Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Cover Story

Making It on MTV : A LOOK AT THE FRESH CROP OF VJS WHO TALK THE TALK AND HOPE THEIR NEXT JOB IS EVEN MORE HIGH-PROFILE

August 28, 1994|N.F. MENDOZA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

You want your MTV.

And audiences have wanted it enough to catapult many MTV VJs into celebrityhood.

Basic formula for stardom: If they stand out, they're a success.

Many we have known have become well known. Cindy's on TV commercials and magazines. Daisy's a Revlon girl and has a CNBC talk show. Bill's gonna jam with his stand-up on Showtime. Eric lived in "The Real World" in its first season. Kennedy, who started at L.A.'s KROQ radio station, recently was named one of the women Esquire does not love. Tabitha talked to President Clinton. Dr. Dre and Ed Lover got a movie deal out of it. Dan chows down in Burger King commercials, searched for his soul on "Route 66" and hounded hoods on "Traps."

But MTV has new blood in its sinewy 13-year-old veins, with a new breed of VJs looking to invade that popular music-vid territory.

Naturally, MTV execs hope the new guys and gals on the rock block will follow in their more illustrious predecessors' footsteps.

But just how does one become a beacon of light for the MTV generation? As Joel Stillerman, an MTV production vice president, explains it, the most important aspect is the least tangible, and probably the most obvious: star quality.

"We're looking for someone who really jumps off the screen," he says from his New York office. "And they're the hardest to find. But I think we've done a good job so far."

The ones who do get the jobs, he emphasizes, are "the ones who bring a different mentality to it. If we do our jobs right (in selecting them), they're the ones who stand out. They become well-known in a short period of time."

MTV also wants dynamos who are fun, attractive and knowledgeable about music.

"There's no secret formula," adds Doug Herzog, senior vice president of programming. "It's an ongoing effort. We turn over every rock."

The latest finds: John Sencio, Ed Marques and Idalis.

Each brings a different edge, a unique side for the restless MTV audience.

John Sencio, 24, winner of last fall's MTV VJ search, first appeared on the network last Thanksgiving. The day before he was still working two jobs: a day job in the media department at Harvard University and his four-year night position as a doorman at the Hard Rock Cafe in Boston. On a lark, he made a quick tape. Two weeks later he got a call that he had the job. "I really thought it was a friend joking around," he says. He calls the unexpected stroke of luck "very bizarre, that divine finger at play." One day, "I was holding a door open for people and the next I was in 60 million homes."

Stillerman describes Sencio as "the guy who got sucked into the other side of the TV set. He epitomizes a lot about our audience that makes him very relatable. He's funny, he loves MTV and wants nothing more than to be on it on a daily basis, and that shows. He's Every Guy, he's not over the top. He's someone you'd hang with. He's got a friendly quality."

Sencio "has a very credible way of talking to the audience and makes his points in a very laid-back way," Herzog adds.

Ed Marques, on the other hand, talks to the audience in an often rambling, but always cerebral, mishmash that viewers seem to have glommed onto. The 31-year-old San Francisco native and stand-up comedian first appeared on the network as host of the comedy special "Comikaze," which eventually led to his current contract. He's been a VJ for nearly five months, but has quickly established his self-described "bizarre personal sociological experiments" on camera. If Ed's depressed, he'll tell you. If Ed's tired, he'll tell you. If Ed has something on his mind . . . well, you know the rest.

Stillerman describes Marques as "a little darker than the average MTV on-air personality. He brings a really twisted point of view to things. He's appreciated, in part, I think because he's the antithesis of that sort of 'frat mentality.' He's not a 'whoo-whoo' kind of guy. He's just very cerebral and gives you food for thought. But he still makes you laugh."

Newest VJ Idalis is "super fun and super enthusiastic," Stillerman says. "The party follows her wherever she goes. It's very hard to be bummed out around Idalis. She brings a smile out of anyone and functions best in a party-like atmosphere."

Good thing she likes parties, because she--and Sencio and Marques--have spent much of their tenure at party central: MTV's Beach House in the Hamptons, where the network has aired most of its programming during the summer and continues to do so through Labor Day.

Without specific set assignments, all three VJs, who currently have a very high profile, introduce videos and also host the various video shows "Rude Awakening," "MTV Blocks," "Prime Time," "Most Wanted" and "MTV Jams." That's a major difference in what's required of Sencio, Marques and Idalis and what was required of their predecessors.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|