VH1 Celebrates 20 Years of Saving the Music with 20 Custom Gibson Guitars

Those passing in and out of Viacom’s Times Square Headquarters throughout June found a collection of Gibson Les Paul guitars nestled in a sunlit corner of the lobby. The exhibit flows effortlessly with the building’s groovy aesthetic, and could easily be an installation at the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. It’s the brainchild of VH1 Save The Music Foundation, executed in collaboration with Art at Viacom and over 40 renowned visual artists and musicians.

To commemorate the 20th anniversary of VH1 Save The Music, the artists worked in pairs to create 20 stunning, ornate instruments—enough to make any music fiend, art collector or investor swoon. And they will get their chance to do more than just admire them when VH1 Save The Music auctions off these guitars in October, partnering with Julien’s Auctions Los Angeles as part of their Idols & Icons: Rock and Roll sale. The proceeds are expected to fund musical instruments for at least 30 school band programs in the U.S.

Until then, these guitars are on tour—starting at Viacom headquarters and touring the New York-metro area until the fall, so fans and admirers can appreciate the majestic endeavor.

The Gibson installation at Viacom Headquarters. Photo by Bart Stadnicki.

I spoke with VH1 Save The Music Executive Director Henry Donahue to learn more about what promoted this massive, creative collaboration, and what he hopes to achieve with such campaigns.

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CMT Awards 2017 Delivers a Genre-Transcending Spectacle of Music and Entertainment

In early June, country’s hottest stars rocked Nashville’s Music City Center at the 2017 CMT Music Awards. Despite competing with the highest-rated NBA Finals in two decades, the show drew in more than 3 million fans to watch a night packed with performances, award presentations and a tribute to country legend Gregg Allman.

Nashville star and show host Charles Esten started the night with a celebrity-filled parody showcasing another of his many talents: comedy. Playing his Nashville character, Deacon Claybourne, Esten explored the “AirCMT” mansion – the commandeered home of Rayna Jaymes – alongside “The Darius” Rucker, who assumed the role of CMT president. Inside, stars such as Kellie Pickler, Billy Ray Cyrus and Little Big Town interact in an odd houseguest skit that creates a hilarious segue into the awards ceremony.

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Transformers Return, The Mist Creeps In, Logo Honors Trailblazers, Bellator Hits MSG, 17th BET Awards Air – All in a Spectacular Weekend for Viacom

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

This is an extraordinary week for Viacom, a showcase of our diverse properties and the incredible power of our brands, sprawled across theaters, televisions and event spaces all over the world.

On Wednesday, the fifth Transformers movie opened in theaters. Thursday brought Spike’s mini-series adaptation of Stephen King’s The Mist. Friday we celebrate Pride month with Logo’s Trailblazer Honors. Saturday is perhaps the marquee night in Bellator history, as the Spike-owned property drops into New York City’s Madison Square Garden. And Sunday takes us to the West Coast, where BET will broadcast their marquee BET Awards.

As Viacom refocuses under the leadership of CEO Bob Bakish, this rapid-fire concentration of noteworthy properties distills the impressive breadth and depth of Viacom’s multi-brand portfolio.

Here’s a day-by-day look at what’s already dropped and what’s to come over the weekend:

Wednesday, June 21 – Transformers: The Last Knight – Paramount Pictures

It is the fifth installment in the live-action Transformers spectaculars directed by Michael Bay, an intriguing collision of ancient epochs with the robot alien present, and a special effects masterpiece.

“…[I]f you’re not staggered by the technique on display here – the stuff that sets Bay’s work miles above the Fast & Furiouses, X-Men: Apocalypses and Tom Cruise-chasing Mummies of this world – you’re not paying attention,” writes The Telegraph’s Robbie Collin.

Here’s a preview of what he’s talking about:

Since the first Transformers movie hit theaters in 2007, the franchise has raked in nearly $4 billion for Paramount and redefined important elements of the movie industry. “Ever since the first movie in the robo-franchise was released into theaters a decade ago, the film industry has changed its approach to producing, releasing and reporting on movies,” writes The Street’s Buster Coen, noting that the films legitimized toy-to-cinema adaptations, stamped June as a month for movie blockbusters, and set the template for international distribution of American films.

Transformers: The Last Knight is in theaters around the world now. A Bumblebee spin-off is scheduled for release next summer.

Thursday, June 22 – The Mist Spike

With a cast of complex characters unified by their small-town setting, the deft use of suspense and drama, and some imaginative writing, Spike has transformed Stephen King’s 1980 novella about a sinister, monster-filled cloud descending upon a small Maine town into a 10-part serial that debuted last night.

And it’s really good, according to a platoon of critics who got an advanced look at the pilot. “Spike’s new series based on The Mist … wasn’t written by King, but it does the author proud ,” writes CNET’s Gael Fashingbauer Cooper.

The series was written, rather, by a team led by Denmark native Christian Torpe, who is a lifelong King fan and consulted with the author at the project’s outset. King simply told him, “Don’t do anything ordinary.”

Torpe appears to have succeeded, leaving even those familiar with King’s original work in suspense. “It’s hard to judge where this newer, looser adaptation might progress from just the first hour, but Torpe has said that, like King, he intends to explore the nature of fanaticism, and how fear so often compels people to seek out unlikely prophets,” writes The Atlantic’s Sophie Gilbert. “If so, The Mist could be a satisfyingly complex chiller, scaring viewers not just with unexpected jumps and amped-up creepy crawlies, but with the more human monsters who are all trapped together inside, waiting out the weather.”

The Mist premieres at a time of incredible momentum for Spike, which will evolve into the premium TV Paramount Network in January of next year. While the network is still determining an exact programming lineup, they have already announced Yellowstone starring Kevin Costner, a six-part documentary on Trayvon Martin produced in conjunction with The Weinstein Company, American Woman starring Alicia Silverstone and Mena Suvari, a six-part Waco series documenting the 1993 stand-off at the Branch Dividian compound, and a television adaptation of the 1988 classic film Heathers.

Friday, June 23 – Logo Trailblazer Honors – Logo

The fourth installment of Logo’s marquee event follows last year’s emotional outpouring of defiant pride in the aftermath of the Orlando nightclub massacre.

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5 Questions with Baywatch’s Priyanka Chopra

There’s so much to love about Baywatch. The surf, the sand, the slo-mo. After Paramount’s adaptation of the hugely popular show came to the big screen in May, we posed “5 Questions” to actress Priyanka Chopra. Hear her talk about what it was like working on the film, how Baywatch has become such a global phenomenon, and what’s behind the drama between her character, Victoria Leeds, and super lifeguard Mitch Buchannon, played by Dwayne Johnson.

Watch the discussion below:

Created by Viacom Catalyst.

5 Questions: Spike’s Jon Slusser Weighs in On Bellator MMA Coming to NYC

Get ready for the main event. For the first time, Bellator MMA is coming to New York City, where Spike will host its biggest fan spectacular yet, live from Madison Square Garden.

Jon Slusser, Viacom senior vice president for Sports and Specials at Spike, talks about what makes this event historic: from the title fights to the overall fan experience, and why, thanks to the dedication of the Spike team, Bellator continues to be a knockout success.

Hear what Slusser has to say about this fans-first extravaganza.

Created by Viacom Catalyst.

The Daily Show Hosts Pop Up Art Exhibit to Honor the Commander in Tweet

Lines stretched for blocks in Midtown Manhattan near Trump Tower last weekend, but not for a protest. Instead, tourists and locals converged just down the road to see The Daily Show’s homage to the self-proclaimed “Ernest Hemingway of a hundred and forty characters,” the man known as @RealDonaldTrump.

The Daily Show Presents: The Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library was a pop-up showcase with free admission.

“Say what you want about Donald Trump,” Noah told reporters as the exhibit opened. “He may not be good at presidenting, or leading, or geo-politics. But he is a damn fine tweet-er.”

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A Super Sweet Resurgence of Reality on MTV

In 2005, a show called My Super Sweet 16 premiered on MTV. I was 14, fixated yet mildly disturbed as I watched teenagers just a couple of years my senior scream at their parents for buying  the wrong type of Mercedes as a birthday present.

Hillary Duff sang the infections theme song (which is stuck in my head as I type this). The episodes typically involved 16-year-olds barking orders at their parents and outlining outlandish demands, such as a casual half million dollar budget. The birthday princess would change costumes more times than Rihanna at the VMAs.

We watched in lurid fascination as catfights unfolded between friends, celebrity guests, and parents. We witnessed harsh consequences for parents who bought their children an underwhelming amount of diamonds:

Yashika, aka the Veruca Salt of diamonds, makes herself clear. (Photo courtesy of MTV)

This was the golden age of early 2000s reality TV. As always, MTV defined what was in vogue—and at the time, it was delightfully depraved, unscripted programming.

Along with My Super Sweet 16, MTV produced some of the most addictively decadent shows of that era—Laguna Beach, Cribs, 8th & Ocean, The Osbournes, et al. Americans were collectively hooked.

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Jordan Klepper Ramps Up for New Late-Night Show By Solving Guns

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

The debate seems to slice like the Mississippi River through the center of America: you are either pro-gun or anti-gun. In this version of reality, you either want the Second Amendment repealed or you want to gear up like Rambo every time you step out to the mailbox.

Certainly, these extremists exist. But standing somewhere near the center is a huge percentage of the nation, individuals who support both a right to bear arms and some level of restrictions on that right.

It is this middle ground that seasoned Daily Show correspondent (and future late-night Comedy Central host) Jordan Klepper deftly pursues and, eventually, defines, in Jordan Klepper Solves Guns, a hilarious zig-zagging quest across the United States.

Despite its comedic undercarriage, the show is a thoughtful exploration of an important issue. “Klepper, ever the funny man, produced a serious piece of journalism filled with hard facts and relatable experiences for gun owners and anti-gun activists alike,” writes Paste’s Jacob Weindling. “It’s a special that doesn’t preach to us how similar we are, but it shows us. It is a feat of investigative journalism that is complemented by Klepper’s unique brand of humor.”

While Klepper starts his quest as a cavalier self-styled New York liberal elite promising to “solve,” guns (likely a poke at President Trump’s promise to “solve” North Korea), he is actually well-positioned to fairly explore the firearms debate. He grew up in Michigan, a politically mixed and moderate state, and his grandfather took Klepper out shooting often in his youth. His cousin Pete is an enthusiastic hunter and is featured prominently in the special.

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Nick’s Famous Slime Is Not Made of What You Think It Is

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

One recent weekend, I found our kitchen counters overrun with items that did not have any obvious place in a kitchen: shampoo bottles, shaving cream, various lotions and creams commandeered from closets and bathrooms. My 8-year-old daughter stood amid these scattered and emptied containers, churning their contents in a mixing bowl. The counters and floor had become a showroom of the varied colors and textures to emerge from the bottles.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Making slime,” she replied.

“Making slime?”

“Yes”

“Where did you learn how to do that?”

“On YouTube!”

Of course. This is the same child who recently asked me if I’d ever considered making a YouTube channel when I was little. When I confessed that I hadn’t, she wondered why. I told her that it had a lot to do with the fact that it didn’t exist until I was 27 years old.

This amazed her (“What did you do!?”), but I was pretty amazed, too, that even in the YouTube era, slime is something that still draws kids like birthday cake.

I grew up in the heyday of You Can’t Do That on Television, a youth-oriented sketch-variety program that ran on Nickelodeon throughout most of the 1980s. The show was also the birthplace of modern slime, which dropped like waterfalls from the ceiling anytime someone said, “I don’t know,” which seemed to happen a lot.

Decades later, as slime is having this DIY cultural moment, Nick is still the king of the gooey stuff. Just check out Pitbull’s Green Slime promo for the upcoming Kids’ Choice Sports Awards:

And if, like my daughter, you think that looks like fun, here’s how you can try making your own, Nick-sponsored slime:

But what was in that original Nick slime? Business Insider’s Chris Snyder recently put together this video where former Double Dare and What Would You Do? host Marc Summers reveals the composition of the torrential green downpours:

Footage courtesy of Chris Snyder and Business Insider. Used with permission.

We can’t confirm or deny  that Summers was correct – or whether Nick’s slime recipe has changed over the years – but it’s pretty fun to watch those old slime shots. In a world that has changed so much so rapidly – there was no real internet to speak of in the ’80s – some things, like slime, appear to be timeless.

Comedy Central and the Creation of Colossal Clusterfest: The Bonnaroo of Comedy

Comedy Central’s first foray into the festival scene, a three-day music and comedy fete in June called Colossal Clusterfest, was quietly introduced in a press release back in February with the simple tagline: “Comedy. Music. Comedy.”

The San Francisco-based cluster boasted superb stand-up, live podcasts, musical performances, and interactive attractions. There were sips and suds from California’s renowned wineries and local fare from artisan chefs. The circus culminated in a live Comedy Central special.

The goal—to pack a whopping, fans-first immersive experience into one weekend—was lofty, especially for a first-time festival. But attendees and critics largely agree that it was a colossal success.

Watch the highlight reel:

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