ABC News Docs in Works for AMC

Mar 14, 2005  •  Post A Comment

ABC News will produce a series of topical documentaries for AMC on current events in the world of movies.

The first documentary from ABC News, “Bleep: Censoring Hollywood,” will run April 26 and address the controversial practice of sanitizing films before releasing them on DVD.

AMC hopes to televise one of these topical documentaries per quarter, said Jessica Shreeve, VP of documentaries at AMC.

Last year the network ran about a dozen documentaries, including two on topical subjects, “Hollywood and the Muslim World” and “Rated R: Republicans in Hollywood.”

“Both seemed to really resonate with our audience,” Ms. Shreeve said. “We wanted to find more topics that had that kind of heat around them.”

According to Nielsen Media Research, “Rated R” drew 449,000 households; “Muslim World” drew 394,000.

Ms. Shreeve said the subject of future AMC documentaries from ABC News Productions has not been locked in yet. “We want them to be current and to have things appear at timely intervals, and we want to be able to respond to those things quickly,” she said.

ABC News Productions produces a substantial volume of programming for PBS and cable networks, including 125 episodes of “Biography” for A&E. It also produces shows for Court TV, History Channel, TLC, Travel Channel and Discovery Times.

“Bleep” looks at companies in Salt Lake City that buy DVDs of popular movies, edit out what they deem objectionable content, then resell them as family-friendly movies. The program also looks at another company, ClearPlay, that sells a DVD player that can be programmed to use filtering technology to skip over those objectionable bits.

Filmmakers in Hollywood, particularly the directors whose movies are being altered, object to the practice and have filed lawsuits, ABC News senior producer Alan Goldberg said. Directors Steven Soderbergh, Taylor Hackford and Michael Apted, the president of the Directors Guild of America, are interviewed in the film.

The issue is also the subject of the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005, which is part of copyright legislation now working its way through Congress. Last week the House Judiciary Committee endorsed the act.

“AMC is looking to us to come up with topics that are as current and relevant and newsy as this one,” ABC News producer Caroline Christopher said.

The ABC documentaries will appear in addition to other AMC documentary projects, including “Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust,” Robert Stone’s “Hollywood Vietnam” and Barak Goodman’s “Good Cop, Bad Cop.”

ABC News previously produced for AMC “Sins of Hollywood,” a documentary that was a pilot for a potential series. That project led to the current deal. “Having ABC’s news clout behind them gives them a lot of opportunity to get into those subjects and give us the best coverage of the story,” Ms. Shreeve said.