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Stephen Colbert vs Daft Punk: TV mystery of the summer

After Daft Punk drops his show in favour of MTV VMAs, Stephen Colbert creates his own elaborate dance video to “Get Lucky” — but was it all a stunt?

  • AP
  • Published: 12:46 August 8, 2013
  • Tabloid

  • Image Credit: AP
  • This Sept. 8, 2010 publicity photo released by Comedy Central shows host Stephen Colbert appears on "The Colbert Report," in New York. Colbert's "song of the summer" special was either a real-life corporate tiff over Daft Punk or the most elaborately-planned _ and funniest _ corporate cross-promotions in memory. On his Comedy Central show Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013, Colbert said he had Daft Punk booked to perform the hit "Get Lucky" that night. But he said that on the day before, fellow Viacom Inc., network MTV had pulled rank, claiming the French dance duo had agreed to perform at the Video Music Awards on Aug. 25 and make the show its exclusive U.S. TV appearance. (AP Photo/Comedy Central, Scott Gries)

New York: Stephen Colbert’s “song of the summer” special was either a real-life corporate tiff over Daft Punk or the most elaborately-planned — and funniest — corporate cross-promotions in memory.

On his Comedy Central show Tuesday, Colbert said he had Daft Punk booked to perform the hit “Get Lucky” that night. But he said that on the day before, fellow Viacom Inc., network MTV had pulled rank, claiming the French dance duo had agreed to perform at the Video Music Awards on Aug. 25 and make the show its exclusive U.S. TV appearance.

Colbert read a supposed email from MTV chief Van Toffler that said “my peeps” are “feeling funky on this one.”

“I don’t care what MTV allows,” Colbert said. “My audience gets the song of the summer if they want it and I don’t even need Daft Punk to choose my show over the VMAs to get it. This is Colbchella, God damn it, and it is time to dance!”

“Get Lucky” comes over the loudspeakers and Colbert launches into what becomes an elaborate dance video that includes Hugh Laurie, Jeff Bridges, Bryan Cranston, Henry Kissinger, Matt Damon and break-in appearances on “America’s Got Talent,” Jimmy Fallon’s “Late Night” and “The Charlie Rose Show.”

After a commercial break, Robin Thicke comes down from the audience to perform his own summer hit, “Blurred Lines.”

Colbert had promoted the supposed Daft Punk appearance. On Friday, he had tweeted: “This Tuesday 8/6, don’t miss Stephen Colbchella ‘013: The Song of the Summer of the Century with special guest Daft Punk.” The music website Pitchfork said Friday that Colbert had told his studio audience on July 25 about Daft Punk’s appearance. Pitchfork said it had confirmed the booking, although it didn’t cite a source.

But plainly, the “Get Lucky” video wasn’t something pulled together in a day to air instead of a Daft Punk performance. Fallon’s show had posted video of Colbert’s surprise entrance on the NBC show’s July 29 taping, where he briefly danced to “Get Lucky” and left the stage without saying why.

“I don’t know what just happened,” Fallon said. “Song of the summer, man.”

The “appearance” on “America’s Got Talent” was taped last Wednesday just before the show’s live airing from Radio City Music Hall. Producers agreed to the walk-on because it was good promotion, even though they weren’t told specifically how it was going to be used, said an executive with the show who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to talk about the plans.

Could “The Colbert Report” have planned to use the video in conjunction with a Daft Punk performance? Possibly, although Daft Punk would have had to agree to make one of its rare television appearances on a show where it was likely to be upstaged by a video to its own song.

Reached by phone Wednesday, Daft Punk publicist Kathryn Frazier said she was busy and would call back. She did not immediately, and did not respond to an email or additional phone call. She and the band’s management have received attention for mounting a stealth publicity campaign for “Get Lucky” and the album “Random Access Memories.”

Was there really an argument between the two networks?

Toffler’s representative, Kurt Patat, said MTV had no comment. Patat said he wouldn’t address whether or not Daft Punk would appear on the Video Music Awards.

Comedy Central spokeswoman Renata Luczak would not comment and referred questions to Colbert’s publicist, Carrie Byalick, who did not immediately return a query.

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