A bad case of Van Der Beek overload MTV's stake in 'Varsity Blues' has meant a barrage of ads for the hunky actor's first feature film.

January 17, 1999|By Tamara Ikenberg | Tamara Ikenberg,Sun Staff

How much James Van Der Beek is too much James Van Der Beek?

Ask MTV, which has been endlessly promoting "Varsity Blues," the first feature film for the heartthrob of TV's "Dawson's Creek," and you get pretty much the same answer the young actor's doe-eyed devotees would give you:

There's no such thing as too much James Van Der Beek, silly. He's positively yummy.

Well, they don't put it exactly that way, but the deluge of "Varsity Blues" promos aired over MTV in the past month was enough to cause severe cases of Van Der Beek-lemania in even casual viewers.

Now, MTV has never offered a particularly varied cornucopia of commercials. As at any other network, the ads it runs are targeted to its audience. But few networks have as well-defined a bull's eye as MTV does: material girls and boys obsessed with video games, designer tennis shoes, long- distance calling and "The Real World." Thus, you see little more than spots for 1-800-COLLECT, Sony PlayStation and Skechers shoes amid MTV's constant self-promotion.

But the "Varsity Blues" bombardment brought the repetition to new heights. Not even Ma- donna herself ever commanded so much of MTV's attention.

Why so much James Van Der Beek?

Simple. "Varsity Blues," a tale of huddles, hormones and humanity in a small-minded Texas town, is a Paramount film. But it's an MTV production, like the memorable "Beavis and Butt-head Do America," "Joe's Apartment" and "Dead Man on Campus" before it.

"MTV movies are geared to the MTV audience." says David Cohn, senior vice president of marketing for MTV. "We have a bigger opportunity [to reach that audience] on our network than anywhere else."

And for MTV movies, that means marketing without restraint. So for "Varsity Blues," MTV's on-air promo department created several MTV-only spots to augment Paramount's standard trailer, and has run them seemingly at every commercial break. One series of these ads features the film's main characters in a classroom mulling over personalized multiple-choice tests forcing them to choose their highest post-pubescent priority, such as a) playing football, b) getting drunk or c) getting lucky. Another captures them in moments of introspection, doing anything from push-ups to moping in a drive-through window, as the audience listens in on what's going through their minds.

Will I ever get out of this small town?

Is football really the be-all and end-all?

Can you die from too much exposure to James Van Der Beek?

Oops, that's what kept going through our minds.

Pub Date: 01/17/99

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