Madonna dans "Pop Up Video" de VH1 en septembre 2011.
Last Updated: 12:29 AM, June 2, 2011
Posted: 9:41 PM, June 1, 2011
VH1 is bringing back "Pop Up Video," which last aired in 2002. Its iconic "word bubbles" spread to other shows, including this 2000 episode of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."
Sometimes, television (and its network executives) get it right -- and revive a worthy series whose absence from the pop-culture landscape has been missed.
I'm referring here to VH1's "Pop Up Video," which will return with fresh episodes this fall (probably September) after a nine-year absence.
VH1 has ordered 60 new episodes of the iconic series, in which music videos are adorned with "word bubbles" containing pithy trivia facts about that particular video shoot.
The series was a big hit the first time around (1996-2002), and Woody Thompson (who co-created the series with Tad Low) is back on board for the "Pop Up Video" revival, which is produced by his company, Eyeboogie.
Thompson says that, this time around, "Pop Up Video" will expand the range of videos it "pops" each week to include rap and hip hop.
"Back in the day, when [then-VH1 president] John Sykes bought the original series, VH1 was playing a lot of Boyz II Men and Michael Bolton and Gloria Estefan [videos] so we had to steer clear of rap and hip hop," Thompson says. "We were hitting what was big back then -- Alanis Morissette, Nirvana, Creed -- and we did a ton of '80s videos . . . so we're excited to cover some of the history of rap as opposed to re-popping old Madonna and Billy Idol videos.
"This time around, we're not going to go earlier than 1995 [with the videos]," he says. "The show was always structured where the first video in the show was playing in heavy rotation [on VH1] that day, and the second video was from the year before . . . and it will be structured the same way . . . so the premiere in September will have a video that's just come out that day.
"We're trying to stay current."
Thompson says the new show won't "recycle" old videos that it covered in the past. "We have a lot of ground to cover on old videos if we wanted to -- we could 'pop' 'em a hundred different ways. But the challenge is to make it current and relevant and the first 60 [episodes] are videos we haven't 'popped' before.
"But I would love for VH1 to turn around and order 100 more episodes, so we could re-'pop' the old ones."
Shelly Tatro, VH1's senior VP of production and programming, who's an executive producer on the new "Pop Up Video" series, says that the show will look just a tad different than it did when it left the air in 2002.
"It's got a bit of a different look," she says. "We tried to refresh the graphics but it's not a huge departure from what they used to be. We've given it a contemporary look. We've tweaked the [theme] song a bit so it feels like it's been updated.
"What we didn't have back in the day was social media," Tatro says. "And now we're going to make the show more interactive with our viewers and poll them to answer questions and help us with angles of things we might not know about.
" 'Pop Up Video' was, after all, ahead of Twitter in that it had smart, quick bits of information that was spread out."
Thompson says that gathering the trivia for each video -- and all the "word bubbles" contained therein -- is no easy task.
"Back in the day, when we started, no one had really researched music videos before. There was a lot on the artists, but no one had talked to the old directors and gone frame-by-frame through each video," he says. "Now they're really excited to talk to us, since the show's been on the air for so long.
"They understand the show and what we're going after -- good and bad. Some people are wary but others are so excited because they know what it means when their video has been selected -- that it will live for 10 or 15 years on VH1 and VH1 Classic."
Thompson says that, as a rule, he won't "pop" a video until someone who was there on the set for that particular shoot has been interviewed.
"You get the backup dancer whose big break was on a Diddy video in 2002 and hasn't done anything since but tell that same story at cocktail parties," he says. "They're a gold mine of information. They saw the set on fire, saw that there were 200 extras but some hot chick was picked who had the hots for the drummer -- that kind of thing.
"We've only been up-and-running for a couple of weeks but we're finding these people -- the extras and backup dancers -- on Facebook and Twitter," he says.
"We've met with people who didn't want to speak on-the-record; there are a couple of hurdles our researchers have to get around to get great information."
Last, but not least:
* Tom Cole will produce a TV documentary based on psychic Nancy du Tertre's book, "The Skeptical Psychic." The deal's just been finalized . . . Season 4 of TV One's "Unsung" biography series kicks off this Monday (10 p.m.) with a profile of pop star Deniece Williams.