Dave Holmes, as memorialized in the “TRL” photo booth, and now, as an entertainment industry vet.
Many young people who dream of making a living in the entertainment world end up pushing paper when competition leads to rejection and their conviction ultimately wanes. For instance, even though Dave Holmes was a pop culture junkie and could give MTV archives a run for their money, it took him years to ditch the notion that being a TV personality just wasn’t in the cards. But after answering an open call to be a video jockey in 1998, his attitude made a quick turnaround.
Jesse Camp ultimately won MTV’s “Wanna Be A VJ?” and a salaried spot on what would become “TRL,” but second place still looked pretty good for Holmes. The network hired him, too, and after winning fans over on a number of shows, he cemented himself as an industry funny guy who truly knew his sh**.
Since Holmes’ last days on MTV in 2001, his standing as a smart-ass is just as concrete. And judging by his hilarious “X Factor” recaps for New York Magazine’s Vulture, the “A Drink With Dave” podcast and frequent visits to the Upright Citizens Brigade, we have to agree. Take a look at what he told Remote Control below, and make sure to follow his Twitter account to keep up with his musings on life in Hollywood.
What made you try out for “Wanna Be a VJ?” on MTV?
I grew up glued to MTV and had always dreamed of being a part of it somehow, but I never thought I would actually do it. The world of pop music and movies and videos and whatnot seemed like a whole other dimension that I could never break into. But one day in 1998, I was at my advertising job, di**ing around on the internet and I saw an article on Billboard.com about an open call for VJs. I circled the date, called out sick that day and the rest is trivia.
What were your aims as part of the network?
For my first two or three years at MTV, I just wanted to remain employed. I felt like a lottery winner–which in a way, I kind of was–and I just wanted to get as much experience as I could as fast as I could before they realized they’d made a mistake and fired me. In retrospect, I wish I’d been bolder about pitching ideas and developing new shows; they were really receptive to our ideas, but I was too timid.
Any crazy stories from your time at MTV? A flubbed lyric from “Say What?” or an especially contentious “Real World” debate?
I hosted a “Real World” reunion in Las Vegas in 2000, and I will say that nobody on planet Earth can throw down like those people. And you know what? I’m just going to leave it there.
What are some of your personal favorite memories from working at MTV?
The first thing I ever did on the air as an MTV employee was 90 minutes of live TV, alone. I was shooting the pilot for “Eye Spy Video,” and “MTV Live,” the predecessor to “TRL,” needed a host for the day since Carson Daly, Ananda Lewis and Toby Amies were all out of town. [Executive Producer] Tony DiSanto called down to the studio and asked if I’d fill in. Just super casually, like “Hey, new guy who’s never been on television–want to take over our network for 90 live minutes later today?” It was thrilling, terrifying, exhilarating and I was hooked immediately.
Other favorite memories include: All of them.
What made you inclined to film a video for the Trevor Project last year?
Doing an “It Gets Better” video was a no-brainer. I know Dan Savage a little bit, and when I read about the project he was putting together, I poured myself a glass of wine, turned on my webcam and went to town. Couldn’t be happier that I did. What a great project.
How did “A Drink with Dave” come about, and what’s been your experience with its recording so far? What can we expect in the next batch?
I was having some drinks with some TV producer friends of mine at the end of what was a terrifyingly slow 2010 for all of us. We got into that thing of “We need to work together, and here’s the kind of show we would do if we ever got someone to buy it.” Finally, one of the guys said, “Well, I’m not doing anything next week and neither are you; let’s get some folks together and actually do it.” And we did! I’m truly lucky to have people who believe in it and who have donated their time and talent. We are about to shoot Season 2, and tomorrow we’re meeting in my backyard for “A Very Drink With Dave Christmas,” which should be out sometime next week. Tune in, won’t you?
Dig Remote Control? Follow us on Twitter, like, now.
Photos: MTV.com and courtesy of Dave Holmes