MTV Spends Summer at the Beach
SAN DIEGO (AP) _ Sitting on an ice chest decked out in beach wear, Dave Holmes looks more the Southern California surfer dude than MTV host from New York City.
That’s just the way he wants it.
``New York City? Hot. Stuck in a building all day. San Diego? Great weather. Days at the beach,″ he says.
So he gladly accepted the temporary gig as the West Coast host of MTV’s increasingly popular ``SoCal Summer,″ a mixture of original programming, including talk shows and dance competitions, which broadcasts daily from San Diego’s Mission Beach at 10 a.m. EDT.
For the past five years, MTV has relocated its studio base from its New York headquarters in Times Square to a picturesque local beach house during the summer. Destinations have included Seaside Heights, N. J., and Paradise Island, Bahamas.
This year, MTV chose a defunct beach front bar and restaurant to serve as its studio, redesigning the building to resemble a beach house.
In past years, the houses mostly served as exotic scenery to introduce music videos.
But the set up this year at Mission Beach, with its backdrop of sunbathers, surfers and the Giant Dipper roller coaster, has signaled a change in the music channel’s approach to summer programming.
``San Diego is really hip,″ Holmes says. ``It’s like Greenwich Village by the shore. It’s a great choice for MTV.″
With fare aimed at young viewers out of school for the summer, MTV’s summer ratings have steadily increased.
Part of the success, Holmes says, is the shift in music.
``We went through a dark period in the 1990s. The music was dark, and the videos, of course, were dark,″ he says. ``But now it’s fun again. It’s fun to watch.″
And fun is the key ingredient for MTV’s summer programming, which includes:
_``Mandy″: A talk show featuring as host singer Mandy Moore, the latest Britney Spears incarnation, who chats it up with young celebrity guests on a variety of topics, ranging from dating to beauty tips.
_``Sisqo’s Shakedown″: A dance competition with beach party vibe with Sisqo, formerly of the rap group Dru Hill, as host.
_``Mission: Makeover″: MTV’s ``House of Style″ host Molly Sims oversees makeovers of locals who want to change their image.
_``Say What? Karaoke″: A game show with Holmes as host that features contestants who sing along to their favorite music videos for a panel of celebrity judges.
_``Hot Zone″: A daily dose of celebrity and entertainment news, featuring guests and well-known Southern California entertainment locales.
What makes ``SoCal Summer″ programming appealing for viewers, says supervising producer Mike Powers, is the ``real kids″ factor.
Nearly every shot filmed for MTV at the beach features local teens and young adults.
``These are real kids who come out to be on the shows. They are all from here. They’re not all beautiful people,″ he says.
But Powers admits that all of the dancers and many of the teens featured in background shots were cast in the roles. The exception is the game show, which holds auditions for potential contestants.
One a recent day, Holmes took to the boardwalk, hitting surfer hangouts and the beach to film segments about music videos that didn’t make the cut on MTV’s powerhouse ``Total Request Live,″ where viewers vote for their favorite videos and ``TRL″ _ as its known to fans _ counts down the top 10.
As he strolls down the beach, Holmes is ogled by teens and stared at by perplexed senior citizens.
``Who’s he?″ asks one older woman. ``Should I know him from somewhere?″
But 18-year-old Jim Dubina of Phoenix needs no introduction.
``Can I have your autograph?″ he asks Holmes.
The MTV video jockey happily scrawls his name across a small, white piece of paper.
Holmes, who has been with MTV for two years, hands the autograph back and asks Dubina if he’s having fun at the beach this summer.
``Totally,″ the teen-ager says.
Elsewhere in television ....
POINT OF VIEW: The PBS series ``P.O.V.″ turns the camera on Appalachia and the 1967 slaying of filmmaker Hugh O’Connor, shot as a trespasser while making a documentary about the war on poverty. Filmmaker Elizabeth Barret uses the killing as a basis for examining the relationship between media, public knowledge and private dignity and also to look at Appalachia’s place in the American imagination. ``Stranger With a Camera″ airs 10 p.m. EDT Tuesday, July 11.