Tag Archives: movies

The Rise of getTV and the Accessibility of Classic Film

For more than 12 years, the accessibility of classic film on mainstream television has been limited to a single channel. Following the change of direction that American Movie Classics (AMC) undertook in 2002, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) has been the classic film fan’s holy grail, the one station showing classic films 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Due to its near monopoly on the showing of these films, it has attracted legions of devoted fans and become a brand unto itself–with the annual TCM Classic Film Festival and TCM Classic Cruise drawing participants by the thousand.

Now there is another channel on the market, just launched in February of this year in major U.S. cities and expanding quickly across the country, that may have all that to look forward to. GetTV, owned by Sony Pictures Television Networks, is the newest channel to make classic film programming its primary business model. Like TCM, GetTV shows classic films around the clock, but there is one significant difference–GetTV is available to viewers completely free, no cable subscription required. For this reason, GetTV shows 3 hours per week of educational programming in order to comply with FCC standards on public broadcasting, and this consists of quality entertainment directed toward a demographic crucial to the survival of classic films–children.

For the vast majority of hours in the week, GetTV shows films primarily from Sony Pictures’ Columbia Library and has had in its lineup thus far such notable films as To Sir With Love (1967), Picnic (1956) and Anatomy of a Murder (1959). I was also thrilled to see The Fuller Brush Girl, one of my favorite lesser-known Lucille Ball comedies on the schedule a few days ago, cementing my notion that GetTV is a market force to be dealt with.

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As a general access public broadcasting network, GetTV has certain restrictions as to what they are and are not able to show. At the present time, the network is focusing on films from the mid-1930s through the late 1960s, which aligns more or less with the time frame of the Production Code’s enforcement in Hollywood. This allows the channel to comply with broadcasting standards and the needs of advertisers (the channel does carry commercials).without editing a film for content. In addition, GetTV is committed to never editing a film for time. In an interview with Will McKinley over at Cinematically Insane, they state:

We are trying not to get into the zone of editing. We’re trying to present the whole movie, but at the same time, we are on broadcast TV, which has tighter restrictions than cable, and tighter rules in terms of community standards.  And we’re not editing films for time. So if something runs from 10 a.m. until 12:40 p.m., that’s when the next movie is going to start.”

For classic film lovers, this is great news. Though I have not as yet seen any silent movies on the schedule for GetTV, this doesn’t mean that silent films are off the table for the future. I would love to see GetTV tap into the lucrative silent film market, as in this way they could reach several crucial demographics–the huge community of silent film devotees that make pilgrimages every year to events like the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, the Kansas Silent Film Festival, and the Pordenone Silent Film Festival in Pordenone, Italy, as well as the deaf community, many members of which have a huge passion for silent cinema and would likely tune in as regular viewers.

A scene from King Vidor’s THE PATSY (1928), a silent film that I think would work wonderfully on GetTV. Funny, engaging, and appropriate for public broadcasting, it would be a fantastic gateway film to introduce many viewers who might not be familiar with silent cinema to this beautiful art form.

We have great reason to be excited about this new development in the classic film world. I will stay on the pulse of GetTV and update readers with any news.

Thanks for reading! See you next time!

Backlots on the TCM Red Carpet

Debbie Reynolds on the red carpet of the 2012 TCM Classic Film Festival.

While wandering around the shopping center at Hollywood and Highland today, I was alerted of an incoming email message through the vibrations of the trusty iPhone in my pocket. I took out my phone, opened my email inbox and discovered, to my great delight, that Backlots has been approved for red carpet coverage of the TCM Classic Film Festival.

So, readers, what does this mean? A red carpet credential allows a journalist to procure once in a lifetime interviews with special TCM guests, and to obtain high quality, exclusive content for his or her media outlet. For Backlots, this is an opportunity to talk to stars such as Shirley Jones and Margaret O’Brien, both of whom have significant fan bases on this site and I predict that interviews with them will prove to garner great visibility for both Backlots and TCM.

Shirley Jones in particular has proven to be very popular with readers of Backlots–feedback from readers shows great interest in her films, and all of the articles I have written about Shirley Jones rank among the most frequently visited posts in the history of Backlots. Jones, who is in fine form following her 80th birthday late last month (she wanted to go skydiving for her birthday, before her children talked her out of it) will be in attendance for Oklahoma!, the opening night movie and her feature film debut.

I am also hoping to get a chance to talk to Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz about programming choices, themes, and features for the upcoming year. If any of my readers have questions they would like asked, please feel free to leave them in the comments section or email me at fowler.lara@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you!

I have been in L.A. since March 31, and have been having a marvelous time leading up to the TCM Classic Film Festival. Come Thursday, I very much look forward to sharing my festival experience with you, my dear reader. As usual, I will be live tweeting on the red carpet, between movies, and at social events, as well as blogging every evening. This is definitely one of the highlights of any classic film fan’s year.

See you Thursday!

Campaign for the Victims of the Colorado Movie Theatre Shooting

When I heard about the horrific massacre that took place in Colorado last week, I, along with millions of others, was shocked and saddened by this senseless slaying of innocent souls, guilty of nothing but buying a ticket to see the latest blockbuster at the local movie theater. There is no explaining a crime like this, and no understanding what motivates a person to walk into a crowded movie house and open fire on random people. The sadness of last Friday goes even further than grieving for the loss of innocent lives, we also grieve for the loss of the movie theater as a safe haven in which to escape from the troubles of the world.

Since the early days of cinema, people have gone to the movies to temporarily erase the problems in their lives. From the Great Depression to World War II, to the Vietnam War and even the financial crises of today, nothing mattered when we went to the movies. We walked into another world, and everything was ok for those two hours spent within its walls. On Friday, that safety was savagely violated, fearlessly and unmercifully. It is hard to say now, one week out from the shooting, what effect this will have on the psychology of moviegoers, but it is certain that for those individuals who were in the theater and survived the shooting, will never again see going to the movies as an escape.

As the owner of this blog, I am joining forces with other movie bloggers, classic and otherwise, to help raise money and awareness for the survivors of the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting. In this day of the online media being the primary source of much information, I believe that we bloggers have a responsibility to do our part to raise awareness for causes that need attention. This is a fund drive organized by the website The Movie Pool, and all donations go directly to the victims through the Colorado Organization for Victims Assistance (COVA),working with the Aurora Police Department. Donations start at $1, so if you can stand not having that chocolate bar you were hoping to get, your dollar will go toward paying a victim’s medical bills and/or other expenses incurred as a result of the shooting.

Please donate here:

If you would prefer to give directly to the source, there is a link on the COVA website that will lead you to the right place. Any money donated through this post will count toward The Movie Pool’s fundraising goal of $10,000 for the victims, in which case your donating through this post would help The Movie Pool reach its goal.

Thank you for reading, and may we soon feel safety at the movies once again.