Queer as TV Folk: That Other Gay Network Is Here!
Viacom launched the new gay network Logo earlier this year to mild media fanfare. Unbeknownst to many viewers, there was already another queer network on the scene: Here! premiered in 2003, but it has remained a nearly invisible entity, available to most cable subscribers only by pay-per-view or on-demand technology. (Viewers can usually purchase either a programming block or full subscription.) Up until now, it has largely leaned on its vast library of films, including indie movies like Gods and Monsters and Tom and Viv, both of which were co-produced by network chief Paul Colichman. But this fall, Here! will begin to air a lot more original programming, including Birch and Co., a talk show hosted by political activist Elizabeth Birch, and Margaret Cho's live-in-concert film Assassin, which appears on the channel September 2, the same date it enters movie theaters. Also debuting that day is Third Man Out, a detective series Colichman cheekily describes as "McMillan and Husband."
Colichman trumpets his network as a kind of independent, artsy counterpart to the mainstream, corporate sensibility of Logo. He breathlessly cites a proposed series hosted by John Waters (John Waters Presents Films That Will Corrupt You), explaining, "I like it best when pitches make me nervous." It remains to be seen whether Here!'s programming will fulfill this mandate, but Colichman insists that the network's very format makes it more autonomous: "This is a community that demands smart programming and advertisers want us to dumb it down." Early meetings with potential advertisers made him squirm. "They'd say, 'We'll have control over the content, won't we? You're not going to have two men kissing, are you?' " he says, rolling his eyes. With on-demand technology, Here! doesn't have to negotiate with advertisers. And even better, he grins, "Hate groups don't target us because you can't see any of these shows unless you ask for itand pay!"
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