MTV Uncensored

Authors: Jacob Hoye (Editor), David P. Levin, Stuart Cohn
Date of publication: August 2001
Publisher: Pocket Books
Length: 288 pages
Comments: Jon is quoted a bunch of times throughout the book, and there are also a few pictures from his early MTV career.


Page 36:

There was one channel, run by the state. And they knew what you were thinking.

There were around nine channels VHF, maybe four UHF. UHF was always like "I'm Uncle Binky. I host the children's weepy hour," all local, colorful programming. Captain Noah, Uncle Floyd. The regular channels were just straight-up soap operas in the morning, soap operas in the afternoon, cartoons in the four o'clock block. Five o'clock news. Game shows. Very similar to now, but nothing else to watch. So we used to go outside. We used to go -- what's the word? -- play outside.

- - -

When TV programmers ran out of shit to put on the air, they called it like it was. They'd go, "You know what we got? Nothing. We'd love to give you another program -- we just can't do it." Dooooooooooooooooooo. Tone.

That was it. That was them giving up. That was a white flag. Now people never give up. It's four in the morning: "You want to dehydrate your meat and make it into jerky?" That's what you're throwing on there. Just give up. Dooooooooo.

- - -

Before cable, TV had rabbit ears antennae. You'd try to get your brother to stand there when the game was on. Channel 9 and channel 11 were tougher to get in. 2, 4, and 7 came in real good. But 9 and 11 where the games were on, very tough. You had to have somebody with the rabbit ears doing a little Baryshnikov.

When cable came in, suddenly TV didn't have that fuzz. I remember that as being the biggest difference. I was going, why does everybody look so clear? That's not what TV's supposed to look like. It's supposed to look like everybody is about to get sent off to space.

Page 52:

Martha Quinn, let's face facts, was America's sweetheart. We all had a little crush on her. I don't know if it was the dope, or how late it was, but she was a very adorable, pixieish young lady. And could introduce a video like nobody's business. And who else were you going to have a crush on at the time? J. J. Jackson?

She was the girl. Nina Blackwood seemed unattainable. Mythological if you will. Martha Quinn seemed like the girl that would turn you down at your own college.

Page 136:

You Wrote It, You Watch It was the first thing we did at MTV. It seemed like a good idea at the time. We got letters from viewers and then our sketch troupe acted them out. The shows got bizarre. Ninety percent of the letters were somebody throwing up on an animal. People didn't -- what's the word I'm looking for -- "watch it". Basically the show could be called You Wrote It. Because the second part was really the key, that you watch it. People never got that.

After that show ended, I was sent to Sicily to chill out for a while, like the Godfather. Some of us were having dinner one night. Someone had brought beer and we were all a little hammered. They asked if I have any ideas for some shows for the network. I said, "Well how about this show? Let's try and find out what happens when people stop being polite ands start getting nervous." They didn't go for that. Then I think I said, "How about a talk show?" And they said, "Okay."

The first guest on the talk show was Howard Stern. I had stayed up all night the night before. I was very nervous. I had never met him before, but I was very excited 'cause I was a big fan. I thought of every angle he was going to go on. I can handle this. I'm a smart guy, a funny guy. He came on the show, walks out and he goes, "I don't know who you are and you're going to be off the air in six weeks." God, I was like the guy in the Maxell commercial. Faced.

Howard was just nailing me left and right. I did the only thing I could do. I just flipped open his book and I go, "What's this chapter on lesbians?" Woo. He was off me. That's what I still do with every guest. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Anna Nicole Smith was a very interesting case. I was used to viewers falling asleep during the show. This was the first time we had a guest do it. You'd ask a question and then you'd begin to see the reflex of trying to answer. She was definitely trying to hand in there. About halfway through it she'd go, "What was the question?" When we went to commercial -- I had never seen this before -- she had like an Indy pit crew with her. All of a sudden eight guys come out , hydraulics, put her on a jack, twisting her head around, slapping her around, and there's just one lady in the front going, "Come on, you can do this." We came back and she was a little fresher.


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