Catching Up with Downtown Julie Brown

The ex-VJ reveals where she’s been since the ’90s and why she’s moving to behind the camera

From Tastemaker to Expert

Her dedication to music led to her hosting TMI and another major role at Billboard.com. Back in 2009, e5 Global Media L.L.C. announced that it had acquired eight properties from The Nielsen Co., including The Hollywood Reporter, Adweek, and Billboard. Brown had friends at Guggenheim Partners, a financial services firm that had a stake in e5, and says she was able to secure a meeting with some of the decision-makers to share her ideas.

Feeling that Billboard.com didn’t have a strong grasp on video content outside of music videos (most of which were YouTube uploads), she pitched what became TMI and then served as its executive producer. “I had a little practice ground,” she says. “We did it live every week, once a week, via Ustream. We went live 30 minutes, and it had music news, music information, top 10 countdown, and of course it had musical performance, interviews, and live guests.”

That run of the show ended earlier this year, but it grew into a pilot for a similar program that Brown says Billboard is pitching to network television.

“It’s going to be interesting to see if we can get this system up where we can actually do this daily turnout of a music show, because I’ve missed it and I’m sure lots of other people have missed that whole music video world,” she says. “I find it kind of monotonous now when we have to sort of listen to the same thing over and over again.”

Happiness Behind the Scenes

When asked if she’d host the show, Brown says she’d be up for the gig, but is more excited about three hosts she’s been eying for the daily duty, depending on if and which network picks up the show and how it is skewed. And as for transition to being behind the scenes?

“I love it, I love brainstorming and coming up with oodles of ideas,” she says. “I think looking back on everything that I’ve done at MTV, it’s like riding a bike: You sometimes wonder why you’re doing certain things and then later in life you realize … why you were doing some things.”

She continues, “I had no idea. I thought I was just an on-camera person. I loved being on camera, but to be honest with you, I don’t want to be with a mic standing in a nightclub doing all the hip-hop stuff and having fun like that. Yes, I’d love to be a part of it, I mean there’s just no way you can tell me I’m older than 25, but in all honesty I’m not. But there are plenty of shows that are appropriate for myself, for my knowledge, my background, and my experience.”

Brown says she’s got four other TV shows on the burner, but stays tight-lipped about what they’ll be about and who’s hosting. But she does say that, “Billboard has given a great opportunity to a new group of people that are coming in …. There’s quite a few of us onboard [saying] ‘Let’s move and shake, let’s get this Billboard thing hopping and grooving again,’” which fans know is a given whenever Downtown Julie Brown is around.

“I’m happy to be back involved in music. Thanks everyone that remembers me and if they don’t, say hi if you see me anyway—I’m probably going to be in a sequin hat and funky boots.”

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