Z Channel

The Z Channel was one of the first pay television stations in the United States best known for its devotion to the art of cinema due to the eclectic choice of films[1] by the programming chief, Jerry Harvey.

Z Channel
CountryUnited States
Broadcast areaSouthern California
HeadquartersLos Angeles, California
Programming
Language(s)American English
Ownership
OwnerTheta Cable (1974–1981)
Group W (1981–1987)
Rock Associates (1987–1988)
American Spectacor (1988–1989)
Cablevision/NBC (1989)
History
Launched1974 (1974)
ClosedJune 29, 1989 (1989-06-29)
Replaced bySportsChannel Los Angeles

History

Z Channel was launched in 1974 by Theta Cable[2] (a division of TelePrompTer Corporation and Hughes Aircraft Co.) which was acquired by Group W (Westinghouse) in 1981. Operations were located in Santa Monica, California. Jerry Harvey was hired as program director in 1980. As program director, Harvey was given permission to program the network the way he saw fit. As such, the network featured a wide variety of films not typically shown on other pay television services at the time.[3][4][5][6]

These included many B movies, silent films, foreign films, and original unedited versions of films. On Christmas Eve 1982, Harvey made the decision to show the original (previously unreleased in two years) version of Heaven's Gate, a movie that had been considered a disaster by all accounts. His decision was a success as the movie became the most watched feature ever shown on Z Channel. Other networks soon followed and aired Heaven's Gate.

By the mid-1980s, Z Channel had 90,000 subscribers. In 1987, Group W sold Z Channel to Seattle-based Rock Associates for $5 million.[7] Both increased competition and lack of interest by Group W leading up to the sale led to a decrease in subscribers. In January 1988, Rock Associates merged with American Spectacor.

Demise

In April 1988, there were two major changes to the network: the death of Jerry Harvey and the addition of sports to regular programming.[8] (It had broadcast a UCLA–USC basketball game around 1978.) Deals were made to show games from the Los Angeles Angels, Clippers and Dodgers.[9] This increased the numbers of subscribers to 110,000. The sports deals were funded by selling advertising during the games. However, a lawsuit ensued with a court ruling that contracts with the movie studios stipulated that the service be commercial-free.

Out of options, the channel was sold to Cablevision and NBC on March 16, 1989, who were partners in the joint-venture SportsChannel and set to launch Consumer News and Business Channel (now CNBC). On June 29, 1989, Z Channel faded to black[10] and was replaced by SportsChannel Los Angeles.[11] The last film shown on Z Channel was the John Ford film My Darling Clementine.[12]

Legacy

Z Channel popularized the use of letterboxing on television, as well as showing "director's cut" versions of films (which is a term popularized after Z Channel's showing of Heaven's Gate). Z Channel's devotion to cinema and choice of rare and important films had an influence on such directors as Robert Altman, Quentin Tarantino, and Jim Jarmusch.

The channel was the subject of the 2004 documentary Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession, which was directed by Alexandra Cassavetes, daughter of John Cassavetes.[13]

Selected films that aired on Z Channel

See also

References

  1. "Film-News and Notes." Daily News of Los Angeles October 3, 1986
  2. Theater, New Beverly. "Z Channel | New Beverly Cinema". New Beverly Cinema - The premier revival theater in Los Angeles. Retrieved 2020-12-17.
  3. Z Magazine: The Entertainment Guide for Subscribers to the Z Channel and Theta Cable Television - Feb/Mar/Apr, 1979 - Vol. 5, No. 9 - High Anxiety on cover-Amazon.com Z Magazine: The Entertainment Guide for Subscribers to the Z Channel and Theta Cable Television - Sept/Oct, 1978 - Vol. 5, No. 5 - MacArthur on cover
  4. Z Magazine: The Entertainment Guide for Subscribers to the Z Channel and Theta Cable Television - Sept/Oct, 1978 - Vol. 5, No. 5 - MacArthur on cover
  5. Z Magazine: The Entertainment Guide for Subscribers to the Z Channel and Theta Cable Television - Aug/Sept, 1979 - Vol. 6, No. 4 - Jaws on cover-Amazon.com
  6. Z Magazine: The Entertainment Guide for Subscribers to the Z Channel and Theta Cable Television - Sept/Oct, 1978 - Vol. 5, No. 5 - MacArthur on cover
  7. "Rainbow to Add Hockey Games : Z Channel Sold to Sports, News Programming Firm". latimes. Retrieved 2018-07-19.
  8. DEC 1978 Z MOVIE/TELEVISION MAGAZINE TURNING POINT - UCLA BASKETBALL|Worthpoint.com
  9. "Z Channel 1987". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 2018-07-19.
  10. "Z Channel Fading To Black Amid Film Industry Tributes." The Hollywood Reporter April 27, 1989
  11. "Hollywood Freeway." Daily News of Los Angeles June 26, 1989
  12. "The Death of Z Channel--What Now? : The History : Beset by troubles, quirky station will switch to all-sports". latimes. Retrieved 2018-07-19.
  13. Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession-IGN
  14. "'Z Channel' on the Air-Washington Post". washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2018-07-19.
  15. VINTAGE Z MAGAZINE. THE Z CHANNEL. 48 HRS, WEIRD SCIENCE. THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS | Worthpoint.com
  16. "Z Channel Magazine of the Air- April 24-30 1981". YouTube. Retrieved 2018-07-19.
  17. Z Magazine: The Entertainment Guide for Subscribers to the Z Channel and Theta Cable Television - November/December, 1974 - Vol. 1, No. 6 - The Three Musketeers on cover
  18. SEPT/OCT 1981 Z vintage movie magazine AIRPLANE - CADDYSHACK | Worthpoint.com
  19. Z Magazine: The Entertainment Guide for Subscribers to the Z Channel and Theta Cable Television - Oct/Nov, 1975 - Vol. 2, No. 5 - Airport 1975 on cover
  20. Z Magazine: The Entertainment Guide for Subscribers to the Z Channel and Theta Cable Television - Aug/Sept, 1975 - Vol. 2, No. 3 - Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore on cover
  21. FEB/MARCH 1981 Z VINTAGE MOVIE MAGAZINE APOCALYPSE NOW - ALL THAT JAZZ | Worthpoint.com
  22. Z Magazine: The Entertainment Guide for Subscribers to the Z Channel and Theta Cable Television - Apr/May, 1975 - Vol. 1, No. 9 - American Graffiti on cover-Amazon.com
  23. NOV/DEC 1980 Z VINTAGE MOVIE MAGAZINE ALIEN - 10 - HOT STUFF | Worthpoint.com
  24. Z Magazine: The Entertainment Guide for Subscribers to the Z Channel and Theta Cable Television - June/July, 1975 - Vol. 2, No. 2 - Harry & Tonto on cover
  25. SEPT 16 1988 Z VINTAGE MOVIE MAGAZINE BEVERLY HILLS COP - EDDIE MURPHY | Worthpoint.com
  26. Z Magazine: The Entertainment Guide for Subscribers to the Z Channel and Theta Cable Television - May/June, 1976 - Vol. 3, No. 2 - Gone With the Wind on cover
  27. "Film Montage from "Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession" (2004)". YouTube. Retrieved 2018-07-19.
  28. Z Magazine: The Entertainment Guide for Subscribers to the Z Channel and Theta Cable Television - January/February, 1975 - Vol. 1, No. 7 - Blazing Saddles on cover-Amazon
  29. OCT/NOV 1981 Z VINTAGE MOVIE MAGAZINE BLUE LAGOON - ORDINARY PEOPLE | Worthpoint.com
  30. JULY/AUG 1981 Z VINTAGE MOVIE MAGAZINE MGM STORY | Worthpoint.com
  31. Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004) - Trailer - YouTube
  32. VINTAGE Z CHANNEL GUIDES . Z MAGAZINE. GREASE, JAWS 2, PRIVATE BENJAMIN | Worthpoint.com
  33. Z Magazine: The Entertainment Guide for Subscribers to the Z Channel and Theta Cable Television - Jul/Aug, 1979 - Vol. 6, No. 3 - California Suite on cover
  34. GALAXY MAGAZINE..Z CHANNEL. HEAVENS GATE,RICH AND FAMOUS, TAPS, ON GOLDEN POND
  35. Z Channel break - January 1982- The Media Hoarder on YouTube
  36. VINTAGE Z MAGAZINE. THE Z CHANNEL. THE CHINA SYNDROME, DRESS TO KILL, HAIR | Worthpoint.com
  37. VINTAGE Z MAGAZINE. THE Z CHANNEL . LOT OF 5
  38. VINTAGE Z MAGAZINE. THE Z CHANNEL. A VIEW TO A KILL, DRAGNET, THE MISSION | Worthpoint.com
  39. VINTAGE Z CHANNEL GUIDES . Z MAGAZINE. STAYING ALIVE, VACATION | Worthpoint.com
  40. "Z Channel movie bumper 1980". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 2018-07-19.
  41. VINTAGE Z CHANNEL GUIDES . Z MAGAZINE. AMADEUS, BEVERLY HILLS COP, MADONNA | Worthpoint.com
  42. "Z Channel break- January 1982". YouTube. Retrieved 2018-07-19.
  43. 1975 Theta Cable Tv Z Channel - Obsolete Video on YouTube
  44. Z Magazine: The Entertainment Guide for Subscribers to the Z Channel and Theta Cable Television - May/June, 1979 - Vol. 6, No. 2 - Eyes of Laura Mars on cover
  45. Z Magazine: The Entertainment Guide for Subscribers to the Z Channel and Theta Cable Television - May/June, 1975 - Vol. 2, No. 1 - Freebie and the Bean on cover-Amazon.com
  46. Z Channel break- December 1977 - The Media Hoarder on YouTube
  47. Z Magazine: The Entertainment Guide for Subscribers to the Z Channel and Theta Cable Television - Apr/May, 1979 - Vol. 6, No. 1 - The Goodbye Girl on cover
  48. Z Magazine: The Entertainment Guide for Subscribers to the Z Channel and Theta Cable Television - July/August, 1976 - Vol. 3, No. 3 - The Towering Inferno on cover
  49. JUNE/JULY 1981 Z VINTAGE MOVIE MAGAZINE - SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT - THE SHINING | Worthpoint.com
  50. Z Magazine: The Entertainment Guide for Subscribers to the Z Channel and Theta Cable Television - Dec/Jan, 1976 - Vol. 2, No. 6 - W.W. and The Dixie Dancekings on cover
  51. Z Magazine: The Entertainment Guide for Subscribers to the Z Channel and Theta Cable Television - Oct/Nov, 1978 - Vol. 5, No. 6 - Julia on cover
  52. "Z Channel Feature Presentation & MGM fanfare 1984". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 2018-07-19.
  53. Z Magazine: The Entertainment Guide for Subscribers to the Z Channel and Theta Cable Television - Jan/Feb, 1976 - Vol. 2, No. 7 - The Return of the Pink Panther on cover
  54. Z Magazine: The Entertainment Guide for Subscribers to the Z Channel and Theta Cable Television - Sept/Oct, 1978 - Vol. 5, No. 5 - MacArthur on cover
  55. Southern California 1975 Z-Channel Line up Cable Tv - Obsolete Video on YouTube
  56. OCT/NOV 1980 Z vintage movie magazine ROCKY II - STALLONE | Worthpoint.com
  57. "Z Channel: Overlord". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 2018-07-19.
  58. Z-Channel Movie Opener. The Parallax View - Obsolete Video on YouTube
  59. Magazine: The Entertainment Guide for Subscribers to the Z Channel and Theta Cable Television - Aug/Sept, 1975 - Vol. 2, No. 3 - Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore on cover
  60. "Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004) - Trailer". YouTube. Retrieved 2018-07-19.
  61. "Z Channel break- December 1977". YouTube. Retrieved 2018-07-19.
  62. JUNE 19 1987 Z VINTAGE MOVIE MAGAZINE FILMS OF STANLEY KUBRICK - ALIENS | Worthpoint.com
  63. Z Magazine: The Entertainment Guide for Subscribers to the Z Channel and Theta Cable Television - Sept/Oct, 1975 - Vol. 2, No. 4 - Lenny on cover
  64. Z Channel "Sleepers" intro - The Media Hoarder on YouTube
  65. "Z Channel: The Important Thing is to Love". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 2018-07-19.
  66. Z Magazine: The Entertainment Guide for Subscribers to the Z Channel and Theta Cable Television - Dec/Jan, 1979 - Vol. 5, No. 7 - The Turning Point on cover
  67. Z Magazine: The Entertainment Guide for Subscribers to the Z Channel and Theta Cable Television - Jan/Feb, 1979 - Vol. 5, No. 8 - An Unmarried Woman on cover
  68. Z Magazine: The Entertainment Guide for Subscribers to the Z Channel and Theta Cable Television - June/July, 1978 - Vol. 5, No. 3 - The Deep on cover
  69. VINTAGE Z MAGAZINE. THE Z CHANNEL . LOT OF 5 | Worthpoint.com
  70. "Z Channel Videodrome intro 1984". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 2018-07-19.
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