In 1994, music videos had BET-ter be less violent

TURNED ON IN L.A. -- Spring Preview

January 18, 1994|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Television Critic

Black Entertainment Television (BET) is cutting back on music videos that show guns or violence, according to an executive of the cable channel.

"We're starting '94 with a policy of curtailing guns and overall violence that is portrayed in music videos provided to us," Jeff Lee, BET's executive vice president, said at a press conference.

"We are saying to the record industry, if you're providing us with music videos that have guns in them and we feel that the violence is gratuitous violence, then we will ask you to cover up the guns or we will cover up the guns. If you can't agree to that, then we won't show the videos."

The process used to "cover up" the guns is called pixilation, which involves blurring the part of the screen that shows the guns.

Lee said BET is not banning guns altogether from music videos, because, in some cases, they are relevant to the song's message.

Record companies have started a practice of making different music videos for different outlets, depending on the standards of the cable channel regarding lyrics, guns and violence, Lee added. "There's now a BET-specific video, a video that will play ++ on BET," Lee said.

"They know the 'normal' or 'average' video won't make it on BET. We will turn it down. So, they have to make a video that is BET-friendly."

More Miller time

And there's more Dennis Miller coming on cable.

Sunday, HBO announced a new late-night show for Miller starting in April.

And Comedy Central says it will use Miller next week for live coverage of President Clinton's State of the Union message.

"We're going down to Washington Jan. 25 and unleashing our Comedy Central assault on the State of the Union process," said Mitch Semel, senior vice president for programming.

Miller's coverage of the speech, will be followed by a special edition of "Politically Incorrect," with Bill Maher, according to Semel.

An 'Avenue' of quality

OK, "Barbarians at the Gate" was great. "The Band Played On" was terrific, too.

But the highest-rated movie on HBO in 1993 was "Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman" with Daryl Hannah.

Continuing the theme of sex sells, the highest-rated, prime-time special on HBO last year was "Madonna -- Live Down Under."

Viewers interested in quality drama will be happy to know that the fourth highest-rated special on HBO was "Laurel Avenue," the realistic drama about African-American family life, produced by Baltimore's Charles S. Dutton.

The bad news is HBO has no plans to make a series out of "Laurel Avenue" despite the ratings.

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