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January 29, 1977 sees the premiere of Roots, a groundbreaking television program. The eight-episode miniseries, which was broadcast over eight consecutive nights, follows a family from its origins in West Africa through generations of slavery and the end of the Civil War. Roots one of the most-watched television events in American history and a major moment in mainstream American culture's reckoning with the legacy of slavery.
The miniseries was based on Alex Haley's novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family, which he claimed was based on research he had conducted into his own family history. Though these claims were later debunked, the story succeeded in dramatizing and personalizing the brutal, true story of the Atlantic slave trade and slavery in America. It begins with Kunta Kinte, a warrior belonging to the Mandinka ethnic group and living in what is now the Gambia. Kunta is captured and sold to traders, endures a harrowing journey aboard a slave ship, and is eventually sold to a plantation owner in Virginia. The story follows the remainder of his life, including a brutal scene in which he is tortured into acknowledging his slave name, Toby, and continues to follow his family for several generations. Kunta's daughter, her son George, and his sons Tom and Lewis experience life on various plantations and are subjected to many historically-accurate brutalities, including the separation of enslaved families and harassment from whites after the abolition of slavery. The book and miniseries were recognized for balancing this sweeping narrative with intensely personal stories and brutally realistic depictions of the horrors of slavery.
Due to fears about the audience's reaction to these depictions, ABC decided to air Roots on eight consecutive nights as a way of cutting its losses. Instead, Roots achieved unprecedented popularity. An estimated 140 million people, accounting for over half of the population of the United States, saw the series, and its finale remains the second-most-watched series finale in American television history. A cultural phenomenon, it was nominated for 37 Emmys and won nine, including Best Limited Series and Best Writing in a Drama Series. A sequel miniseries, Roots: The Next Generations, aired in 1979 to impressive ratings and several more award nominations.
Some found Roots to be divisive—future president Ronald Reagan opined that "the bias of all the good people being one color and all the bad people being another was rather destructive." Other commentators noted that the series went out of its way to include "good" or morally conflicted white characters who did not exist in the book. Overall, however, critics praised Roots for "dealing with the institution of slavery and its effect on succeeding generations of one family in a dramatic form," something uncommon in American culture and virtually unheard of on American television at the time. Roots continues to be remembered as both a moving work of fiction and a step forward in America's difficult confrontation with its racial history.
READ MORE: America's History of Slavery Began Long Before Jamestown
‘Roots’ Miniseries Remake Gets Memorial Day Premiere Date History Releases Trailer
History’s Roots miniseries will premiere on Memorial Day 2016, May 30, and will air over four consecutive nights, simulcast on fellow A+E Networks channels A&E and Lifetime.
The late May holiday has become History’s preferred launching pad for high-profile miniseries. Mega hit Hatfield & McCoys was first, debuting on Memorial Day 2012, followed by Texas Rising, which bowed on Memorial Day 2015.
For the air pattern of the four-night, eight-hour Roots, History is sticking to the model used for the six-hour Hatfield & McCoys, which aired on three consecutive nights. With the eight-hour Texas Rising, History tried a different approach — a two-night launch followed by a two-hour episode airing each the following two Mondays. The Roots release pattern also mirrors that of the iconic original miniseries, which ABC aired on eight consecutive nights in 1977.
'Roots' Mini For A+E Adds Cast: Tip 'T.I.' Harris, Mekhi Phifer, James Purefoy, Matthew Goode, Lane Garrison & More
Roots — a historical portrait of American slavery recounting the journey of one family and their will to survive and ultimately carry on their legacy despite hardship — stars newcomers Regé-Jean Page (“Chicken George”) and Malachi Kirby (“Kunta Kinte”), joined by Forest Whitaker (&ldquoFiddler&rdquo), Anna Paquin (&ldquoNancy Holt&rdquo), Laurence Fishburne (&ldquoAlex Haley&rdquo), Jonathan Rhys Meyers (&ldquoTom Lea&rdquo), Anika Noni Rose (&ldquoKizzy&rdquo), Tip &ldquoT.I.&rdquo Harris (&ldquoCyrus&rdquo), Emayatzy Corinealdi (&ldquoBelle&rdquo), Matthew Goode (&ldquoDr. William Waller&rdquo), Mekhi Phifer (&ldquoJerusalem&rdquo), James Purefoy (&ldquoJohn Waller&rdquo) and Chad L. Coleman (“Mingo”).
&ldquoRoots will allow new audiences to experience this epic family saga with a new vision that is both inspiring and tremendously entertaining,&rdquo said Paul Buccieri, president of A&E and History.
Roots is an A+E Studios production in association with Marc Toberoff and The Wolper Organization, the company that produced the original Roots. Will Packer, Marc Toberoff, Mark Wolper, Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal and Barry Jossen serve as executive producers. LeVar Burton and Korin D. Huggins are co-executive producers. Questlove is executive music producer. Roots is directed by Phillip Noyce, Mario Van Peebles, Thomas Carter and Bruce Beresford.
‘Roots’ Opens With Cable’s Biggest Overall Miniseries Audience In 3 Years
The premiere of A+E Networks’ four-night Roots reboot logged 5.3 million viewers across History, A&E and Lifetime on Memorial Day.
The first installment, which aired simultaneously on the three networks, also got repeated two more times over the course of the evening, to cume a total of 8.5M viewers.
The crowd marks the biggest overall crowd for a cable miniseries opening in three years, since the December 2013 opening of four-hour mini Bonnie & Clyde delivered 9.8 million total viewers. But the latest adaptation of Alex Haley’s best-seller fell short of Bonnie & Clyde’s 4.2 million viewers among adults 25-54 viewers. Roots logged 2.1M in that demo, as well as 1.8M 18-49 year old viewers. Bonnie & Clyde also had been simulcast on Lifetime, A&E and History.
Warriors-Thunder Game 7 Is Cable's Most Watched NBA Telecast Ever With 16M Viewers On TNT
And, like Bonnie & Clyde, Roots was no match for the record highs of History&rsquos first two miniseries: Hatfields & McCoys and The Bible.
Hatfields & Mc Coys opened on Memorial Day in 2012 with 13.9 million viewers. The Bible premiered with 13.1 million viewers tune in, in March of . The Bible and Hatfields & McCoys aired only on History, for which Bonnie & Clyde originally had been developed.
Last night’s Roots ratings likely were impacted by Game 7 of NBA playoffs which, in turn, could boost L+3 stats.
And, to the surprise of no one, Roots‘ opening crowd did not challenge the ratings performance of the original 1977 ABC miniseries, which had amassed an historic 130 million viewers back when the broadcast networks &ndash except Fox which had not yet launched, dominated airwaves.
The new look at Roots, which begins with the abduction in Africa of Kunta Kinte (Malachi Kirby) and spans decades to include the American Civil War, is unfolding over four consecutive nights, with a different director helming each night, including Phillip Noyce, Mario Van Peebles, Thomas Carter and Bruce Beresford.
&ldquoThis project has helped shape the discourse around race and identity at a time when it is needed more than ever. We are looking forward to audiences continuing to experience this powerful and important event over the next three nights,&rdquo Nancy Dubuc, President & CEO of A+E Networks said today in a statement.
Season Six of "Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr." Premieres Fall 2019 and Airs Through Fall 2020 on PBS, Beginning October 8
Season Six Will Span October 2019 to October 2020 with Two New Episodes Premiering in October 2019, Eight Episodes Premiering in January 2020, and Six Episodes Premiering in October 2020.
SEASON SIX OF “FINDING YOUR ROOTS
WITH HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR.”
PREMIERES FALL 2019 AND AIRS THROUGH FALL 2020 ON PBS, BEGINNING OCTOBER 8
New Episodes Explore Ancestry Stories of
Melissa McCarthy, Jordan Peele, Issa Rae, Justina Machado, Sasheer Zamata,
Isabella Rossellini, Anjelica Huston, Gayle King, Nancy Pelosi, RuPaul, Zac Posen,
Terry Gross, Marc Maron, Jeff Goldblum, Eric Stonestreet, Queen Latifah, Jeffrey Wright,
Sigourney Weaver, Amy Ryan, Sterling K. Brown, Jon Batiste, Diane von Furstenberg and more.
Season Six Will Span October 2019 to October 2020 with Two New Episodes Premiering in October 2019, Eight Episodes Premiering in January 2020, and Six Episodes Premiering in October 2020.
BEVERLY HILLS, CA (July 29, 2019) — Today’s most compelling personalities discover the surprising stories buried within their own families in the sixth season of the critically acclaimed PBS series FINDING YOUR ROOTS WITH HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR. The new season will premiere on Tuesdays beginning October 8, 2019 at 8:00 p.m. ET (check local listings) on PBS.
FINDING YOUR ROOTS Season Six’s extended broadcast lineup will span from Fall 2019 through Fall 2020. The Fall 2019 season will premiere with two new episodes followed by five encore presentations of the series. Season Six will return in early 2020 with eight weeks of new episodes featuring both new guests and re-mixed thematic combinations of former participants’ stories. FINDING YOUR ROOTS returns in Fall 2020 with six additional new episodes showcasing new and re-mixed episodes. This extended broadcast footprint will serve to expand FINDING YOUR ROOTS’ reach to its viewers throughout 2019 and 2020.
The sixth season of Finding Your Roots on PBS features 27 fascinating new guests who are game-changers in their fields, with family histories that illustrate the power and diversity of the human experience. Among them are actors Jeffrey Wright, Sigourney Weaver, Melissa McCarthy and Sterling K. Brown groundbreaking director Jordan Peele, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi acclaimed journalists Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell musicians Queen Latifah and Jon Batiste legendary fashion designers Diane von Furstenberg, Narciso Rodriguez and Zac Posen as well as a host of other luminaries, including Jeff Goldblum, Anjelica Huston, Isabella Rossellini, Terry Gross, Marc Maron, Eric Stonestreet, Issa Rae, Amy Ryan and Justina Machado. Some of the guests whose stories we will revisit this season include actors Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore and Marisa Tomei journalist Lisa Ling radio talk show host Joe Madison musician Questlove and late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel.
In sharing their stories, Finding Your Roots uses every tool available, from cutting-edge DNA research to old-school genealogical sleuthing, to reveal long-buried secrets. Spanning the globe, the series compiles family trees that trace throughout the United States and Canada Latin America and the Caribbean and Germany, Poland, Ireland, Russia and more. Episode to episode, audiences will meet guests’ ancestors who were businesspeople and bootleggers, war heroes and criminals, farmers and immigrants, the persecuted and the persevering under the most extraordinary circumstances. Together, the arc of each guest’s family personalizes history while emphasizing the human connections that unite us.
At the center of it all, guiding every discovery, is host and executive producer Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research. “Hosting Finding Your Roots is not only profoundly rewarding as a scholar,” Henry Louis Gates, Jr. said. “It’s part of a larger mission to inspire us all to seek out the stories of our ancestors—to see history as something that we are all a part of, that we all have a stake in—and, in realizing this, to help us arrive at a deeper understanding of what it means to be part of the human family. Our series strives to show how all Americans are related, despite our present divisive politics, at the most fundamental levels of all: through our families, through our immigrant experiences, whether forced or voluntary, and at the level of the genome. I couldn’t be more excited to share Season Six with our viewers.”
Assembling the extensive family trees and family narratives alongside Dr. Gates are DNA expert
CeCe Moore (Founder, The DNA Detective) and expert genealogist Johni Cerny (Founder, Lineages).
FINDING YOUR ROOTS WITH HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR., Season Six premieres on Tuesdays beginning Tuesday, October 8, 2019 at 8:00 p.m. ET with an episode featuring Isabella Rossellini, Anjelica Huston and Mia Farrow. Season Six includes the following episodes:
• “Hollywood Royalty” with Isabella Rossellini, Anjelica Huston, Mia Farrow
• “Off the Farm” with Melissa McCarthy, Eric Stonestreet
- “Secrets & Lies” with Sigourney Weaver, Amy Ryan, Justina Machado
- “This Land is My Land” with Queen Latifah, Jeffrey Wright
• “Beyond the Pale” with Terry Gross, Marc Maron, Jeff Goldblum
- “Homecomings” with Sterling K. Brown, Jon Batiste, Sasheer Zamata
- “Science Pioneers” with Harold Varmus, Francis Collins, Shirley Jackson
- “Slave Trade” with Questlove, S. Epatha Merkerson, Ava DuVernay
- “Italian Roots” with Marisa Tomei, Jimmy Kimmel, John Turturro
- “Criminal Mind” with Laura Linney, Lisa Ling, Soledad O’Brien
- “Fashion’s Roots” with Diane Von Furstenberg, Narciso Rodriguez, RuPaul
- “Breaking the Silences” with Gayle King, Jordan Peele, Issa Rae
- “DNA Mysteries” with Ann Curry, Téa Leoni, Joe Madison
- “War Stories” with Kehinde Wiley, Julianne Moore, Bill Hader
- “Flight” with Lupita Nyong’o, Lidia Bastianich, Scarlett Johannsson
- “Coming to America” with Nancy Pelosi, Norah O’Donnell, Zac Posen
In conjunction with the broadcast, co-producer WETA, the flagship public broadcaster in the nation’s capital, will work with stations across the country to encourage viewers to explore and share their family histories via social media using the hashtag #FindingYourRoots on Facebook and Twitter, via Facebook.com/FindingYourRootsPBS and @HenryLouisGates, and on the series companion site, pbs.org/FindingYourRoots .
FINDING YOUR ROOTS WITH HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR., Season Six is a production of McGee Media, Inkwell Films, Kunhardt Films and WETA Washington, D.C., in association with Ark Media. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is the writer, host, and executive producer. Dyllan McGee and Peter Kunhardt are executive producers. Dalton Delan and John F. Wilson are executive producers in charge for WETA. Bill Gardner is the executive in charge for PBS. Sabin Streeter is the senior producer. Hannah Olson is the series producer. Sabin Streeter and Krista Whetstone are directors. Major corporate support for FINDING YOUR ROOTS WITH HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR., Season Six is provided by Ancestry, Johnson & Johnson and AT&T. Major support is also provided by the Ford Foundation, Candace King Weir, and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS.
An electronic press kit for FINDING YOUR ROOTS WITH HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR., Season Six, including downloadable photos for promotional use, is available on PBS Pressroom .
WETA Washington, D.C., is one of the largest producing stations of new content for public television in the United States. WETA productions and co-productions include PBS NEWSHOUR, WASHINGTON WEEK, THE KENNEDY CENTER MARK TWAIN PRIZE, THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS GERSHWIN PRIZE FOR POPULAR SONG, LATINO AMERICANS, THE ITALIAN AMERICANS and documentaries by filmmaker Ken Burns and scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Sharon Percy Rockefeller is president and CEO. More information on WETA and its programs and services is available at www.weta.org .
McGee Media was founded by award-winning filmmaker Dyllan McGee to produce documentary content that is innovative, compelling, and immersive. Every story is born from a vision of a more fair and equitable world. Whether it is the sweeping history of the African-American experience, or the intimate personal stories of the hundreds of women who made up the feminist movement, McGee Media uses television, film, and digital media in radical new ways to inform and inspire. Recent projects include RECONSTRUCTION: AMERICA AFTER THE CIVIL WAR (PBS), AFRICA’S GREAT CIVILIZATIONS (PBS), MAKERS (PBS), FINDING YOUR ROOTS (PBS), ONCE & FOR ALL (AOL), FIRST IN HUMAN (Discovery), and RANCHER, FARMER, FISHERMAN (Discovery).
Inkwell Films was founded by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. to produce sophisticated documentary films about the African and African-American experience for a broad audience. The six-part PBS documentary series THE AFRICAN AMERICANS: MANY RIVERS TO CROSS (2013) earned the 2013 Peabody Award and NAACP Image Award. Inkwell Films has co-produced Finding Your Roots (Seasons 1-6) RECONSTRUCTION: AMERICA AFTER THE CIVIL WAR (2019), AFRICA’S GREAT CIVILIZATIONS (2017), BLACK AMERICA SINCE MLK AND STILL I RISE (2016), Black in Latin America (2011), Faces of America (2010), Looking for Lincoln (2009), African American Lives 2 (2008), Oprah’s Roots (2007) and African American Lives (2006).
Kunhardt Films specializes in documentary films about the people and ideas that shape American history. Most recently completed is True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight For Equality (HBO, 2019). Past productions include John McCain: For Whom The Bell Tolls (HBO, 2018) King In The Wilderness (HBO, 2018) The Newspaperman: The Life and Times Of Ben Bradlee (HBO, 2017) Becoming Warren Buffett (HBO, 2017) Jim: The James Foley Story (HBO, 2016). Other films include Living with Lincoln (HBO, 2015) Nixon By Nixon: In His Own Words (HBO, 2014) Finding Your Roots (PBS ) Makers: Women Who Make America (PBS) The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (PBS) Gloria: In Her Own Words (HBO, 2011) This Emotional Life (PBS, 2010) Teddy: In His Own Words (HBO, 2009) and African American Lives (PBS). Kunhardt Films was founded in 1987 as Kunhardt Productions. It is run by Peter Kunhardt and his two sons Teddy and George in Pleasantville, New York.
Founded in 1996 by filmmakers Barak Goodman and Rachel Dretzin, and joined by fellow partner and filmmaker John Maggio in 2003, Ark produces both feature documentaries, and over 30 hours of television/streaming content a year for such outlets as PBS, HBO, Participant Media, History, NatGeo, AMC, Netflix and more. In 2017 alone, Ark produced the Peabody-winning and Emmy-nominated OKLAHOMA CITY (PBS), the PGA Award-nominated THE NEWSPAPERMAN (HBO), the acclaimed feature documentary FAR FROM THE TREE (based on Andrew Solomon’s best-selling book, from Participant Media and IFC Films), and several other projects, including the upcoming season of the hit Henry Louis Gates, Jr. series, FINDING YOUR ROOTS (PBS). This year, Ark is already in production on several projects, including a six-hour series on the assassination of Malcolm X (Netflix/Fusion) and THE GENE (a follow up to Ark’s CANCER: THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES), among others. Two of Ark’s recent productions, SLAY THE DRAGON (Participant Media) and WOODSTOCK (PBS), made their worldwide debuts at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival.
From Executive Producers Lisa Kudrow and Dan Bucatinsky, the Emmy Award-winning documentary series "Who Do You Think You Are?" comes home to NBC at a time when ancestral and genealogical exploration is enjoying unprecedented popularity and fascination. Each week, a different celebrity will go on a poignant search to trace their family tree with the help of historians and experts, unlocking past mysteries and unbelievable real-life stories across the world - and through time. Cutting-edge research tools and billions of digitized records will provide remarkable insights into the star's background and illustrate the cultural mosaic that connects us all together. After all, at the end of the day, we all want to know who we really are.
One-hour alternative series
Shed Media, Is or Isn’t Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow ("Web Therapy," "The Comeback"), Dan Bucatinsky ("Web Therapy," "The Comeback"), Pam Healey ("First Dates," "Long Lost Family"), Stephanie Schwam ("Supernanny," "Wife Swap")
'Roots' Remake: History Channel Plans New Miniseries
"Roots" is getting a remake on History Channel, according to Deadline.
History acquired the rights to the 1977 miniseries from Mark Wolper, the son of "Roots" executive producer David L. Wolper, and to the book the original miniseries was based on, "Roots: The Saga Of An American Family." The new "Roots" miniseries will reportedly be 8 hours long.
History has confirmed the remake is in the works to The Huffington Post.
A writer for the project and stars have yet to be announced. Deadline reports History's "Roots" remake will "will draw both on the book and the original mini from a contemporary perspective."
"We would like to revive that cultural icon for a new audience,” History EVP and GM Dirk Hoogstra told Deadline.
History made ratings waves with recent miniseries "The Bible" and "Hatfields & McCoys." Will "Roots" do the same? The original version aired over 8 nights on ABC in 1977 and became a ratings smash hit. The last part of the original miniseries broke ratings records. ABC's "Roots" featured a large ensemble cast, including Ed Asner, LeVar Burton, Cicely Tyson, Robert Reed, Lloyd Bridges and Tracey Gold. Members of the cast recently reunited on ABC's "The View."
In 1978, novelist and anthropologist Harold Courlander filed a lawsuit against Haley, claiming he had plagiarized 81 passages from Courlander&aposs book The African. Ultimately the two settled out of court, with Haley reportedly paying a large sum to the novelist and his publisher and acknowledging that he did indeed use parts of Courlander&aposs work. Writer Margaret Walker also unsuccessfully sued Haley for allegedly plagiarizing her 1966 novel, Jubilee.
However, the fallout did not end there. Genealogists claimed that Haley&aposs story about his alleged ancestor Kinte was false, citing many chronological and historical inconsistencies. Haley would come to admit that the book was indeed a fusion of fiction and fact.
History UK Sets Premiere Date For ‘Roots’
A+E Networks’ Roots reboot, which previously aired in the UK on BBC Four, will premiere on History UK on Tuesday August 22nd at 10pm, it has been announced.
Roots tell the story of a historical journey of one family and their will to survive, endure and ultimately carry on their legacy despite enormous hardship and inhumanity. Spanning multiple generations, the lineage begins with young Kunta Kinte, who is captured in his homeland of The Gambia and transported in brutal conditions to colonial America, where he’s sold into slavery. Throughout the series, the family continues to face adversity while bearing witness and contributing to notable events in U.S. history, including the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, slave uprisings and eventual emancipation.
Malachi Kirby takes on the lead role of Kunta Kinte – the part played by LeVar Burton (Star Trek: The Next Generation) in the 1970s miniseries. Other cast members include Laurence Fishburne (Hannibal), Forest Whitaker (Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior), Anna Paquin (True Blood), Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Dracula), Anika Noni Rose (The Good Wife), Chad L. Coleman (The Walking Dead), Erica Tazel (Justified), Derek Luke (Captain America: The First Avenger) and Regé-Jean Page (Waterloo). The new take on Roots was produced by A+E Studios alongside The Wolper Organization – the company that produced the original. Mark Wolper and Will Packer serve as executive producers while LeVar Burton and Korin D. Huggins co-executive produce.
TVWise’s UK Premiere Dates page has been updated with this new information.
Roots.gov.sg&rsquos first-ever virtual treasure hunt brings you on an adventure through its pages. Solve clues to find hidden coins for a chance to win a tablet worth $1,099 each week. You better hurry&mdashthe hunt ends at 11.59 p.m. on Wednesday, 31 March!
T&Cs apply. Read more here: go.gov.sg/heritagehuntertnc
An exclusive site first on Duxton Hill,
where many well-funded alliances were built.
1) This is your first clue. Now, search Roots.gov.sg for the page that holds the answer to your clue. Hint: Think keywords and make full use of the search function on the site.
2) How will you know you’re on the right track? Look for a golden coin at the bottom of the page. Click it and your second clue will pop up.
3) This clue will lead you to another page. Click the coin on that page for your third and final clue. Solve this clue to find the treasure chest.
4) Click on the treasure chest and fill in your details for a chance to win!
'Roots' premieres on television - HISTORY
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MTV, in full Music Television, cable television network that began as a 24-hour platform for music videos.
What does MTV stand for?
The name MTV stands for Music Television. MTV is a cable television network that began as a 24-hour platform for music videos.
When was MTV launched?
MTV was launched just after midnight on August 1, 1981, in New York, New York, United States.
What was the first music video played on MTV?
The first music video played on MTV was “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles.
When was MTV2 released?
MTV Networks launched MTV2 in 1996, intending to recapture the spirit embodied by its “I want my MTV” advertising campaign in the 1980s.
MTV debuted just after midnight on August 1, 1981, with the broadcast of “ Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles. Following the format of Top 40 radio, video disc jockeys (or “veejays”) introduced videos and bantered about music news between clips. After an initial splash, the network struggled in its early years. The music video reservoir was then somewhat shallow, resulting in frequent repetition of clips, and cable television remained a luxury that had not quite found its market. MTV expanded its programming to include rhythm and blues artists, and the network took off. Singles such as “ Billie Jean” and “ Beat It” from Michael Jackson’s Thriller (1982) not only showcased the strengths of the music video format but proved that exposure on MTV could propel artists to superstardom.
The network brought success to such newcomers as Madonna and new wave icons Duran Duran, who used increasingly sophisticated techniques to make the visual elements of the video as important as the music. MTV also gave renewed life to veteran performers such as ZZ Top, Tina Turner, and Peter Gabriel, each of whom scored the biggest hits of their careers thanks to heavy rotation of their videos. By the mid-1980s, MTV had produced a noticeable effect on motion pictures, commercials, and television. It also changed the music industry looking good (or at least interesting) on MTV became as important as sounding good when it came to selling recordings.
In 1985 entertainment conglomerate Viacom Inc. purchased MTV Networks, the parent corporation of MTV, from Warner Communications Inc., and the shift in content was both dramatic and immediate. Instead of free-form playlists of music that covered a veejay’s entire shift, videos were packaged into discrete blocks based on genre. This gave rise to specialty shows such as 120 Minutes (alternative rock), Headbangers Ball (heavy metal), and Yo! MTV Raps (hip-hop). Before long, game shows, reality shows, animated cartoons, and soap operas began to appear in the MTV lineup, and the network shifted its focus from music to youth-oriented pop culture.
By the mid-1990s, the majority of MTV’s daily schedule was devoted to programming that was not related to music. Its sister station VH1 had been broadcasting adult-oriented rock videos since 1985, and it soon filled the vacuum, with original content such as Pop Up Video and the documentary series Behind the Music. MTV Networks launched MTV2 in 1996, with the intention of recapturing the spirit embodied by their “I want my MTV” advertising campaign in the 1980s. MTV2 started with the same free-form structure that characterized early MTV, but it soon shifted to genre-specific programs. By 2005 MTV2 had followed the same course as its parent network, with the bulk of its schedule consisting of reality shows, celebrity coverage, and comedies.
While music had a reduced presence on MTV, videos remained important to the network and its image. Beginning in 1984, MTV honoured achievement in the format with its annual Video Music Awards. Total Request Live (TRL), an hour-long interview and music video show, debuted in 1998 and anchored the weekday lineup. By the early 21st century, however, MTV increasingly sought to position itself as a destination for music on the Internet. Its Web site offered streaming video and audio content, and in 2007 it launched Rhapsody America, a joint venture with RealNetworks and Verizon Wireless, as a subscription-based alternative to Apple Inc.’s wildly popular iTunes service in 2010 it was spun off as the independent company Rhapsody International. Partly because of the popularity of viewing music videos on the Internet, TRL was canceled in 2008, though it returned in 2017.