The Cutting Edge

MTV - Music Television (ended 1987)


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The Cutting Edge

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When MTV debuted in August of 1981, it very quickly became a powerful medium for post-punk bands striving for American acceptance. Since videos of contemporary rock acts were in short supply, the fledgling network filled time with those by "new wave" artists who had previously been shunned by American radio. Within a year, offbeat groups like Squeeze, The Stray Cats, Men At Work, Adam Ant, and A Flock Of Seagulls had Top 40 U.S. hits, and the so-called new wave sound was absorbed into the mainstream. However, there was still a contingent of fans who hungered for semi-underground independent rock acts closer to the original spirit of punk. MTV recognized this cult demand, and created a program aimed at this audience. As part of it's "Sunday Night Special" series, MTV partnered with Miles Copeland's International Record Syndicate, and "I.R.S. Records Presents The Cutting Edge" was born. The show aired regularly on the last Sunday of every month from March 1983 to September 1987. Directed by offbeat video makers Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, "The Cutting Edge" had a very amateur feel, befitting the "Do It Yourself" ethic of the bands showcased. The program featured interviews and performances by numerous early alternative rock artists, often videotaped on location in various cities around the country. The camera invaded nightclubs, recording studios, and even musicians' own homes. Along the way, "The Cutting Edge" introduced viewers to future stars like The Smithereens, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Smiths, and R.E.M. The program also highlighted critically respected cult favorites like Iggy Pop, The Blasters, Los Lobos, and Henry Rollins. At first, "The Cutting Edge" experimented with several different hosts, including Jools Holland, Jeffrey Vallence, and Wazmo Naris. By the beginning of 1984, Fleshtones' singer Peter Zaremba took over, and soon became the face of "The Cutting Edge." With his suave demeanor, thrift store fashion, and music geek knowledge, Zaremba fostered a humorous and intimate style for the program, giving many interviews the feel of conversations between old friends. For financial reasons, "The Cutting Edge" stopped going on location for the 1986-'87 season, and morphed into "The Cutting Edge Happy Hour," taped at the revolving restaurant of the Hollywood Holiday Inn. The show became more Southern California-centered, and lost much of its variety. This format was not as popular, and by September of 1987, "The Cutting Edge" was history.moreless