You'd think producers would covet the kind of exposure they get from TV's film review shows. Most do. But not all.
Some have withheld their clips for various reasons. Often it's because a movie is so bad that there simply isn't a segment suitable for previewing, according to Donna LaPietra, producer of "Siskel and Ebert & the Movies."
She thinks that's why De Laurentiis Entertainment refused to provide a clip from "King Kong Lives" (which subsequently suffered a critical drubbing and quick box-office death; DEG would not comment). Siskbert, who put "Kong" on their list of the 10 worst movies of 1986, "ended up reviewing it without clips anyway just to prove a point," LaPietra said.
M.J. Witt, asst. producer of "At the Movies" with Rex Reed and Bill Harris, didn't bother trying to get "Kong" clips. "If you were that movie studio, would you want to give out clips to that movie?" Witt asked.
"Something like 'Friday the 13th, Part 52' they can be pretty sure of not getting a good review for and won't release clips," said Shelly Spencer, producer of PBS' "Sneak Previews" with Michael Medved and Jeffrey Lyons. Spencer also got nixed on "Kong" and Cannon's "Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold." ("The movie's atrocious, really horrid," said Spencer.) All three shows were refused clips for the "Friday the 13th" series.
With "Zelig," said LaPietra, Woody Allen "said that to take clips out of the film's context would be pointless. He said we might as well take clips from 'Mommie Dearest,' it would make as much sense."
Allen has no steadfast rule about refusing to supply clips, but he usually makes them available after a film's release, said Spencer--"not because his films are bad, but because that's how he does things."
Regarding the "Kong" clips, a disgusted Gene Siskel said from Chicago: "It was a schlock film by a sleazy company. The film company sent us letters saying they would let us show snippets of the film on our local news shows if we (promised not to) show them nationally. They wanted us to sign contracts."
Siskel showed the letter--"a clever bribe"--on WBBM-TV's local evening news . . . and then promptly ripped it up on the air.