An Open Letter to Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate

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It was announced today that Viacom and Paramount have teamed with MGM and Lionsgate to create a new cable channel to compete with HBO and Showtime (which is owned by CBS). The channel will be mainly showing new movies, and it is not yet clear whether this will be a basic cable or a premium pay channel, but the initial press release says “the new venture will have access to motion picture titles spanning the vast libraries of the five studios”. And they plan to push its video-on-demand capabilities.

I’ve posted open letters like this before (see here and here). It doesn’t do much good, but it makes me a whole lot feel better.

Dear Viacom/Paramount/M.G.M./Lionsgate,

The announcement of your new cable TV venture has me very excited. I especially like that you are going to use the “vast libraries” of the partner companies to create this new venue for programming. My only concern is that you might overlook the thousands of classic animation titles in your massive holdings.

Viacom/Paramount has rights to the Terrytoons library, hundreds of cartoons which include such rarely seen cartoon characters like Mighty Mouse, Heckle & Jeckle, Deputy Dawg and many others. Paramount also owns classic cartoon shorts of the 1960s. Lionsgate has licensed from you (and does nothing with) the pre-1950 Paramount cartoons which include Little Lulu, George Pal’s Academy Award winning Puppetoons, and the library of Betty Boop cartoons, amongst much else. Together, you can make these classics available for the first time in decades.

Additionally, MGM brings the DePatie-Freleng cartoons to the table. This library includes Oscar winning Pink Panther shorts, and numerous other cartoons featuring The Ant And the Aardvark, The Inspector and the Tijuana Toads.

And guess what? Your home video divisions have only released a fraction of the material you own. Making them available now on cable would provide you with unique, exclusive, entertaining fillers that people of all ages will enjoy. I know you aren’t starting a children’s channel, nor competing with Cartoon Network, but these classic animated shorts are a lot of fun, and deserve to be seen.

So unearth your old cartoons. Make them available as interstitials between programming or for video-on-demand purchase. Believe it or not, people really want to see them.

Best of luck,
Jerry Beck
CartoonBrew.com

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  • http://gamingandotherstuffjournal.wordpress.com BJ Wanlund

    Very good point, Jerry. Make it available, and the “piracy problem” that these companies have withers away completely.

  • http://swordandsarcasm.com chuckfiala

    Well, I think this is worth a try. People didn’t think that Woody Woodpecker DVD’s would be popular, but they were. Often, the stuff kept in the vault is more popular than the current product. But, you don’t know for sure until you release it.

    I have no doubt that the Terrytoons could do very well on the DVD market, if properly packaged.

  • http://portapuppets.does.it uncle wayne

    when someone is in your living room for 15+ years (H&J, Mighty Mouse, etc.)…they (truly) become “very dear friends!” I’m sure that all would welcome a few “very dear friends” into their homes!

    I sure would!

  • Richard

    Boy, do I hope your letter works Jerry.
    Best of luck to you.

  • http://spritzer93436.tripod.com/ Art Binninger

    A mere five years ago, getting an official Popeye release on DVD seemed like an impossible “pipe” dream (pun intended) but look what happened. Since so much of their combined libraries are in color, putting out a series of video collections should be a no-brainer (although you’d hope the folks we’re dealing with have at least one brain among them). Any names or email addresses for us to write to? This sounds like a good summer project for the Brew community (or is that Brew-munity?).

  • Stephen DeStefano

    Bravo, Jerry.

  • PCUnfunny

    “And guess what? Your home video divisions have only released a fraction of the material you own.”

    That is so true. Sadly, the situation for television broadcasts are even worse. TCM shows a classic cartoon once in a blue moon and The Carto…. I mean Network only shows Tom and Jerry.

  • J. J. Hunsecker

    Preach it, brother Jerry. Miracles can happen.

  • http://gogopedro.com gogopedro

    GO JERRY GO….sounds like the best channel ever…..
    Also sounds like I’d think twice before canceling my cable programming…

    Tired of reality T.V. Been sick of it since the start.

  • Mr. Semaj

    I think if enough of us write letters, they’ll HAVE to comply. Better than wasting money on frivolous lawsuits against YouTube.

    By the way, does anyone know any contact numbers or addresses for Viacom or Paramount? They both make it impossible to even reach them. :(

  • http://robcatview.blogspot.com robcat2075

    Have you tried putting one of these letters in an envelope with an address and stamp on it?

    It is the time-honored way of sending letters, and there is the remote possibility that Sumner Redstone doesn’t check cartoonbrew every day.

    The outcome can’t be any worse that an open letter that “doesn’t do much good”,

  • Kyle Maloney

    while this is exciting news, I’m not going to get my hopes up. this channel could just as easily ignore the same content they are right now.

  • http://pediatristsplayground.blogspot.com “Kenny” Martinez

    “A mere five years ago, getting an official Popeye release on DVD seemed like an impossible “pipe” dream”.

    Not even. Try TWO years ago. And the idea of a comprehensive Woody DVD was even more far off.

    I’m hoping and praying along with everyone else on this.

  • http://www.awprunes.blogspot.com/ Larry Levine

    Well said, Jerry! If anyone can make this happen, it’s you!!!

  • http://foxnewschannelamericasnewsroom.blogspot.com Bob

    Maybe they would air those CinemaScope Terrytoons from the mid-1950s to early 1960s in the widescreen (letterbox) format.

  • Jesse

    This sounds like a good summer project for the Brew community (or is that Brew-munity?).

    I think it’s more of a ‘Brewhaha’…

  • http://classicparamountcartoons.blogspot.com classicparamountcartoons

    Have you tried putting one of these letters in an envelope with an address and stamp on it?

    It is the time-honored way of sending letters, and there is the remote possibility that Sumner Redstone doesn’t check cartoonbrew every day.

    I agree. Yeah, Jerry, use snail mail. Or e-mail this to Viacom. Or maybe e-mail to Sumner Redstone himself…

  • http://www.channelfrederator.com Fred Seibert

    Hey Jerry, interestingly, the Terrytoons rights are completely confused between Sumner’s two companies, CBS and Viacom, and they are at the center of an incredible corporate struggle (between Viacom/Paramount and CBS/Paramount Television/Showtime — now separate public companies), which is the seedling for this new channel to begin with.

  • http://www.cartoonresearch.com Jerry Beck

    Fred – If only Nickelodeon had wrest control of the Terrytoons from Viacom, as I suggested back in 1995, these great cartoon characters (and this great corporate asset) would still be a vital income producing entity. Regardless, I still have hope someone there will come to their senses (and hire me to manage the property).

  • http://classicparamountcartoons.blogspot.com classicparamountcartoons

    I am thinking about writing a letter to a retro station called RTN (even though Viacom doesn’t own it) to find this station as an incentive to bring back the cartoons.

  • tstill

    Does anyone remember or know about a cartoon I am searching for When a little guy names codwell or caldwell (something like that) was challenge by his boss to ask for a raise. He goes to a psycholgist which gets him drunk and he crashes his boss’ office and finally asked for one and he only gives him a 1 dollar raise after all of his trouble. If you can tell me the name or point me in the direction to find this cartoon it will be highly appreciated. It was a cartoon that I remember seeing when Casper The Friendly Ghost.

  • Steve C.

    Since I see that MGM DOES still own the DePatie-Freleng specials based on their own characters, hopefully they can get everything from the Pink anther to the Bing Crosby Family’s “Goldilocks”, their 1970 debut into TV specials [wouldn't THAT be an odd find if it WERE released, though Bing's widow Kathryn hasn't been allowing it..since the 70s].