MTV brings out past stars, current sensations to celebrate 20th anniversary

Thursday, August 2nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Fame on MTV is usually fleeting: Acts that bask in the network's spotlight typically do so for a few years at best before being relegated to ``Behind the Music''-type nostalgia on other networks.

But on Wednesday, as MTV celebrated its 20th anniversary, blasts from the past mingled with current MTV favorites at a star-studded blowout aired live on the network. The show opened with cartoon characters Beavis and Butt-head and a performance by punk band Sum 41 that featured heavy metal stars Tommy Lee and Rob Halford.

``It's actually an exciting event,'' said Slash, former guitarist for the late-'80s rock band Guns n' Roses, one of many at the network's ``Live and Almost Legal'' party. ``I'm glad to have reached some success in that genre ... it's very cool to have been there.''

Many of MTV's current fans can be forgiven if they don't know the network's original faces, including VJs Martha Quinn, JJ Jackson, Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman and Alan Hunter. After all, one of MTV's most popular artists, Britney Spears, wasn't even born when the network debuted.

Some old faces who appeared Wednesday included Joan Jett, Huey Lewis, Billy Idol, Boy George, Pauly Shore, and Fred Schneider of the B-52s.

``We started off MTV, now we're VH1,'' said Schneider said.

On the red carpet, faces of MTV's present mingled with those from the past. VJ Dave Holmes got excited as he saw former MTV VJs, including Blackwwod and Jesse Camp.

``It's like the MTV geriatrics have shown up,'' said Dan Cortese, a former MTV personality who has since acted in such shows as Veronica's Closet.

Slash, 36, remembers watching the young network as a teen-ager.

``I remember many hours glued to the television set,'' he said. ``I sort of grew up with it.''

That was back when groups like Duran Duran, George Michael and an emerging singer named Madonna ruled the channel, when MTV's programming focused almost exclusively on music videos, instead of on ``Celebrity Deathmatch,'' ``Real World'' marathons and gross-out comedy shows.

Most of the acts that rose with MTV have disappeared from its airwaves. Remember Debbie Gibson? New Kids on the Block? Cyndi Lauper?

But some of the faces have managed to stand the test of time. Janet Jackson, who made her MTV debut in the late '80s, still gets airplay.

Among the show's highlights was Idol performing ``Rebel Yell,'' and a hip-hop medley featuring Naughty by Nature, Salt n' Pepa, Run DMC and Sean ``P. Diddy'' Combs. Others who appeared included TLC, Jane's Addiction, Aerosmith, Ja Rule, and Mary J. Blige, Method Man, and Kid Rock. Jackson, Depeche Mode, and Blink 182 and Sugar Ray appeared via satellite.

The night's headliner was supposed to be Mariah Carey, but she dropped out last week after she was hospitalized for a physical and emotional breakdown.

Jenny McCarthy, who appeared on MTV's now defunct ``Singled Out'' said the network was responsible for her celebrity. But like many before her, her time on MTV was not to last. McCarthy said she missed MTV and hoped she would be on the network again.

``I'd like to do a reunion Singled Out when I'm 40,'' she said.