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Cover Story : Traveling Along The Mtv Time Line ...

July 28, 1991|CHRIS WILLMAN | Chris Willman is a regular contributor to The Times


January: You get your money for nothing and your chicks for $550 million. . . . Viacom takes over ownership of MTV and sister channels VH-1 and Nickelodeon, at a reported price of more than half a billion dollars.

May 30: "Logan's Run" redux. . . . The changing of the guard begins with MTV's first new veejay since 1981, "Downtown" Julie Brown. Meanwhile, Nina Blackwood and J. J. Jackson are the first of the original veejays to quit or be "retired."


Aug. 1: Marking the beginning of a wave of new imperialism, MTV Europe is launched.

Aug. 31: "Club MTV"--basically "American Bandstand" with more cleavage and Lycra--hits the air, giving recent acquisition "Downtown" Julie Brown a purpose in life.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday August 4, 1991 Home Edition Calendar Page 91 Calendar Desk 1 inches; 26 words Type of Material: Correction
In last Sunday's cover stories on MTV's 10th anniversary, Jules Shear was incorrectly identified as founder of the program "MTV Unplugged." The creators were Bob Small and Jim Burns.

Dec. 7: MTV has its first game show, "Remote Control," featuring questions relating strictly to the kitsch culture of the last 30 years. Often witty almost in spite of itself, the high-energy show is especially popular in European countries where watching Americans being foolish and shallow is a spectator sport.

Winter: "Thriller" is no longer the only video preceded by a disclaimer. MTV agrees to air George Michael's controversial "I Want Your Sex" after the singer agrees to tape a pro-monogamy prologue stating that wanting too much sex can have "deadly" consequences.


Feb. 12: Former Rolling Stone critic and rock journalist Kurt Loder joins MTV as "news" anchorman, boosting the channel's credibility even as he suffers the slings and arrows of his video-phobic peers.

Aug. 6: It's the end of an era as MTV, once accused of racism, debuts the weekly "Yo! MTV Raps," which soon goes nightly and becomes one of its most popular shows.

Sept. 7: Arsenio Hall takes over as host of the annual MTV Video Music Awards, which now are broadcast from the Universal Amphitheatre.

November: Just how common a cliche is the "MTV-style musical montage" in movies now? So common that when the comedy film "The Naked Gun" features one, set to the oldie "(I'm Into) Something Good," it actually concludes with the famous white-print credit block in the lower left-hand corner of the screen.


Feb. 14: Martha Quinn is the first original veejay to return to the network post-banishment, brought back as host of "Classic MTV," a nostalgic show featuring antiquated clips from the olden days of music video (i.e., a few years earlier).

June 29: The dance-oriented "Club MTV" national tour begins. This is the infamous "live" revue during which Milli Vanilli's tape sputtered and quit one night, leaving the luckless lads to lip-sync to nothing but the curious stares of uncomprehending 13-year-olds in bustiers. With the notable exception of Was (Not Was), the other acts on the Club MTV tour lineup--including not-quite-yet-a-superstar Paula Abdul--are also reported to be miming to backing tracks.

Fall: Martha Quinn joins the cast of "The Bradys," the long-awaited sequel to "The Brady Bunch," as Mrs. Bobby Brady (in contrast to her former real-life role as girlfriend of punk pioneer Stiv Bators).

Sept. 6: Performing on the MTV Video Music Awards show, Andrew Dice Clay gets in trouble for saying naughty words--surprise! Show producer Dick Clark comes out on the Universal stage (out of camera range) and glares at him, but Clay doesn't quit. This gets him banned from the channel "for life." As a result, the "Cradle of Love" video--a clip incorporating numerous shots from Clay's "Adventures of Ford Fairlane" film--is later aired with all shots of Clay edited out, making it appear as if it's promoting a movie with Wayne Newton in the lead role.

Also, during the same telecast, a popular male singer drops and quickly snatches up what appears to be a vial, fueling widespread rumors about a drug problem.

Fall: Motorcycle-riding money magnate Malcolm Forbes tapes an MTV promo, discussing how watching the channel as he gets up in the morning and prepares for his day keeps him young and vital. Upon his demise in February, of course, the spot is removed from the air.


Jan. 21: "MTV Unplugged" premieres as an acoustic outlet geared toward cult artists, founded by cult artist Jules Shear, who will soon step aside as host as the show takes on bigger proportions. Eventually, this becomes the half-hour that everyone wants to do; the future guest list includes Elton John, Sting, Don Henley, R.E.M., Elvis Costello, Aerosmith and L.L. Cool J.

February: The unbearable lightness of beat music . . . MTV Europe launches in Czechoslovakia and Poland.

Winter: Veejay "Downtown" Julie Brown is seen being squired about town by pug Billy Idol.

June 4: Surfer lingo-laden "Totally Pauly" premieres, giving nightly forum to the sub-Bill-'n'-Ted-isms of Jeff Spicoli clone Pauly Shore, self-consciously vacant son of L.A. comedy club entrepreneur Mitzi Shore. The show is a hit and spawns a mildly successful Shore comedy album in 1991.

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