Bifocal 6: MTV and Thriller

“This became the new plan: to make a one-hour program for the fourteen minutes of Thriller and an accompanying documentary on the making of what, to that point, would be the most expensive music video ever made, and to finance it by selling the broadcast rights to television. The obvious choice would have been to approach MTV, but MTV wasn’t used to paying for programming, and [John] Landis and his partners had a different exhibitor in mind. ‘Cable TV was just starting,” says Landis, “and we sold it to Showtime. It wasn’t enough money, but it was a lot of money, and as soon as we sold the right to premiere  Thriller and Making Michael Jackson’s Thriller to Showtime, we got a hysterical call from MTV, saying, “You can’t do this to us!”

Excerpt from “The Transformation” by Jason Lapeyre, Wax Poetics, No. 37 Oct./Nov. 2009: 77-8. Print.

Image: MTV logo without “Music Television” and MTV logo with “Music Television.” Image from Rolling Stone.com

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