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Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004)

A documentary on the Z Channel, one of the first pay cable stations in the US, and its programming chief, Jerry Harvey. Debuting in 1974, the LA-based channel's eclectic slate of movies ... See full summary »

Director:

Xan Cassavetes
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Credited cast:
Robert Altman ... Himself
Vera Carlisle Anderson Vera Carlisle Anderson ... Herself (as Vera Anderson)
C.L. Batten C.L. Batten ... Himself
Jacqueline Bisset ... Herself
Ernest Borgnine ... Himself (archive footage)
Charles Champlin ... Himself
David Chasman David Chasman ... Himself
Stuart Cooper ... Himself
F.X. Feeney F.X. Feeney ... Himself
James B. Harris ... Himself
Jerry Harvey ... Himself (archive footage)
William Holden ... Himself (archive footage)
Don Hyde Don Hyde ... Himself
Henry Jaglom ... Himself
Jim Jarmusch ... Himself
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Storyline

A documentary on the Z Channel, one of the first pay cable stations in the US, and its programming chief, Jerry Harvey. Debuting in 1974, the LA-based channel's eclectic slate of movies became a prime example of the untapped power of cable television. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexual content, violent images and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 August 2007 (Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Kanazi Z: Mia yperohi emmoni See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film was made only after the financing for another film project, a fiction film, partially collapsed. See more »

Quotes

Alexander Payne: You just never know when you're living in a golden age.
See more »

Connections

References The Tenant (1976) See more »

Soundtracks

Italo - Western Theme
Written and Performed by Steven Hufsteter
Courtesy of Meinemusic
Administered by Bug Music
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User Reviews

Bittersweet paean to "The Greatest Channel on Earth"
19 October 2004 | by gortxSee all my reviews

I always tell people that I went to Film School TWICE - First, at Boston University. The second time watching Z CHANNEL after moving to L.A.. Or, I'd simply say, "Z CHANNEL is the Greatest Channel on Earth!"

It's that kind of worship that obviously inspired Directer Xan Cassavetes to make "Z CHANNEL - A Magnificent Obsession". And, through the dozens of interviews included in the film, you can see how a relatively small local cable outlet (it never even reached 100,000 subscribers) could still burn in the memory 15 years after its untimely and much lamented demise. But, the film is also bittersweet, because the main creative force behind the channel during it's 80's heydey, Jerry Harvey, was a hugely tormented man whose own murder-suicide closely paralleled the channel's rapid demise.

As a documentary, Z CHANNEL, is somewhat lacking. I find it daunting to imagine very many viewers who didn't subscribe to the channel to either enjoy the movie, or even figure out exactly why it was made. Even a hardcore partisan like myself found it somewhat lacking in context or in giving a clear, lucid description of exactly WHAT Z CHANNEL was or what they showed. Yes, there are some wonderful interviews with Robert Altman, Vilmos Zsigmond and Quentin Tarantino (who, ironically, lived OUTSIDE its subscription area and could only experience it vicariously through a friend's VHS dubs!) as well as some scattershot clips from various movies that were carried on the station. But, why, for instance, do we never get a sample listing of all the films that played during a particular week or a particular month? And, why do we NEVER see actual FOOTAGE from the channel? (The movie clips are Presented as FILM which is certainly aesthetically pleasing when viewed in a theater but not representative of how they were watched on early 80's TV's). Were there rights issues? Certainly, testimony from Tarantino, Alexander Payne and others proves that people have tapes where excerpts could have been culled from. I still have dozens of recordings if they need it for the DVD! Not even a still frame of the station logo? Odd.

What can't be denied is the passion for movies that breathes in every word that is spoken by the interviewees. Careers were made (James Woods, Theresa Russell) or re-discovered for a new generation (Richard Brooks, Sam Peckinpah) simply because of the fact that an inordinately large percentage of the Hollywood community was hooked up to Z CHANNEL (it even aired movies for Academy Awards Consideration long before screener tapes). Some of the same forces that began to coalesce to crush Z CHANNEL (HBO, Cable & Satellite growth, STUDIO mergers with multi-national corporations) are even more in effect now, so it's impossible to imagine such a network existing again.

Long live Z CHANNEL - at least in the memories of those who knew it.


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