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'Zoo TV': U2's Principles Minus Band's Principals

June 30, 1996|Steve Hochman

Don't look for U2 in the television series called "Zoo TV."

The Irish band named the show and gave the series its concept--a magazine format examining elements of popular culture and politics. The group even provided much of the financial backing for "Zoo TV."

But U2 is not appearing in it.

"They made the point from the very beginning that it's to be a stand-alone project, not a vehicle for U2," says Roger Trilling, creative director of the series, which is being produced by Hollywood-based Palomar Pictures. "But if the ideas and attitudes of the 'Zoo TV' tour were a news magazine, this is it."

That 1992-93 U2 concert tour was a multimedia circus featuring banks of TV screens blaring out a barrage of social/political images and slogans. Singer Bono took the role of a slick, self-obsessed, slightly satanic salesman.

"These shows are all about salesmanship in a way," says Trilling of the three pilot episodes that are being finished now. "They're about bad ideas that we're being sold. One deals with TV, a second with medicine and the third with youth culture. The segments in each show stand by themselves, but together present an unfolding take on the issue."

The three episodes will be delivered to MTV, which is co-funding the project with PolyGram and U2, next month. Though MTV has made no official commitment to air the shows, it's expected that they will be shown in the fall, around the time U2's next album is scheduled for release. If it's a success, more shows could be ordered in time to air during U2's world tour, which is currently slated to start in the U.S. next April.

The show has actually been in development for more than two years, resulting from discussions the band began during the "Zoo TV" tour. U2 then formed a joint venture with PolyGram and MTV to finance it. But once the production team of Steve Schiff, Josh Greenberg, Andy Schatzberg and Trilling was assembled, U2 took a hands-off approach.

But the band's manager says that from what he's seen, the original concept has been served.

"I'm pleased with the way the shows look, so far," says Paul McGuinness. "They take the idea of 'Zoo TV' and run with it--extend it, really."

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