NEW YORK (AP) — Even if the hotly rumored 'N Sync reunion doesn't happen, the MTV Video Music Awards are already shaping up as Justin Timberlake's night.
The lead nominee — with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis — is up for six awards. Timberlake also will be honored with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, and the anticipation over whether he and his old boy-band cronies will appear together will persist well after the show kicks off Sunday night from Brooklyn.
MTV is officially mum, neither confirming nor denying the rumor, and Joey Fatone has even denied it officially. But 'N Sync debuted a Twitter account Saturday, and the hubbub has overshadowed what will be an all-star lineup at the Barclays Center.
Timberlake joked in the pre-recorded segment that the Vanguard is the, "the you got old award," then listed several previous winners.
"I don't feel like I'm worthy of it, but I'm not going to pass it up," Timberlake said.
Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Drake will perform hit singles for the first time, and Robin Thicke, Miley Cyrus and Daft Punk — who arrived on the red carpet to pose with their gold and silver masks — square off in a song-of-the-summer competition. But 'N Sync has managed to steal the thunder.
"We're just hoping we're not doing anything after them because anything after 'N Sync this year is going to be irrelevant," One Direction's Harry Styles said.
One Direction didn't give any clues about its role, and MTV has kept many details about the two-hour show under wraps. Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, A$AP Rocky, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jared Leto and last year's host Kevin Hart (MTV has chosen to go without a host this year) are scheduled to participate, and former NBA player Jason Collins, who recently acknowledged he is gay, will introduce Macklemore and Lewis' marriage equality anthem "Same Love."
The Seattle duo is the surprise of the year and is up for six awards, as Timberlake is. The Seattle rap crew has the top song from the first half of 2013, "Thrift Shop" featuring Wanz, one of five songs up for the top honor: video of the year.
Timberlake — who's won seven moonman trophies — has the year's best-selling album, "The 20/20 Experience," and his follow-up "The 20/20 Experience: 2 of 2," is due out in September. His "Mirrors" is up for video of the year. Thicke's "Blurred Lines" featuring T.I. and Pharrell, Bruno Mars' "Locked Out of Heaven" and Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble" round out the category.
Mars, Cyrus and Thicke have the next-highest number of nominations, with four. Pink and Thirty Seconds to Mars have three apiece.
Stars began arriving on the red carpet early Sunday evening. Katy Perry wore a bejeweled grill bearing the name of her single "Roar," and got a kiss from Richard Simmons. Pharrell rode the carpet with a crew of BMX bikers. And Gaga managed to cause a stir by strolling the wrong way down the carpet in a black leather dress. She's kicking off the show with "Applause," the first single from her new album "ARTPOP," but wasn't ready to spill any details during MTV's pre-show telecast.
"I don't want to give anything away, but it's going to be awesome," Lady Gaga said. "We've been rehearsing for a while, and I'm so excited for the fans to see it. It's going to be a great show."
The show travels to Brooklyn and the brand new Barclays Center for the first time, which should change its vibe. It also will change the iconic moonman trophy. MTV commissioned Brooklyn artist KAWS to redesign the statuette for this year's show.
Follow AP Music Writer Chris Talbott: http://twitter.com/Chris_Talbott.