The .Biz Q&A: Sheila Sullivan, MuchMusic Video Awards Exec. Producer
The .Biz Q&A: Sheila Sullivan, MuchMusic Video Awards Exec. Producer

Portishead
The Fame Game: Lady Gaga performing at the 2010 MuchMusic Video Awards is back again this year. (Photo: MuchMusic)

Canada's 22nd annual MuchMusic Video Awards (MMVAs) is airing live this Sunday (June 19) on Fuse in the U.S. and MuchMusic in Canada. This year's ceremony will include live performances by Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Simple Plan, Selena Gomez and the Scene, Far East Movement, Avril Lavigne and the Black Keys. Presenters include Snoop Dogg, David Guetta, Colin Farrell and "Twilight"'s Nikki Reed.

Nearly 6.2 million viewers watched last year's broadcast in Canada, according to Bell Media, and this year they expect even more. Billboard.Biz spoke with Sheila Sullivan, senior director/executive producer, entertainment, CTV, Bell Media and executive producer of this year's MMVAs as kids were lining up on Queen Street hoping to make their way into the award's show.

Billboard.biz The MuchMusic Video Awards has always had its share of top Canadian performers but it seems to be attracting even more international acts.
Sheila Sullivan: Over the last four or five years, the level of artists coming to the show has definitely grown. The MMVAs are a co-production between MuchMusic and the labels. Without the labels, the show wouldn't be what it is. They look at it noow as an opportunity to bring in international artists, to get them up close and personal with their fans in Canada. They obviously see results in sales or they wouldn't be doing it.

Who do you deal with at the (Canadian) majors for bookings?
I deal with Jeremy Summers [senior vice-president of marketing] at Universal; Steve Waxman [director, national publicity & video promotion] at Warner; Paul Shaver [vice-president promotion & marketing] at EMI; Warren Copnick [director, national promotion] at Sony.

The U.S. hasn't always aired the MuchMusic Awards, but this year it's on Fuse -- what's changed?

It used to air on Fuse a few years ago and then it didn't air for a couple of years. Last year, Fuse aired it. This year, we had a bidding war for it and Fuse ended up with it and we're anticipating another bidding war over it next year. We know there are already a couple of broadcasters in the U.S. interested in it.

Has the Internet helped with the profile of the MMVAs for people outside of Canada?
Absolutely and especially social media. The kids who have been sleeping on the streets since Tuesday have been tweeting since [June 7], "I'm in the line to see Bruno Mars;" "I'm in the line to see Lady Gaga." This goes out to millions of Lady Gaga fans, or Bruno Mars fans or Simple Plan fans or Avril Lavigne fans, and that turns up on Facebook. We've had Justin [Bieber] tweeting out about voting for 'your favorite' voting categories. So I think social media has played a really big part.

Is the MMVAs a tough sell in other territories?

It's never been a problem to sell. In past years, we've sold it to Columbia, Australia, New Zealand, all over Europe, South America, Puerto Rico, Bahamas, Barbados. There was a bidding war for it this year. It sells all over the place.

You book the non-musician presenters through JB Talent in Los Angeles. How long have you been dealing with them?

I started working with them about four or five years ago. I interviewed a couple of U.S. booking companies and settled on JB because I thought that they'd be most successful. I think one of the reasons we're having success and getting people up here is because of the six million viewers and it's getting so well known that it's not as much of a hard sell anymore."

Any changes to the show since Bell Media acquired CTVglobemedia in April?

It's the first year for Bell Media and the MMVAs and they're super excited. They're making sure we have everything we need in order to continue and build on its success."