Interview: Dermot McCormack, EVP Digital Media, MTV Networks @ CES 2011

Can MTV.com do what many have tried (and failed) to do over the past decade-and-a-half — become the MTV of the internet? MTV Networks’ head of digital media told us that’s exactly what he’s set out to do in 2011. I spoke with EVP of MTV.com Dermot McCormack about iPads, Android tablets and the future of MTV digital and mobile programming at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas during the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show.

Originally posted at LAist.com

Must See: Pink Floyd’s The Wall Performed Live

Like many others, I shrugged off the idea of another Roger Waters tour, bringing the music of Pink Floyd into arenas nationwide sans David Gilmour. As much as Floyd meant to me in my high school years, I haven’t listened to their music on my own volition for at least a dozen years. It would be nice to hear an album that I had loved straight through in concert.

Then I heard about how full bore Waters was going with the production — recreating the spectacle of The Wall on its 30th anniversary and then some — on this Sound Opinions podcast in October. Yeah, I can dig it.

Only top top bands with a serious legacy can truly demand $250 and up for a top ticket and still manage to fill arenas nationwide (often for multi-night runs). But there sure as hell better be some spectacular video / light show / side show to go along with the tired greatest hits nonsense. Regardless, Waters will have absolutely no reason to work again after galavanting around the world for 10 months on the strength of his 30-year old magnum opus. Look for his name near the top of the next weekly Pollstar Top 20 Concerts list.

In this case there was amazing video — the wall featured a steady stream of motion graphics and video, many from the original The Wall, projected onto a huge wall — about 240 feet wide and 33 feet tall. The story of The Wall holds up very well, all the way to The Trial, even if it can get a little tiresome looking at Waters parading in front of the wall alone in love with himself as the lead character in the story as his presumed alter ego, Pink Floyd. A 12-piece band including horns and a childrens choir comprised of kids from the Heart of Los Angeles after-school program took the stage for the cockneyed refrain on “Another Brick in the Wall” and probably the most elaborate and crisp sound I’ve heard in an arena. There were monster speakers in teh back of the house and from the floor, you could literally feel the helicopters closing in from all sides at some points. Holiday season — maybe I was feeling sentimental, but I got major chills a few times.

I definitely recommend seeing this show if you can, tickets were going for below face value for the Staples Center (I got lucky and was whisked in on a friend’s last-minute extra ticket, thanks Gretchen!). The remaining U.S. tour dates are listed below along with a clip from “Hey You” which opened up the second part of the show from behind The Wall.

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Get Schooled and Common Surprise Grant High in LA

The Get Schooled 2010 Challenge dropped in on L.A. on Friday, surprising the students at Ulysses S. Grant High School in Valley Village with a one-hour assembly hosted by MTV’s Sway and featuring Common.

“…I know y’all fresher than North Hollywood,” Common freestyled from a stage set up in the Grant High Lancers’ gym.

Los Angeles was the ninth stop on Get Schooled’s National Challenge and Tour, a program funded in part by MTV and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In each city, a top school is chosen by the district but the details and location of the school are kept under wraps to maximize the surprise. In L.A. Get Schooled is encouraging students to not just stay in school but to be proactive and take advantage of LAUSD programs such as City of Angels, to help those who are still a few credits shy of a diploma and the Green Dot Public Schools. The comprehensive website is loaded with resources and tips for students of all ages as well as volunteer opportunities, such as City Year. Everyone is encouraged to step up!

We caught up with Common and Sway to discuss the importance of programs such as Get Schooled. Watch the videos below!

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Interview with Common at Get Schooled Event in LA – 11/12/2010

I was lucky to get a couple minutes with Common following the filming of Get Schooled for MTV at Ulysses S. Grant High School in Valley Village. We spoke briefly about the event, education, and the ability of social media to empower him and his peers to create change.

Pixies Play 33 Songs for 33 Miners in Chile

pixies black francis chileThe Pixies made the most of their first-ever headlining gig in Santiago, Chile last night, capturing the celebratory emotion of the just-completed Mina San José rescue and bottling it up into a 33-song set.

Listen to the crowd react as Black Francis prefaces the set by recognizing the need celebrate this day and adding, “so we’re going to play 33 songs tonight….”

Can’t possibly dream up a more timely (or easier to write) press release for someone in music PR:

The band’s scheduled performance happened to fall on the very night that the 33 miners were dramatically rescued from 69 unimaginable days trapped 2000 feet below the surface of the earth.

I’m doubly envious as I felt a bit short-shrift by the last Pixies show I saw (at the Palladium this year) especially compared to a 33-song set (plus two-song encore).
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