Motown Productions

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Logo descriptions by Bob Fish and Eric S.
Logo captures by Eric S., V of Doom, and TheEriccorpinc
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). 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.

1st Logo
(April 18, 1971-1978)

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

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.

: A combination of live-action (the merging of the Ms, using glass with multicolored lights, and editing trickery), and cel animation (the zooming of the M).

Music/Sounds: Synth "beeps" for each time the M flashes played over a brass action-esque fanfare.

  • 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.

Editor's Note
: W
hile the "M" zooming in is rather choppy, it has some impeccable timing with the ending. However, it can be rather unnerving to some as the flashing "M" and beeps are an unpleasant combo, and the zoom at the end resembles an inverse Viacom "V of Doom". Overall, it's a well made logo.

2nd Logo
Motown ProductionsMotown Productions (1987, IAW)
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: "The M II", "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.

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 short-lived series Sidekicks, the words "In Association With" fades in below after the logo forms.

FX/SFX: The parallelograms flying to form the logo.

Music/Sounds: A 8-note synth horn 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 recently reran on PBS SoCal, you might find the logo on those 2 sources.

Editor's Note: It's an exce
llent logo displaying some nice '80s computer effects, making it reminiscent of the Avco Embassy and Tokyo Movie Shinsha logos.

3rd Logo
(February 16, 1986)
Motown Productions (1986)

Nicknames: "The M III", "Shining M", "M of Boredom"

: 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).

FX/SFX: None.

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).

Editor's Note:
The logo is plain boring and such a downgrade compared to the 2nd logo.

4th Logo
(November 15-18, 1992)
Motown (1992)

Nicknames: "The M IV", "Marble M"

Logo: On a black background, we 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, and the light coming from the "M".

Music/Sounds: The end theme of the show.

Availability: Only appeared on the miniseries The Jacksons: An American Dream.

Editor's Note:
The logo looks like it was done on an Amiga, and the emitting lights just reek of early computer graphics.

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