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The Age

(Cable Watch)

Author: Peter Weiniger
Date: 27/08/1997
Words: 837
          Publication: The Age
Page: 14
THE MOVIE Network has added a third 24-hour movie channel to its Optus Vision service. This ensures movie buffs, reclusives and insomniacs have a rich and varied diet of non-stop movies every day.

The Movie Network's chief executive officer, Mike Lattin, said it would also invest $3 million this year in Australian film productions.

The new channels start screening on Sunday, 7 September, with the Australian television premiere of the James Bond adventure, GoldenEye, followed by the top-rating American miniseries The Last Don, from Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather.

To accommodate the change, the channels will get a new look, new name and new programming. Movie One will specialise in blockbusters, box-office hits and the hottest stars. Movie Extra will concentrate on special events, such as miniseries and made-for-TV movies, as well as classics and "undiscovered films not seen in Australia". Movie Greats will continue to offer classic movies from the 1930s through to the 1980s.

Lattin said that viewers will have access to about 350 movies each month, 60 of which will be premiere titles and commercial-free. Premiere releases will screen up to 14 months before commercial television. The Movie Network, he said, is not a production house but an investor in film production. "We are looking at cutting-edge, attitude-type films with which free-to-air networks often have problems." It has already invested in Kiss or Kill and Family Crackers.

Hollywood host

FOXTEL and the 10 Network have combined to produce a two-hour special for the grand opening of Planet Hollywood, in Melbourne on Sunday. And who have they chosen to cohost the event? None other than Tim Webster, the sports host renowned in this city for his lack of local knowledge. Webster became a minor cult figure as viewers conducted sweeps to guess how often he would mispronounce the names of Melbourne sporting figures. Sylvester Stallone (who is a partner in the business) will join fellow celebs, including Jean-Claude Van Damme, and 200 guests for the gig, which screens live from the eatery at 7.30pm.




Beauty and the Beasts

National Geographic Channel, 7pm

ANYONE who grew up in the pre-computer age read National Geographic, at some time or other.

The journal still exists and the photographs are as graphic as ever, the text as informative. What has changed, like so much else, is that it is now available on television. This week, the National Geographic channel premieres on Foxtel with an impressive array of programs featuring wildlife, nature and environmental issues.

Beauty and the Beasts: A Leopard's Story takes in two extremes from the animal kingdom: the elegant, lithe leopard and the rampaging, wild warthog. What do they have in common, apart from their predatory instincts, you might ask? Not much socially. The lordly leopard is a loner, while the warthog is a warm, family animal. The common link is the struggle to survive the harsh African wilderness.

This documentary traces these animals from infancy, enabling us to see beyond the predator and into the way they live and breed. On both sides, there is much to capture our imagination and to engage our sensibilities.


Another channel making its debut is The Life Style Channel. Produced by the XYZ Entertainment Group, it offers home improvement and gardening tips from Australia and around the world. From 1 September.



Dawn French on Big Women

Ovation Channel, 7.30pm

"BIG women want more sex, get more sex, and fantasise more about sex than thin women." So says Dawn French, who is not just big but formidable. This program asks a lot of questions about how large women are regarded by society, and tries to provide some answers. Helping her to get her point across are pop star Alison Moyet, comedian Jo Brand, feminist writer Camille Paglia and a remarkable group of large American women who call themselves Allegro Fortissimo.

While big women, she reminds us, have been revered in art, they have never received the same acceptance on magazine covers. In an attempt to challenge this notion, she accepts an offer to pose for Esquire. The triteness of its editors is just awful. This is in sharp contrast to the celebratory approach by artist Peter Howsen, who paints French nude.

For all the point-scoring, French neither loses her sense of humor nor her talent to tackle issues from a fresh perspective. This program can be enjoyed by people of all sizes and shapes.


Just in case you aren't getting enough footy on television, 'Footy Feedback' will give you that extra fix on Mondays, with interviews and opinions, co-hosted by Tim Lane and Dermott Brereton.

Sports AFL, Monday, 7.30pm.

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