Alex Constantine - September 19, 2007
A bonfire of ironies - re Tom Hanks: " ... Hanks’s attraction to old-fashioned mid-century Americanism is thorough. He has an overriding interest in the big sweep and the tiny artifacts of the American century from the thirties through the sixties. When I asked him what he’d been reading, he said he had just bought A. Scott Berg’s biographies of Charles Lindbergh and Maxwell Perkins. The one TV show he made a point of watching recently was 'The Cold War,' on CNN. A number of times, he compared his generation’s experience to that of his parents: 'What is the great national consciousness we have participated in? The rock-and-roll culture. Not hugely demanding of us from the point of view of sacrifice.' ... ”
Hanks to revisit JFK killing in HBO miniseries
By Gretta Parkinson
Sep 19, 2007
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Tom Hanks' production company has joined forces with HBO to turn Vincent Bugliosi's "Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy" into a 10-part miniseries.
In his New York Times best-seller, Bugliosi, who prosecuted Charles Manson and co-wrote "Helter Skelter," disclaims many conspiracy theories and contends that Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole party behind the 1963 Kennedy assassination.
"Seventy-five percent of the American public believes in the falsehood that there was a conspiracy in the assassination of President Kennedy, and only 19 percent accept the findings of the Warren Commission that Oswald acted alone," Bugliosi said.
He expressed confidence that Hanks' Playtone Prods. and HBO would help "reverse those numbers and finally bring the truth to the American public."
Playtone has produced such projects for HBO as the drama "Big Love" and the miniseries "From the Earth to the Moon," "Band of Brothers" and the upcoming "John Adams" and "The Pacific."
"Big Love" star Bill Paxton will executive produce with Hanks and Playtone executive Gary Goetzman. As an 8-year-old, Paxton accompanied his father and older brother to an appearance Kennedy made in Paxton's hometown of Fort Worth on November 22, 1963, just hours before his assassination in Dallas. He brought the book to Hanks and Goetzman.
"Based on the facts and evidence that Vincent Bugliosi so masterfully presents, it's a story that has haunted me and my generation our whole lives," Paxton said. "Now, with the 50th anniversaries of President Kennedy's inaugural address and assassination looming in the next few years, we felt it was the right time to pursue this project."
HBO is Owned by Time-Life - Some History
Wiki: In 1965, cable pioneer Charles Dolan won the franchise to build a cable system in lower Manhattan. The new system, named Sterling Manhattan Cable by Mr. Dolan, was the nation's first urban underground cable system.
Instead of stringing cable on telephone poles and using microwave antennas to receive the signals, Sterling laid underground cable beneath the streets of Manhattan because television signals were blocked by many tall buildings. Time Life, Inc., in the same year, purchased 20 percent of Dolan's company.
Dolan presented his "Green Channel" idea to Time Life management, and though satellite distribution was only a distant possibility at the time, he persuaded Time Life to back him, and soon "The Green Channel" became Home Box Office on November 8, 1972.
HBO began using microwave to feed its programming. The first program aired over the pay-channel was a New York Rangers / Vancouver Canucks game, to a CATV system in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania (a plaque commemorating this event is found in Wilkes-Barre's downtown Public Square). Also on that night was the first film to be seen on HBO—Sometimes a Great Notion, starring Paul Newman and Henry Fonda.
Sterling Manhattan Cable was rapidly losing money because the company had a small subscriber base of 20,000 customers in Manhattan. Dolan's media partner, Time Life, Inc., gained 80 percent control of Sterling and decided to pull the plug on the Sterling Manhattan operation. Time Life dropped the Sterling name to become Manhattan Cable Television and gained control of HBO in March, 1973. Gerald Levin replaced Dolan as HBO's President and Chief Executive Officer. In September 1973 Time Life, Inc. completed its acquisition of the pay service. HBO was soon the fastest show in America, but the churn rate was exceptionally high. Subscribers would sample the service for a few weeks, get weary of seeing the same films, and then cancel. HBO was struggling and something had to be done. When HBO first came to Lawrence, Massachusetts, the idea was to allow subscribers to preview the service for free on channel 3. After a month, the service moved to channel 6 and was scrambled. The preview proved popular, obtaining many subscriptions and the concept was used elsewhere. (Lawrence receives HBO on channel 301 today.)
On September 30, 1975, HBO, affectionately known colloquially as "Home Box", became the first TV network to continuously deliver signals via satellite when it showed the "Thrilla in Manila" boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. On December 28, 1981, HBO expanded its programming schedule to 24 hours a day, seven days per week. (Cinemax was 24/7 from the day it signed on, and Showtime and The Movie Channel went 24 hours earlier.) In January 1986, HBO also became the first satellite network to encrypt its signal from unauthorized viewing by way of the Videocipher II System and in 1993 became the world's first digitally transmitted television service. In 1999 HBO became the first national cable TV networks to broadcast a high-definition version of its channel.
1983 saw the premiere of HBO's first original movie and the first made-for-pay-TV movie, The Terry Fox Story.
In the late 1980s, HBO launched a short lived channel, Festival. It featured classic movies and current hit movies as well as HBO's specials & documentaries. The difference with Festival was that it was programmed to be family-friendly. R rated movies were edited for showing and no low quality themed programs/movies were shown. Also, the subscription for the channel was priced lower than HBO & Cinemax. Unfortunately, only a few cable systems carried Festival and the channel went dark after a year or so.
HBO was involved in several legal suits during the 1980s involving cable systems and legal statutes imposed by state and city laws that would have censored HBO and other pay-TV networks for programming that was considered "indecent."
In April 1986, HBO became a victim of broadcast signal intrusion when a man calling himself "Captain Midnight" intercepted the network's signal during a movie presentation of The Falcon and the Snowman. The man was later caught and was then prosecuted.
In 1991, HBO and Cinemax became the first premium services to offer multiplexing to cable customers. Providing multiple options of HBO and Cinemax instead of just single channel services, these include (HBO2, renamed HBO Plus from 1998 to 2002) and Cinemax (Cinemax 2, now MoreMax) to three cable systems in Wisconsin, Kansas and Texas. The move proved successful resulting in HBO and Cinemax launching additional multiplex channels of its service, HBO 3 (launched in 1995, renamed HBO Signature in 1998), HBO Family (launched in 1996), HBO Comedy & HBO Zone (launched in 1999) and HBO Latino, a Latin-themed channel of HBO (launched in 2000. Cinemax also launched the multiplex services Cinemax 3 (launched in 1996, ActionMax in 1998), ThrillerMax (launched in 1998) and WMax, @Max, OuterMax and 5StarMax (all launched in 2001). The HBO channels became collectively known as "HBO The Works" in 1998, and the Cinemax channels became known as "MultiMax". The two packages then merged into "HBO/MAX Pak", but are no longer packaged under one name.
Originally, HBO was part of Time Inc. When Time merged with Warner Communications in 1989, it became part of Time Warner, who serves as its parent company today.
HBO has also developed a reputation for offering very high quality original programming. HBO is a subscription-only service and does not carry normal commercials; both of these factors relieve HBO from pressures to tone down controversial aspects in their programs, thus allowing for explicit themes, such as graphic violence, sex and profanity.
The network is currently received in roughly one-third of households in the United States. It can be quite expensive to acquire HBO because subscribers are generally required to pay for an extra "tier" of service even before paying for the channel itself (though all of the HBO channels are often priced together in a single package). Someone upgrading from a standard cable package might see their bill increase more than 40%. However, federal law requires that a cable system allow a person to get just basic cable (local broadcast channels and public, educational, and governmental (PEG) channels) and HBO. Cable systems can require the use of a converter box (usually digital) to receive HBO.
Even in the days of the V-chip, the primary HBO channel still does not run unedited R rated films or TV-MA rated programming during the daytime, continuing a long-held policy. HBO's multiplex channels will do so (excluding HBO Family, which doesn't run R rated films at all and will generally run PG-13 rated films only between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.).
Several HBO programs have been re-aired on other networks and local syndication (usually after some editing), and a number of them are also available on DVD. Interestingly, since HBO's more successful series, most notably Sex and the City, The Sopranos, and Six Feet Under, are broadcast on non-cable networks in other countries, such as in the United Kingdom, Canada and Sweden, HBO programming has the potential to be seen by a higher percentage of the population of those countries as compared to the U.S. Because of the high cost of HBO, many Americans only view HBO programs on DVDs or in basic cable or broadcast syndication, months or even years after the network has first broadcast the programs, and with editing for advertising time and content, although several series have filmed alternate 'clean' scenes meant for syndication runs.
In 2005, HBO launched a deal with Cingular Wireless to create HBO Mobile and HBO Family Mobile. HBO Mobile, is a subscription service that features information on HBO Original series such as The Sopranos, Sex and the City and others, including episode guides, wallpapers and ringtones voiced by cast members of HBO series.
HBO has international operations in Latin America, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania (and Moldova), Poland, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Asia/South Asia(Bangladesh, India and Pakistan). It also had an early investment in New Zealand's SKY Network Television through the channel HBO (now Sky Movies). HBO plans to launch international operations in "key markets" of Europe (France, Spain, Germany and Italy) and Japan.
HBO has already begun to deliver content to cable customers via its subscription video on demand service, HBO On Demand, in the UK BT Vision and Virgin Media and Israel (Jasmine TV). Additionally, it has launched its HBO Mobile service in Western Europe, South Africa and Korea.