about this. Somebody's gonna get fired,' " Cantiello said in the article published Wednesday. "And then the morning of the VMAs, the producers realized that they didn't have enough men towards the front of the theater for cutaways. So at the eleventh hour, they moved Kanye up towards the front."
After Kanye's interruption, former Viacom president Van Toffler recalled consoling a crying Beyonce backstage – which gave him the idea of how to make things right.
"I walk behind the stage – and sure enough there is Beyoncé and her dad, and she is crying. She was like, 'I didn't know this was going to happen, I feel so bad for her,' " he said. "And that's when it started to click in my head, and maybe hers, about potentially having the whole arc play out in that one night."
So Toffler did something he didn't think he would have to do: He hinted that she would win an award before the official announcement was made.
"At some point I let her know that she was probably going to be up on the podium at the end of the show for an award," he said. "And wouldn’t it be nice to have Taylor come up and have her moment then? I had to indicate to her that she needed to stay, and perhaps this is a way to have this come full circle and let (Taylor) have her moment. I would normally not say anything, but I had two crying artists."
Toffler then ran the idea by Swift, her mom and her then-record label's CEO Scott Borchetta – and they approved.
"I had to go back to Taylor and Scott and her mom and say, 'This is what could potentially happen at the end of the evening and you can have your moment to do your speech,' " he said. "There was a lot of begging, but fortunately she agreed to stay, and Beyoncé agreed to do a wonderfully gracious thing. So the Shakespearean arc played out over the course of the evening."
Toffler said Borchetta thought the incident worked out in the young artist's favor.
"In my conversation with Scott Borchetta the next day after I called to apologize," he said. "He’s like 'Van, here’s the thing about it: yesterday most of the country had no idea who Taylor Swift was. Today, Oprah Winfrey sent her flowers this morning and asked if she could talk to her.' It felt like, 'Wow, If I could have 10 of those a show going forward and didn't know about it I'd sure love that!' "
USA TODAY has reached out to MTV for comment.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Taylor Swift, Kanye West VMA moment fallout: Beyonce make-up staged