R.E.M. Exhibit Bows At Museum Of Television & Radio

Video clips, film compilation, radio spots document Athens, Ga., band's evolution.

NEW YORK — R.E.M. won't be eligible for the Rock and Roll

Hall of Fame for several years, but another museum has already taken in

the influential Athens, Ga., band.

"Rapid Eye Movement: R.E.M. on Television," a comprehensive exhibit of

visual and audio material, is on display at the New York and Los Angeles

branches of the Museum of Television & Radio through Nov. 28.

"If people find it interesting and noteworthy, and worth putting on

exhibition into an institution, we're certainly appreciative," the band's

manager, Bertis Downs, said. The band has yet to see the exhibit, Downs

said, although singer Michael Stipe did sit for an interview with the

museum in October that's included in the display.

Through music videos, tapes of television appearances, radio spots and

a couple of documentary films, the exhibit traces R.E.M.'s evolution from

college-radio cult band to rock stars.

The exhibit is part of the museum's ongoing series saluting performers

for whom television has played an important role in achieving success.

Past exhibitions at the museum have focused on singer Janet Jackson and

the late comedian Andy Kaufman.

Including R.E.M. in the series wasn't a difficult choice, said Arthur

Smith, a curatorial assistant at the museum. "R.E.M. [have] been in the

forefront of innovation in terms of their visual presentation."

"We have been around for a while and done quite a few videos and films

of concerts," Downs said.

As part of the R.E.M. exhibition, the museum compiled a 90-minute film

that includes "MTV Unplugged" performances; such music videos as

"Everybody Hurts" (RealAudio

excerpt), "Man on the Moon" and "Losing My Religion"; and clips

from the 1995 documentary "Rough Cut" and numerous television appearances.

Interspersed with the video and television footage is the Stipe interview.

The R.E.M. frontman talks candidly on subjects ranging from feeling uneasy

at being labeled the "voice for a generation," to the pressures he faced

being a spokesperson for political causes, to the inspiration behind his

homage to Brian Wilson in the song "At My Most Beautiful" from the R.E.M.'s

latest album, Up (1998).

Other gems in the film include a 1983 clip from the TV show "Live Wire"

in which a young, mop-headed audience member, the Beastie Boys' Adam

Horovitz, raises his hand to ask if Stipe could "write down the lyrics"

to R.E.M.'s songs, because Horovitz can't understand what Stipe is singing.

The R.E.M. exhibition includes two documentaries. "This Way Up" has

behind-the-scenes footage of the band recording Up in Hawaii and

speaking of the difficulties working without longtime drummer Bill Berry,

who quit in 1997. "Uptake" features the band performing material from

Up on a soundstage in England's Ealing Studio.

Because college radio played a big role in R.E.M.'s career, a 60-minute

radio package, "R.E.M.: On the Radio," is also part of the exhibit.

Listeners can take in the 1996 radio show "The R.E.M. Radio Hour," with

bandmembers talking about the album New Adventures in Hi-Fi,

released that September.

R.E.M.'s first single, "Radio Free Europe" (RealAudio

excerpt), released in 1981, became an instant underground hit,

but the band's breakout success came in 1987 with their fifth album,

Document, which featured the single "The One I Love." The group's

Out of Time (1991) and Automatic for the People (1992) were

major critical and commercial successes.