The story of trailblazing cable network MTV is being turned into a movie, says the Hollywood Reporter. Based on the book I Want My MTV by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum, the project is being helmed by Brett Ratner at Sony.
Video Killed The Radio Star
There's no denying that MTV completely changed the pop cultural landscape, first by popularizing the music video format and breaking most of the biggest musical acts of the '80s and '90s. As videos started to fade, the network cannily repositioned itself as the face of youth culture, with groundbreaking shows like The Real World starting the reality TV revolution. Many strong personalities both on-air and off contributed to its success.
But what other cable networks have interesting enough stories to deserve a spot on the silver screen? The American television industry has no shortage of colorful characters and amusing anecdotes. Here are three channels that I'd love to see chronicled in film.
If you're going to tell the story of cable TV, it all starts with Home Box Office. The roots of the network date back as early as 1965, when broadcasters started to experiment with closed-circuit networks in New York City. As it grew, it broke through technology barriers like crazy, starting with the legendary "Thrilla In Manila" fight and introducing original series and movies.
Starting in 1997, HBO began to reinvent itself as more than a home for movies, as original programming became more and more important to the network. Some interesting moments in HBO history that would make good cinema include the "Captain Midnight" incident, where hackers took over the channel to protest digital scrambling, as well as the recent scandal with its horse racing show Luck.
PTL Satellite Network
This religious broadcasting company has a skanky scandal built right into it. The PTL (for Praise The Lord) Network was the home of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker's evangelical talk show from 1977 to 1987. The Bakkers got their start hosting The 700 Club on rival Christian station TBN, only to jump ship when the opportunity arose to start their own channel.
The PTL Network was a giant money funnel, embezzling millions of dollars from gullible Americans that Bakker slipped into his own pocket. The channel -- and their religious empire -- was brought down when former church secretary Jessica Hahn accused the married Jim of sexually assaulting her in a hotel room. The media attention exposed their shady financials and Jim Bakker got 45 years in the big house.
The story behind TBS is the story of Ted Turner, and that's a fascinating one. The media mogul got his start at WCTG in Atlanta, a no-network UHF channel that bought shows nobody else wanted. In 1976, Turner made a bizarre deal to broadcast the network across the United States by satellite, becoming the first "superstation." Even though his programming was lousy, it was also free.
TBS was home to old movies from the '40s, long-forgotten sitcoms and, most notably, professional wrestling. The hillbilly Southern pro graps promotion World Championship Wrestling was one of the network's biggest ratings successes, creating tons of hilarious stories about network suits clashing with rowdy brawlers over what they could and could not do on television. It would all make for a solid night out at the movies.