On The Record: ‘FN’ Memories
So, the first season of “FNMTV” is in the books. My American Airlines frequent-flyer account is bummed. My wife isn’t. Me? Well, I’m somewhere in between.
See, for more than three months, I spent every week flying from New York to Los Angeles to tape the show, an experience that was decidedly soul-crushing in just about every way imaginable. I had no summer to speak of, I am jet-lagged to a degree where I now exist in an alternate dimension, and I’m so out of the loop on pretty much everything that it’s going to take me a solid month to get up to speed (seriously, is a lesbian now?!?). I have a mile-high pile of unopened mail on my desk, an hour of unheard voicemail messages on my phone and so many unread e-mails in my inbox that MTV’s tech department is threatening to go on strike if I don’t make with the deleting.
But aside from all that, doing “FN” was a blast. I met a bunch of really cool people. I flirted with the likes of , and (wonder why my wife is happy the show’s over?). I got free haircuts every week. And most importantly — and, dare I say, improbably — I never accidentally dropped an F-bomb on air. Do I think we managed to “save the music video” as I hyperventilated in a column back in June ? No. But I do think that we made some strides toward that goal in a decidedly “un-MTV” way (you know, aside from the throngs of screaming teens in the audience and the gigantic “BOOM! WOOSH! CRASH!” lighting effect that accompanied each video’s premiere).
Because, at its very heart, “FNMTV” was a really good show, one based on celebrating the art of the music video. And in doing that, it also managed to be a gigantic, gleaming carrot dangled in front of artists’ noses — a way of saying, “Hey, if you’re willing to put a little time and effort into making these things, we’ll give ‘em the glossy treatment.” (Note: This does not apply to — we’re contractually obligated to premiere everything he does, regardless of actual quality.)
And if you managed to get past a lot of the ephemera, (the audience, those lights) and actually watch the thing, well, then you probably agree with me. I am proud of what we did on “FNMTV.” There were moments I was certainly happy with and some I was generally mortified by (and not all of them involved me screwing up on air). And now that the final episode has aired, I figured I’d use my column this week to collect all of them here. (There are, of course, two “Best Of” eps scheduled for this week and next, and no, I have no idea if/when we’re going to do a second season — Pete’s rather busy these days .)
So what follows is a sort of “FN Postmortem” on season one (hey, it was either that or a blow-by-blow account of me emptying my inbox), some of the highs and lows of three months spent in — and in between — Los Angeles, making TV magic alongside , Tim Kash and a host of others. Actually, mostly just Pete and I. Screw that Kash dude.
Best Video/Moment That Restored My Faith In Humanity
No Age’s “Eraser.” Look, I like No Age. I like them as people, and I like their music (I named their album the second best of 2008 — so far — back in July ). I think there is genuine power and beauty in what they do. I believe in Dean and Randy, you could say. But when producers told me we were going to debut the L.A. duo’s new video on our third episode, I was a tad bit worried. I had nightmares of them unspooling a 10-minute private psychedelic reel while our audience of tube-topped teens looked on with a mixture of horror and bewilderment. I could hear the deafening silence that would most certainly follow, the sucking sound of minds being blown (and not in the good way) and the clicky-clack of vicious texts being sent to friends. Needless to say, I did not have high hopes. But on show night — somehow, someway — none of this happened. The video was great. The kids in the audience actually dug it. And Dean and Randy seemed genuinely pumped with the whole thing. It was probably my favorite moment of the entire season — to see a bunch of kids embracing a weird-looking, weirder-sounding band because they wanted to — and it gave me hope for the future. Of course, that hope would be sufficiently dashed against the rocks time and time again over the coming weeks, but, hey … for a minute, I could dare to dream.
Worst/ Most Patently Offensive Video
All Time Low’s “Poppin’.” The white-boy posturing. The “ain’t we clever” mocking of hip-hop clichés (Grills! Bling! Doo-rags! Pimp suits! Misogyny!). The dancing little person dressed up like a leprechaun. The shameless aping of basically every video every made — minus, you know, all the clever bits. I hated this video with a burning passion, so much so that it made me believe that the guys in (who seem like genuinely sweet young dudes) could actually be really terrible human beings. Seriously, the only way this clip could’ve been more offensive is if they would’ve performed it in blackface. I was fully ready to say all of that on-air, but the panel segment for this video was cut in favor of a second performance.
That, yes, Tim Kash does in fact have a Wikipedia page. And that, yes, said page is just as hilarious the 50th time you’ve read it as it is the first. Perhaps even more so.
No matter how beefy the hip-hop star may be, he is in no way beefier than the 14 bodyguards he rolls with. Bonus points to and , who despite being two of the, uh, huger dudes in the game, seem to hire guards based solely on their weight in metric tons and their ability to blot out the sun.
‘s hair smells like a mixture of stubbed-out Phillies Blunts and a gallon of cough syrup. I wish I were making this up.
Special Bonus ‘FN’ Lil Wayne Story
During some very chaotic rehearsals for episode one, Pete approached Wayne backstage and — despite the fact that Weezy had his back turned, was taking directions from a pair of floor producers and was wearing ginormous headphones — he somehow managed to sense Pete’s presence, stopping mid-sentence and wheeling around ninja-style to embrace him. Sometime later, several of Wayne’s posse members would tell me that this is not at all an uncommon occurrence, because, as they put it, Wayne has “extrasensory perception … like the ‘hood Yoda.”
Best ‘FN’ Guest Panelist
Probably , because she was super nice and funny and she yelled a lot. Oh, and because she apparently thought Tim Kash was kind of a jerk.
Worst ‘FN’ Guest Panelist
Probably , because he was loose and hilarious during rehearsals, but then before we taped the show, he disappeared to his dressing room, and he emerged looking all tired-like or like he had been swimming in a super-chlorinated pool for about 100 hours. He really liked Snoop and Willie Nelson’s “My Medicine” video, though.
Best ‘Thanks For Not Even Trying’ Moment (Tie)
and . Look, I know that being an “indie” artist means that you must always appear aloof and totally, completely bored with everything that is happening around you. This is especially true if you’re appearing on a show produced by MTV (a.k.a. “the Man”). When did this on “120 Minutes,” I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Of course, I was also 14 and stupid at the time. When it’s happening on a live TV show, and said indie artists are surrounded by flummoxed teens and a bunch of flashing lights, it’s just awkward and terrible. So thanks for the complete lack of effort, guys (and girl)! Great TV was most certainly not made.
Best Performance You Never Saw (Because Her Label Decreed It So)
Duffy’s “Mercy.” If you are ever hosting a television show, and Welsh-born soul chanteuse is the musical guest, please refrain from mentioning in any and all capacity when introducing her, because doing so will cause Duffy to fumble her way though her entire performance, so much so that you’ll be forced to retape said performance (which is the version that aired) at show’s end, while an entire audience of bored teens look on half-heartedly and union guys smoke cigarettes and mutter about “time and a half.” That’s just what I’ve heard, though.
Two Pieces Of Information I Learned About Katy Perry During Season One Of ‘FNMTV’
1) Katy Perry does not like having balloons drop during her performances, because rowdy audience members might pop them, which would “scare” her. 2) If you are shooting an interview with Katy Perry, and a member of her entourage/ makeup team tells you not to shoot her from a certain angle, you should probably listen to him, because otherwise you will receive a totally fierce rebuke from said entourage member/ makeup monkey.
Best ‘Holy God, I Thought I Was Going To Crap My Pants’ Moment
Diddy surprises me onstage with flowers. I’m not going to lie, after our run-in during episode eight (you know, where he bum-rushed the sky box, shouted at me and then kissed me on the cheek, “Godfather”-style) and the subsequent, smarmy-ass column I wrote about the entire incident, I was super worried that on last week’s finale, Diddy was going to show up, beat me over the head with something, then dump my body in the Hudson. And when he popped up onstage while I was talking about the new video, I think my entire life flashed before my eyes. Only, he just wanted to apologize and give me a bouquet of flowers. Which was seriously one of the 10 greatest moments of my entire life. Honestly.
Second-Best ‘Holy God, I Thought I Was Going To Crap My Pants’ Moment
This one never aired, and by revealing it, I am basically guaranteeing that I will not be brought back for “FN” season two, but hey, what the heck. During episode nine, we premiered the new video by , who — in case you didn’t know — just so happens to be ‘s sister. Now, I said a whole bunch of good things about the song and the video, though I did say that I thought one of the dresses Sol wears in the clip looked “like a piñata.” Of course, I thought this was a relatively harmless joke, but apparently, Solange’s father, Mathew Knowles, didn’t. After the show, he approached me, shook my hand with a vice-like grip and basically told me he was none too happy about the piñata dig. (Actual line: “You had to go there with the piñata thing, didn’t you?”) He wanted me to go back on air and apologize, and when I told him I wouldn’t, he said he’d “see me at the VMAs” before ominously stomping off. I am still roughly 45 percent sure I will be killed during the show … which means that season one was a total success. Seriously.
Questions? Concerns? FN? Hit me at BTTS@MTVStaff.com.