The video: Fresh out of alcohol rehab and a 13-day stint in a California prison for violating her probation, actress Lindsay Lohan popped up in a surprise appearance during the opening of the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday. (Watch below.) In a pre-recorded skit with the show's host, Chelsea Handler, a self-deprecating Lohan confronts Handler backstage and "angrily" demands to know if she's been drinking. "You're a mess," says Lohan as Handler denies the charge. "Do you think anyone wants to work with a drunk? Take it from me, they don't."
The reaction: "This surprise cameo is all part the new Hollywood forgiveness pact with the public," says Bryan Alexander in NBC New York: "Screw up and then make fun of the screw-up as soon as possible on television." Unfortunately, Lohan's mock-anger came across forced, excessive, and "off-color." Against my better judgment, counters Jennifer Armstrong at Entertainment Weekly, I found Lohan's first step towards pop cultural redemption "heartwarming." And she "got to step in and save Handler's opening from awkwardness... when's the last time Lohan actually got to save something?" Watch the clip: