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June 15, 2004


Is VH1 the New E! ?

Remember back in the day, when it was fun to watch E! ? When you could find out actual dirt on celebrities, instead of watching the umpteenth video of Tara Reid falling down on Celebrities Uncensored 47?

Today, one turns to E! only to catch up on celebrities-by-association with shows like Relatively Famous, a program featuring family members of famous people. Even the E! True Hollywood Story, which used to be a strong spot, currently profiles such non-celebs as “Trust Fund Babies” and “Rock Star Daughters” almost exclusively.

The problem with non-celebrities is that, well, they’re just not that interesting. And the dubious reality television “stars” have already overshared so much of their lives through the magic of network television that it makes the True Hollywood Story of The Bachelor redundant.

But there is a new E! in town, and its name is VH1. VH1 gave up music programming some time ago, but rather than taking the MTV route of game shows with bikini clad teenagers, it began to focus on the lives of musicians. The difference between the two networks is that VH1 realizes the interesting stories come from, you know, people who have stories to tell. People who have clawed their way up the ladder of fame, rockin’ the whole way. Nicole Richie in rehab? Boring. CC Deville in rehab? Awesome.

In magazine parlance, E! has become the Us Weekly of television, while VH1 is Entertainment Weekly. In addition to its rotating profiles of rock stars and celebrities, VH1 has become the undisputed master of the clip show, including I Love the 80’s and hundreds of other crowd-pleasing countdown shows. In fact, in a recent informal poll*, VH1 was rated the number one cable channel in the U.S. for folding laundry to.

The breakout star of VH1’s pop-culture programming is the Behind the Music series. Indeed, what’s more compelling than washed-up rock stars and their stories of excess? But when producers tried to re-vamp the series with more E!-type celebrities – Britney, for example – no one paid much attention.

Luckily for viewers, VH1 is determined to hold on to their niche. To prove it, the network will air what could potentially be the greatest hour in the history of television. People, I’m talking about

The Guns N’ Roses Behind the Music

Do I need to say more? If ever there was a story that needs to be told, this is it. And one can only assume that the reason this has taken so long is because the notoriously “difficult” Axl refused to participate – until now.

For all of you with no TiVo, the episode will air June 30th, and then an additional ten times during the next week. I plan to watch it each time.

Now, that's entertainment television.

*of people in my house

categories: TV
posted by Emily at 3:00 PM | #