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Marty Callner Might Be the Most Influential Comedy Director


In these early days of MTV, the aesthetic for videos was up for grabs, said Rob Tannenbaum, who co-wrote “I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution” and is an occasional contributor to The Times. He explained, “Devo wanted them to be avant-garde movies; Duran Duran wanted them to be Patrick Nagel-style reveries; Marty Callner thought videos ought to be funny, which proved to be a more durable concept.” He added, “He understood, early on, that videos might be about greater than amusement — they might be about branding and even mythology.”

To be certain, they were also about scantily clad women (MTV once gave him a note that his video for the Scorpions’ “Big City Nights,” had too many women in bikinis) and hair, a lot of it. As much as anyone, Callner created the visuals for the era when rock was dominated by flowing, feathered locks. The key auteur of the genre referred to as hair metal was his hairdresser wife of 40 years, Aleeza Callner, who blow-dried the heads of the members of Whitesnake, Poison, Kiss, the Scorpions — not to say Sam Kinison and Jerry Seinfeld.

After a profession directing television that tapped into the raw American id, Callner, who said he hated the objectification of girls “though I can’t say I wasn’t culpable,” is now taking a look at an unlikely recent idea. He’s planning a festival called “America’s Wedding” through which 2,000 couples would get married at the identical time in Las Vegas.

For now, he is targeted on the Hall, which Netflix goals to make an annual tradition. Callner, who once directed a tribute to Lenny Bruce, said that the influential stand-up received the fifth most votes, and hopes he gets inducted in a future show.

Asked if it ever bothers him that his work is so a lot better known than he’s, he said what mattered to him was the ultimate product. “I didn’t turn out to be a household name,” he said, in front of a lovely view of the water, “but I did turn out to be the very best paid television director in Hollywood, and the rationale is: I made people a whole lot of money.”

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