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Rob Tannaebaum

Thu, 27 Sep 2012|

Mike Hsu interviews Rob Tannaebaum, Author of "I Want My MTV"

Transcript - will not be 100% accurate

Yeah good morning I don't do well thank you for having on L thanks serve throughout coming out of me I -- Didn't get to finish the book I'm about halfway through it so it took it back when you're done with -- -- -- talk to -- -- amendments it is hard to put -- believe me it's. It's I like the way you did it you know in the same sessions like legs McNeil did please kill me and -- exactly you know netbook yeah -- -- that's the first I've read of that style this testimonial style thing. Yeah -- it's -- it's called an oral history. And there have been some really good ones that are there was one on night yet again. There's another classic one about Saturday Night Live. And it's certainly you know we think it's a great weight is itself story that you get to hear the real voices of the people who were there. What's great is you also have the opposing views of things that we're supposed to happen in the offices of MTV. About one in particular I don't wanna give it away I'll just say a local girl were in Boston. A local girl that was in a very popular bands in the eighties for a little while. Supposedly was getting air play through oral pleasure let's just say. -- -- -- -- It's the way you phrase that I think you might hear from any man lawyers. So well well look no dollar well not Amy man yeah let's not now don't go out -- there's this story in the book that we've heard from -- -- half a dozen different and keep the employees. About an MTV executive. Who read the oral yes. From is certain female rock star. And everyone thought. Because someone opened his door accidentally. It and we asked him about it and you know he -- now happily not it never happened. And now we had six people have been of course it happens. It's to a group and I. 11 of the fun things in the book is liked by preventing it and oral history. We get you but next to one another people who are -- calling one to. What was really great was the -- first section of the book the first chapter because it was cool to see that. People like -- -- top and Stevie Nicks and pat -- are all these people who were already in the business and Marty doing well. Had the same reaction MTV I did. When I was like thirteen years old. Which which was I couldn't stop watching it I couldn't take my eyes off of it it was like so. New. And the fact that I can actually see these fans I was listening to on the radio or on on records for so long it was just news news just if. Not and that was very Smart of them to realize. How much music media could profit them. There were other bands particularly American that I'd journeys are areas he'd wagon and often. These fans were superstars. Before MTV. And their careers really start to plummet when MTV -- on the air -- book is is not good looking guy right and second ball. Daily you know but on the other hand TV's top weren't great looking either. No eight they had and took on about their videos. And a very very specific image that they were able to sell. And what did journey is an area he'd let him that the world -- was I wanna Wear jeans in the future just like I do it real life. I want to maintain my dignity in front of the camera and and you know that was competing -- British bands like Duran Duran and culture club were wearing ridiculous that it. Electric blue leather -- well riding on a yacht. You know so who's -- look better on television it was always the British. I think Simon will bond had one of the best quotes so far I've read the book is I think it it went. And TV made bad hair cuts really cool. -- -- -- It is there's also an it business section of the book that I I put together which is just. People talking about their -- Yes you know you have OK Jack had a -- well I OK you know I had a -- But mono he had a writer model is -- was huge he and then somebody else says. I did it so we had to mow it and he did and it must be cool. Yes of elderly those the guys and Duran Duran yeah -- yeah. It is -- you you know you read my book more recently and I S -- VI it's been out for awhile ago at best but one of the best reason Tony eleven I guess. It it made a lot of -- and a four best -- on eleven. My favorite review was something the Rolling Stone dead. I think that it was the -- what one of the funniest book ever written about music. Which is really what we were aiming for the eighties where are ridiculous time all right the book is full of stories about. Midget and cocaine yes. That's -- am. That's one of the best sections on again I want you to waive it involves Van Halen a couple of minutes it's -- a transvestite that's really all you need I mean that's a -- me -- -- If if you can't write a funny book about the 1982. And rock and roll -- you shouldn't be writing a book at all. They also the same time they're really shows how MTV notches changed. -- like say the music and music industry but change a lot of things about the world like as far as media goes. That's absolutely true it changed you know which we could start counting the number of things that they were changed in the eighties because of MTV. Film television. Action. You know I think somewhere in the book we we -- about and different things. All of which look different after MTV than it did before him he's. And -- that was all achieved by a network whose. With which to launch. At a time when no one thought it would be. And asinine idea as it was stated I think Bob Pittman opposite one of the one of them. Founding fathers there's so. Yet days there were probably twenty people in the world who thought that MTV would succeed and all twenty of them work to them -- I believe the first the they only had one carrier when they went on the air and it was a New Jersey dad actually go to New Jersey. So watch the the launch of MTV -- opinion and get a New York City. If it was almost two years before MTV was on the air in New York City. You know which is the tenor of the advertising world people in advertising can't be MTV they're not gonna put ads on it. It's amazing how. That it actually got you know as big as it did with. Literally everything was against it it was the the labels didn't wanna do it -- wanna make videos for free or given to them for free. The management people didn't wanna do with the -- hated -- the cable operators didn't wanna carry it for one reason or another whether it's religious things -- Pressure from some community leader and it's just amazing how it got past all that's a true testament to -- that twenty people you're talking about. Yeah well you know be. That this happened just in the in the last couple of days we sold the movie rights to the book all god Brett Ratner who has correctly rush hour movies bought the but -- Almighty god and in an interview he said it he saw this as his version of the social network. You know it's about it startup company where all these outrageous things happen. And I think that that is one aspect of it. Mean it's much more do you remember the movie the bad news bears yes to me is this social networks -- the bad news here. But did it and it beat the guys who started MTV. Were missed it. Weird. If there were two different guys who worked at MTV who only had one. Yes that's that's an amazing story itself is that it's -- it's you did 12 of the main guys. And ask this but that this was not the social network where it started at Harvard by a bunch of -- -- is -- of course everyone think we'll be. You know beat the other these third -- What I'll eat it most of the people at MTV came out of radio Bryan and I don't have to tell you what kind of people work in radio. Yes. Yes it literally pirates. They're literally pirates with -- iPad two while glass eyes but you know. I'm wanna talk about real quick as a running out of time here what. You or I guess a lot not just you I guess a lot of people you talked to in the book I deem the worst video ever and again. From a local guy here -- Billy Squier. And it's amazing how. -- -- I grew up I was a teenager at that time everybody around here especially had Philly scores albums. Went to see him at the local you know normal -- street you remember when he wouldn't piper. Yes yeah I -- the local stations here would play you know -- boyfriend all the time. I'm I'm a new Englander I I think I lived in Providence I lived in Boston -- and you know alternate delegate gap. Yes and it's amazing how this one video the way he Billy -- himself tells in the book. Literally. Stopped him like ruined his career like he went into hiding. -- when we interviewed people for the book we usually said to them. What's your favorite videos and what's your least favorite or what do you think is the best video what do you think is the -- 400 people gave us 400 different answers about the best city. You know everyone has their own individual choice about. What they react to you and what their -- vote on. But there really was only one man for the worst video of all time and that's -- squires were we denied. And you know it it if you watch it now is it kind of. Right well -- like what the arable about you after watching glee you're like well this is like really popular now -- you. In the. Is it it looked like it would fit right in today and I think you know this thing you have to understand about Billy Squier and an -- to describe the video a little bit. He wakes up in bed on pink satin sheet yes he stands up he takes picture if it's around. He popped up and down he'd crawl on the floor on his hands means. This is located here in culture club. Right Billy Squier was a hard rock singer who had a tough macho image you know and and this video. -- made him I think the -- in the book uses the word -- -- this was just the wrong. Video for his image. And he says this is because they came out his audiences live audience dropped about 50%. And it's just shows his career never recovered and didn't and it shows the power. At that point that MTV hat and I was still in the early stage it's. There are plenty of musicians we could name whose careers were made to buy videos. But there's only one week in Maine whose career was ruined by -- you not and I also have to say. He was a really good sport about. It's not something he talked about very much but I set up the interview with them he came over to my apartment. You -- Phillies are nice that my living room for about three hours and he rehash the whole story. And you know clearly he's still hurt by it. And there are some things -- said about the director of the video did you know that we're not very. Kind. But at the end of the interview he said this was a bad moment in a good life. Yes there's a look at a store that he was like top of the world yeah I I think he's still pretty happy guy. You know he's he's got a beautiful apartment on Central Park west and he lives in Hampton we don't need to -- -- here that require. And then you end the book in 1992. You call 81 to nine to the golden age of MTV and that's when they started the real world and there's if there's one thing I hate more than an election year it's reality television which I guess is kind of the same thing. I I agree with you I I can't I can't stand it I literally don't understand what the deal is in watching people degrade themselves. Eight you know you're looking at it from a financial standpoint you'd have to say that is that people who ran MTV. They knew what they were doing. The real world it was one of the first reality shows they came on the air. And the ratings were so much higher than they typically were war Guns 'N Roses video. That they realize it's somewhat reluctantly that they needed to get out of the music city this. And it left a lot of people you know my age your age who looked back at the eighties and faith in god that was and that's why -- that. Happen again. You know but it can't happen again for the same reason we don't ride horses and buggies right anymore. United. People's data that RM -- videos coming back and now. And -- they're not coming back any more than dinosaurs are. Well also. As time went on there are so many other ways now people can watch videos. And you know you could say well this was the death of the video that. It actually I think made of made rock or music videos legitimate art form. After the places like Tivo and especially YouTube which I think is the new MTV and to me it's like. Something tells me about a band I immediately go to YouTube because there's a 99% chance that bands got something up there it's not a video it's at least the music. And there are ways in which YouTube is better than him he'd be. You know aid if you were -- Janet Jackson and you have hit it through to warrant and Motley crew right. And and you know type of person if if if you love. God -- it if you love Bon Jovi you had to be a granola and the video. Absolutely -- and that way you just go to YouTube thing and you play whatever it is you like you don't have to see the bands you hate. Although there was something fun about watching -- -- Right it was at least that was entertaining. Like the bad videos at least he could sit there and then they actually MTV made a whole show about that right Beavis and Butthead. Yeah. It has been but it started around 9293. And and it was funny it's do a lot of air medal but you know who. We're let's say from eighty -- on 87 through ninety you. MTV was really heavy and -- yeah and these bands like warrant and Winger. They felt like they need MTV. And then all of a sudden they turn on. MTV one day and they are these two cartoons arrogant and I -- back and and they lost their mind. And how can you guys do this. After the relationship that we. But at MTV was Merkel in terms. Turning their back on -- and and moving on to the next thing. Well that's there's a line in here somewhere I can't really -- right now I forget who said that it was. It -- -- referred to the Vijay specifically but it was like and TV view talent I guess as disposable. Yeah you know anybody that was on MTV it was disposable it was the network that was the star. And they were just kinda like like consumers. You know eat up stuff and then throw it away. It and there are a lot of people who are huge stars now who got their start on MTV. You know the first two names that come to mind -- Jon Stewart and Adam Sandler right both of whom were on MTV got a lot of exposure. And then someone else would come along and offered them big contract. And MTV would say yeah OK -- later. Yeah go ahead because we're not gonna tea at it and we're gonna find somebody else right exactly some of the come right behind you yet and they always did find someone else. What's amazing too is you know the the in the infancy of making music videos and that particular industry the directors involved. You know like David Fincher and Michael Michael -- -- -- and you know it's just amazing these directors that went on to make some really amazing movies. In the early days of MTV's the people who were making. The video of the people were directing videos. You know way it wasn't a career. They were photographers or they you know they were screw up they were. Higher at you know not literally but it it it was sort of weirdos and and -- this. Who somehow we're figuring out how to use the camera. By the late eighties and it became a career. And you know we're two of the biggest directors in the world right now David Fincher and Michael Bay -- and both of them started in music videos. When you watch that movie you can still see some. Some video -- in there. Now our rob I gotta I gotta sign -- here but thank you very much for taking the time the book is fantastic. I can't wait to get off today and and plowed back into it. And and you know I I just -- -- hand over my heart as they a guy who was born and raised in New England it's really --