Friday, April 22, 2016

A Classic Reborn (?): Club MTV (1987)

Whomever wrote Wikipedia's entry on Club MTV had the start date wrong. Wikipedia claims the series launched in 1985. Wrong! It was 1987, and the show did last 5 years.

Where the armadillo that wrote it screwed up was this. VJ Kevin Seal, he of the later Sporting Fool series, hosted the pilot, but he hadn't been hired by MTV until 1987, after Alan Hunter had left. "Downtown" Julie Brown, the British beauty who was installed as hostess when the series launched, had signed on a year earlier, hired to replace both Nina Blackwood (who'd left for Entertainment Tonight) and the late JJ Jackson.

Club MTV was based at the Palladium nightclub in Manhattan, and aired as much as six days a week, airing in the early evening or late afternoon on weekdays. In a way, it was modeled after weekend dance shows like Soul Train and American Bandstand. The show was aimed at teens, but the producers allowed the ladies to dress a little more, ah, daring.

As with most MTV programming of the period, the scene would shift during March for Spring Break programming from Florida. Club MTV, like Bandstand, spawned a multi-act concert tour that became infamous for exposing the fraud that was Milli Vanilli. This came after British singer Cathy Dennis left the initial tour after a week, accusing Rob Pilatus & Fabrice Morvan, the "faces" of Milli Vanilli, of sexual harassment. A subsequent tour date was marred when the album Pilatus & Morvan were lip-syncing to started to skip, leaving "Girl You Know It's True" in a loop, forcing Milli Vanilli off the stage prematurely. You know the rest of the story.

After the series ended, it wasn't long before MTV revived it under a new title, The Grind, with Real World alumnus Eric Nies as host. Nies parlayed that into a temporary gig on Days of Our Lives, but was never heard from again after leaving Days. Of course, you know MTV, or, as it should be known today, Empty-V, doesn't give a rat's butt about music videos, making the annual awards show irrelevant. Right?

Anyway, here's an episode of Club MTV from 1991, headlined by Marky Mark (Mark Wahlberg) and the Funky Bunch. Mark's brother, Donnie (now on Blue Bloods when not fronting a reality show with wife Jenny McCarthy), is along for the ride.

Julie Brown would eventually appear in a Paula Abdul music video ("Knocked Out"), and left MTV soon after Club MTV was cancelled. I think she's doing a satellite radio show these days, something it seems almost all of the ex-VJ's are doing.

Rating: A-.

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