Leonard Klady
September 06, 1991 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The video for George Michael’s ”Freedom 90,” a song off his last LP, Listen Without Prejudice, is up for five prizes at Sept. 5’s MTV Awards ceremony. The vid is unique for two reasons: Michael isn’t in it, and it ends with the tag ”To the boys at MTV,” a line from the song and a seemingly affectionate gesture from the singing sex symbol whom MTV helped create. Could one attribute Michael’s attitude to his stated desire to modify his image from rump-shaking beefcake to sensitive guy? Or could he actually be mad at MTV, as ”Freedom 90” producer Simon Straker suggests? ”George was thumbing his nose at MTV with the video,” says Straker. It seems two of Michael’s earlier videos, ”I Want Your Sex” and ”Father Figure,” were briefly trimmed by MTV for nudity and aired with a disclaimer. So director David Fincher substituted five lip-synching models, including Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, and Cindy Crawford, for Michael in ”Freedom 90.”
”The video is original — that’s why it figures so strongly in the awards,” says an MTV spokeswoman. As for any animosity, MTV says, ”We have a great relationship with George Michael.” A spokeswoman from Kahane Entertainment, Michael’s management, says Straker’s version is ”absolutely, positively untrue” and that ”it would be antagonistic” to imply that Michael had a problem with MTV.

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