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"Pop-Up Video" on VH-1.

By Devin D. O'Leary

DECEMBER 22, 1997:  I'm glad we live in the post-modern era where television shows, movies and books can gleefully deconstruct themselves before our very eyes. MTV led the way on the Idiot Box front years ago when they introduced two characters named Beavis and Butt-Head, who did exactly what we had been doing for years--commenting on the relative coolness or lameness of all those music videos we'd been subjected to. But MTV has canceled the cartoon couch potatoes and still seems more interested in showing "Real World" marathons than in broadcasting actual music videos. So where are dedicated music video lovers/haters supposed to go for their daily fix of rock star bashing? Surprisingly, it's MTV's sister station VH-1.

Bloop. "Pop-Up Video" was launched in December of 1996.

The brainchild of producers Woody Thompson and Tad Low, "Pop-Up Video" made its debut one year ago this month and instantly became the network's number one show. "Not that it was too tough to beat the 238th airing of some 'American Bandstand' episode from the late '70s," admit Thompson and Low on their snarky Web site (www.popupvideo.com/popupflfr.html). The rude-boy duo go on to suggest VH-1 change their slogan to "We love Dick!" That should give you some idea of what goes on in "Pop-Up Video."

Bloop. Earlier this year, Thompson and Low were named among Entertainment Weekly's "100 Most Creative People in Hollywood."

"Pop-Up Video" has a simple, hilarious and highly addictive formula--show music videos and pop-up little information bubbles every few seconds that explain the video, give facts about the artist, spit out random bits of information or just make an insulting joke at some superstar's expense. Take, for example, Tom Petty's "Learning to Fly" video. An arrow pointing to Mr. Petty's sunglasses tells us they're $95 Ray-Bans; a passing dog in the background gets its own "info-bullet" explaining that it's a mixed-breed collie named Bart that Tom adopted in 1987; Tom walks past a chili dog stand in the mall as the screen lists its nutritional ingredients.

Bloop. Tina Turner's "Missing You" was the first video ever "popped" on "Pop-Up Video."

Considering the sarcastic tone most of the pop-ups take, it's surprising only two videos have ever been pulled from the show. "Every Breath You Take" by The Police was yanked thanks to some record company pressure (possibly due to numerous "lung cancer" references) before it ever hit the airwaves. The Wallflowers' "One Headlight" did air several times, but was eventually yanked when lead singer Jakob Dylan called complaining about the "nasty tone."

I, for one, hope that nasty tone never goes away.

Bloop. "Pop-Up Video" airs on VH-1 every weekday at 10:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 12:30 p.m.

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