Low: People who watched it at home had no idea that amount of work that we did, not just in the writing, but in the arguing and the standing up for ourselves at that particular time in American popular culture.
We did one with John Cougar Mellencamp - “Pink Houses” - and he's dancing around in a field and we said that John suffered from spina bifida as a kid. He doesn't have it anymore, but that was a no-go. I think we finally got that one in, but it took a lot of fighting.
Thompson: We had unbelievable battles within VH1, most of the stuff they wouldn't tell us why. They would say, “You can’t say that about Billy Joel," and we would say, "What do you mean? He got drunk and smashed his cadillac into someone's house. How can we not tell that, its on the news, it’s in Rolling Stone!" And then you hear that VH1 is trying to get Billy Joel to perform, or come to the VH1 fashion show. You know all these backroom deals that we didn't give a shit about. VH1 had to publicly say they were looking into it and they had to politically say to the network that they had us under control, but the real story was that we were completely out of control.
VH1 wouldn't out Boy George, wouldn't say he was gay, that he had a relationship with John Moss who was a drummer, meanwhile Boy George is all over the media, and telling the story about having sex with John Moss backstage and before shows. Why are we not allowed to tell the story? Meat Loaf wants to be on the fashion show, but you can’t call him fat and give meatloaf recipes during his "I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)" What are you talking about? His name is Meat Loaf!
Low: Meat Loaf called his manager like, “Listen, they're making fat jokes about me on VH1.. you gotta call them and do something.” And his manager says, “Yeah, Meat. Except for this -- music videos are infomercials to help you sell your music. If 3 times the people are watching the video, that could potentially lead to 3 times the music sales, so maybe you wanna take the fat jokes a little bit.”
[The episodes] were triple the ratings of just an hour of normal videos. Having a highly rated show on a network that was struggling gave us a little room a little latitude with my tantrums. I wrote this letter talking about, “You gotta stand up otherwise we're gonna look like Entertainment Tonight.” I never wanted our show to feel like ET. [Pop-Up Video] had a New York sensibility too, sort of thumbing your nose at the entertainment industry.
The other secret was the executives who worked at VH1 and MTV they mostly had come out of radio and they would get free tickets -- very cozy -- and to be honest, they would get laid! They used their free tickets to meet ladies. So we came along and we weren't afraid about telling the truth and it caused a big kerfuffle, because we jeopardized the sex lives of a lot of the executives.