Ben Lyons: Host of MTV’s "Your Movie Show"
If you’ve ever felt bamboozled by one of those stalwart movie preview shows once you’ve gotten into the theater with popcorn in hand, then Lyons is your go-to guy for the 411 on what’s really "on-and-cracking" in the movie houses these days.
Lyons plays the part of both host and reviewer on "Your Movie Show" along with SuChin Pak, Matt Singer, Dana Verde and Mello to help viewers suss out what’s hot and what’s not in your local megaplex without getting burned by films that squeeze all the best moments into their previews and trailers. According to Lyons, everything’s in its right place both in front of and behind his show’s cameras.
"It’s been a real collaborative effort. … One of the cool things about working with MTV is that there are a lot of young, talented people who work there," he admits. "SuChin Pak is somebody I’ve watched for years, and she embraced me and helped me out right from the start."
Spoken like a seasoned veteran, which will not surprise the media much because, as the saying goes, "the apple never falls far from the tree" – and Lyons is certainly no exception. He’s the son of longtime journalist and film critic Jeffrey Lyons and, apparently, some things don’t skip a generation.
"I’m proud of my dad – I have learned a lot about the industry from him. He’s such a professional and so well respected within the business that it’s more of a challenge to me because I need to live up to the standard he set," says the younger Lyons. "His father, my grandfather, Leonard Lyons, wrote for the New York Post for 40 years and was close with Hemmingway, Ava Gardner, DiMaggio, you name it. So it’s definitely the family business.
"My favorite song lyric is from the GZA on a song called ‘Fame’ he did a few years back. It’s a concept record where basically he uses celebrity names for punch lines and shit in his rhymes," adds Lyons. "He says ‘Jeffrey’s Lyon got pricked by a thorn from George’s Bush.’ Hearing somebody from Wu-Tang shout out my dad on a record [was] unbelievable – I really want to meet the Genius one day and talk to him about that!"
Although Lyons has been introduced to many people via his MTV show, truth be told, he’s been working for awhile now in other capacities behind-the-scenes.
"Before I started working for MTV, I produced and directed some music videos and DVDs, and I’ve been working on developing and selling some TV concepts. So I will continue to do that with my production company, Ruff Sketch (www.ruffsketch.tv)," he says. "I [also] work with a group, Team Facelift – these three MCs from New York City. [They’re] unbelievable," he exclaims. "We’ve been doing mad shows and just building from the ground up. Check out their Web site, www.teamfacelift.com – I feel like fucking Ron Artest, getting my ‘cross-promotion’ on."
This piece wouldn’t be complete without a short list of Lyons’ faves, so in the spirit of the "top fives" written into Nick Hornby’s Hi-Fidelity, here’s a short list from BL himself:
Films: Fletch, Juice, Trading Places, Casino, North By Northwest and (the original) Manchurian Candidate.
Books: (Notes from a) Native Son by Richard Wright, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, Fab Five by Richard Albom and Stupid White Men by Michael Moore."
When it comes to music, specifically hip-hop, Lyons becomes even more effusive. "Some of my favorite albums include Enta Da Stage by Black Moon," says the fledgling promoter/director/ TV host. "I got to work on a lot of their videos [and] Buckshot’s a good friend of mine. Ice Cube’s Predator album was big for me growing up – [it] really helped me fall in love with hip-hop," Lyons reveals.
"36 Chambers from Wu Tang, Hell on Earth from Mobb Deep, Prince Paul and Dan The Automator’s joint Handsome Boy Modeling School, any of Ghostface’s four solo albums – I really think they are all classic and timeless in their own ways."
In keeping with the time theme, the latter begs an answer to one of life’s burning enigmas: Gray’s Papaya (NYC hotdogs) or In-N-Out (West Coast burgers) – which tastes better?
"Now this is real fast food," Lyons says with a laugh. "I’m completely stumped. [As a native New Yorker] I have such history with Gray’s, but turning left onto Sepulveda when I land at LAX and going straight to In-N-Out is one of my favorite things to do in all of life." Remember: You read it here first.
With a bright future and a new TV season ahead of him, Lyons is prepared to take on the world. That said, he holds no illusions about whether he and his "Movie Show" co-stars are treading on uncharted waters and quickly points out where he plans to go with the newer MTV program and what differentiates his movie critic show from the others currently on the air.
"I really hope the show continues to evolve and incorporate a wide variety of films and issues in the movie business," says Lyons. "I think kids today are more aware of the industry then ever before – the next Jerry Bruckheimer, the next Robert Evans, the next Sherry Lansing is watching "Your Movie Show" and I hope we can inform them on the latest trends and issues in Hollywood."