March 08, 1999 12:00 PM

VH1 (Mondays, 10:30 p.m. ET)

Okay, so the cable music channel’s first newsmagazine isn’t as slick as Access Hollywood. But even though it lacks A-list interviews and hovers mostly on pop music’s periphery—the two episodes I’ve seen include segments on concert security guards and Grateful Dead tape traders—the series is a hoot: video liner notes with attitude. This week, for a piece on musicians who dabble in painting—including Beck Hansen, David Bowie, Donna Summer and Tony Bennett—a Candy reporter concealed the names of celebs displaying their art at a Philadelphia gallery so that a panel of critics could judge their works without bias. One, gazing at a portrait by Ringo Starr, surmises that the artist “has problems with his nose.” In another feature, the show paid for a group session in which a self-described rock-band therapist sat down with the quarrelsome members of a retro-’60s ensemble called the Brian Jonestown Massacre. (When last seen they’re skipping down the street.)

Sometimes Rock Candy can get a bit too manipulative. A Candid Camera-type setup filmed unwary job applicants who, lured by a bogus classified ad for a rock star’s personal assistant, had to answer off-the-wall interview questions like, “Have you ever dealt with an adult diaper before?” But the show hits its stride next week with a profile of Quiet Riot, an ’80s band struggling to make a comeback and willing to play anywhere, even at a Michigan nudist colony. Opting to keep their clothes on, the band at least retains a shred of dignity—which is more than you can say about the fleshy (and mostly flabby) fans in attendance.

Bottom Line: Not just mind candy, Rock Candy has some bite Terry Kelleher is on vacation.

Give them what they really want!

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