SOMETIMES IT SEEMS that a concerted effort is being made to dissuade consumers from paying for conventional TV services, e.g. cable and satellite. The first shot across the bow was the NBC purchase of Bravo, and NBC’s subsequent dismantling of Bravo. At one time Bravo was an excellent channel, providing film and performing arts programming that bested PBS.
Inside the Actors Studio was born of this period, and I remember a fantastic profile of Björk (tag-lined “People We Like”) which was done while she was recording Homogenic. Apparently Inside the Actors Studio remains on Bravo, though I hardly see the point. First of all it is broadcast so rarely that I haven’t seen it in years, and secondly it’s so discordant with the dreck that occupies the entire Bravo lineup that it can do nothing but suffocate. That various “real housewives” are now considered celebrities is a sad commentary about our society.
The next shot hit square-on when IFC and then Sundance renounced commercial-free indie movie programming and replaced it with decidedly inferior programming filled voluminously with advertisements which completely ruin any worthwhile movie that finds passage. That was a sad devolution, as quite a number of great little indies I discovered on those channels.
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Nothing has arrived that can fully take the place of IFC, Sundance, and pre-NBC Bravo, but as with any vacuum new options have popped up. The biggest is streaming media. Browsing for films using iTunes movies via Apple TV is fun. My watch list has grown to hundreds of films, I reckon — I just wish I could commit to watching one every now and then.
And there are new movie channels, though as more of us become cord-cutters the longevity of said channels may be in doubt. One of the best is EPIX, which I posted on a while back regarding their showing of Nebraska and the Altman biopic. Well I was a little surprised when I ran across a show late last night called Hollywood Sessions, a very dignified interview program featuring Emma Stone, Tilda Swinton, Laura Dern and Patricia Arquette — a round-up of best supporting actress nominees for 2014. All were seated about a coffee table and asked questions in turn by two journalists.
Well the spirit of early Bravo was swept right back to me! I was only able to watch a few minutes before heady-to-beddy, but I was very pleasantly surprised. Hollywood Sessions include four other programs, with 2014 candidates for best actor, actress, supporting actor and director. EPIX has made each program available online in a friendly, commercial-free format, or check your listings.