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Pop-up Video

Pop-Up Video is a popular VH1 television show that "popped up" bubbles — officially called "info nuggets" — containing trivia and wry witticisms throughout music videos. The show was created by Woody Thompson and Tad Low and premiered October 27, 1996. For a time, it was the highest-rated program on VH1, though Behind the Music had overtaken it by 1998.

Although still lists Pop-Up Video in its programming roster, it has not aired regularly on the network since it was ended on August 8, 2002. It used to run on Canada's MuchMusic and MuchMoreMusic. The show, until recently, aired nightly on VH1 Europe, but is currently run only on special occasions, such as Pop-Up Video weekends.

As of December 2006, Pop-Up Video airs on VH1 Classic.


Most episodes of Pop-Up Video play five music videos each, selected to include new, older, "classic", and "campy" videos. The bubbles that pop up in each video generally appear about every 15-20 seconds; their content is divided between information about the recording artist featured, the production of the video, and random facts. One of the show's staff writers is assigned to each video. Production costs for each episode total about $30,000.

The "random" information presented in bubbles frequently included statistics and demographics, medical, scientific, and historical trivia, definitions, and lists of a wide range of subjects. Gary Burns, in the Journal of Popular Film and Television, also notes as a recurring theme "the producers' attempt to turn practically every popped-up video into a dirty joke."

Often the film crew for the video in question would be interviewed in the research process; everyone from the director to make-up artists, choreographers, and models and extras might be used as sources. In addition, the producers solicited information by means of a phone line (displayed during the closing credits) and web site page. General facts are double- or triple-sourced, according to the producers.


Thompson and Low previously worked together on Brandon Tartikoff's late night talk show Last Call, before it was cancelled in 1994. They spent the next two years making pitches of ideas for television shows to various networks; in late 1995, the original iteration of the show concept, entitled "Pop-Up Videos", was sent to VH1 executives, alongside a number of other concepts making use of aspects of songs or music videos. The pilot episode cost $3000 to produce; the first video to be played on the show was Tina Turner's "Missing You".

1997 saw Pop-Up Video's profile expand as popular news publications such as The New York Times, Newsweek, and Entertainment Weekly all produced articles about the show.

In 2000, Entertainment Weekly reported that Low was no longer involved with the production of the show.

In recent years, Low has been developing new shows for the music channel Fuse TV; his creations include the striptease dance contest Pants-Off Dance-Off and the interactive music video-based game show Video iQ. He has also delivered talks at universities about the show, making a note of its lampooning of music celebrities.

Specials and other versions

Special episodes of Pop-Up Video aired throughout the series' run. Many focused on specific artists, including VH1 staples Madonna, U2, Prince, and Elton John. Others ran on different themes, such as "Women First," "Road Trip," "Movies," and "Duets". There were also several holiday specials, including Halloween and several Christmas episodes. Some theme episodes broke with the show's format by including a montage of clips from many videos.

During a week of 1980s-themed programming on VH1 in March 1998, Pop-Up Video became Pop-Up '80s. These episodes featured additional clips of 1980s news events and pop culture tidbits between music videos.

The 1996 VH1 Fashion Awards, Divas Live, the Oprah Winfrey Show (aired in syndication), several episodes of the Brady Bunch (aired on Nick at Nite in 2001, effectively named "Pop-Up Brady"), ABC's Original TGIF 1998 and 1999 line-up's season premieres and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (December 2000) also got the Pop-Up treatment. Other proposals, such as a Pop-Up Video edition of the entirety of Grease during its 1998 theatrical re-release, were never realized.

A United Kingdom-specific version entitled Pop-Up Video UK, aired on Channel 4, and still occasionally airs on VH1 UK and Europe. This version featured music videos by British artists such as Robbie Williams, the Spice Girls, and Elvis Costello.

In January 2000, the spinoff program Pop-Up Quiz debuted on VH1. Utilizing the same format as Pop-Up Video, the show presented trivia questions inspired by the content of each music video shown; for example, the game "Phil in the blank" was played over the video for "Sussudio" by Phil Collins. Launched at a time when the Pop-Up Video brand had become a "veritable franchise", the show was called a "weak spin-off" among several "duds" launched by the network at the time.

The 25th anniversary DVD release of The Rocky Horror Picture Show features a Pop-Up video clip of one of the film's musical numbers, "Hot Patootie-Bless My Soul", as an extra on the second disc.


Artists such as Billy Joel, Jakob Dylan of The Wallflowers, and The Police, as well as others such as director Mark Pellington and Sony Music Entertainment president Tommy Mottola complained about what they perceived as harsh treatment on the show and the videos they featured in were pulled. The show's creators called these "the Pops They Stopped. In contrast, some artists, including Joan Osborne and Paula Abdul, made appearances on the show to provide further information on their popped videos.

Reception and commentary

Pop-Up Video is most frequently compared to the contemporaneous television programs Beavis and Butt-head and Mystery Science Theater 3000, which were known for their on-screen commentary ridiculing, respectively, music videos and films. As these shows were described as "TV-for-people-who-are-sick-of-TV", Pop-Up Video has been called "a show for people who hate videos".

DVD Releases

Title Cover Art Release date
VH-1 Pop-Up Video: '80s July 6 1999

Derivatives and parodies

Early on, the show's popularity led to several copycats, most notably on an episode of the ABC television series Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (September 19, 1997) and a series of Bell Atlantic commercials. Spin The Bottle, Inc., which produced Pop-Up Video, publicly derided these Pop-Up imitators on its website.

A similar show is aired on the Argentine TV channel I-SAT. It's called Video Maní (peanut video), because the popups are a 3-D rotating peanut. It features a series of true/false questions on things regarding the theme of the video, and after a few seconds it shows "true" or "false". As I-SAT is a movie channel, the videos are used as fill between movies.

At the height of the show's popularity, MAD Magazine ran a series of "Pop-Off Video" takeoffs which mocked the artists, their fashions, their songs, and their music videos.

Another MAD Magazine parody mocked Pop-Up Video and porn movies with Pop-Up Porno, showing a similar idea in a pornographic context.

In the Video Centerfold of 1998 Playmate of the Year Karen McDougal, one of the segments was a Pop-up video showing factoids of McDougal and Playboy as she appeared in various stages of undress.

A 1998 storyline on daytime soap Sunset Beach involved a woman drawing a sketch of her former husband. A pop-up appeared to tell viewers that the sketch looked nothing like him. Another story featured a woman who was inseminated using a turkey baster. During the Thanksgiving episode, when a character pulled out a turkey baster, a pop-up reassured viewers that this was a different turkey baster.

The 2000 horror spoof Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the Thirteenth featured a spoof scene entitled "Chop-Up Video".

An episode of Bill Nye The Science Guy focused on caves had a music video at the end of the episode parodying the disco song "Shake Your Groove Thing". The video spoofed the format of Pop-Up Video, which would indicate that particular episode was made later in the series' run.

The Happy Tree Friends First Blood DVD has a "Pop Corn" special of the episode "Spin Fun Knowin' Ya" with spoof pop-ups in a similar style to Pop-Up Video.

The DVD of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man has a special feature in which one can watch the movie with little Pop-Up-Video-style factoids about the characters and the movie itself.

The 20th anniversary edition of "Transformers: The Movie" included a feature called "The Autobot Matrix of Knowledge" which, when activated, showed trivia and info regarding the movie and the Transformers franchise throughout the film, in the vein of Pop-Up-Video.

The Critter 411 segment in the DVD of Over the Hedge mimics Pop Up Video.

Disney Channel aired "Pop up" versions of High School Musical, Jump In!, and The Cheetah Girls 2.

The Back To The Future Three disc DVD edition was released. One of the features was Did you know that? Which provided information about the film.

During the credits of the film Music and Lyrics, We see a Pop-Up video version of the music Video for "Pop Goes My Heart" from the band within the movie "Pop!" featuring pop up tidbits telling us what happened to some of the characters after the movie ended.

"Crazy comedy" anime by ADV Films usually have a Pop-Up Video type special feature called AD-Vid-Notes. The notes explain Japanese pop culture references to American viewers. Anime with AD-Vid-Notes include Nerima Daikon Brothers, Pani Poni Dash, Excel Saga and Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi.


See also

External links

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