The Ratings Game

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The Ratings Game
The Ratings Game.jpg
Written by Michael Barrie
Jim Mulholland
Directed by Danny DeVito
Starring Danny DeVito
Rhea Perlman
Huntz Hall
Kevin McCarthy
Michael Richards
Vincent Schiavelli
Theme music composer David Spear
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Producer(s) David Jablin
Cinematography Tim Suhrstedt
Editor(s) Dale Beldin
Marshall Harvey
Running time 102 minutes
Original network The Movie Channel
Original release December 15, 1984

The Ratings Game, is a 1984 cable television film directed by Danny DeVito and produced by David Jablin. The Showtime comedy stars DeVito and Rhea Perlman, and features Huntz Hall, Michael Richards, George Wendt and Jerry Seinfeld.


Vic DeSalvo (Danny DeVito) and his brother Goody are successful New Jersey trucking magnates, but Vic has a desire to make it big as a Hollywood producer. He hawks his scripts and ideas from one network executive to another, but he is turned down at each attempt.

Finally, he meets an executive at a second-rate company who has just been fired for promoting a show that attracted zero viewers. To revenge himself, he accepts Vic's script and arranges for a pilot episode of Sittin' Pretty, to be filmed. The resultant episode is abysmally awful, both in acting and story, but Vic is only inspired to greater heights. The director and star actor walk out and Vic decides to act as well as write and direct.

He throws a huge party to make himself known to "le tout Hollywood", but no-one comes, except Francine (Rhea Perlman), a statistician at a ratings agency. They fall in love.

When Francine is passed over for a promotion by her philandering and incompetent boss, she reveals to Vic how the ratings system can be bypassed and results fixed by setting up confederates in Nielsen-ratings households to skew the results. They conspire to run a scam that will make Vic's programmes the most-watched on television.

The scam works and Vic is voted best new actor at a grand awards ceremony, showing that many viewers (in addition to the confederates) watched his shows. But the agency has now discovered the scam, and as soon as Vic has accepted his award, he is arrested by police.

Francine and Vic are married in jail.



The Ratings Game was the first original movie financed by Showtime. The feature also marks Danny DeVito's film directing debut. The film garnered a WGA Award for Best Original TV Comedy Movie, and an International TV Movie Festival Award for Best Comedy. Writers Michael Barrie and Jim Mulholland also won a Writers Guild Award for their script.

Jerry Seinfeld makes an early appearance in the cast of the film, while it marks the final appearance of Huntz Hall of "The Bowery Boys".

A poor-quality bootleg version of this film has been widely distributed as The Mogul.

On July 19th 2016 Olive Films, a boutique distributor of classic and independent films released "The Ratings Game" for the first time ever on DVD and Blu-Ray. It is a premium packaged "Special Edition" that has been restored in full HD from the one print in existence. The discs also include as extras the four short films directed by Danny DeVito prior to making his feature directing debut with "The Ratings Game." Other special features include a behind the scenes featurette, the original trailer and some deleted scenes. It also includes a 28 page collectors booklet with detailed liner notes and art from the film.

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