VH1's new schedule includes less music, more pop culture. Look for more awards shows, reality programs, and non-musical movies on the formerly video-oriented channel

By Gary Susman
Updated November 06, 2002 at 05:00 AM EST

VH1 may not have ”Liza and David” to kick around anymore, but it’ll have several new shows that could fill its proposed January slot, and some of them will even involve music. The channel, whose initials stand for ”video hits,” is following the example of sister station MTV in moving away from music toward broader pop-culture programming. It’s a change that’s been happening for some time, but the channel once known for ”Pop-Up Video” and ”Behind the Music” makes the move clear with the new slate of shows unveiled in a statement on Tuesday.

”We’re experimenting with the notion of embracing a wider pop-culture nostalgia definition,” VH1 entertainment president Brian Graden told the Hollywood Reporter. He insisted, however, that the channel isn’t completely abandoning music. ”The audience associates us with nostalgia and storytelling almost on an equal level with music. But music has to remain the core.”

Replacing the channel’s two-year-old interactive awards special ”My VH1 Music Awards” will be ”VH1 Big in 2002,” airing Dec. 15, which will give citations for the year’s most noteworthy pop cultural moments. Snarkily named categories include nominations for ”Do I Look Fat in this Fight?” (i.e., best action heroine, with nominees from ”Buffy,” ”Alias,” ”Goldmember,” etc.) and ”You Can’t Spell ‘Bald’ Without ‘Bad”’ (clean-pated celebrities like Vin Diesel, Shaq, Michael Chiklis, and White House press secretary Ari Fleischer). No word on whether Ari Fleischer will show up to claim his award if he wins.

”The VH1 Big in 2002 Awards signify the network’s continuing evolution,” VH1 general manager Christina Norman said in a statement. ”We’ll mirror this evolution with new programming that reflects VH1’s ongoing commitment to music, while embracing fresh new television approaches.”

Other new shows: ”Rock Med” (a reality series about Bay Area medics who freelance at concerts in case of fan injuries — think of it as ”Mosh Pit ER”), ”Mock Rock” (a reality series that lets rock tribute bands meet their icons), ”Ambushed” (a series of specials in which local musicians answer want-ads to audition for jobs, only to find that the gig is with a famous band like the Goo Goo Dolls), and a special counting down the ”50 Greatest Hip Hop Artists of All Time.”

VH1 will also continue to air non-musical movies (like ”The Godfather” and ”Top Gun,” which happen to be assets from the library of VH1’s sister company, Paramount Pictures) that still have some pop-cultural/nostalgic significance that can be addressed in accompanying documentaries, Graden told the Reporter. Call it Movies That Don’t Rock.

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