Off Beat Cinema
|Off Beat Cinema|
|Genre||Horror / Science-fiction / Comedy|
|Created by||James Gillan|
|Written by||James Gillan|
|Theme music composer||David Kane's Them Jazzbeards|
|Opening theme||“Save the Last Glass for Me”|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||21|
|Executive producer(s)||John Di Sciullo|
|Production location(s)||Buffalo, New York. USA|
|Cinematography||Richard John Lee|
|Running time||120 minutes|
|Original release||October 31, 1993– present|
|Off Beat Cinema|
Off Beat Cinema is a two-hour hosted movie show that airs on television stations throughout the United States in late-night time slots. It originated from WKBW-TV in Buffalo, New York from its launch on Saturday October 31, 1993 until July 2012. It shifted to local competitor WBBZ-TV on August 4, 2012.
Off Beat Cinema features a broad range of films described by the show's staff as "the Good, the Bad, the Foreign..." but mostly cult movies such as Night of the Living Dead, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians and even more art house fare such as The Third Man in a format not unlike the Creature Double Feature of the 1970s and 1980s. On occasion, a clip show will air featuring episodes of short features (the annual Christmas special follows this format, with another example being the “Night of Superheroes” that included Flash Gordon and Commando Cody serials and the Fleischer Studios Superman shorts). As with most hosted movie programs of its kind, a large portion of Off Beat Cinema's film catalog consists of films that lapsed into the public domain.
Off Beat Cinema was created and is written by Paragon Advertising executive James Gillan. It originally started airing in 1993 in the Buffalo/Toronto area on WKBW-TV. On the show's official site, he states, "Off Beat Cinema was created to provide a forum for films that are not regularly shown on television – and in many cases – are not readily available, even on DVD. There is an enormous cache of films out there that an entire generation grew up watching that are otherwise unavailable. We wanted to create a program reminiscent of the hosted late night film shows of the 1960s and 1970s – the kind of show that made you beg your parents to let you stay up late to watch. Where else can you watch Teenagers from Outer Space and a week later watch Bergman’s The Seventh Seal in its original language version?"
The show's producer John Di Sciullo says on the official site that "Off Beat Cinema was originally a reaction to the insidious spread of infomercials and the void of late night television. The program really struck a chord with viewers." Off Beat Cinema has its own slate of advertisers, usually targeting alternative crowds. Poster Art, Terrapin Station (a Grateful Dead inspired head shop in Buffalo, named after the album of the same name), and Mighty Taco, among many other area restaurants, are among the show's numerous sponsors.
The series began originating on WBBZ-TV starting August 4, 2012, where it follows Svengoolie, a similar program from Me-TV, with which WBBZ is affiliated. John Di Sciullo has moved to that station as Executive Director of Production and Promotion. The series is produced in WBBZ's studio at the Eastern Hills Mall in Clarence, which includes (for the first time in the series' history) the possibility of a live studio audience. The series also began adding more well-received "classic" films into its rotation after the move to WBBZ, a move that helps contrast the series from the strictly B-movie and Z-movie films that Svengoolie and other midnight-movie series regularly feature.
On January 26, 2013, the show transitioned to high-definition television. The first film to be featured in HD was Hangar 18. Beginning in 2015, the show began filming select interstitials on location.
Hosts and special guests
- "Airborne" Eddy Dobosiewicz as Maxwell Truth (1993-2015)
- Matthew Bauer as Oscar Wild (1993-1995)
- Liz Honig as Luna (1993-1994 as a regular, with very occasional later appearances though mid-1995)
- Loraine O'Donnell as Zena (1994-1995)
- Anthony Billoni as Bird (1995-present; occasional appearances previously)
- Constance McEwen Caldwell as Zelda (1995-present)
- Jeffrey Roberts as Theodore (2016-present)
The series is hosted by a trio of beatnik characters who humorously discuss the movies on the show, whilst ingesting significant amounts of coffee at the Hungry Ear Coffeehouse.
The show's original trio of hosts were led by the witty and irreverent "Maxwell Truth" ("Airborne" Eddy Dobosiewicz), high-energy bearded "Oscar Wild" (Matthew Bauer), and spacey-but-friendly chick "Luna" (Liz Honig). Others were also seen in the coffeehouse, usually as extras. Occasionally, an odd aspiring poet named "Bird" was featured as a recurring player,
Luna was seen less frequently after the first year or so, often being replaced by a few rotating female characters, most frequently Loraine O'Donnell as "Zena". Bauer left the show in 1995, and the character of Oscar was replaced by the pseudo-profound beatnik artist and would-be philosopher "Bird" (Anthony Billoni, who by day serves as an anti-tobacco lobbyist). Shortly thereafter, the third host slot was permanently filled by "Zelda" (Stage and Film Actress Constance McEwen Caldwell), who was quite friendly with the boys, but also enjoyed deflating their pretensions with a well-timed barb.
The trio of Maxwell, Zelda and Bird remained as hosts for the next 20 years. Each week they were often joined by guest stars like Emo Philips, Lauren Bacall and Keanu Reeves, and music acts like the Barenaked Ladies, and the Tragically Hip.
Dobosiewicz left the show in April 2015. From then until June 2016, Bird and Zelda hosted the program as a duo. In July 2016, the third host position was filled by "Theodore," played by Jeffrey Roberts.
Off Beat Cinema can also be seen nationwide on many Retro TV affiliates, as well as on Tampa, Florida's WTSP, the Vision Communications stations (WYDC Corning and WBGT-CD Rochester) and many other stations. Due to the shift of the originating station to WBBZ-TV, it is no longer seen on cable television in Canada, as that station is not authorized for carriage in that country; the station can be seen in most parts of the Niagara Region via antenna, either through WBBZ or through Retro affiliate WBXZ.
Home video releases
A one-disc "The Best of Off Beat Cinema" DVD was released by a local distributor[who?] in 2003. Due to the time limits of the medium, only clips of the featured films were presented, along with a large selection of studio segments. Select episodes have also been released on YouTube.
- Off Beat Cinema website Retrieved July 24, 2012.
- WBBZ press release John Di Sciullo leaving Ch 7 News Director position to join WBBZ-TV as Executive Director of Production and Promotion. buffalonews.com Retrieved July 2, 2012.
- Kwiatkowski, Jane (August 4, 2012). Off the beaten path. The Buffalo News. Retrieved August 4, 2012.
- Click on Off-Beat-Cinema-Network movie schedules Off Beat Cinema website. Retrieved 19 August 2012.