Monday, September 01, 2008

Movies for Movies' Sake .....

FOLLOWUP: No sooner did I post the following when TMC started flexing its promotional muscle, airing a great lineup of courtroom drama films to promote the premier of Raising the Bar on TNT, with interviews between TMC host Robert Osborne and RtB creator Steven Bochco. But at least they did it ONLY between the end of one film and the beginning of the next, and there were no promotional pop-ups as the films ran.


I'd like to tip my hat to television/cable network programmers that treat film-lovers as something more than shills for promotional and sales pitches.

You don't have to look too long and too hard to realize that an awful lot of movie scheduling on broadcast and cable television networks is tied in to the latest entertainment news. So-and so has a new movie coming out? Quick ... let's show some of so-and-so's old movies.

Sometimes, you can give these devils their due, and acknowledge these decisions actually can be useful ... showing one film, for example, in the weeks ahead of its sequel's release. Earlier this summer,
Hellboy was shown on TV a LOT, as Hellboy II was arriving at the theaters. More recently, we've had Goal: The Dream Begins on television as Goal II: Living the Dream arrives in theaters.

Some don't even have that, though ... they're just hoping to pick up on whatever buzz a new film's release might generate. People talking about Vin Diesel and
Babylon A.D.? ... let's show Chronicles of Riddick. People talking about Jason Statham and Death Race? ... let's show Transporter II. People talking about Nicholas Cage and Bangkok Dangerous? ... let's show National Treasure.

At the top of my list of rants ... the executives at
TNT who insist that while I'm trying to watch a movie, 20% or more of the my screen is occasionally devoted to animated promotional panels with Kyra Sedgewick ("The Closer") eating a donut. They may know drama ... but the also know how to torque my wrench in a BIG way!

Nothing new or earth-shattering here ... and nothing you probably haven't already noticed yourself. But it DOES increase my appreciation for those networks that schedule movies ... for example, TNT's cousin,
Turner Classic Movies, who actually seem to respect the movies they air ... and respect the interests of those who love to watch the movies. No promotional tie-ins - over the last week or so, we've had days devoted to movies by Spencer Tracy, Marlon Brando, Rita Hayworth and Charlton Heston ... none of whom have a new film coming to theaters at the moment. Tonight, it's apparently 'courtroom drama night' with Witness for the Prosecution, followed by 12 Angry Men and Anatomy of a Murder ... none of which have a sequel coming to theaters at the moment. What else? No breaks in the film for some inane feature like "Dinner and a Movie" or "DVD on TV." And no promotional panels for other programs, popping-up regularly through the film.

Movies for the sake of movies ... and for the sake of those who enjoy them ... what a novel concept!


Geo said...


How does TCM make a profit, or does it?

Jeff said...

George, a VERY GOOD question. Ted Turner bought the film collection years ago, so their overhead is way lower in that respect ... but the rest?

That's what bit American Movie Classics (AMC) several years ago. They had pretty much the format that TMC has now ... in fact they pioneered it, TMC copied their format. But eventually, AMC had to go to commercial breaks, etc. ... and their numbers plummeted.

One thing that comes to mind is that TMC may actually be eligible for some arts grants through their broadcast of certain films, such as 'silents' and restored classics.

More likely, though, is that TMC is subsidized by other members of the Turner family of networks.