Summertime news at MTV

Believe it or not, MTV gets serious

MTV will launch four new primetime music shows Aug. 6, giving the channel its first consistent schedule in the 8-10 p.m. block and marking a shift in strategy.

The four programs — “Artists Cut,” “Say What?” “Rockumentary Re-Mix” and “Top Ten Video Requests” — are the first of the more than 20 series MTV put into development in January.

The shows represent the beginning of a change in MTV’s on-air attitude. Instead of the flip irreverence of MTV staples such as “Beavis and Butt-head” and “Singled Out,” the Viacom-owned service will move toward a more serious tone, said Brian Graden, executive VP of programming for MTV. He said the shift is driven by extensive MTV research of young adults, which indicated that 18- to 24-year-olds are beginning to look at the world differently than just a few years ago.

“The sense is that people are moving to a time that’s more thoughtful, more soulful and more substantive,” Graden said. “Even 18-year-olds are talking about neotraditionalism.”

‘Sincere and serious’

Trying to get out in front of this trend, “Artists Cut” (8 p.m. Monday-Friday) will feature musicvideos followed by the artist explaining what he or she was thinking when the song was written. “It’s very sincere and serious,” Graden said.

Similarly, “Say What?” (8:30 p.m. Monday-Friday) celebrates song lyrics by running the words of the song over its musicvideo. Intercut will be viewers talking about what lyrics they think the artist is singing.

“Rockumentary Re-Mix” (9 p.m. Monday-Friday) will use MTV’s library of artist biographies and update them. Weekly themes will include “Rehab Week,” and “Hair Today, Hair Tomorrow.”

Viewers’ choice

The musicvideo playlist for “Top Ten Video Requests” (9:30 p.m. Monday-Friday) will be picked entirely by viewers. Using a video booth set up in Times Square, viewers also will appear on-air in between songs explaining why they feel passionate about a song.

Graden said the network’s goal in launching these four musicvideo-driven shows is to establish that MTV is going to take musicvideos more seriously that it has in recent years.

“These shows aren’t so much for ratings but to energize and celebrate the art form of musicvideos,” Graden said.

In five to six weeks, Graden will announce the launch of a slate of new longform programs to run at 10 p.m.

MTV also announced the return of its “Live From the 10 Spot” weekly performance series. The show’s new season will kick off with a concert by Matchbox 20 in New York at 10 p.m. April 10. Other performances include Green Day in San Francisco April 17, the Dave Mathews Band in Atlanta April 24, Van Halen in Sydney on May 1, Hanson in New York May 8 and Prodigy (date not set).

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