VH-1 has signed Francis Ford Coppola to transform the musicvideo into a 23-minute narrative mini-musical.

Calling it “the birth of a new television form,” VH-1 prexy Ed Bennett said, “We’re trying to break away from the musicvideo mold that says you bombard the viewer with lots of images for four minutes.”

VH-1’s initial order is for Coppola’s American Zoetrope, in association with Palomar Pictures, to produce six of the longform videos, to begin on the network this fall.

Coppola “and his stable of young directors will try to bring creative storytelling to the music- video,” Bennett said. As four or five songs from a musical performer play on the soundtrack, the camera will be focusing on characters “who’ll be part of a narrative, a story, what could be a journey,” he continued.

This isn’t Coppola’s first venture into musicvids. He collaborated with Michael Jackson and George Lucas on “Captain Eo,” a 17-minute, music-driven 3-D movie featured at Disneyland.

No performers have signed to do the six videos yet. But Bennett says he expects each of the videos to cost between $ 50,000 and $ 150,000. VH-1 is counting on the record companies to pick up the tab, he says, because the network will schedule the videos monthly, treating them like half-hour specials, with a well-publicized premiere cablecast followed by seven other showings throughout the course of the month.

As Bennett put it, “Since the record labels already spend a lot of money on musicvideos, they should support this new way to present their artists. Our scheduling will put these performers in a bright spotlight. This will not be your standard video rotation.”

Bennett announced the deal with Fred Fuchs, president of American Zoetrope, and Anne-Marie Mackay, co-president and CEO of Palomar Pictures.

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