VH1 Rebooting 'Pop Up Video' With 60-Episode Order (Exclusive)

Woody Thompson
Woody Thompson
 Courtesy of Subject

After a 10-year hiatus, VH1 is resurrecting Pop Up Video with co-creator Woody Thompson on board as executive producer. The network has ordered 60 half-hour episodes set to bow as a strip in the fall.

The reboot will remain faithful to the original concept of bubbles of true “info nuggets” strategically deployed over music videos for maximum irony. But this time Thompson and his team will also pop-up rap and hip-hop, a genre that was off limits for the original because it was the domain of sister network MTV.

Of course, since the series premiered in 1996, social networking and Twitter have opened the floodgates on snarky commentary. 

“I have sat on the sidelines for the last decade and watched as everyone and the brother has ripped off Pop Up in some way or another with the internet coming out of nowhere and Twitter being hauntingly familiar and all of these devices that are using snarky, pithy text,” said Thompson.

Perhaps inevitably, VH1 will also introduce interactive elements, including polling and user-generated pop-up content.

“Our audience has a particular nostalgia for Pop Up Video, but they’re also seeking more information on multiple platforms,” said Jeff Olde, VH1’s executive vp original programming and production. “They’re [using social networking] to create their own pop-ups in a way. So we can hit the nostalgia beat but also have it feel like it’s relevant and current.”

Music-centric series Pop Up Video and Behind the Music, which was rebooted in 2009, put VH1 on the map when they premiered in the mid-1990s, quickly becoming the network’s most-watched and talked about original series. But like its sister network MTV, home of monster-hit Jersey Shore as well as 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom, VH1 has tacked toward reality programming. To that end, the network also has ordered second seasons of Mob Wives and Love and Hip Hop. Both series are also slated to return in the fall.

Love and Hip Hop received a 10-episode order, while Mob Wives will likely get an order between 10 and 12 episodes. The premiere last March of Love and Hip Hop was VH1’s highest-rated series debut in more than a year, while the buzzy Mob Wives is averaging 1.3 million viewers in its first season. The net has scheduled a Mob Wives reunion special for July 10.

Love and Hip Hop follows Chrissy Lampkin (Jim Jones' fiancée), Emily Bustamente (mother of Fabolous' son), ex-G-Unit artist Olivia Longott and model-turned-rapper Somaya Reece.

Mob Wives revolves around four Staten Island women whose husbands or fathers are incarcerated for “mob-related activities.” Drita D’avanzo’s husband is in prison for bank robbery. Carla Facciolo’s husband is doing a bid for stock fraud, while her father and uncles are also cons. Renee Graziano’s father is allegedly a capo in La Cosa Nostra. And Karen Gravano is the daughter of infamous mafia informant Salvatore Gravano, a.k.a. Sammy the Bull. All four women will be back for season two.

Olde characterizes both Love and Hip Hop and Mob Wives as “loud, bold and authentic.”

“When I met the [Mob Wives] ladies for the first time I thought, you couldn’t write this stuff,” said Olde. “We walked out of the room and I said, ‘I don’t know how we don’t do this.’ They’re great characters with a unique point of view who live in a very specific subculture.”

Real-life mob daughter Jennifer Graziano, sister of Renee, is the series creator and executive producer. Mob Wives is produced by the Weinstein Co., Electus and Left/Right. Banks Tarver, Ken Druckerman and Nina Diaz are executive producers. Shelly Tatro, Kari MacFarland and Rick Hankey are executive producers for VH1.

Thompson will executive produce Pop Up for Eyeboogie, with Tatro, Olde and Karla Hidalgo as executive producers for VH1.

Love and Hip Hop is executive produced by Mona Scott-Young for Monami Entertainment, Toby Barraud and Stefan Springman for NFGTV. Jim Ackerman and Olde are executive producers for VH1. 

Email: Marisa.Guthrie@thr.com
Twitter: @MarisaGuthrie

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