Ted Demme, Director And 'Yo! MTV Raps' Co-Founder, Dies

Apparent heart attack claims life of man who helped introduce hip-hop to millions of young Americans.

Director Ted Demme, whose most recent work includes the film "Blow" and who

had a major impact on the cultural map of America in the late '80s as

co-founder and producer of the seminal hip-hop program "Yo! MTV Raps," died

on Sunday, January 13 of an apparent heart attack.

Demme was playing in a celebrity basketball game in Santa Monica when he

collapsed. He was taken to the UCLA Medical Center, where he was pronounced

dead. He was 38 years old.

Demme joined MTV in 1985 as a production assistant and worked on a variety of

programs, including the game show "Remote Control," before he got the idea

that would put him at the helm of his first show and would put rap music in

the living rooms of millions of young Americans.

"I was always kind of a hip-hop fan, growing up in New York," Demme said in

an interview for "MTV Uncensored," "and I just thought there was a lack of

hip-hop music on the channel. So I went to my boss at the time, Peter

Dougherty, who was great friends with Rick Rubin and was very close with the

Beastie Boys. I said, 'Let's do a hip-hop show. We can do the 10 best rap

videos, we'll do some interviews, we'll do some packages.' After trying to

keep pitching it to our boss, they finally said, 'All right, why don't you go

do it?"

What followed was history-making. The series launched in 1988, and on a daily

basis, the hip-hop scenes in California and New York could check out the

latest from the other coast, and white suburban kids across the country were

turned on to the genre's sounds, styles and personalities. Hip-hop was now

firmly in the mainstream.

In the '90s, Demme left MTV to pursue a career as a director, making films

such as "Who's the Man?," "Beautiful Girls" and most recently "Blow," which

was released last year.

Demme also directed videos for artists including House of Pain, Afghan Whigs

and Bruce Springsteen, whose "Streets of Philadelphia" was recorded for the

movie "Philadelphia"

made by Demme's uncle, Jonathan Demme, who received an Academy Award for

directing 1991's "The Silence of the Lambs."

Ted Demme is survived by his wife, Amanda, his four-year-old daughter,

Jaxson, and his two-month-old son, Dexter.

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