Like most television producers, Barry Fiedel couldn't resist resorting to superlatives to describe his first television venture, "The Video Zoo," a live one-hour music video and comedy show that debuts Monday at 6:30 p.m. on Anaheim's KDOC-Channel 56.
"It's going to be more stupid than anything else on the air," Fiedel said with a laugh, aware that few television executives are likely to challenge his claim. "It won't be stupid in a ridiculous way," he added quickly, "but stupid in an entertaining way. We're doing Soupy Sales, the Three Stooges and Ernie Kovacs rolled into one. There will be a lot of pies in the face."
"To my knowledge," added host Barry Richards, "there isn't anything else like this anywhere in the country. Even shows that are supposed to be live, like David Letterman, Johnny Carson and 'Saturday Night Live,' are taped earlier in the day in front of a live audience and played back at night. Our show is really live." (The NBC-TV shows, confirmed a station spokesman, are taped live and aired unedited in their respective time slots.)
As its title suggests, "The Video Zoo" will incorporate music videos. But it won't be yet another clone of MTV or the numerous other video shows airing currently, Fiedel said.
Designed as a television equivalent of Rick Dees' zany radio shows, "The Video Zoo" will use only five videos per hour. Videos will be supplemented with live comedy routines, audience participation spots, viewer call-ins, dance and talent contests and other features.
"We'll have a cast of characters like Rick Dees has," said Richards, former host of a New Orleans music video show, "Video Trax." "We'll be using a lot of people that work here at the station, as well as guests. There are going to be wrestling matches on Fridays and the 'Zoo Parade' (a talent contest patterned loosely after 'The Gong Show')."
Added Fiedel, who also publishes "Hitmakers," a music industry tip sheet, "We didn't want to do a typical video show. Our main premise is to bring back spontaneous live television. When you do a show live, you can have everything planned out, but you still never know what will happen."
Fiedel also promised that videos by local unsigned bands will be shown along with those by major recording artists. "I'll be glad to preview their videos," he said. "We will use the best of the homemade videos." (He invited musicians interested in submitting tapes to contact him at (818) 887-3440.)
"We will also play records on the air," Fiedel said. "When the new Madonna record comes out, MTV may have the video exclusive, but we'll play the record before KIIS has it. We'll play the record and dance or just show weird pictures, like Nixon's trip to China or something. When was the last time you saw someone play a record on television?"
"The Video Zoo" will air weeknights on the Pat Boone-owned station--home of the ubiquitous Wally George. In fact, Fiedel's show follows George's "Hot Seat Hot Line" call-in program, the weeknight spin-off from George's original "Hot Seat" program on Saturday nights.
"We wanted to have an angle to play off of and the most outrageous thing on Los Angeles television right now is Wally George," Fiedel said. "So we figured his show would be a great lead-in for us. Barry and I went on 'Hot Seat' and Wally threw us off the show. So we're very excited about that." (The "Hot Seat" segment with Fiedel and Richards is scheduled to air tonight at 11.)
Despite all the frivolity, Fiedel said "The Video Zoo" will have at least one redeeming social value.
"We'll have a contest for local schools and the one that gathers the most food for the needy that week will be the guest school on the following Friday's show. The student body will sit in the audience and the student body president will get to talk about the school," he said. "If the principal is a good sport, he'll come on and take a pie in the face."
Even if the show catches on--Fiedel said he's already had inquiries from stations in other cities about carrying it--he prefers not to put it into syndication.
"It should be produced locally in each market," he said. "The key to this is putting people on TV and making them the stars."