Jan 28, 2009

Entertainment - Viacom and partners brand new movie channel

Three movie studios -- Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer -- said today that they were saddling up for a fourth-quarter ride of their planned new movie channel. They also said their proposed channel's moniker is Epix.

It's pronounced "EH-pix," not "EE-pix" a la EBay or Eharmony. Epix is a play on the word "epic" that much of Hollywood aspires to. Insert lion's roar here.

The venture came together about 10 months ago as the studios' lucrative and longtime pay-TV deals with CBS Corp.'s Showtime Networks were winding down. After months of testy negotiations, the two sides failed to come up with a new distribution pact.

That's partly because the three amigo studios knew they were sitting on a treasure trove of films, including "Indiana Jones" and the "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." In April, they decreed that they didn't need no stinkin' Showtime and could launch a "next-generation" move channel of their own.

But the venture needs to rustle up some distribution partners. That part of their mission has been slow going, which conjures up less memorable lines from Warner Bros.' 1948 classic "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre."

"Hey, if there was gold in them mountains, how long would it have been there? Millions and millions of years, wouldn't it? What's our hurry? A couple of days, more or less, ain't gonna make a difference."

-- Meg James

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