sewhite2000

Is TCM deliberately distorting history by ignoring the existence of AMC in their new promos?

50 posts in this topic

So, I watched a couple of movies tonight in the Glenn Ford tribute, my first TCM viewing in a week. The interview clips of Ben Mankiewicz with Ted Turner and the promo celebrating Turner on TCM's 25th anniversary were both brand new to me, don't know how long they've been airing. Before getting into other topics, let me say I was delighted to see Turner being responsive and apparently coherent in answering Ben's questions. I'd read from a number of people, some of them possibly on here, that Ted was suffering from Alzheimer's and was largely being kept out of the spotlight by his loved ones. I don't know how seriously edited these brief Q&A moments were, and they did exhibit more than a little evidence that they were, but it still seemed like Turner was understanding and responding to Ben's questions, which was way more than I'd been led by others to believe he was capable of doing anymore.

My real reason for posting, however, is my curiosity after reading the thread about the passing of the AMC host - sorry, I'm forgetting his name at the moment - in which a number of you waxed nostalgic about AMC in general, and I've seen some you post before on the same subject matter. So, AMC came into existence 10 years before TCM and, from what I've read, actually showed film history from a much wider variety of golden age studios than TCM was able to, at least in its early history. If you go to Wikipedia, in fact, you learn there was a lawsuit filed after TCM came into existence and apparently totally violated a contract Turner had with AMC, yanking all those movies from AMC and showing them only on TCM. The Wikipedia entries I've read so far are frustratingly vague on the outcome of this lawsuit, but we do know TCM is still showing classic movies, and AMC is not.

The brief Turner interview was followed immediately by a very self-congratulatory promo in which TCM gives itself credit for being the only network in human history to give a rip about classic film, not mentioning that they totally ripped off everything AMC had been doing for TEN YEARS, including such concepts as Star of the Month.

Now, one thing I might say in TCM's favor: they claim they were the first network to air films in as close to the intent of their original presentation manner as possible. You folks who actually watched AMC will have to tell me - I was either unaware of it, or just didn't care about classic movies then - did they commit a lot of "sins", like airing everything colorized and in pan-and-scan format? Did they cut out scenes to fit a film into a time window? Because this promo makes it seem like TCM was unquestionably, undeniably the first network to ever NOT do these things. And from what I've read, I feel like TCM is very shamefully lying about this.

So, those of you who were way into AMC before TCM even existed (and really anyone who wants to comment), how do you feel about this possible whitewashing of history, which of course, has always in a military sense, belonged to the winners? Are these promos disgraceful? Should TCM make at least a passing nod to the debt it owes to AMC?

I seriously wouldn't know anything about the old history of AMC at all if not what I've read on here. My classic film consciouness didn't begin until TCM had been on the air for a good seven or eight years. And I've been a TCM loyalist ever since. But from what I've read on here, I'm a bit troubled at these promos. Please enlighten me if you have anything to say!

 

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I don't recall AMC showing letterboxed films. I believe TCM showing them in their correct aspect was one of their big selling points, thus that ubiquitous in-between films short that people used to complain about a lot explaining what letterboxing was. AMC showed pan-and-scan, as they were using the same copies used for VHS releases (which were very rarely letterboxed) and other TV airings.

I don't recall them showing colorized movies, but they may have. There were no edits for commercials, and things weren't edited for time. They didn't show anything newer than the mid-60's as I recall, so there was no need for content editing either.

Bob Dorian was the recently deceased host's name, btw.

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4 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

AMC showed pan-and-scan, as they were using the same copies used for VHS releases (which were very rarely letterboxed) and other TV airings.

So, it was AMC who was giving Sydney Pollack the heebie-jeebies!

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1 hour ago, LawrenceA said:

I don't recall AMC showing letterboxed films. I believe TCM showing them in their correct aspect was one of their big selling points, thus that ubiquitous in-between films short that people used to complain about a lot explaining what letterboxing was. AMC showed pan-and-scan, as they were using the same copies used for VHS releases (which were very rarely letterboxed) and other TV airings.

I don't recall them showing colorized movies, but they may have. There were no edits for commercials, and things weren't edited for time. They didn't show anything newer than the mid-60's as I recall, so there was no need for content editing either.

Bob Dorian was the recently deceased host's name, btw.

they did! amc is the first place I saw KRONOS letterboxed and I think I still got that sucker on a vhs tape.

:)

 

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48 minutes ago, sewhite2000 said:

So, those of you who were way into AMC before TCM even existed (and really anyone who wants to comment), how do you feel about this possible whitewashing of history, which of course, has always in a military sense, belonged to the winners? Are these promos disgraceful? Should TCM make at least a passing nod to the debt it owes to AMC?

I don't recall if the old AMC aired some colorized films, but I would suspect they did because in the mid-to-late 80s, that was a fad. And it was always controversial.

Not only did TCM borrow the Star of the Month concept from AMC, it also borrowed the idea of selling a monthly newsmagazine to viewers. Plus, they copied the idea of having two white men as hosts. Something that took a long time to change, before women and non-white hosts were allowed to start introducing movies. But yeah, it's obvious that Turner just replicated AMC's format in almost every way. But as they years went on, they started adding in their own ideas.

As for Turner violating his contract with AMC, I think he was trying to break the contract. But he was not allowed to do that, and AMC was able to continue airing the MGM/UA library of films he had acquired. However, Turner definitely did not renew that contract with them and that's when AMC started to change. Though AMC did continue to air films outside the Turner acquisition, like titles from Universal, Paramount and Republic into the mid and late 90s.

One thing TCM did not copy was the idea of creating its own scripted program. While TCM did copy AMC in doing their own in-house productions (like Private Screenings), they stayed away from scripted episodic stuff. From 1996 to 1998, AMC had an original series called Remember WENN and it produced 56 episodes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remember_WENN

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1 hour ago, TopBilled said:

AMC had an original series called Remember WENN and it produced 56 episodes.

Holy cow! "Created and written by Rupert Holmes"! The "if you like pina coladas" guy?!!?

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I doubt either AMC or TCM have tried to claim to be the first channels to show golden era Hollywood films. I remember reading that many more channels (like TNT for example, off the top of my head) used to show those and also programming like classical music, history docs and theater before revamping their channels to today's fare. 

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7 minutes ago, Gershwin fan said:

I doubt either AMC or TCM have tried to claim to be the first channels to show golden era Hollywood films. I remember reading that many more channels (like TNT for example, off the top of my head) used to show those and also programming like classical music, history docs and theater before revamping their channels to today's fare. 

The difference from the usual TV showings of old movies was that AMC and then TCM showed the films commercial free and unedited. That was a very big deal back when they started. There were commercial free premium cable channels like HBO, Cinemax, TMC (The Movie Channel), and Showtime, but those were subscribed to on a channel-by-channel basis, and the thought was that you were paying for those commercial frees movies. AMC and TCM (in some markets) were just added to existing cable packages with no extra per-channel cost. The only channel in my area that I recall occasionally showing uncut, uninterrupted classic films before AMC and TCM was PBS, which sometimes showed old movies late at night or on weekends. Otherwise, the movies were butchered with the typical network commercial breaks or edited to fit a time slot, or for content. And that includes TNT.

That being said, I don't really think TCM owes AMC any kind of recognition. Leave that to the TV historians, if anyone cares.

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1 hour ago, Gershwin fan said:

I doubt either AMC or TCM have tried to claim to be the first channels to show golden era Hollywood films

I've just seen the promo one time, so I don't have it committed to memory, but my impression was they were giving themselves sole credit for revitalizing an interest in classic films (which of course used to be a staple of TV programming) and for presenting them in an uncut, unaltered, commercial-free format. 

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1 hour ago, LawrenceA said:

That being said, I don't really think TCM owes AMC any kind of recognition. Leave that to the TV historians, if anyone cares.

I should probably say I certainly don't EXPECT TCM to give a former competitor any credit in one of its in-house promos! The whole tone of the piece just rubbed me the wrong way, taking sole credit for the concept and the format, when AMC started doing the same thing 10 years earlier. But, like I said, history is written by the winners.

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7 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

The difference from the usual TV showings of old movies was that AMC and then TCM showed the films commercial free and unedited. That was a very big deal back when they started. There were commercial free premium cable channels like HBO, Cinemax, TMC (The Movie Channel), and Showtime, but those were subscribed to on a channel-by-channel basis, and the thought was that you were paying for those commercial frees movies. AMC and TCM (in some markets) were just added to existing cable packages with no extra per-channel cost. The only channel in my area that I recall occasionally showing uncut, uninterrupted classic films before AMC and TCM was PBS, which sometimes showed old movies late at night or on weekends. Otherwise, the movies were butchered with the typical network commercial breaks or edited to fit a time slot, or for content. And that includes TNT.

That being said, I don't really think TCM owes AMC any kind of recognition. Leave that to the TV historians, if anyone cares.

I would say that AMC pioneered a certain format or showcase in presenting classic movies 24-7 (uncut). And historians as well as casual TCM viewers should be aware of that fact, otherwise TCM would not exist. 

5 hours ago, sewhite2000 said:

I should probably say I certainly don't EXPECT TCM to give a former competitor any credit in one of its in-house promos! The whole tone of the piece just rubbed me the wrong way, taking sole credit for the concept and the format, when AMC started doing the same thing 10 years earlier. But, like I said, history is written by the winners.

I agree. It is.

I don't think Turner acquired the MGM/UA library in 1986 with the intention of putting AMC out of business. I think GONE WITH THE WIND, CITIZEN KANE and CASABLANCA were cinematic baubles he wanted to possess. Those three films are the reason he bought that library.

Initially, he was content to keep leasing those films to AMC. But I think what happened is he had advisers who told him those films could pay for themselves if he set up his own channel to show those films exclusively himself. He basically copied AMC's format to do this, and he then had the intention of squeezing AMC out of business. Only AMC did not fold, it just morphed into something else.

Part of AMC's production model was to use the films to help sell VHS tapes of those old classic movies it aired. That's another thing Turner copied. Only Turner took it a step further and went from selling VHS to pushing DVDs in between airings. Turner also added in other movie-related memorabilia, which comprise items still sold at Shop TCM today.

Walmart copied K-Mart which copied Woolworths. Martha Stewart copied Betty Crocker. TCM copied AMC. 

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16 hours ago, NipkowDisc said:

they did! amc is the first place I saw KRONOS letterboxed and I think I still got that sucker on a vhs tape.

 

I just watched another movie online that was ripped from an old AMC showing, and it was letterboxed. So yeah, they did show some films letterboxed. However, I've also watched a few lately that were also ripped from AMC and they were pan-and-scan. So it was a mixed bag.

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Maybe the issue is that even though TCM started 10 years after AMC, they have remained classic-oriented, whereas AMC underwent that major metamorphosis 17 years ago. In TV, that is akin to a lifetime (and indeed AMC did its big switch before the youngest of this year's TCM fan intro contest was even born). its not like AMC was the only one to be unrecognizable from what they once were (A&E and History also come to mind), but even more so then those two its former identity has been kept in the dark. Aside from memories here, old magazines, a film book or two, and a few documentaries found on classic movie DVDs, there are no visible signs left that they were once a premier destination for classics.

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3 minutes ago, CinemaInternational said:

Maybe the issue is that even though TCM started 10 years after AMC, they have remained classic-oriented, whereas AMC underwent that major metamorphosis 17 years ago. In TV, that is akin to a lifetime (and indeed AMC did its big switch before the youngest of this year's TCM fan intro contest was even born). its not like AMC was the only one to be unrecognizable from what they once were (A&E and History also come to mind), but even more so then those two its former identity has been kept in the dark. Aside from memories here, old magazines, a film book or two, and a few documentaries found on classic movie DVDs, there are no visible signs left that they were once a premier destination for classics.

I remember that a few years ago (5 or more?) they would still occasionally play things like Shirley Temple films but now not even that. :( 

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Just now, Gershwin fan said:

I remember that a few years ago (5 or more?) they would still occasionally play things like Shirley Temple films but now not even that. :( 

When I was about 12, they'd still show things like Move Over Darling or Charade, and i believe in those cases, those were the first time I ever saw them. They also had a big Hitchcock marathon around that time around Halloween one year. I haven't seen anything on that channel for a while, but when I saw Airport from 1970 on their listings a few years ago, i was surprised and even a bit impressed, because so much of what they show now is more contemporary.

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Back in the early days of cable (probably late 70’s early 80’s, TBS was showing old movies & tv shows. In fact, every Monday they showed the roadshow musicals from the 50’s and early 60’s, even having call in voting for some of them. When TNT went on the air, Sunday evening was dedicated to showing international films. So Turner had some of these ideas before AMC went on the air. Robert told the story that he was contacted for a job with AMC but Turner hired the people he talked to and they in turn told him to not accept the AMC job since Turner was starting their own 24 hour channel. AMC, when they were classic films showed a 12 hour block that was then repeated. 

Ted Turner has Lewy body dementia so he doesn’t have Alzheimer’s. I saw a story about him on CBS Sunday Morning and his condition seems more akin to Parkinson’s. 

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Some of these posts saying AMC was still showing Shirley Temple five years ago and Airport more recently than that sent me to their website to see what was playing in the next 24 hours. I don't AMC on my cable package, so I can't watch, but I was curious anyway. They're showing three theatrical films during that time span, The Bourne UltimatiumGangs of New York and Colombiana. In the middle of the night, they're showing four hours straight of Three Stooges shorts! That's cool. I wish TCM could show those on occasion. Otherwise, the next 24 hours is all original programming: The Walking DeadFear the Walking DeadPreacher and something called NOS4A2. From this small sample, it seems their programming is extremely guy-oriented and extremely action/violence-oriented.

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Did Macys used to celebrate Gimbels? Of course not. TCM is a business. You don't expect them to

brag about a former competitor. I remember TBS used to show studio era movies on the weekends

and late in the evening on weekdays. Of course they had commercials.

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23 minutes ago, Vautrin said:

You don't expect them to

brag about a former competitor.

I said this virtually word for word in a previous post, but thanks for your contribution.

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It is my understanding that AMC was generally leasing movies which were categorized as being suitable for family audiences.

Some fraction of these had been edited for content so that television stations did not have to differentiate between versions suitable for afternoon airing when children might watch and versions suitable only for late-night airing.

I believe that AMC showed the edited versions both day and night rather than renting both versions.

TCM's approach to showing only original versions which had not been edited for content may have been novel at the time because it meant not being able to air some movies during the day if they had content not deemed suitable for children. Making a determination for when each movie could air must have been a considerable amount of work and produced even more work for the scheduling department.

I know that at least one movie shown on AMC was edited. It was: The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934). I discovered this when I was transferring some of my insignificant duther's VHS tapes to DVD. It was the scene wherein Leslie Howard is reciting the infamous poem to ladies of the court. That scene was missing from AMC's broadcast. It is fortunate that he had recorded it on a different date from TCM.

 

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11 hours ago, sewhite2000 said:

Some of these posts saying AMC was still showing Shirley Temple five years ago and Airport more recently than that sent me to their website to see what was playing in the next 24 hours. I don't AMC on my cable package, so I can't watch, but I was curious anyway. They're showing three theatrical films during that time span, The Bourne UltimatiumGangs of New York and Colombiana. In the middle of the night, they're showing four hours straight of Three Stooges shorts! That's cool. I wish TCM could show those on occasion. Otherwise, the next 24 hours is all original programming: The Walking DeadFear the Walking DeadPreacher and something called NOS4A2. From this small sample, it seems their programming is extremely guy-oriented and extremely action/violence-oriented.

Sounds about right.

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I pronounced that weird number/letter combo show title out loud and it comes out sounding like "Nosferatu", so I'm assuming it's some kind of vampire show.

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11 minutes ago, sewhite2000 said:

I pronounced that weird number/letter combo show title out loud and it comes out sounding like "Nosferatu", so I'm assuming it's some kind of vampire show.

Yes, it is, but there's a lot more to it. It's based on a bestseller by Joe Hill, the son of Stephen King. I watched the first three episodes but got bored with it. All the bits with Zachary Quinto as the vampire-esque bad guy are cheesy, but I suppose if I were a kid I would find it weirdly compelling or creepy. The rest of the story, dealing with some young women with psychic powers, was more interesting but not enough to keep me invested.

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You guys are totally missing the  big picture.  The first channel to show very classic films was the late and lamented Z CHANNEL. They introduced films that were literally forgotten to film history crowd.They played a great number of PARAMOUNT FILMS that were PRECode. I do not think any of you had the pleasure to see the films on THE Z CHANNEL.  It came through CENTURY COMMUNICATioNS  Los Angeles IN THE 1970S TO THE I990'S.It showed  everything including interviews with actors and famous directors.  The famed film historian and critic CHARLES CHAMPLIN was the host many of these interviews. I had taped these movies.  However, when I MOVED, I LET MY TAPES GO.  I regret my actions. It would have been fantastic film history lesson.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Z_Channel:_A_Magnificent_Obsession

This was the documentary about the Z CHANNEL.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/05/AR2005050500843.html?noredirect=on

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17 hours ago, sewhite2000 said:

I said this virtually word for word in a previous post, but thanks for your contribution.

Yes, but you didn't mention Macys and Gimbels and that makes all the difference. :)

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