The show was created and produced by David Jove, who also wrote the program with Billboard magazine editor Ed Ochs. It was noted for showcasing rising punk and new wave acts, including Bad Religion, Fear, the Dead Kennedys, 45 Grave, The Angry Samoans and The Circle Jerks.
Peter Scott Ivers (September 20, 1946 – March 3, 1983) was an American musician, songwriter and television host. He is perhaps best known as the host of the experimental music television show New Wave Theatre.
Peter Ivers, a Harvard-educated musician with a gregarious personality and a flair for the theatric, was the host for the entire run of the show. The format was extremely loose, owing partly to the desire to maintain the raw energy of the live performances and partly to the limited production budget. The program was presented in a format dubbed "live taped", in which the action was shot live and the video was then interspliced with video clips, photos, and graphics of everything from an exploding atomic bomb to a woman wringing a chicken's neck.
Ivers' primary instrument was the harmonica, and at a concert in 1968, Muddy Waters referred to him as "the greatest harp player alive." Ivers was signed by Van Dyke Parks and Lenny Waronker to a $100,000 contract as a solo artist with Warner Bros. Records in the early 1970s; his albums Terminal Love and Peter Ivers were commercial flops, but would eventually come to be well-regarded by music journalists. Ivers scored the 1977 David Lynch film Eraserhead, and also contributed the song "In Heaven (Lady in the Radiator Song)" to the soundtrack. He opened for Fleetwood Mac in 1976, and wrote songs that would go on to be recorded by Diana Ross and The Pointer Sisters.[
In 1977, Ivers produced a Synth-Pop / Disco album for Roderick Falconer titled Victory in Rock City.
Ivers' best friend was Harvard classmate Douglas Kenney, founder of the National Lampoon. Ivers played "Beautiful Dreamer" on the harmonica at Kenney's funeral. Ivers was also close friends with John Belushi who likewise preceded him in death.
In 1981, Ivers produced the Circus Mort EP featuring Swans front man Michael Gira and avant-garde drummer Jonathan Kane. 1981 also found Ivers tapped by David Jove to host New Wave Theatre on Los Angeles TV station KSCI which was shown irregularly as part of the weekend program Night Flight on the fledgling USA Network. The program was a frantic cacophony of music, theater and comedy, lorded over by Ivers with his manic presentation. Using a method of filming known as "live taped", the show was the first opportunity for many alternative musicians to receive nationwide exposure. Notable bands who appeared on the show included The Angry Samoans, Dead Kennedys, 45 Grave, Fear, Suburban Lawns and The Plugz.
In the hours following his death, the LAPD officers sent to Ivers' house failed to secure the scene, allowing many of Ivers friends and acquaintances to traffic through the loft space. The scene was contaminated, and officers even allowed David Jove to leave with the blood-stained blankets from Ivers' bed. Harold Ramis was briefly considered a suspect in the murder (due to Ivers' close relationship with Harold's wife Ann), but was quickly cleared after he was able to establish an alibi.
Several of Ivers friends told biographer Josh Frank that they suspected David Jove, with whom the musician had a sometimes-contentious relationship. Harold Ramis noted, "As I grew to know David a little better, it just accumulated, all the clues and evidence just made me think he was capable of anything. I couldn't say with certainty that he'd done anything, but of all the people I knew, he was the one person I couldn't rule out." However, Derf Scratch (of the band Fear) and several other members of the Los Angeles punk and New Wave scene have maintained Jove's innocence.
About five weeks after the murder, Lucy Fisher paid for a private investigator named David Charbonneau to focus on the crime. Charbonneau interviewed a number people who knew Ivers, but due to the botched initial investigation, lack of evidence and lack of witnesses, the case eventually stalled out. Charbonneau stated: "I do not believe it was a break-in. I do not believe it was just someone off the street that Peter brought in because he was a nice guy that night and fell asleep trusting them. I'm not buying it."
David Jove (December 14, 1942 – September 26, 2004), born David Sniderman, was a Canadian director, producer, and writer, particularly of underground and alternative music-themed films. After spending the mid-1960s in London He reputedly became acquainted with the Rolling Stones' circle of friends and calling himself "Acid King Dave" allegedly participated in a government drug set-up of Jagger and Richards, resulting in the infamous 'Redlands' bust. Later he moved to Los Angeles, where he would be based for the rest of his life.
He may have been best known as the creator of the early 1980s music program, New Wave Theatre, which gained notoriety in the early days of cable television. It was shown as part of USA Network's late night weekend variety show, Night Flight hosted by Peter Ivers.
"New Wave Theatre" was co-written by longtime Jove collaborator and former Billboard editor Ed Ochs, who also wrote the liner notes to Jove's two records, "Sweeter Song" and "Into the Shrine" (co-writing "Never Say Never" on "Shrine"). Ochs also co-wrote Jove's only feature film, "Stranger Than Love" (originally "I Married My Mom!"), and, with Jove, formed one half of Oxygen, a studio band which fused rock and disco and in 1979 recorded an EP of six original Jove/Ochs songs, "The Bones of Hollywood".
Jove met music video producer Paul Flattery at a 1983 New York Billboard Video conference and formed an association which resulted in the music video "Stop In The Name Of Love" for the reformed English band The Hollies, with Graham Nash and the TV show "The Top," which came about after Peter Ivers' murder.
In the immediate aftermath of Iver's killing, Jove was offered help by producer/director/writer Harold Ramis, a friend of Ivers, and together with Flattery, created and made "The Top" for KTLA.
The show was a mixture of live music, videos and humor.
Performers on the series include such artists as Cyndi Lauper, who performed "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" and "True Colors," The Hollies performed "Stop In The Name Of Love" and The Romantics performed "Talking In Your Sleep" and "What I Like About You".
Guest stars included Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd. The host was Chevy Chase, who - dressed as a "punk" of the era—got into a physical altercation with an audience member during the opening monologue. He immediately left the taping.
The producers then got Andy Kaufman to fill in for Chase and recorded the host segments at a separate, later, session. It was to be the last professional appearance by Andy Kaufman before his death.