Star Movies to air Shyamalan thrillers & Oscar fever

MUMBAI: Star Movies is looking to land a punch this year with a slew of initiatives. They include the most prestigious awards show for the entertainment industry The Oscar Awards, as well as a diverse array of films.

Speaking on this Star Movies senior VP marketing and communications Ajay Vidyasagar says, "One of our early initiatives involves M. Night Shyamalan. From 23 to 26 January 2006, the channel will air his films culminating with the premiere of The Village on Republic Day. In a short span, Shyamalan has scored it big in Hollywood with his supernatural thrillers. During the Manoj Night Shyamalan movie marathon, every night at 9 pm, viewers can tune into his films The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs."

The channel is also going all out to push its big property the Oscar Awards. Every night in February, as a lead up to the event, Star Movies will showcase Oscar winners like The Pianist, Gladiator and Master and Commander: The Far Side Of The World.

The initiative called Oscar Fever culminates with the premiere of Million Dollar Baby which won the Best Picture Oscar last year. The Oscars air on Monday 6 March 2006 early in the morning at 6:30 am with a primetime repeat in the night.

While on the Oscars this writer feels that Jon Stewart's performance as the host will be very important particularly in the US where ratings for the show have been slipping. Stewart is known for his cutting and frank satirical barbs on his show The Daily Show. However jokes of this nature have the potential to backfire at an awards show which has multi million dollar stars with thin skins in attendance. Stewart will have lots of targets to aim at if he chooses. After all Brokeback Mountain which is the favourite to win the Best Picture Oscar sees two cowboys falling in love. How Stewart brings up the gay issue should make for interesting viewing what with America polarised on the issue.

Then there is Munich which deals with the sensitive Israel Palestine conflict. Goodnight and Goodluck deals with journalistic integrity. In a way the director of that film George Clooney perhaps hints at Bush in tackling McCarthy's Communist agenda of the 1950s. Stewart has not shied away from taking digs at Bush in the past.

Moving on as far as Star Movies is concerned another key property that the chanel is looking to push is Opening Night. This goes behind the scenes of a movie that will be released in cinemas. Vidyasagar says, "Opening Night takes you behind the scenes of some of the most anticipated blockbusters such as Memoirs Of A Geisha, Ice Age 2, Pirates of The Caribbean 2, Garfield 2 to name a few. Marketing activities to push Opening Night will include special screenings of the movies across major cities in the opening weekend of its release itself."

"In addition, we also have another initiative, Experience Hollywood. The aim is to get viewers closer to Hollywood. The first special in this slot is Chronicles of Narnia. This will include contests, and footage from the yet to be released flick." adds Vidyasgar.

Star movies will also air films like Robots, Ladder 49 and Passion Of the Christ. The extent to which the last film is censored will be interesting to see given the non 'A' certificate for film channels.

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