Waters to Host TV Series

Aug 22, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Veteran independent filmmaker John Waters has agreed to take on his first television series hosting gig and make his first foray into writing for the small screen with the cable network here!, which launched recently.

Mr. Waters, who directed such cult classics as “Pink Flamingos,” “Polyester” and the 1987 film-turned-hit-Broadway-musical “Hairspray,” has agreed to host “John Waters Presents Films That Will Corrupt You,” featuring some of his favorite films. The show is expected to debut by first quarter 2006 on Regent Entertainment’s here!, which targets gay and lesbian viewers. Each of the show’s 13 episodes will comprise original seven-minute introductions and four-minute wrap-ups written and hosted by the director.

“It’s like I’m letting you into my house to see a movie, but I can’t make any moves on you,” Mr. Waters told TelevisionWeek.

Mr. Waters, who is openly gay, is the ideal voice to be incorporated into the lineup at the fledgling cable net, since the director is a proven commodity with a loyal following, here! President Paul Colichman said.

“John has always been such a leader in the independent film world, regardless of his sexuality,” Mr. Colichman said.

Mr. Waters’ sensibility made sense for the cable network, Meredith Kadlec, VP of original programming for here!, said. “His artistic voice is so outside the box. That is where we want to be creatively, in a place that is surprising to people. He is a very natural fit for us.”

Each episode of “Waters” will begin with the director answering the door to his home in Baltimore, each week dressed in a different outfit. Mr. Waters will then introduce the film to the audience from a room in his house. The wraparounds to the films are scheduled to be shot in September.

Mr. Waters plans to showcase films that “are so pushing the envelope that you get paper cuts,” he said. But he declined to name any of the films chosen for the series.

“It just seems like a really good way to get really insane films seen by people in their homes who probably would have no other chance to see these movies on television,” he said.

None of the films will be Mr. Waters’ own creations, but he said viewers should expect everything from extreme art films to sexploitation pictures to foreign-language films. Despite being on here!, not all the movies will be specifically gay-themed.

“I’m not showing any touching coming-out films,” Mr. Waters said. “We’re beyond them.”

If successful, “Waters” will reach a diverse range of viewers. “I’m really hoping to get a gay audience that is pretty adventuresome, and really cool straight people,” Mr. Waters said.

Mr. Waters is no stranger to television. A regular talking head for cable network documentaries and on the chat show circuit, Mr. Waters has been a guest on Fox’s “The Simpsons” and NBC’s “Homicide.” He also played a porn director in the 1994 TV movie “Danielle Steel’s Family Album” and had an animated series in development at MTV that did not make it to air.

Special Event

But the network does not expect “Waters” to be a model for other here! series. Mr. Waters’ series is a “bit of a special event programming” for the cable network, Ms. Kadlec said.

“We are very focused on original series,” she said. “Most of our efforts are there right now. This is unique to him. I’m not sure how many film series we would do.”

Both Ms. Kadlec and Mr. Waters expressed interest in continuing the film series if it proved successful, but creating more traditional scripted series is not something Mr. Waters sees in his future. “Basically, then I couldn’t continue my movie career,” he said.

Unlike Viacom’s gay-themed cable channel Logo, privately owned here! is commercial-free. The network is available in 48 million homes as a subscription service and as a video-on-demand service on cable and satellite, Mr. Colichman said.