Here's a story I sent to papers, about a fascinating new cable music show:
By MIKE HUGHES
PASADENA, Cal. -- Brian Graden vividly recalls the day MTV
came to Hillsboro, Ill.
“My friend’s dad got one of those big satellite dishes,” he
said. “My whole (rock) band would sit in the garage and watch it for hours.”
That was in 1981, the year he graduated from high school and
the year MTV was born. Suddenly, music was visual; Graden obsessed, eventually
becoming MTV’s programming chief.
And then … somehow, it all faded. MTV (now known for teen
moms and “Jersey Shore”) deemphasized videos; so did BET, CMT and others.
Still, new approaches keep bubbling up. Consider:
“HitRECord,” a new show (with Graden as a
producer) on a new cable network, Pivot. “At an older and more established
network, (it) might have been impossible,” said Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the movie
star who creates songs and videos with hundreds of Internet contributors.
Revolt, another new cable channel. Keith Clinkscales,
the CEO, calls it “a place where fans connect and have an ongoing conversation
about the music industry.
Or the Internet, where music migrated. Each
month, said Andy Schuon – a former MTV pioneer who started Revolt with Sean Combs
– six billion music videos are streamed in North America.
That’s how Gordon-Levitt, 32, discovered his approach. He’s
starred on TV (“3rd Rock”)
and movies (“Lincoln,” “Inception”) but “HitRECord” is his passion. “That’s
pretty much all I did in 2013,” he said.
He had starred in kid-only community musicals and learned
the piano, guitars, drums, dancing, gymnastics and more. Like others, he began
making music videos on the Internet. “What was much more fun … was having all
the people who were joining this message board make stuff together.”
So “HitRECord” began in 2005. Internet contributors would
help write a song, provide possible visuals, even perform it. In what he calls “a
benevolent dictatorship,” Gordon-Levitt would weave it together.
The first live performance was in a 99-seat theater at the
Sundance Festival, which is run by his friend Robert Redford. (Back when he was
10, Gordon-Levitt was in “A River Runs Through It,” directed by Redford … who kindly
reassured him after the cinematographer told him to make sure he stands in the
marked spot. “He told me, ‘I never hit my mark.’”)
He returned “HitRECord” to Sundance annually and went on tour.
“It always felt like it needed to be on TV,” said Jared Gellar, a partner in
So Graden – who had left MTV in 2009 – was recruited and
went Pivot. “They had that wild abandon that a start-up tends to have,” Graden said,
“where they don’t know what’s not possible.”
Amid a line-up of movies, reruns (“Buffy,” “Veronica Mars”),
documentaries and topical talk, Pivot now has its first variety show, rerunning often. The opener, taped at
the classic Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles, includes a song and a video story that
were assembled from hundreds of contributions. Think of it as the descendant of
those first videos Graden saw in a friend’s garage.
“HitRECord on TV” debuts with two half-hours,
10-11 p.m. Saturday on Pivot, then 1-2 a.m.
Many reruns, including Sunday (8:30 a.m. ET, 5
p.m., midnight), Monday (11:30 a.m., 9 p.m.), Tuesday and Wednesday (5 p.m.), Jan.
24 (9 p.m.), more; see www.pivot.tv.
New episodes at 10 p.m. ET Saturdays.