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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

On Disc

at Amazon

1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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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

Jerry Harvey: [when asked in the 1980s about the secret of Z Channel's success] I don't know. If I told you, it wouldn't be a secret.
See more »

Connections

References Tarzan the Ape Man (1981) See more »

Soundtracks

What'll I Do
Performed by William Atherton
Written by Irving Berlin
Courtesy of Paramount Pictures Corporation and Williamson Music
See more »

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User Reviews

 
For the love of cinema
25 June 2005 | by FilmOtakuSee all my reviews

For any of us who grew up with cable being a basic amenity and movies at our disposal with the dozens of premium movie channels, Blockbusters on every corner and now DVDs on our doorstep with the click of a mouse button, it is hard to imagine that there was a time when movie lovers were limited to seeing edited versions of commercial films on network television, blank VHS tapes cost $20 apiece (true story – my Dad used to have to choose the films he taped very wisely) and the only easy way to see a film was when it came to the local movie theater. In 1974, however, the first pay-channel appeared on West Coast cable boxes, with a programming director who had a genuine love of films and filmmakers; this channel was called the Z Channel, and very fittingly, Alexandra Cassevetes (daughter of John and Gena Rowlands) created an incredibly fascinating film documenting its rise and fall.

Jerry Harvey was a college dropout who intensely loved film and film studies, making him the ideal choice for deciding what films would appear on Z Channel. Various former co-workers, critics, directors and actors, mostly independents, offer their fond memories of a channel that had the power to make or break a film or filmmaker. (Cassavetes includes a story about how one of Hollywood's most infamous film debacles, "Heaven's Gate" ended up being ridiculed because of terrible editing; when Z Channel ran the director's cut it was heralded by the public and critics alike.) The vision that Harvey had for the channel and the output it had is envious even by today's standards. They would have Bergman film festivals, uncut versions of films that had only been seen in their edited format, cult and avant garde films; and directors like Alexander Payne (sporting an old Z Channel t-shirt) and Quentin Tarantino share their memories of having tapes of old Z channel broadcasts.

Unfortunately, personal demons and a family history of psychological issues ended Jerry Harvey's life and the life of his wife when he first killed her then killed himself. This was shortly after the eventual demise of the Z channel itself, which first sold out and shared programming with ESPN, and then was dissolved altogether. Despite its unceremonious demise, Z channel is remembered fondly by those that experienced its programming and were involved in its broadcasting, and is looked upon with reverence by anyone who considers themselves, like Jerry Harvey, a life-long student of film. This is an excellent documentary and really is a must-see for film buffs. 8/10 --Shelly


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