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MTV Veejays, Extras Play While 'the Folks' Are Away : Television: A Malibu beach house is the music network's summer studio, where viewers can vicariously enjoy the sun and fun.

July 11, 1995|TRACY JOHNSON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

It looks like "Risky Business" minus Tom Cruise.

A Malibu couple has left for the summer and, in their absence, their estate has been overrun by a slew of teen-agers and twentysomethings.

They've painted the white house a multicolor melange of purple, orange, red and turquoise and turned the tennis court into a parquet floor, complete with movable basketball hoops. The once barren back yard now has an above-ground swimming pool and a sand volleyball court. Vending machines with free candy and soda have been installed on the ground floor along with a Slurpie machine.

On some days in-line skaters stop by to roll on a psychedelic ramp, while budding actors mingle at a barbecue. Professional surfers showcase their talent at the beach, and it's not uncommon for a singer such as Engelbert Humperdinck to serenade the ladies lounging around the pool.

Welcome to the MTV Malibu beach house, where summer begins and ends on the music network. The 4 1/2-acre compound is the network's primary studio for the summer, and it broadcasts sun and fun daily.

The cable channel has done this twice before, but at homes in the posh New York Hamptons. This is the first time MTV has tried it on the West Coast, where the producers set out to create the illusion of a beach house whose owners take off for the summer and leave the kids with the keys to the estate, unlimited access to their bank account and permission to party.

"We wanted to create programming that viewers could live through vicariously," said Michael Bloom, supervising producer. "Taking a studio and moving it to the beach for the summer has that effect."

Located six miles north of Zuma Beach, the oceanfront estate is now home to "Alternative Nation," "MTV's Most Wanted Jams," "MTV Primetime," "The Top 20 Countdown" and a number of other video programs. Veejays Bill Bellamy, Kennedy and Idalis tape their shows from various sets on the compound, most of which are outdoors and usually feature a cast of extras recruited from the Los Angeles area via a casting hot line that MTV set up.

One such extra is Monique Gongora, a 19-year-old college student from Alhambra who beat Kennedy at Nintendo, swayed to Humperdinck's rendition of "Under the Boardwalk" and partied with "My So-Called Life's" A.J. Langer at a Fourth of July barbecue. She was tipped off to the beach house by her mom, who heard MTV was looking for extras.

"It's been a really cool experience," Gongora said. "I've met a lot of people and got a chance to be on MTV."

Gongora was having such a good time that she invited her friend, Albino Magana, to join her. They hang out around the pool, play volleyball and wait for the producers to give them something to do. One day Magana, 18, was pulled in front of the camera and asked to name the worst thing he ever did in high school.

"I told them I stole the principal's car," Magana said. "It was a lie. I couldn't believe they put the mike in front of me and let me on TV. That was so cool."

In addition to the thrill of being on television, most of the extras are awe-struck by the veejays and the MTV producers, who lounge on the living room couch playing video games and sit by the pool between segments. A big fan of Kennedy, Gongora met the veejay while hanging out in the living room. The Nintendo victory, she says, was definitely an added bonus.

While the veejays are around between shoots, rarely do they spend their free time here. The bedrooms have been turned into offices and the garage holds art supplies.

"It's a really cool place," Idalis said, "but this is the last place I want to be if I'm not working."

Some Malibu residents are unhappy about MTV's presence. Neighbors have complained of helicopter noise and worry about what one called "the element" that the cable channel attracts. The network says it has security personnel on the premises but has no control over helicopters flying in to check out the scene.

The neighbors' gripes notwithstanding, MTV producers say the Malibu estate is the "coolest compound" they've rented, but they won't reveal how much the network is spending to lease and renovate it.

There are more expenses to come. As in the movie "Risky Business," they have to restore everything to its original look when the owners return.

By Labor Day, the beach house will be gone. The parents will be home, the bank account will be empty and the kids will be grounded.

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