KCET taps Warner library for new show

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Public television station KCET in Los Angeles is launching the Martin Sheen-hosted "KCET Saturday Night Movie," featuring classic films from the Warner Bros. Entertainment library through a deal struck with Warner Bros. Domestic Cable Distribution.

The "Saturday Night Movie" is set to debut at 10 p.m. May 5 with the James Dean starrer "East of Eden." The movies are licensed for a one-time TV broadcast and will be shown unedited for television, with only one brief intermission.

The companies noted that the film program was made possible by support from Warner Bros. Entertainment, which is the first studio to enter into an agreement with KCET to broadcast selected titles each week.

"This groundbreaking partnership with Warner Bros. makes it possible for KCET to reinvent the television movie experience," KCET president and CEO Al Jerome said, adding that "Martin is a longtime friend of KCET, and we are honored to work with him on this new project."

Added WBDCD president Eric Frankel: "We're thrilled to be partnering with KCET on this exciting new programming that brings some of Warner Bros.' most iconic films to public television for the first time. The Warner Bros. film library is an unrivaled treasure trove of classic motion pictures that are bound to attract viewers and make the 'KCET Saturday Night Movie' a success for the station and TV viewers in Southern California."

Other movies airing as part of the movie night include "Amadeus" (May 12), "The Grifters" (May 19), "Chariots of Fire" (May 26), "Blade Runner" (June 2), "Body Heat" (June 9), "Cool Hand Luke" (June 16), "Coma" (June 23) and "Superman" (June 30). Other titles include "Rebel Without a Cause," "Strangers on a Train" and "Bonnie and Clyde,"

"These are some of the greatest movies ever made, rarely in theaters or on TV," Jerome said. "This is a great opportunity to see them as they were meant to be originally shown."

As host, Sheen will provide additional information and historical perspective about each movie. His relationship with KCET includes appearing in "The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century," the Peabody- and Emmy-winning PBS series about World War I co-produced by KCET and the BBC, and providing a voice-over for the launch of the station's "Infinitely More" promotional on-air spots.

"I am delighted to work with KCET," Sheen said. "I look forward to hosting this new series and to introducing public television audiences to terrific movies from the Warner Bros. library."

Discussions also are under way for additional elements, including a dedicated URL at kcet.org that will provide links to moviemaking facts and film trivia and showcase rarely seen archival materials such as promotional posters, movie trailers and lobby cards as well as an online store. DVDs will be offered as part of KCET's membership program.

The "KCET Saturday Night Movie" is the first phase of "Celebrate the Southland -- KCET at Ten," a new broadcast initiative that will present extensive local programming at 10 p.m.
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