Page last updated at 08:34 GMT, Thursday, 4 September 2008 09:34 UK

Spears to 'kick off' MTV ceremony

Britney Spears performing at the 2007 MTV Awards
The singer's 2007 performance was widely panned

Singer Britney Spears will "kick off" this year's MTV Video Music Awards (VMA) ceremony, it has been announced.

But MTV said that instead of performing at Sunday's event in Los Angeles, her appearance would feature something "fun and unexpected".

Her comeback performance of Gimme More, which opened last year's show, was widely criticised.

Meanwhile, a Los Angeles judge has refused to drop a driving without a valid licence charge against her.

I'm excited to open the entire show, to say hi to my fans and to be nominated
Britney Spears

Spears said in a statement that MTV had "long played an important role in my career".

"How can I not be there to kick off their 25th VMAs?" she added.

"I'm excited to open the entire show, to say 'hi' to my fans and to be nominated."

The singer, whose manager last month ruled out a performance at the ceremony, has been nominated for three VMAs including best video for Piece of Me.

MTV president Van Toffler said people were "rooting" for Spears.

Russell Brand and Britney Spears
Russell Brand is presenting Sunday's award ceremony

"It feels like it's her year," he added.

"It's our 25th anniversary of the VMAs and she's been such a critical piece of MTV's history."

Other performers confirmed for Sunday's show - presented by UK comedian Russell Brand - include Rihanna, Kid Rock and the Jonas Brothers.

Toffler said MTV had also been speaking to Michael Jackson about a possible appearance but added: "I don't know if that's going to happen."

Driving charge

Meanwhile, a judge has ruled that Spears will face a charge of driving without a valid licence.

The singer's lawyers had argued that Spears was being targeted because she was a celebrity and would otherwise have been given a fine.

The ruling means she could go on trial in October.

The case stems from an incident in August 2007 when she hit a parked car and left without alerting the owner.

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