Building on formulas that have proven successful in the
past, VH1 is introducing seven new series, the first of which bowed last week. The others
will come on through the first quarter of next year.
"It's more of what works," said Jeff Gaspin,
VH1's executive vice president of programming and production.
With the new series, VH1 is "tapping into the past 50
years or so of rock 'n' roll both reverently and irreverently," Gaspin said, by both
providing information to viewers and "being great storytellers."
The first of the new shows, Needle Drop, debuted
last Wednesday, Nov. 17. It's a sampler show that gives viewers fast snippets of 30 music
videos in 30 minutes, offering a quick peek at the week's best offerings.
"It tells viewers what the most popular songs are, the
ones that are getting a lot of radio play," Gaspin said.
VH1's new program slate also includes For the Record and
Rock's Greatest, two new shows that were meant to be just one series. For the
Record, set to debut next spring, is a one-hour magazine show that will focus on two
or three landmark events in rock 'n' roll history in each themed episode, Gaspin said.
For the Record aims to be in the tradition of Behind
the Music, but will key on events, not performers.
"They've been consistent with what they're trying to
do, moving away from videos and staying with music," said Ellen Oppenheim, senior
vice president and media director for Foote, Cone & Belding. "It's a smart
A sample episode of For the Record is "Good
Concerts Gone Bad," which will chronicle a 1979 concert by The Who in Cincinnati, at
which 11 people were killed in a crowd crush, and look at the 1969 Rolling Stones concert
at Altamont, Calif., which ended in murder.
"We realized these stories were so full and detailed
we needed more time to tell them," Gaspin said.
In contrast, Rock's Greatest is an hour-long weekly
show that will count down "the greatest" in a variety of music categories, using
original tapes and vintage performances.
"It will be more of a list show," Gaspin said.
Pop-Up Quiz, an offering from the creators of Pop-Up
Video slated to premiere Jan. 22,is a music "game show without [on-air]
contestants or prizes," according to Gaspin.
Pop-Up Quiz will use Pop-Up Video-type bubbles
to test viewers' knowledge of the careers of rock stars by "popping" trivia
questions over their videos. There are no contestants, no studio audience, no points and
no prizes. The viewer is the contestant.
"It's more about the artists than the videos,"
The fourth new show, VH1 Rock Collectors, is a rock
version of PBS' Road Show. The hour-long series explores the world of rock 'n' roll
memorabilia and travels from city to city to appraise different items. In one episode, an
autograph book with signatures and personal notes from the Beatles was found to be worth
$10,000. In conjunction with the show, VH1 is launching a VH1 Rock Collectors auction
site on the web.
Oppenheim said VH1 Rock Collectors is "a little
riskier" than some of the network's other new shows, but lauded the service for
continuing to refresh its programming.
The remaining new series are Rock & Roll Record
Breakers, a half-hour magazine show which debuts Jan. 21; and VH1 Confidential,
an hour-long series about the mysteries and myths in rock 'n' roll.
"We'll talk about the tall tales in rock 'n'
roll," Gaspin said.
Along with the new additions, VH1 has extended its original
order of The List, its nightly roundtable debate series, from 20 to 60 episodes.
"It's on every day, and it's our first successful
daily original show," said Gasin.
The List, in which celebrities and artists argue about
music-related topics, has drawn strong demographic ratings in its time slot. During The
List'sfirst three weeks, the network's 7 p.m. ratings for adults 18 to 49 rose
69 percent from a year ago, and its 11 p.m. ratings rose 52 percent over last year.
Gaspin believes The List has hit a chord with
viewers because "everybody loves to talk about music" -- and to disagree with
the viewpoints of the show's panelists.
"People love to scream at the TV set," he added.
VH1 is also gearing up for its fifth annual Fashion
Awards show, which Vogue magazine will co-sponsor for the first time this year.
Heather Locklear and Sean "Puffy" Combs will host the Dec. 5 live telecast.
"It's one of our successful events," Gaspin said.
"It has the right vibe for us. So much of music and fashion is intertwined."