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MTV, VH1 Debut New Fare at TCA

7/25/1999 8:00 PM Eastern

Pasadena, Calif. -- MTV: Music Television laid out its
plans for its first slate of original movies, including a film about slain rapper Tupac
Shakur, at the recent Television Critics Association tour here.

MTV will focus on three categories for its films: movies
featuring music performances driven by distinctive sound tracks; stories based on or
inspired by real life; and movies that capture the fun and frustration of growing up at
the end of the 20th century.

MTV plans to produce four movies per year, according to
executive vice president of programming Brian Graden. "We're being very, very
selective about the stories we choose," he said.

Because MTV is doing so few made-for-TV movies, it will
premiere each one completely commercial-free, Graden added.

As for MTV's rationale for doing the films, he explained,
"We have three-minute videos and quick-cut soap operas and wild graphics to make your
head spin. But every once in a while, even we find a story that takes more than a
30-second sound bite to tell and to tell well -- a story that matters to our
audience."

MTV is slated to air its first original movie, 2GETHER,
this winter, before the end of the year. It is about an inept music mogul who is trying to
create the next hot boy band, and it spoofs behind-the-scenes music-industry politics.

Some of the other movie titles MTV has in development are: Tupac:
The Early Years
, which explores the pivotal early years of Shakur's life; Love Song,in which singer Monica makes her acting debut; Hop-Hopera, a rap version of
classic opera Carmen; The Exes, in which four ex-loves form a garage band; Anatomy
of a Hate Crime
, about the hate murder of gay student Matthew Shepard; The It Girl,
about a young woman who becomes a soap-opera star; Holding Patterns, about four
teens who re-examine their lives when the plane they were supposed to have been on
crashes; Lady in a Cage, a remake of the cult classic; Jailbait, about a
high-school jock accused of statutory rape; and Tag Team, about two losers who
become heroes when they join the pro-wrestling circuit.

MTV has also named Maggie Malina to the new position of
vice president of original movies for television, and she will oversee their development
and production.

MTV's sister network, VH1, unveiled the airdates for its
first two original movies at the TCA.

Sweetwater, a fact-based story about the trials and
tribulations of the first band to play at Woodstock, will premiere Aug. 15 at 9 p.m.,
starring Kelli Williams, Michelle Phillips, Frederic Forrest and Adam Ant. In tandem with
the movie, VH1 will also air Woodstock: Behind the Music Aug. 8 at 9 p.m.

VH1's second made-for-TV movie, Ricky Nelson: Original
Teen Idol
, will debut Aug. 22 at 9 p.m. Based on unauthorized biography Ricky
Nelson: Idol for a Generation
, the movie chronicles the life of the TV star, teen idol
and cultural icon. Its cast includes Jamey Sheridan, Sara Botsford and Gregory Calpakis.

MTV and VH1 also have some unusual original series in the
works.

After one year of development, MTV and Spiderdance Inc.
have created a daily music-trivia game show that brings TV and the Internet together, webRIOT.
Starting this October, four contestants will play the game live in MTV's Times Square
studio, along with up to 250,000 online contestants.

The MTV Online players will play live against the show's
broadcast, completely in synch with the broadcast so that the multiple-choice answers on
television and on the computer screen pop in and out at the same time.

The top 10 online players of the day will have their names
scrolled across the TV screen at the end of the show, and they will be eligible to win
prizes. MTV staged a raucous demonstration of the game with TV writers during its session
at the TCA tour.

VH1 said it will launch its first fully scripted series, Random
Play
, July 24 at 10 p.m. The half-hour series will offer fast-paced vignettes,
commentary and short films. Random Play'ssatire is based on the world of
music, and it features a group of actors and comedians. The show will also have special
celebrity appearances.

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