Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Classic Hearst "Screen News Digest" Films Available on Internet Archive

Opening Title Card (circa 1965) for
Hearst's Screen News Digest.
Years ago, I remember that The History Channel* (before it became another tasteless "reality show" channel) showed classic Hearst Metrotone Screen News Digest short subjects during their early morning History Channel Classroom programming block.  In recent years, the vintage Screen News Digest shorts have been replaced with repackaged versions of the old History Channel program, History's Lost and Found (to fill out the commercial-free "classroom" block, just like what the network did with Screen News Digest).

The Internet Archive- along with the Bishop Dwenger High School Library has uploaded select issues of the vintage Hearst classroom newsreel series.  So far, six classic issues of Screen News Digest are available for viewing on the Internet Archive, and more editions (ranging from the 1960's through the 1970's) will appear on the site in the near future.

The series premiered in 1958, and my guess is that it was created as a response to Warner Bros.' News Magazine of the Screen-  which was a series of then-recent newsreel series that were reformatted for classroom presentation (from Warners' Pathé News unit, which was acquired by the studio in 1948- and was discontinued due to competition from television in 1956).  According to Geoff Alexander's 2010 book, Academic Films for the Classroom: A History- Hearst's classroom newsreel series was created by Jerome Foreman (who left Hearst's newsreel division in 1960 to form Allegro Productions, a company that is known for producing the Science Screen Report).

Many topics were presented throughout the series' run, consisting of current events or historical subjects. After Hearst discontinued their newsreel unit in 1967 (the same year that rival Universal Studios discontinued their long-running newsreel service), the producers of Screen News Digest relied on past stock footage from the Hearst Metrotone/News of the Day/Telenews library, in addition to new footage filmed by Hearst's television news bureaus.  The series migrated to color footage in the late 1960's, and ran until Hearst discontinued the series in the early 1980's- as videocassette recorders would replace 16mm film projectors in schools across the country.

I am very excited that the Internet Archive (in conjunction with Bishop Dwenger High School's library) is adding classic editions of the Screen News Digest series.  I just hope that they add the 1977 short, The Talking Machine: Tinfoil to LP- which commemorated the centennial of recorded sound (it was shown on The History Channel's "classroom" block many years ago).

*The History Channel (along with its sister network, A&E- which also showed the Screen News Digest shorts in the past) is a joint venture of Hearst and ABC.  Yet sadly, that channel (which has shortened its name to "History") has morphed into another boring "reality show" cable channel. Same goes for A&E (in my honest opinion).

Friday, September 26, 2014

"Gone With The Wind" 75th Anniversary Screening To Be Shown In The Frederick Area

Trade ad for the 1961 re-release of David O. Selznick's
1939 epic, Gone With The Wind.  MGM decided to
reissue the film in theaters that year to commemorate the
centennial of the American Civil War (1861-1865).
Not that long ago, Frederick's cinema venues missed out on numerous opportunities for revival screenings of classic feature films.   This includes the the one-day 70th anniversary screening of Casablanca in 2012, and the 50th anniversary screening of A Hard Day's Night earlier this year.  If you've read previous posts on At The Matinee, you may have noticed that revival screenings of classic (and contemporary) feature films are under-appreciated in the Frederick area.

David O. Selznick's 1939 Academy Award-winning monumental epic, Gone With The Wind (directed by Victor Fleming, adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Margaret Mitchell) will be shown in select theaters across the nation on September 28th and October 1st.  The digital presentation is presented by Turner Classic Movies, Warner Bros., and NCM Fathom Events, with a filmed introduction by TCM host Robert Osborne.

To my surprise, as I was reading the list of cinema venues that planned on showing the film- I noticed that Frederick, Maryland was on the list of theaters that are showing Gone With The Wind.

Now here's the unfortunate part about this revival screening: it won't be shown at Frederick's "crown jewel"- The Weinberg Center For The Arts, nor will it be shown at MDL Holiday Cinemas, but it will be shown at the area's 16-plex eyesore (in the view of this author), Regal Cinemas.  From looking at Fandango, the ticket prices are outrageous for this limited engagement. The price for a single ticket to this revival screening (according to Fandango) is $12.50.

Aside from that, cinema enthusiasts in the Frederick area will be able to experience Gone With The Wind the way it was meant to be seen- on the big screen.  If the price was right (and if it was shown at a better cinema venue), then I would definitely go see it.  If you're interested in seeing Gone With The Wind on the big screen in the Frederick area, it will be shown at the Regal Cinemas Westview 16 complex on September 28th (at 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM), with an encore screening on October 1st.  For more information on this event, visit fathomevents.com.

ATM REMEMBERS: At The Matinee remembers longtime actress Polly Bergen, who passed away at the age of 84 on Saturday, September 20th.  Bergen started her career as a singer on the radio, and her first film appearance was in the 1950 comedy At War With The Army, with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis (she would appear in two more Martin & Lewis comedies- That's My Boy in 1951, and The Stooge in 1952).

She is best remembered for her role in the 1962 film, Cape Fear (opposite Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck).   She also appeared in the 1964 film Kisses For My President (opposite Fred MacMurray).  She had her own short-lived variety show series on NBCThe Polly Bergen Show- which ran on the network from 1957 to 1958.  Bergen won an Emmy Award in 1958 for her portrayal of singer Helen Morgan in the anthology series Playhouse 90.  She was also a celebrity panelist on the hit Mark Goodson-Bill Todman game show, To Tell The Truth, during its original network run on CBS.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Rant: Washington's WJLA-TV preempts Me-TV's Saturday Lineup

I was looking forward to watching the Saturday evening Me-TV lineup (after a long week). But on the evening of Saturday, August 30th- I was quite disappointed to see what was in place of Me-TV’s Saturday lineup. Instead, Washington area viewers were treated to "bottom-of-the-barrel" sports programming from this new start-up service- the American College Sports Network.

This has been going on every Saturday since then- and this blog writer is very disappointed in Channel 7’s preemption of Me-TV’s Saturday evening programming.  I learned that the local affiliate that carries Me-TV in the area, WJLA (ABC) decided to preempt a good chunk of the Saturday schedule- consisting of classic westerns in the afternoon and science fiction programs in the evening.

Viewers in the Washington are also missing out on Me-TV’s telecast of The Adventures of Superman, thanks to Channel 7’s new owners.  The main highlight of Me-TV’s Saturday lineup is iconic Chicago horror host Svengoolie (portrayed by Rich Koz), and his showcase of vintage Universal Studios horror feature films. Svengoolie is also preempted by Channel 7’s stale sports programming.

This is because of WJLA’s new owners, forcing the station to carry programming from their American College Sports Network instead of the great shows on Me-TV. Recently, WJLA (and its cable outlet, NewsChannel 8) was acquired by the controversial Sinclair Broadcast Group (which is based in Baltimore, and operates the American College Sports Network). This was part of Sinclair’s acquisition of Allbritton Communications’ TV stations (after Allbritton’s heirs decided to focus on their Capitol Hill rag, Politico). Sinclair has been on a massive buying spree over the years, acquiring TV stations left and right (all thanks to rampant corruption in the Federal Communications Commission, along with greedy Capitol Hill lobbyists- in this blog writer’s view).

It has been reported that similar situations have been happening on Sinclair-owned (or managed) TV stations across the nation. Not just on their stations that carry Me-TV, but on stations that carry other digital networks (through their stations' sub-channels). Many (including this blog writer) have written on WJLA’s Facebook page, suggesting that they restore the Saturday lineup on Me-TV. The only other way to get Me-TV (around ATM’s home base) is through the sub-channel of Baltimore’s WBAL-TV 11 (owned by Hearst). But unfortunately, ATM’s home base is situated in a “DTV dead zone”- and Comcast only carries the Washington stations’ sub-channels in the Frederick area.

It would be nice if another Washington area station would be interested in carrying Me-TV (full-time). In this case, it may be pretty unlikely- as the only non-network owned stations (in addition to Sinclair’s WJLA) are Gannett’s W*USA-TV 9 (CBS, with Bounce TV and WeatherNation on their sub-channels) and Tribune’s WDCW-TV 50 (CW- which carries Antenna TV and This TV on their sub-channels).

To paraphrase an old slogan that WJLA used - it looks like that TV 7 will no longer be “a part of my life", nor will that station be “on my side”- until they stop preempting Me-TV’s Saturday schedule.

In this writer’s opinion, the executives at Sinclair deserve to have rubber chickens thrown at them for dumping Svengoolie.

TELL SINCLAIR/WJLA-TV: “DON’T MESS WITH ME-TV!” At The Matinee’s proprietor has voiced his opinion to WJLA (through their “contact” section on the station’s website). Now it’s your turn to tell WJLA (or any Sinclair-owned station that carries Me-TV) not to preempt Me-TV’s Saturday programming:

1100 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, Virginia 22209
wjla.com/ Phone: (703)-236-9555

10706 Beaver Dam Road
Hunt Valley, Maryland 21030
sbgi.net/Phone: (410)-568-1500

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September 10th: Battle for Net Neutrality

It's been awhile since something new has been posted on At The Matinee (due to overwhelming classwork/homework since ATM's author has gone back to college to expand his educational prospects).

This is in honor of today, which is called "Net Neutrality Day".  In the view of this blog writer, the internet should belong to everyone- not to a select few.  The internet shouldn't be in the hands of giant, corrupt corporations such as Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T.

Show your support by going to the website for Battle For The Net.  Again (in this blog writer's view), the internet should belong to everyone.

More from At The Matinee on Save the Internet day, which was held this past May...