The Biz: Secrets of MTV
Vintage MTV logo
Before The Real World, The Hills and Snooki, the M in MTV stood for music. In their new book, I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution, journalists Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum look back on the cable channel's halcyon days of the 1980s and early '90s, when it became a trend-setting, star-making machine for the recording industry. The book is based on interviews with 400 executives and performers who witnessed the era of excess, experimentation and hair bands. Here are a few nuggets.
1. The slogan "I Want My MTV" was based on an old ad campaign for hot cereal ("I want my Maypo"). But it worked, as teenagers would call cable companies and imitate Mick Jagger's reading of the line.
2. VJs were required to identify Michael Jackson as "The King of Pop" at least twice a week. To coax Jackson into appearing on an anniversary show, he was given an award in the form of a six-foot statue of the MTV Moon Man.
3. VJ "Downtown" Julie Brown flashed people on the set whenever she felt the energy was lagging. Said producer Alex Colletti, "I can't tell you how many times I saw her knickers."
4. Van Halen lead singer David Lee Roth was once hospitalized after smashing his television because he was so anguished that MTV reduced the airplay of one the band's videos.
5. The first VMAs did not have a seven-second delay and the F-word was used early and often.
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