Carson Daly is now a suit-wearing anchor on the Today show and you haven’t spent a summer with the TV tuned to MTV since Dick Cheney seemed as bad as it could get, and yet they’re bringing back TRL, Total Request Live.
The New York Times talked to Chris McCarthy, president of MTV, about the current state of things at the network. (In a word: beleaguered.) A centerpiece of their latest round of revamp plans is the retooled and returned TRL.
The original iteration — which featured a countdown of music videos, a studio audience and frequent appearances from star musicians — was, in a way, a throwback itself, an updated version of “American Bandstand.”
The newer version of “TRL” will initially run an hour a day, and Mr. McCarthy said that might grow to two to three hours a day as the show developed. (There will also be unique daily content for Instagram, Snapchat and other social media channels.)
MTV is hoping the “TRL” name is enough of a star. Mr. Daly will not return as host, and the network instead will rely on five co-hosts who are relatively unknown, including DC Young Fly, a rapper and comedian, and Erik Zachary, a Chicago radio host.
But the setting—which was an essential part of the vibe of the original, allowing bored suburban preteens who couldn’t so much as drive to the mall to feel connected to the media creation that is New York City in the American popular imagination—will remain the same, and consequently MTV is working on “a massive studio facing Times Square” “in the hope of capturing the old magic.” Good luck to the cameramen responsible for making sure there aren’t too many desnudas’ bare curves in the shots.
“MTV’s reinvention is coming by harnessing its heritage,” McCarthy told the Times. But while TRL holds a very specific place in the hearts of millennials, we’re surely all racing toward the upper limit of MTV’s target demographic, and one wonders whether the concept has quite as much resonance for younger viewers. Does a show about requesting specific songs even make sense to a generation raised on streaming media? Guess we’ll see!