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VH1 to Play an Oldie

It's back to the future for VH1's Behind the Music franchise.

The MTV Networks-owned channel will dust off the 11-year-old series chronicling the ups and downs of famous music stars, which has been dormant since 2006, for a September special coinciding with another comeback of sorts: the return of late 1980s boy band New Kids on the Block.

While the 90-minute Behind the Music special will remain true to the brand by taking a look at the rise and eventual fall of the once-popular band, VH1 executive vice president of programming Jeff Olde said it will also feature some new wrinkles, including live concert footage from an upcoming New Kids tour stop in Boston.

“The show really lives in both worlds,” he said. “There are elements of the special that made sense for us to brand and frame as a Behind the Music presentation but in a very new, completely reimagined way, by bringing in the live-music component.”

In its heyday in the late 1990s and the early 2000s, the Behind the Music franchise was a staple for the then music-video-heavy VH1, exploring the high and low notes of such music icons as Madonna, Milli Vanilli, Elton John and Pink Floyd. But an overreliance on the series led to a drop in viewership and its eventual demise — Nick Lachey, former member of the boy band 98 Degrees, was the last performer profiled in 2006.

But VH1 decided to resurrect the franchise after talking to New Kids about their reunion tour. “When we started to hear about them going back on tour we thought it would be a great opportunity to tell the story about what their experience was the first time around and to bring their audience and fans into their lives now by bringing them into their experience onstage,” Olde said. “We've always loved the Behind the Music brand, and there's such a great affection for it from our viewers, that we thought that even though the special is its own thing, it was a great way to pull that branding back into the forefront.”

The show will feature the traditional, documentary-style format — told from the perspective of the band members themselves — that made Behind the Music so popular, according to Olde. But during commercial breaks, the show will cut live to the concert venue to follow the New Kids as they prepare for their concert performance.

“At the very end of the special, we will cut live to the opening live numbers of the show as they take the stage for the first time in their hometown of Boston,” he said.

Olde said if the special is successful the network may consider offering other Behind the Music specials in the future. “If we can do this, then it can reopen the door for playing more in this area and figure out other ways we can bring in and update that brand to resonate with our audience now,” he said. “Even though Behind the Music hasn't been on our air for a while, our audience still has an affection for the brand and they still connect the brand to the network.

“That's why its fun to pull it forward, and we felt this was the best way to do it through this special.”