SECURITY teams are patrolling the venue of the MTV music awards around the clock as workers race against time to transform a virtual building site into a glittering showpiece for some of the world’s best-known celebrities.
Dozens of guards are monitoring the tented stage at Leith’s Western Harbour which on Thursday night will play host to stars such as Kylie Minogue, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake.
The Big Top-style tent from where the ceremony will be transmitted to a television audience of one billion had yesterday taken on a recognisable shape, but rigging equipment, scaffolding and dozens of harassed workmen littered the area.
"We will be lucky if we get it completed in time," laughed one workman. One member of the MTV crew also admitted some technical aspects of the event had yet to be sorted out. "We don’t know how many cameras will be used," he said. "They have yet to arrive here."
Tom Wood, deputy chief constable of Lothian and Borders Police, who will be in charge of the police operation on the night, said the drugs squad was not planning to raid the awards despite the reputations of some of the assembled musicians and recording industry moguls.
However he added: "The law is no different for them as it is for anyone else. Just because they are from Hollywood doesn’t make any difference whatsoever.
"We will police accordingly but I’m not going to discuss any detail of operational plans that we have.
"Our job and our role is to make the event go smoothly just like Hogmanay and the Tall Ships events go smoothly."
Workmen at the Edinburgh site are not the only ones preparing for a night of unprecedented glamour for the capital. Nose to tail stretch limos carrying some of the world’s biggest stars may be an everyday sight on Sunset Boulevard, but for one night only Leith Walk and Princes Street will enjoy some Hollywood-style glamour as more than 100 limos criss-cross the city carrying the bevvy of stars.
Limo drivers throughout Scotland have been drafted in for the event, and they are booked solid until the early hours of next Friday morning in order that their celebrity cargo can drop in at as many after-show parties as they want.
The stars’ movements after the awards ceremony itself might be the best chance for celebrity-spotters to catch a glimpse of their favourite chart-topper.
Immediately afterwards, the stars and their guests are expected to attend a major party in the bars and restaurants at nearby Ocean Terminal. A "brandy" bar is being set up to slake their thirst.
They are then expected to move on to other parties being held throughout the city.
One man who will be busy is Ted Lewis, operations manager of Charlton Chauffeur Drive, who said some 120 cars will be at the beck and call of the stars, including six stretch limos, Bentleys, Range Rovers and top of the range Mercedes.
"Most of our vehicles have been booked from midday to four in the morning, so there will be lots of people going to parties," he said. "You can imagine Scotland’s not that huge on chauffeur driving and we’ve pulled in people from all over the place, from Glasgow, Ayrshire and obviously a lot from Edinburgh."
However one star who will not be in the back of a car is Beyonc. "I heard she is going to ship some sort of A8 Audi from Europe," Lewis said. Lesser stars will find themselves taking the bus along with MTV staff from across Europe, staff from companies which are sponsoring the event and members of the music press.
Morag Cormack, of Creative Travel Connections, which is organising the coaches, said: "It’s all very exciting. We’re taking care of various guests, groups of MTV staff from different countries like MTV Sweden and France and some of the support groups who are entertaining, but I don’t want to say too much in case I get myself into trouble."
The title of hottest after-show party is likely to be contested by the N.E.R.D. gig at the city’s Corn Exchange and DJ Trevor Nelson’s bash at the City nightclub in Market Street.
N.E.R.D.’s Pharrell Williams, who is presenting an award at the MTV ceremony, is considered to be one of the hottest producers on the planet and is the man credited with making Justin Timberlake cool. He has also worked with Britney Spears. Kylie is known to be a major fan.
A spokesman for N.E.R.D.’s record label EMI said the concert was certain to attract a large number of EMI staff, although he refused to be drawn on whether any stars would also be in attendance.
"It’s sort of a gig but it’s also a party mixed in to be honest," a spokesman said. "I’m sure the majority of EMI people will be attending that and it will turn into a bit of a party. But I’ve no idea if Kylie will be going and wouldn’t tell you if I did know."
Nelson, who will be supported by DJs Dodge and Hanif, previously hosted the wildly-successful post-MTV Awards’ parties in Dublin in 1999 and Stockholm in 2000.
These attracted the likes of Robbie Williams, Wyclef Jean, Jennifer Lopez, Missy Elliott and P Diddy.
Stylist and socialite Kelly Cooper Barr said: "Normally what happens after these MTV Awards is there are so many parties that this ‘party-hopping’ thing goes on. "Who knows who may pop in for a minute. It just depends on the celebrities on the night. I can remember being involved in an Oasis party. They didn’t even show up and went to someone else’s house party instead."
At the event itself the select few who will be allowed into the award ceremony’s inner sanctum will be pampered by Harvey Nichols, the top people’s shop, which will be offering complimentary champagne in a specially-constructed mini-store.
There the stars and their entourages will be able to get stress massages and their hair done while buying luxury goods and using a hotline to the main store in central Edinburgh.
Limos will be on hand either to bring clothes down to the MTV arena or to transport them up Leith Walk to the city centre. They will have use of a "secret" entrance in the store’s underground car-park so they can avoid celebrity hunters staking out the front entrance.
Harvey Nichols has also created a special cocktail to encourage the party atmosphere surrounding the awards, which will be broadcast to a potential audience of one billion people worldwide on Thursday and subsequent nights.
The event is a major boost for the contractors hired to provide services, and for the city’s hospitality industry. Around 8,000 beds in 31 hotels have been booked for those attending. Star gazers should head for the Sheraton, the Balmoral and the Glasshouse, at the top of Leith Walk, where some of the top acts and presenters are believed to be staying.
The awards ceremony itself has been the hottest ticket in town. Most of the 34-per-head seats in the temporary auditorium were taken by the four sponsors and the music industry and its guests. Those released to the public by MTV were snapped up within minutes.
Of course, there will be special guests from Scotland, including senior members of the Scottish Executive.
The official entourage will include Jack McConnell, the First Minister, along with his wife Bridget and their two children. They will be joined by Jim Wallace, the Deputy First Minister, who is expected to bring along one of his daughters, and culture minister Frank McAveety, along with his partner. In addition, the Executive will also send along three civil servants. The lucky trio will consist of two press officers and the Executive’s special adviser on tourism.
Thousands of ordinary mortals will have to make do with the free MTV Princes Street Gardens concert, organised by Pete Irvine, the Scottish events entrepreneur behind the world-famous Hogmanay celebrations. There were complaints last week when tickets were being distributed that local people were being excluded in favour of sponsors’ guests.
Those disappointed at not getting tickets for the awards, the Princes Street concert or the after-show parties should be consoled by Irvine.
"At the end of the day it’s just a TV show," he said. "And the best place to watch a TV show is at home with your mates with a bottle of lager. That’s my advice although I’m not sticking to it. I’m going to everything."