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Best Public-Access Show New York 2009 - Media Funhouse

Most of the pleasures of public access are low-rent, low-brow, and loco. It's mainly a place where self-promoters spout off at wearisome length, regardless of interest or relevance. So it's a shock to turn on Media Funhouse—the Manhattan Neighborhood Network filmcrit show hosted by hyper-cineaste Ed Grant—and see interviews with Alan Rudolph, Ken Russell, Marco Ferreri, and Carol Lynley, to name just a few of the legends who have appeared there. But it sort of makes sense: Big-time TV is only interested in hot properties, leaving Grant to talk to the neglected heroes of film history. Grant does some spouting of his own, but of a kind real film buffs will appreciate, as with his tribute to Gary Graver, who, in Grant's words, "straddled the worlds of art and trash rather miraculously" by, on the one hand, serving as cinematographer for Orson Welles and John Cassavetes and, on the other, "directing Traci Lords and lensing such items as The Joi Fuck Club." Another episode found Grant comparing Jerry Lewis's memoir Dean and Me: A Love Story to archival footage of Dean Martin razzing on Lewis. "I would love to be doing the show on a professional level," sighs Grant. Maybe in a better world than this; till then, you'll find Media Funhouse on MNN at 1 a.m. on Saturdays—"right after the utterly unwatchable SNL," says Grant. Saturdays, 1 a.m., channel 57.

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I wonder why Grand didn't seem to like SNL. And what of the beautiful symbol of American culture should one dislike? Clearly there's something wrong with the judgment.

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Bob Fingerman
Bob Fingerman

Media Funhouse is the one bit of essential viewing on public access. I've always thought it criminal that AMC or TCM or IFC doesn't snatch Grant from MNN and give him a legit show. Even peanuts would be lavish compared to nothing, which is his current budget. C'mon, Sundance, IFC, someone: hire Ed Grant already!


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