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does tcm ever play its a wonderful life


peterson
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peterson -

 

TCM has never - to my knowledge - shown It's A Wonderful Life and won't be showing it in the near future. The film is licensed exclusively to NBC for something like 20 years. It usually shows up twice on the network during the holiday season.

 

Twenty years ago, when the film was a recurring fixture on many different channels on the television dial, it was able to be shown anywhere because the copyright on the film had lapsed. It was in what is known as the "Public Domain" meaning no fees had to be paid to show the film on television Then, about ten years ago, it became known that the copyright on the music in the film had NOT expired so fees again were due for each showing of the film. I guess, control of the "film" is actually in the hands of the music copyright holder now. I may be wrong on that point though.

 

I don't think the showings of It's A Wonderful Life on NBC are that popular. Many people have invested in a copy of the film on home video so they can watch it when they want during the holidays. In the 70's and 80's, the film was so ubiquitous on so many different channels that there was no need to have a copy of one's own. I know I have one. And a good one at that. But I still cherish the memories of seeing the film on UHF and PBS channels 20 years ago

 

Kyle In Hollywood

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Of course I have no idea where you live or how old you are, but somewhere between 20 and 25 years ago it was shown on a couple of different stations and all of a sudden people were clamoring to see it again. Suddenly there were VHS videos of it for sale everywhere, and it was advertised for 'The Perfect Christmas Gift', so the following year it appeared on just about every TV station not once but 2 or 3 times on each. No matter where you looked 'Its A Wonderful Life' was playing sometime during the day and in primetime. You couldn't get away from it. Then the next year it wasn't shown anywhere. That's probably about the time that NBC picked up the rights to it.Does anyone else remember that year?

 

Anne

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drdoolittle -

I have never watched It's A Wonderful Life on NBC because I own a copy of the film myself. But I am aware that NBC shows the film over a 3 to 4 hour time slot. I would hope that means that NBC shows the whole film and just adds the commercials.

 

It would be sacrilege to pay all that money to control such a beloved film and then cut out pieces of it. And I think NBC knows that.

 

Did CBS ever cut scenes out of The Wizard Of Oz?

 

Kyle In Hollywood

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NBC has show biz people ( sometime Pols ) tell the viewers what they enjoy about the film, Capra, Stewart, etc. That part is a bore. Who cares what Jason Alexander thinks about It's a Wonderful Life, or George Clooney for that matter. Those segment are oh so scripted which makes it even worse.

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"Did CBS ever cut scenes out of 'The Wizard Of Oz'?"

 

In the beginning they didn't. But as the years went by, CBS also started adding various gimmicks (having Danny Kaye introduce the movie, for instance) and commercial, time which resulted in cuts to the film (abruptly as Dorothy leaves Professor Marvel was one).

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I think Marvel's line was even in there; we just didn't see Dorothy running up to the bridge. Minor to be sure, but that is a tightly edited film. It'd be tough to find something to cut without injuring the plot. But I'll never forget the first time these cuts were made. By then, in my flannel pjs (featuring an astronaut print) and eating homemade popcorn balls (thanks Mom!), I had every frame memorized. Each time there'd be a little clip, I felt it was cutting me. This was the birth of a movie neurotic, and the beginning of a difficult life; but so far I've survived colorization, the war of Beta vs. VHS, AMC's commercial breaks, the rise and fall of laser disks, the destruction of movie palaces, the building of multiplexes, and NBC's purchase of It's a Wonderful Life.

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Jack Burley and Kyle,

 

You are not alone. What is that song from Gigi "I Remember It Well".

 

I hate to think that is us, but it could be......

 

No offense intended. We are of a certain age and a love of films.

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I" am from The State Of New York I do also recall it being shown several times on different stations > I just wish it could be on TCM where nothing would be cut out. I'm lucky to have the DVD but people who never have seen it would be nice too see the movie without commercials.

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I remember a time when you could almost watch it 24/7 during the holiday season on almost every station. I thought that was a little extreme, but definitely would like for it to be shown more than twice a year on NBC. My local Angelika theater is showing it a couple of times this month ; I'm going to have to try to catch it there.

 

I wonder why NBC would hold on to it if it doesn't get ratings. Are they bound to it for the 20 years? Or does it still get better ratings than most of their programs?

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bradtexasranger -

 

It's A Wonderful Life may get decent ratings compared to other offerings but I don't think it performs as well as the Easter showing of The Ten Commandments on ABC. I will try to check out the ratings for this year's showing when it happens.

 

As to why NBC would still hold on to it, the network ponied up a lot of money for the exclusve rights to showing it. And I bet it is still an easy program in which to sell commercial time to advertisers regardless of the ratings. Companies probably want to be associated with the film regardless of the size of the audience. I think the film may have been presented by a single national advertiser the first few years it was on NBC in the way GM (I think) presented Saving Private Ryan or Schindler's Lista few years ago. Of course, presenting a fifty-year old film has to be a cheaper piece of programming than a new episode of "E.R.". So, even if the ratings are low, it may still be highly profitable if all the advertising is bought up at good rates. And profit is the most important measure of success on a Network Schedule.

 

If NBC wanted to rid itself of the film, the network would have to find a buyer willing to purchase the rights from them and it might not be an attractive purchase unless NBC was willing to "sell it" at a loss.

 

Anyone know if / when CBS stopped showing The Wizard Of Oz? That may be a case of the network no longer being able to make a profit from showing the film. (Or did Turner decide it was a better idea to present the film on it's own family of networks?) Or the fact that many households with youngsters already had a copy of the film in the house and didn't need to see it on network television.

 

Kyle In Hollywood

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Thanks, Kyle. I think you may be right about it not performing as well as Ten Commandments. I know a few of my coworkers who were not neccesarily classic film fans were looking forward to seeing it last time it was shown.

 

Fred, you're right. Ten Commandments has nothing to do with the Easter story. I'm not sure how or why it became an Easter tradition on ABC. Anybody know the story on that?

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FYI: The following are the dates when It's a Wonderful Life will be broadcast on NBC:

Sat., Dec.16th at 8:00pm

Sun., Dec. 24th at 8:00pm

 

I think it might be more enjoyable to buy one of the relatively cheap dvds or borrow one from your public library, but that's just me. Maybe there's a communal comraderie that comes from watching it on broadcast tv while enduring endless commercials every five minutes along with the rest of humanity. I try to steer clear of this dark little fable. The first time I ever saw it was the night that my father died. And it was even in December. Not something I'm eager to relive, though I think that it was well done.

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Hello All -

 

I found this "article" online regarding the copyright situation of It's A Wonderful Life. If you are of a legal bent and enjoy learning alot of back story, you might enjoy it.

There is a "footnote" to the article detailing a situation involving a retired director who was thwarted in rehabilitating his stature by the exploitive cheap DVD producers who flooded the market with his work under the impression the films were "Public Domain". Quite sad actually. Click Below -

 

http://www.film-center.com/canishow.html

 

Kyle In Hollywood

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Having worked for an ABC affiliate tv station for many years, I can shed a little light on why ABC shows "The Ten Commandments" every year. Basically it comes down to two things. Prestige and money. It's that kind of picture that a network can't lose on. A lot of people still look forward to seeing it and since nobody else has the rights to show it, unless they want to buy the DVD, they can only watch it on ABC.

 

As for ratings, it does surprisingly well for a fifty year-old movie. It certainly doesn't draw the numbers of a "hot" new show like "Desperate Housewives", but the network can count on a certain level of viewership..

 

From a financial point of view, it's also a winner. There are many sponsors who love to get their ads in good family entertainment like that. Since ABC charges less, because the audience is smaller, it becomes a bargain for the sponsor.

 

And finally, ABC can make money on it, because by buying the rights for twenty years the cost per showing is far less than they would pay for a newer film. It a win-win situation. I imagine it's the same with NBC and "It's A Wonderful Life".

 

One other thing, a few years ago, when ABC renewed their contract for "The Ten Commandments", they put up most of the money for it's restoration.

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Tell me if I'm right about this. Growing up before cable, I didn't hear a lot about IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE. I was aware. Capra. Christmas. But it wasn't THE MOVIE everybody loved. I hadn't even seen it at the time. It seems around 1980, as more and more people got more and more channels, it achieved its classic status. Being shown a dozen times each year. Its popularity spread by word of mouth, I suppose. Long John Willoughby would be proud!

 

Red River

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