5 Questions With VH1 Save The Music’s Henry Donahue

Over the last 20 years, the VH1 Save The Music Foundation has provided millions of dollars in funding to music education programs at more than 2,000 public schools across the U.S.

We recently talked with Henry Donahue, vice president and executive director of the Foundation, about the positive impact the organization is having on students’ lives and how it’s celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Here’s what Donahue has to say about his work with VH1 Save The Music Foundation:

Created by Viacom Catalyst.

The BET Awards: A Star-Studded and Socially Conscious Celebration

As host of this year’s BET Awards, comedian Leslie Jones had a vision for what she wanted the night to be.

Leslie Jones at the BET Awards in Los Angeles, June 25, 2017

“BET was the first network and place where I was on TV,” said Jones in a press release. “I am looking to turn this whole experience into a joyful homecoming.”

This year’s ceremony, which took place at Staples Center in Los Angeles, brought recording artists, athletes and actors together for an unabashedly jubilant reunion. Among the top talent in black entertainment present this year were Bruno Mars, Solange Knowles, Chance The Rapper and all six members of New Edition.

It was both a raucous party and tender family reunion, as you can see from these highlights:

Beyoncé shouts out her family, BET and “BeyHive” after winning five awards

Last year, Beyoncé stunned fans with a riveting, elemental BET Awards performance, dancing through fog, fire and water alongside Kendrick Lamar. The superstar did things a bit differently this year, opting to stay home with her newborn twins and enjoy the BET Awards from afar. She nonetheless still won a whopping five BET Awards—more than any other performer.

Her protégés, Atlanta sister-duo Chloe x  Halle (Chloe and Halle Bailey) accepted the Viewer’s Choice Award on her behalf, and delivered her acceptance speech.

“Thank you BET for this award and your tremendous support of Lemonade,” wrote Beyonce. “This has been a journey of love, of celebrating our culture, honoring the past, and approaching the present and future with hope and resolve.”

Watch the full speech:

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Chris Rock, 50 Cent, Wanda Sykes and More Top Talent Line Up with BET for Fall Programming

BET’s fall 2017 lineup is brimming with big-name talent both on and off screen – five new shows starring or produced by Chris Rock, 50 Cent, Wanda Sykes, Deon Cole, Tiffany Haddish, Robin Thede, Gucci Mane, Keyshia Ka’oir, George Lopez, DL Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer, Eddie Griffin, and the late Charlie Murphy.

Here’s a look at what to expect, and when:

Wednesday, September 27 – Face Value

This 30-minute game show has one purpose: break down stereotypes and prejudices through humor. Deon Cole will host alongside breakout star Tiffany Haddish, who will conduct woman-on-the-street segments to determine how society values outward appearances.

50 Central

Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson stars in BET’s first variety comedy showcase that includes hidden camera pranks, musical performances, and a wealth of celebrity guests. The hip-hop mainstay will take turns as actor, producer and emcee on the show.

Thursday, September 28 – The Rundown with Robin Thede

From executive producer Chris Rock, this new program diversifies  the talk show space with African-American female host Robin Thede. The 30-minute late night show will discuss politics and pop culture through sketches, social commentary and parodies.

Tuesday, October 10Tales

BET’s critically popular anthology series, which reimagines classic hip-hop records as love letters, will return with its fourth hour-long installment in October.

Thursday, Oct. 12 – The Comedy Get Down

George Lopez, DL Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer, Eddie Griffin and the late Charlie Murphy headline The Comedy Get Down tour – and now you have a backstage pass. The Comedy Get Down will be the first scripted comedy series to explore the five comedians’ offstage lives during their mammoth five-man tour.

Tuesday, October 17 – Gucci Mane and Keyshia Ka’oir: The Mane Event

Didn’t receive an invite to Gucci Mane & Keyshia Ka’oir’s wedding? BET has you covered. As the couple ties the knot on October 17, their 10-episode docuseries Gucci Mane and Keyshia Ka’oir: The Mane Event will also make its debut.

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MTV’s Reinvention Mines Heritage as TRL Returns

For my 11th birthday, my parents bought me a 13-inch, white Panasonic TV/VCR set. I was most excited about the fact that it was white, and therefore girly, but also the fact that it gave me access to the exclusive club of sixth grade girls at my school who could invite their friends over to watch MTV.

My neighbor Lauren had been the first of my friends to enter this coterie when her older brother moved out and gave her his TV. I skip my bus stop and get off at her house, raid the fridge for Pepperoni lunch-ables, Dunkaroos and Cherry Coke, and head to her basement playroom, where we’d turn the TV straight to TRL and watch Carson Daly countdown the day’s 10 hottest music videos.

On a typical spring afternoon in 2002, we’d watch the same *NSYNC video for the fourth time that week, along with hits from Blink 182, Christina Aguilara, Britney Spears, Shakira, Michelle Branch, Brandy and Kylie Minogue. Sometimes we’d call in our request, but usually we’d just try to guess which one was coming next. Most of the time, we were right.

Check out this TRL throwback:

By the time my new TV allowed me to form my own girls club to watch TRL, Carson Daly had stepped down as host, and we were introduced to a downright dreamy group of regular “VJs” (video deejays, something I learned much later in life). My friends and I crushed hard on Damien Fahey, and wanted to look just like the trendy, chic Vanessa Minnillo.

Now, MTV is bringing back this iconic video countdown show, which ran for 10 years between 1998 and 2008. TRL’s revival is set for October 2, to be broadcast from a renovated version of its iconic Times Square studio.

TRL will be different than the one I remember— the video countdown model and audience request integration will stay, but the new show yanks the format into the post-2008 world of social and interactive media, with a mélange of linear, social and digital dimensions (expect some TRL Snapchat filters and daily updates on Instagram and Twitter).

A new generation of VJs will rotate through the studio, including, as of now, D.C. Young Fly, Erik Zachary, Amy Pham, Tamara Dhia and Lawrence Jackson. Learn more about the hosts here.

The revival of this flagship show is a logical move for the network as it shepherds in a new era of MTV that is remarkably similar to the one my friends and I would watch on that 13-inch TV in my bedroom.

With revivals of My Super Sweet 16 (a reality show I watched religiously as a teen, which I wrote about here) and Fear Factor (NBC’s gruesome game show, re-invented with a millennial twist), as well as a new show called Siesta Key (created by the same producers responsible for MTV’s original, laid back teen-paradise reality show, Laguna Beach), MTV seems ready for a millennial renaissance.

Watch the teaser for Siesta Key:

And why not? All of us who grew up watching these shows as kids are now in our 20s, able to buy our own TVs (albeit without VHS players attached), subscribe for VOD streaming services or cable packages and browse the internet without parental controls. Above all else, we’re nostalgic for the carefree shows of our childhood.

When I used to watch Kristin Cavallari flirt with Stephen Colletti back in middle school, I desperately wanted to be in her $300 Tory Burch kitten heels. Now, I’m in my mid-20s and have slightly different summer aspirations than spending it prancing around a beach with my high school crush, but that doesn’t mean I can’t relive the fun.

MTV President Chris McCarthy is largely responsible for this mining of the network’s history to inform its current programming. “MTV’s reinvention,” he told recently told The New York Times, “is coming by harnessing its heritage.”

As a business strategy, this has been remarkably successful. In June and July, ratings for MTV’s target demographic – millennials, aka 18 to 34-year-olds—soared. It was the first time the network experienced two consecutive months of ratings growth in four years.

As Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish told The New York Times, “[McCarthy] reset the brand filter, cleaned out the pipeline and began building a new MTV that’s much more based on reality, unscripted and music content.”

What next?

As Kanye would say, “Listen to the kids, bro!”

And that’s exactly what MTV executives are doing by bringing back TRL.

“It’s the right route,” said McCarthy to the New York Times. “When you talk to artists and they say to you, unaware of what we’re doing, can you bring back TRL? We’d be crazy not to reinvent that.”

What to Expect at the 2017 VMAs: Katy Perry, Moon People, and the End of Gendered Categories

When MTV became one of the first American award shows to eliminate gender categories at the MTV Movie and TV Awards in May, people noticed.

“I give [MTV] credit for having the audacity to shake up the cultural DNA, to show us what a new kind of post-gender consciousness feels like,” said Variety columnist Owen Glieberman. “For kicking open a door by simply doing it.”

Now, MTV is doing it again.

In July, the network announced nominations for the VMAs – and gender-specific awards categories were conspicuously absent.

The categories formerly known as Best Female Video and Best Male Video have been consolidated into Artist of the Year. Nominees within this category include Ariana Grande, Ed Sheeran, and Kendrick Lamar, whose music video Humble received eight nominations – the highest total of all nominees this year.

Several days after this news broke, we learned that the iconic astronaut trophy has evolved alongside the categories. Meet the MTV Moon Person.

“Why should it be a man?” MTV President Chris McCarthy asked The New York Times. “It could be a man, it could be a woman, it could be transgender, it could be nonconformist.”

MTV also announced that Katy Perry would host the event. Her music video Chained to the Rhythm featuring Skip Marley received five nominations, tying her with fellow Artist of the Year nominee The Weeknd for the second highest number of nominations this year.

The VMAs will also carry over the Movie and TV Awards’ new category, Best Fight Against the System.

The Movie and TV Awards’ category celebrated “characters fighting back against systems that hold them down,” and the VMA version will honor music videos that do the same thing, such as The Hamilton Mixtape’s Immigrants (We Get the Job Done) and Alessia Cara’s Scars to Your Beautiful. Both videos generated positive buzz for their stance on important issues: immigration and body positivity, respectively.

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I Love MTV Malta (IOMTV) 2017

(L-R) Sharlotte Ritchie, Sophie Kasaei, Catherine Hunter, Kristen Hanby, Milly Gattegno, Josh Ritchie

Written by Catherine Hunter, MTV UK PR & Talent Coordinator

It’s crazy to think that just a few weeks ago, I was on a yacht off the Malta coast, filming for the comeback of MTV’s 1990s smash hit dance music show The Grind. Rewind to eight hours earlier, pulling up to the Radisson Blu at 3 a.m. with Geordie Shore’s Sophie Kasaei and Ex on the Beach’s Josh Ritchie, spirits were definitely high (apart from the thought of being awake in less than four hours). But who cares when you’re in Malta, eh?

Sitting at my desk in London, thinking back to the Isle of MTV (IOMTV) festivities, I can say this was the best MTV event I have worked on in my more than two years at the network.

Ahead of the jam-packed three days, I was determined to make the most of the experience and help get the most out of our press and influencers while on the island. Upon arriving in Malta, my role for the next couple of days would be talent management and press liaison for the UK. This ranged from managing the MTV talent and ensuring that they partook in all of their prior arranged commitments, to facilitating interviews with show talent at the press conference.

I have worked on countless MTV events, big and small, and it always amazes me how much hard work goes into them. From running around backstage at the EMAs trying to locate an earbud for Justin Bieber to talent managing MTV talent at IOMTV, the work is varyied often very hard, but also incredibly fun. The saying “Do what you love, and you’ll never have to work another day in your life,” resonates with me whenever I work an MTV event, and this year’s IOMTV was no different.

Sunday was pretty incredible, watching the production and recreation of The Grind  come together and being a part of the party with Senior PR Manager Milly Gattegno, MTV talent – the aforementioned Sophie and Josh – and our influencer, Kristen Hanby, from UniLad. Seeing the social response and being a part of MTV’s revival of a classic music show was amazing.

Cafe Del Mar during production of MTV’s The Grind

Monday we spent the day entertaining these guests, visiting top Maltese hot spots, including the Blue Lagoon , the famous azure blue bay on the west side of Comino island.

The Blue Lagoon, (R-L) Sophie, Josh, Catherine and Milly

The beautiful surroundings provided an ideal canvas for fun social content:

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Petals, Pizzazz and Politics—How the Season Finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race Sashayed to the Mainstream

A 29-year-old drag queen from Brooklyn, New York known as Sasha Velour is lip syncing to Whitney Houston’s So Emotional. She’s gliding across the stage; a graceful avant-garde, bald ballerina.

Arms clad in opera-length bronze gloves, Velour vogues alongside fellow queen Shea Couleé, sauntering her hips and moving her lips soundlessly. Then, she craned her neck and began tugging at her wig. Pantomiming a seizure, she grabbed each scarlet lock to unleash a cascade of rose petals—just as Houston’s ballad reached its dénouement.

Watch the performance:

It was the season 9 finale of VH1’s RuPaul’s Drag Race. Nearly 9 million people watched as Velour won the coveted title of America’s Next Drag Superstar, making Drag Race history for the most-watched finale. It was, in the eternal words of Whitney Houston, “So emotional.”

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Nick Nostalgia Trip Continues with Hey Arnold! and Rocko’s Modern Life Movie Trailers at Comic Con

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Nickelodeon unleashed a pair of nostalgia-infused trailers at last week’s San Diego Comic Con, promoting TV movies that will revisit fondly remembered series from the 1990s and early 2000s: Hey Arnold! and Rocko’s Modern Life.

“Nickelodeon rolled into Comic-Con 2017 with the most effective weapon they could possibly unleash on millennials: nostalgia,” wrote Katie Buenneke in L.A. Weekly. “As always, Nick isn’t just catering to kids — and now they’re specifically targeting the generation of now-adult kids who grew up on Nick’s animated programming.”

via GIPHY

Hey Arnold!, which ran on Nick from 1996 to 2004, is set in the streets of Hillwood, a sort of Portland-Brooklyn-Seattle mash-up where fourth grader Arnold lives in an inner-city boarding house with his grandparents. Kind and unassuming, Arnold is a low-key bully-battling hero who is perpetually helpful to those in need.

This no-judgement, all-are-welcome Mr. Fix It persona endeared Arnold to a whole generation of Nick viewers. “90s kids who grew up with the show Hey Arnold! love it because main man Arnold is earnestly cool and selfless to everyone in his neighborhood and PS 118,” writes Inquirer.net’s Niña V. Guno.

It turns out that nice ages well. Fast forward to 2017. Arnold has aged one year. He is prepping to enter sixth grade. Best bud Gerald has organized a rooftop tribute to Arnold’s relentless do-goodery. And then we find out that this crew is sending their urban hero to the (fictional) Central American nation of San Lorenzo, where his parents disappeared back in the 90s.

Hey Arnold! creator Craig Bartlett talks a bit more about the characters’ updated styles and teases Arnold’s destination:

Rocko’s Modern Life, which ran on Nick from 1993 to ’96, followed the titular anthropomorphic immigrant wallaby and his crew – Heffer the steer and Filburt the turtle – through the fantasyland of their fictional city, O-Town. Despite its short-ish run, the series retains a loyal fanbase.

“The fourth Nicktoon to debut, Rocko’s Modern Life boasts a sizable cult to this day, largely thanks to the fact that it tosses a bunch of goofily animated animals straight out of a brightly colored Sunday comic strip into the midst of decidedly mundane situations, from visiting the DMV to flying on a plane to cleaning an apartment,” A.V. Club’s Todd VanDerWerff wrote more than a decade and a half after the final episode aired.

That final episode – or at least what the creators intended to be the final episode – sent Rocko and his posse deep into space, where they have been floating about (along with an impudent monkey and bunches of bananas) ever since.

via GIPHY

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Black Girls Will Rock! Again, August 20 on BET

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Good news:

And 2011 Black Girls RocK! honoree and five-time BET Award-winner Taraji P. Henson will be in New Jersey to host the whole thing.

“I’m honored to host the Black Girls Rock! Awards,” said Henson. “I love the message and I love Beverly Bond and her vision. I was lucky to be honored in 2011. It is truly a highlight of my life. Let’s make history together as we come together as women of brains, beauty and in support of each other.”

The 2017 Black Girls Rock honorees are groundbreakers in art, business, entertainment and community service:

Star Power Award – “Insecure” creator, actress, writer and producer Issa Rae

Young Gifted and Black Award – actress and activist Yara Shahidi

Living Legend Award – Grammy Award-winning songstress Roberta Flack

Shot Caller Award – Wall Street powerhouse and pioneer Suzanne Shank

Community Change Agent Award – Community organizers Derrica Wilson and Natalie Wilson of The Black & Missing Foundation

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