first telecast: July 29, 1983 last telecast: December 29, 2000 broadcast: Fridays on NBC -----------1983-1987 12:30 to 2:00 a.m. (EST) -----------1987-1991 1:30 to 2:30 a.m. (EST) -----------1991-2000 1:35 to 2:35 a.m. (EST)
Friday Night Videos was network television’s answer to MTV.
The MTV cable channel was launched in 1981. By 1983, music videos had created an entertainment revolution that musicians and marketers couldn't ignore. At this early date, few cable providers offered the channel, and many homes were located in areas without cable TV service. FNV brought the latest videos and music news to these homes.
In the beginning, the show was 90 minutes long and consisted of music videos introduced by an off-camera announcer. In addition to this, classic artists of the 1960s and 1970s occasionally appeared in Hall of Fame Videos, major stars were profiled in Private Reels, and new clips made their network debut as World Premiere Videos.
The most popular feature was Video Vote. Two videos were played back-to-back, and viewers across the country could call in and vote for one of them, using nationwide 1-900 numbers. The winning video faced a new challenger the following week.
Nick Michaels and Scott Muni were the off-camera announcers.
the first telecast
July 29, 1983
"Many of our viewers aren't familiar with music videos, so we're going to begin our first show with one of the best." --So stated the announcer at the beginning of the first telecast. Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean was the video chosen for this honor.
In the Video Vote, Duran Duran’s Hungry Like The Wolf beat out David Bowie’s Let’s Dance 59,000 calls to 37,000.
the opening sequence
The show's opening sequence featured an animated image of a blindfolded man tied to the spindle of a record player. Freed from his bonds, a ray of light enters his eyes. In effect, music videos were "freeing us" from the limitations of recorded sound.
Click on my YouTube playlist at the bottom of this page to see some videos of the opening sequence!
During the early years, the Video Vote segment often received as many as 200,000 calls in a single night. The first year ended with a final contest, pitting the videos with the most victories against each other. Callers chose ZZ Top's Sharp Dressed Man as the 1983 Video Vote Champion.
Occasionally, FNV was simulcast on the radio, so viewers could hear the music in stereo. In December 1983, the show scored a ratings victory when it aired Michael Jackson's Thriller as a World Premiere Video.
In 1987, FNV's starting time was moved to an hour later, and the show was cut from 90 minutes to 60 minutes. This was done to make room for Late Night With David Letterman, which had recently added a Friday night broadcast.
In 1989, FNV gave out its own awards, naming Michael Jackson the Greatest Video Artist Of The Decade.
celebrity guest hosts In November 1983, Jonathan Cain and Neal Schon of Journey were the first celebrity guest hosts. By 1985, the off-camera announcers were gone and FNV was using guest hosts exclusively. Actors, comedians, media celebrities and musicians all did their stint on FNV, usually in teams of two. Unfortunately, the videos were sometimes cut short to make room for these additional segments.
In 1990, FNV began to move away from an all-video format. Regular comedy segments were added, featuring Judy Tenuta (The Goddess of Gossip), Richard Belzer (Ask the Belz), Kim Coles (Girl Talk), Tom Kenny (Music News) and James Stephens III (Rapitorials). Popular DJ Frankie Crocker became the regular off-camera announcer.
In 1991, live musical performances were added. Tom Kenny became the on-screen host and Frankie Crocker hosted his own feature, Frankie Crocker's Journal, which highlighted important dates in music history.
Shortly thereafter, Crocker took over as host, sharing duties with Darryl Bell and Branford Marsalis while continuing to host his Journal.
In 1994, FNV shortened its name to Friday Night, and the emphasis shifted even more towards comedy and variety. The new format brought two new hosts: Henry Cho and Rita Sever.
In 1996, Rita Sever became the sole host. Friday Night's format now included movie reviews, stand-up comedy, live music, interviews and comedy sketches. The old Video Vote segment was resurrected and renamed Friday Night Jukebox.
In 2000, despite having its highest ratings in years, Friday Night was canceled by NBC in order to make room for a new show featuring stand-up comedians. Friday Night's last telecast was December 29, 2000.