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TRL Returns to MTV This June — With a Twist!

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Total retro live! MTV’s trademark afternoon program TRL (also known as Total Request Live), which was known for defining the hottest pop culture videos and icons from 1998 to 2008, is set to return to the network this June — albeit in a different format, tentatively called MTV Live.

Britney Spears on MTV’s ‘TRL,’ on Nov. 6, 200,1 in New York City. KMazur/WireImage

During TRL’s heydey, when Billboard chart crowns were worn by Britney Spears and ‘NSync, an appearance on the after-school music video countdown show was a major pop culture moment in and of itself. In fact, when the Backstreet Boys appeared on the show in October of 1998, so many fans stormed New York City that police had to shut down Times Square. 

Sophia Bush and Chad Michael Murray of ‘One Tree Hill’ take over MTV’s ‘TRL,’ on Jan. 25, 2005, in New York City. Carley Margolis/FilmMagic

Now, MTV President Chris McCarthy tells AdWeek that he’s bringing back that daily live show as MTV Live, debuting June 12. 

“That ability to be live, in culture — not responding to it but driving it — is where we belong,” McCarthy says of rebranding the network to reach today’s teen audience. (He’s the one to thank for bringing Friends reruns back from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. every night on MTV.) 

Host Lyndsey Rodrigues interviews Robert Pattinson on MTV’s ‘TRL’ on Nov. 4, 2008 in New York City. Charles Eshelman/WireImage

Though details of the new show are scarce, it will definitely include both music and other elements and be set in the Times Square studio — now double the size that it used to be. McCarthy adds that he plans to air about three to four hours live every day.

Vanessa Minnillo and Justin Timberlake look out to Times Square from MTV’s Studios on Sept. 12, 2006, in New York City. James Devaney/WireImage

The original TRL launched in 1998, first hosted by Carson Daly. After he left in 2003, several new hosts were introduced including Damien Fahey, Vanessa Lachey (then Vanessa Minnillo), Quddus, La La Anthony (then La La Vasquez) and Susie Castillo

While the early days of the program focused on simply counting down the top videos of the day, the show soon became known for its music video debuts and celebrity stunts. Mariah Carey even once showed up unannounced, simply pushing an ice cream cart full of popsicles. (She was hospitalized shortly thereafter for “exhaustion.”)

Jennifer Lopez visits MTV’s ‘TRL’ on Jan. 19, 2005, at MTV Studios in New York City. Stephen Lovekin/FilmMagic

But in 2007, the popularity started waning and the daily show went down to only live episodes on Mondays and Wednesdays, with the other days pretaped.

Beyonce Knowles and Jay-Z on MTV’s ‘TRL,’ Nov. 21, 2002, in New York City. Kevin Mazur/WireImage

The 10-year reign finally ended on November 16, 2008, with a special called Total Finale Live. It became one of the most star-studded pop events of its time, featuring performances by Beyoncé, Ludacris, Snoop Dogg, Nelly, 50 Cent, Fall Out Boy and Backstreet Boys — as well as appearances by Diddy (who was on the show 37 times!), Carey, Taylor Swift, Hilary Duff, Good Charlotte and Justin Timberlake

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