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Pop 'n' Rock

MTV will reach out to a diverse audience in Sunday's halftime show. The music and entertainment icon will tone down its attitude in an attempt to reach all viewers.

By PAMELA DAVIS

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 23, 2001


If the Super Bowl halftime show is anything like MTV's promotional spot for it, eyeballs could be popping all over America.

In the commercial, halftime performers 'N Sync stand at urinals with their backs to the camera. After the male football fans waiting in line for their turn in the bathroom tell 'N Sync they're due on stage, each member shakes and zips up.

MTV is all about shock value. But viewers can expect MTV to rein in its cutting-edge attitude for CBS, the most traditional of all broadcast networks, and the music channel's corporate sibling.

Still, MTV will leave its mark.

"MTV is a part of this because they (CBS) want it to be about our style," said Salli Frattini, MTV's executive producer for the halftime show and senior vice president/executive in charge of production at MTV. "We will deliver programming that has an MTV look."

The "look" will be found in the halftime show's animated graphic opening and in the 90-second short that follows it. MTV has long been known for animation (remember Beavis and Butt-head?).

Instead of Kid Rock, who fills his videos with adult film stars, and anger management candidate Eminem, MTV will fill its halftime stage with the safe and sound 'N Sync and recovered and reformed Aerosmith. Pop singer Britney Spears will be part of the show's finale as will two other artists whom MTV won't reveal.

"I think it's a neat concept: the playoff between pop and rock and having two different groups up there," said Tampa resident Bob Best, executive producer of the Super Bowl pregame show. "Obviously having MTV do the halftime show ought to pull you in to the new century."

Frattini said she had to choose artists whom the NFL, MTV and CBS would all be happy with.

"We felt that these two bands really represented rock and pop. They are both iconic artists who are relevant to a diverse group of people and a worldwide audience," Frattini said.

The halftime performance will last about 11 minutes. The bands will actually sing, rather than lip-synch to a prerecorded soundtrack, as past performers have done. "In booking the bands, that was their big concern. They didn't want to come off looking like everyone else has," Frattini said.

The performance will look and feel like a real concert, complete with fans bused into the stadium to worship at the feet of 'N Sync and Aerosmith.

MTV has been on the forefront of pop culture, fashion, entertainment and music since its debut 19 years ago. To its target audience, 12- to 24-year-olds, the channel is the best place to see and hear favorite musical artists and witness them doing everything from performing live to talking about how their videos are made. Young adults (MTV says it reaches viewers up to 34), watch for programming on political and social issues, current music news and shows like The Real World.

But for everyone else, MTV may just be something to click over with the remote control.

The goal of the halftime show is to offer something to all these groups.

MTV's relationship with the Super Bowl goes back a few years with the channel airing successful entertainment shows from the NFL Experience mini-theme park and other game-related venues. MTV's most popular show, Total Request Live, will air live from the NFL Experience on Saturday and Sunday. Total Request Live, more commonly known as TRL, is the American Bandstand of the 21st century. It's almost impossible for an artist to climb the charts these days if his video isn't played on TRL.

TV viewers vote by phone or computer for the videos they most want to see on TRL. Show host Carson Daly -- who at 28 has become a teen idol himself -- counts them down every weekday from the channel's Times Square headquarters.

Daly will become a familiar presence during the shows surrounding the Super Bowl.

Yet to be seen: whether Super Bowl fans will accept MTV.

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