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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Saying Farewell to Teen Wolf: Six Moments Audiences Will Never Forget

As MTV’s popular series Teen Wolf edges towards its conclusion (at least in its current iteration – the show is already slated for a reboot) – with the second half of the sixth and last season debuting this Sunday, July 30 – it is an ideal time to reflect on the show’s impact.

After a sometimes-terrifying, sometimes captivating, always-fun six-year run, fans are accepting that this particular set of beloved Teen Wolf characters will only be around for 10 more episodes, and a bittersweet nostalgia has descended. Tyler Posey, who plays protagonist/werewolf Scott McCall, shared his reaction to news of the show’s end in an interview with TV Line: “So much peace was in me, and happiness, looking back on everything that we’ve done as a cast, as a show, as an entity. There’s not a lot of shows that can say they’ve done that and made 100 episodes and remained friends and are going to go on to bigger and better things… I am going to bawl my eyes out, but they’re all happy tears.”

The cast seems uniformly both grateful to have been part of the show and dejected about its ending:

From the series’ beginning, Scott, a high school teenager who is bitten by a werewolf and subsequently becomes one,  experiences an endless sequence of emotional and suspenseful moments. Alongside his best friend Stiles Stilinski (Dylan O’Brien), Scott quickly discovers that the other students at Beacon Hills High School carry supernatural secrets of their own, and he spends the next six seasons collaborating with and battling these fellows in monsterhood.

As we prep for the final half season of howling mayhem, here’s a look back at some of the show’s most suspenseful and emotional moments [SPOILER ALERT: for those who have not seen the first five and a half seasons, the list below will give away some major plot developments]: Read More

Viacom Scores 18 Emmy Nominations for a Diverse Roster of Programming

Sketch comedy, potluck, political satire, lip syncing, drag queens, kid-friendly rock and roll and animated, nostalgic purple grapes: these are a few of our fans’ favorite things. And it turns out that the esteemed voting committee for the 69th Primetime and Creative Arts Emmy Awards likes them quite a bit too.

Between VH1, Comedy Central, SpikeNickelodeon, and our Paramount Television production studio, Viacom brands scored 18 nominations.

Take a look at Viacom’s diverse roster of brands and the eclectic shows that impacted TV’s most prestigious award celebration:

Created by Viacom Catalyst

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Coming Soon to Viacom: Tyler Perry

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Fans of Viacom, BET, Paramount and Tyler Perry got some good news last week:

Beginning in May 2019, the prolific writer, director, producer, actor and playwright behind seven television series, 16 feature films and 20 plays will turn his creative energies toward producing 90 episodes of original comedy and drama each year for BET and other Viacom networks. His movies may be coming to Viacom even sooner – Paramount Pictures has exclusive first look rights to Perry’s new feature film content starting immediately.

“Today’s announcement represents an important step forward as Viacom continues to make swift progress against our new strategic plan,” said Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish, referring to the company’s February reorientation around our six flagship networks: MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., BET, and Spike (soon to become Paramount Network).

“By prioritizing efforts to work with the best, most versatile talent in the entertainment industry, we are better positioned to deliver must-watch content across our brands and platforms. Tyler is a prolific creative force, and I’m excited that this collaboration will bring his signature humor and powerful storytelling to Viacom’s audiences while further cementing BET’s position as the leading home for bold, relevant African-American programming and scripted content.”

Perry, whose work has aired extensively on BET, cited Viacom’s vast reach and inroads with his target audience as motivation behind signing on with the company. “Viacom has a rich tradition of reaching my audience through their TV, film and digital platforms and I am excited to partner with them,” he said. “I am eager to have one home where I can leverage all of their assets to tell my stories to an even wider audience.”

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Save the Date for the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards: Live From Los Angeles On Saturday, August 27

Dust off your spacesuits and queue your favorite “New & Noteworthy” YouTube playlist, because the VMAs are swiftly approaching.

After transforming Madison Square Garden into a terrestrial dance hall, aerobics studio and lemonade stand for last year’s ceremony, MTV is heading back to California—specifically the Forum, a historic venue in Inglewood.

“MTV, at 35 years old, has been around almost as long as the Forum,” said Forum manager Shelli Azoff in a press release. “Together, we’re 85 and enjoy lifetimes of music history.”

The Forum—sometimes called the “Fabulous” Forum—is the nation’s largest indoor performance venue, hosting sporting events and musical extravaganzas, including the 2014 VMA telecast.

MTV lands in Los Angeles for the 2014 VMAs. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

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