Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, Jr. decided to expand his 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 ratings success on NBC). There wasn’t an animated logo at the end of the special, rather a variation of the George Schlatter-Ed Friendly Productions logo with a textual mention. 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).
|1st Logo (December 9, 1968)||2nd Logo (April 18, 1971-1978)||3rd Logo (1981)||4th Logo (1983-1989)||5th Logo (February 16, 1986)||6th Logo (November 15-18, 1992)|
1st Logo (December 9, 1968)
Logo: On a red background, the same as in the Schlatter-Friendly Productions logo, it's a simple text credit that reads "in association with MOTOWN Productions, Inc." It quickly cuts to the 1965 NBC Snake logo with the chimes.
Music/Sounds: A single cymbal clash (from the Schlatter-Friendly logo).
Availability: Only seen on TCB: Takin' Care of Business.
2nd Logo (April 18, 1971-1978)
Logo: Against 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), a version of the logo was seen with a Rankin/Bass script logo and co-production/IAW credit. For this variation, the animation is shortened down to the middle behind the R-B credit, and the Motown logo now has a border around it.
Technique: Typical Scanimated effects of the era.
Music/Sounds: Synth "beeps" for each time the "M" flashes played over a dramatic fanfare.
Availability: Depends on the variant:
- Original: Extinct. Will probably never be seen again outside of off-air recordings and the Internet. Can be found on most TV specials around this time period starring Motown artists, especially Diana Ross (whose debut TV special, Diana!, premiered this logo).
- Jackson 5ive Variant: It is retained on the DVD/Blu-ray release of Jackson 5ive.
3rd Logo (November 24, 1981)
Logo: Scrolling up with the credits, we see a white square with the Motown "M" logo cut out. Overlapping the square is "MOTOWN PRODUCTIONS" in white. There is an "In Association with" byline above it.
Music/Sounds: The closing theme.
Availability: Seen on A Small Killing.
4th Logo (1983-1989)
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.
Variant: On later prints (due the 1995 version of the Walt Disney Television/Buena Vista International "Rainbow Castle" plastering the 1986 WDT logo) of the series Sidekicks, the words "In Association With" fades in below after the logo forms.
Technique: '80s computer effects.
Music/Sounds: A 8-note synth theme with 3 chimes or the end theme of the show.
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 was also reran on PBS SoCal.
5th Logo (February 16, 1986)
Logo: On a white background is the letter "M" is in a white scoreboard-style sparkly lettering inside a dark gray square with a very thick black border. Under it is the words "MOTOWN PRODUCTIONS" and below it in smaller letters "In Association With".
Trivia: This "M" logo with the company name has appeared on the back of some VHS and Laserdiscs of Michael Jackson: The Legend Continues (despite this, the 2nd logo appears in the special).
Music/Sounds: The end theme of The Last Electric Knight.
Availability: Probably extinct. This was only spotted in the TV movie The Last Electric Knight (the pilot of the show Sidekicks).
6th Logo (November 15-18, 1992)
Logo: On a black background, we see a large, gray marble brick with the same abstract "M" as before with "MOTOWN" underneath it. The marble brick simultaneously turns away from us while light is being emitted from the abstract "M".
Variant: A full version of this logo exists, of which after the brick turns away from the screen, it then reveals the logo is also on the other side sans text. The brick, after having the logo centered into place, then shoots back with the trails shooting back 2ndly.
Technique: CGI animation.
Music/Sounds: The end theme of the show.
Availability: Only appeared on the miniseries The Jacksons: An American Dream.
In 1992, Motown Productions was folded into De Passe Entertainment.