Television

Zee MGM to reinvent itself with more contemporary fare

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MUMBAI: Star Movies and HBO could finally see some serious competition from the lion. Zee MGM is in the midst of a revamp in order to appeal to a younger audience.

The channel will switch from old films to new films which have been released after 1998. Earlier the channel appealed to people who liked older films like westerns. Zee MGM's business head Abhijit Saxena said that with the new line up he was confident that the channel would be taken more seriously by the competition.

As was the case with Zee English, Zee MGM too will see its action quotient. Speaking on this Zee MGM's programming head Lena Joshi said that the channel would be young, fast paced and with a lot of known stars. Therefore the channel will focus a lot less on the older titles that it is known for.

Each month it will release around seven titles out of which one would be major. This film would air in the middle of the month from June. It will air Waking Up In Reno with Patrick Swayze and Oscar winner Charlize Theron. Earlier it used to air at the end of the month. One of the major titles that Zee MGM has is Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Volumes one and two. The first volume will air sometime in August. Then there's The Hours on 30 May, which gave Nicole Kidman an Oscar. Kidman plays author Virginia Woolf who battles depression while writing Mrs Dalloway. That book will later on affect the life of a housewife played by Julianne Moore. Meryl Streep is in the third segment, which is a modern day version of Mrs Dalloway. Suicide, thoughts of death, repressed sexuality all make for portent cinema.

Joshi said that the channels fare looking ahead would be a mixed bag of Oscar winners and action films with known stars. Another movie lined up is Frida with Oscar nominee Salma Hayek. There is a lot of buzz around these titles. "As far as MGM is concerned the channel will be acquiring a lot of Bond titles. The MGM titles would be divided in to classic and new

releases. The ratio of MGM films to the other studios will be 30:70. We are in the process of acquiring a lot of titles from Sony Pictures Entertainment.

"We are working out a big deal with them. However the films won't be premieres as most of them have an output deal with HBO. Miramax and Paramount are the other studios that we have deals with."

The acquisition cost for Zee MGM will go up by 80-90 per cent by the end of the year. The channel is also going in for a new look, which will happen over three to four months. There will be more festivals. Family Festival is happening this month and next month there's the Mobster festival with movies like Gangs of New York.

Then you will films around a genre like war or films dealing with America or films with the same star. "We will have a slot for the older titles like Old is Gold. We will show classics. For a western festival you will have The Good The Bad And the Ugly. Films like this will never go out of fashion." Saxena added that there were around 50 advertisers for both the

channels.

As far as dubbing is concerned the channel is looking into the possibility of dubbing some of the action titles. As far as the uncensored titles in the night were concerned Joshi said that the activity had stopped after the broadcaster received a letter from the I&B Ministry. She conceeded that each day requests would be coming in on email. English channels see growth post 10:30 pm as earlier people watch soaps.

Joshi added that the reason for the lull in promotional activity on Zee English and Zee MGM was due to the internal managerial shifts that had been taking place. Now though there will be more activity. Zee MGM will take the theatrical route to showcase its wares. In fact Zee TV's ad for The Big Break can already be seen. The multiplexes like Fun Republic

will be used extensively.

Online, the channel is looking to get more interactive with contests. Previously these were done with contests2win.com and Indiatimes.com. For SMS based contests there is the network number.

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