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Logo descriptions by Bob Fish and Eric S.
Logo captures by Eric S. and V of Doom
Video captures courtesy of TiMeCapsule123 and Eric S.

Background

Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, Jr. decided to expand his very successful record company into film and TV production in 1967 (the first production was the TCB: Takin' Care of Business television special starring Diana Ross and the Supremes and the Temptations broadcast with great rating success on NBC). There is a Motown logo on this special but the footage is currently unavailable to us. Motown also co-produced movies with Paramount (Lady Sings the Blues) and Universal (The Wiz, Bingo Long and the Travelling All-Stars) in the '70s, but its logo does not appear in feature films (only in-credit mentions). This page describes the best-known logos from Motown Productions.

(September 11, 1971-1978)

Nicknames: "M of Doom", "Flashing M"

Logo: On a black background, An abstract, trapezoid-shaped white M from the Motown logo flashes in the center of the screen, while multicolored lines and polygons gradually converge on the M. As the colored lines fill the M, the M turns sky blue and zooms-in the reveal a blue background. Finally, the the Motown M reappears in center with the words "MOTOWN Productions Inc." with Motown in a larger font.

Variant: On Jackson 5ive (the Jackson Five's 1971-73 Saturday morning cartoon series), the logo is tinted in blue and the opening animation is speed up, with a Rankin/Bass script logo and co-production/IAW credit fading in and out.

FX/SFX/Cheesy Factor: The flashing "M", the multicolored lines, the zooming "M". All are typical effects of the Scanimate era.

Music/Sounds: A somewhat dramatic disco fanfare, accompanied by "beeps" for each time the M flashes.

Availability:

  • Original: Extinct. Will probably never be seen again. This may be found on old recordings.
  • Jackson 5ive Variant: It is retained on the DVD/Blu-ray release of Jackson 5ive.

Scare Factor: Low. While the fanfare is fairly tame, the flashing M and beeps are an unpleasant combo.

(1983)

Nickname: "CGI M25"

Logo: TBA

FX/SFX: TBA

Music/Sounds: TBA

Availability: Extinct. Only seen on the Motown 25 TV special. Recordings circulate.

Scare Factor: TBA

(1983-1989)

Nickname: "Flying Parallelograms"

Logo: On a black background, we see nine neon parallelograms-- three red, three blue, and three green-- zoom-out toward the screen to form the Motown logo, which turns a golden color. A glowing blue square surrounds it, and "MOTOWN PRODUCTIONS" appears below in white.

FX/SFX: The parallelograms flying to form the logo; nice '80s computer effects. It's also reminiscent of the Avco Embassy logo.

Music/Sounds: The closing theme plays throughout.

Availability: Rare. Intact on the Lonesome Dove miniseries. Was also seen on the Motown special Yesterday, Today, Forever, which was issued on VHS by MGM/UA Home Video, and recently reran on PBS SoCal, you might find the logo on those 2 sources.

Scare Factor: Mnimal. The parallelograms may startle some, but this is a nice logo.

(1992)

Nickname: "Marble M"

Logo: Ee see a large, gray marble brick with the same abstract M as before with "MOTOWN Productions inc." underneath it. The marble brick simultaneously turns away from us while light is being emitted from the abstract "M".

FX/SFX: The marble brick turning, the light coming from the "M".

Cheesy Factor: The logo looks like it was done on an Amiga, and the emitting lights just reek of early computer graphics.

Music/Sounds: The closing theme plays throughout.

Availability: Only appeared on the miniseries The Jacksons: An American Dream, which is reran frequently on VH1, VH1 Classic, TV One, TV Land, BET, and Centric.

Scare Factor: Minimal.

Final Note: In 1992, Motown Productions was merged into De Passe Entertainment.

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