Switching Channels (1988)

PG | 97 or 105 mins | Romantic comedy | 4 March 1988

Director:

Ted Kotcheff

Producer:

Martin Ransohoff

Cinematographer:

Francois Protat

Editor:

Thom Noble

Production Designer:

Anne Pritchard

Production Company:

Martin Ransohoff Productions
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HISTORY

End credits state: “Special Thanks To: City of Toronto; City of Chicago; Ontario Film Commission; Illinois Film Commission; Ampex Corporation; Sony Corporation; Ward-Beck Systems, Ltd.; Hammond Manufacturing; Tekskil Industries; Mitsubishi Electric Sales Canada, Inc.; Exceltronics Computing, Inc.; Leitch Video International, Inc.; Compaq Canada, Inc.; Applied Electronics, Ltd.; MMI Product Placement; Heather Welner; Extel Communications; Motorola Corporation; Andrew Antenna Co., Ltd.; New Wave Travel.”
       The film is based on the play, The Front Page, written by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, which opened on 14 Aug 1928 at the Times Square Theatre in New York City. Additional feature films based on the play include: The Front Page (1931, see entry), His Girl Friday (1940, see entry), and a remake, The Front Page (1974, see entry).
       According to a 26 Jun 1985 Var news item, producer Martin Ransohoff and Columbia Pictures negotiated terms to do a film remake with the estates of writers Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. The project was expected to begin filming the following year, with locations either in Chicago, IL, or New York City. Six months later, the 29 Jan 1986 Daily News reported that actress Debra Winger and actors Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd were in talks to star, with principal photography to begin in late 1986. An article in the 25 Feb 1986 DV noted the film’s budget would be in the area of $20 million. However, participation of Winger, Murray, and Aykroyd was “contingent upon an approval of the completed screenplay” written by screenwriter Jonathan Reynolds. Items in the 17 Mar 1986 ... More Less

End credits state: “Special Thanks To: City of Toronto; City of Chicago; Ontario Film Commission; Illinois Film Commission; Ampex Corporation; Sony Corporation; Ward-Beck Systems, Ltd.; Hammond Manufacturing; Tekskil Industries; Mitsubishi Electric Sales Canada, Inc.; Exceltronics Computing, Inc.; Leitch Video International, Inc.; Compaq Canada, Inc.; Applied Electronics, Ltd.; MMI Product Placement; Heather Welner; Extel Communications; Motorola Corporation; Andrew Antenna Co., Ltd.; New Wave Travel.”
       The film is based on the play, The Front Page, written by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, which opened on 14 Aug 1928 at the Times Square Theatre in New York City. Additional feature films based on the play include: The Front Page (1931, see entry), His Girl Friday (1940, see entry), and a remake, The Front Page (1974, see entry).
       According to a 26 Jun 1985 Var news item, producer Martin Ransohoff and Columbia Pictures negotiated terms to do a film remake with the estates of writers Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. The project was expected to begin filming the following year, with locations either in Chicago, IL, or New York City. Six months later, the 29 Jan 1986 Daily News reported that actress Debra Winger and actors Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd were in talks to star, with principal photography to begin in late 1986. An article in the 25 Feb 1986 DV noted the film’s budget would be in the area of $20 million. However, participation of Winger, Murray, and Aykroyd was “contingent upon an approval of the completed screenplay” written by screenwriter Jonathan Reynolds. Items in the 17 Mar 1986 Chicago Tribune and 27 Mar 1986 Daily News stated the film’s setting would be a television newsroom, differing from the play’s setting of a newspaper office.
       The 18 Feb 1987 DV reported that that film was put into “turnaround” by Columbia chairman David Puttnam. However, Ransohoff made a deal with Columbia’s parent company, the Coca-Cola Company, and Nelson Entertainment Inc. to co-finance the picture for a possible release date in early 1988. Coca-Cola Company, and Nelson Entertainment Inc. are not credited onscreen.
       The 21 Apr 1987 HR production chart noted principal photography began on 20 Apr 1987 and would include locations in Chicago, Toronto, Canada, and Montréal, Canada. Actor Michael Caine was listed in the cast, but would not arrive in Toronto for filming until he had completed filming on Jaws: The Revenge (1987, see entry), as noted by the 23 Feb 1987 DV. However, an 8 May 1987 HR article reported that after filming around Caine’s absence for two and a half weeks, Caine was unable to stay with the production due to “a scheduling conflict.” Burt Reynolds replaced Caine, with the goal to complete principal photography by 28 Jun 1987, and before the fall 1987 due date of actress Kathleen Turner’s pregnancy. The 18 Jun 1987 DV reported that the picture’s final scenes were to be shot in Hawaii after filming in Toronto was complete, and before an anticipated 30 Jun 1987 Directors Guild of America (DGA) strike. However, the 7 Jul 1987 DV stated the location for the final scene was changed to Key Biscayne, FL, and that principal photography would conclude on 7 Jul 1987. The 18 Feb 1987 DV and 4 Mar 1987 Var reported the film’s budget as approximately $15 million, the 8 May 1987 HR, however, noted a budget of $13 million.
       A brief in the 13 Jan 1988 DV reported a preview screening of the picture in Thousand Oaks, CA, which received an eighty-five percent rating of “good-excellent.” The following month, a 26 Feb 1988 DV news item reported another preview screening at three AMC theaters in Century City, CA.
       The picture opened 4 Mar 1988, as noted in the NYT review of the same date. Four days later, the 8 Mar 1988 LAT stated that the film took in $3.1 million at the box-office during its opening weekend, averaging $3,215 per screen.
       Reviews in the 29 Feb 1988 HR and 4 Mar 1988 LAT, listed the film’s duration as ninety-seven minutes. However, the 2 Mar 1988 Var review noted the film was 105 minutes, and the review in the 4 Mar 1988 NYT listed the running time as was 108 minutes. The print viewed for this record was 105 minutes. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Chicago Tribune
17 Mar 1986
News, p, 16.
Daily News
29 Jan 1986.
---
Daily News
27 Mar 1986.
---
Daily Variety
25 Feb 1986
p. 1, 50.
Daily Variety
18 Feb 1987
p. 1, 28.
Daily Variety
23 Feb 1987
p. 3.
Daily Variety
8 May 1987
p. 26.
Daily Variety
18 Jun 1987
p. 3.
Daily Variety
7 Jul 1987
p. 3.
Daily Variety
13 Jan 1988
p. 3.
Daily Variety
26 Feb 1988
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Apr 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 May 1987
p. 1, 28.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Feb 1988
p. 3, 29.
Los Angeles Times
4 Mar 1988
Calendar, p. 1, 24.
Los Angeles Times
8 Mar 1988
Calendar, p. 2.
New York Times
4 Mar 1988
Section C, p. 10.
Variety
26 Jun 1985
p. 24.
Variety
4 Mar 1987
p. 35.
Variety
2 Mar 1988
p. 15.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Tri-Star Pictures Presents
A Martin Ransohoff Production
A Ted Kotcheff Film
A Tri-Star Release
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
3d asst dir
Unit prod mgr, Chicago crew
1st asst dir, Chicago crew
Unit prod mgr, Miami crew
1st asst dir, Miami crew
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
2d unit cam op
Focus puller
Clapper loader
Still photog
Video eng
Video eng
Video coord
Gaffer
Gaffer
Key grip
Musco light tech
Cam op, Chicago crew
Gaffer, Chicago crew
Key grip, Chicago crew
Gaffer, Montreal crew
Key grip, Montreal crew
Cam op, Miami crew
Gaffer, Miami crew
Key grip, Miami crew
Cityline, Fashion Television & City Lights courtes
News footage courtesy of
News footage courtesy of
Panaflex® cams & lenses supplied by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
Art dept comptroller
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Negative cutting
Post prod asst
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Asst set dec
Prop buyer
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const supv
Head carpenter
Scenic artist
Head painter
Set dec, Montreal crew
Prop, Miami crew
Greensman, Miami crew
COSTUMES
Spec ward for Kathleen Turner by
Cost des
Asst cost des
Ward mistress
Ward master
Ward, Miami crew
MUSIC
Mus/Theme mus by
Theme mus by
Mus ed
SOUND
Loc sd mixer
Boom op
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Foley artist
Foley asst
Re-rec services
Re-rec services
Sd mixer, Miami crew
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Title des
SNN animated logo by
MAKEUP
Mr. Reynolds' hairstylist
Key hairdresser
Key makeup artist
Asst makeup artist
Asst hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod coord
Unit loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Exec asst to Mr. Carmody
Asst to Mr. Kotcheff
Prod secy
Prod accountant
Continuity supv
Transportation coord
Public relations
Toronto casting by
Unit pub
Loc mgr, Chicago crew
Transportation capt, Chicago crew
Extras casting, Chicago crew
Unit loc mgr, Montreal crew
Extras casting, Montreal crew
Transportation capt, Miami crew
Extras casting, Miami crew
Canon copier courtesy of
Prod services provided by
STAND INS
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play entitled The Front Page by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur (New York, 14 Aug 1928).
DETAILS
Release Date:
4 March 1988
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 4 March 1988
Production Date:
began 20 April 1987
Copyright Claimant:
Switching Channels, Inc.
Copyright Date:
5 October 1988
Copyright Number:
PA383807
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Duration(in mins):
97 or 105
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28881
SYNOPSIS

In Chicago, Illinois, Satellite News Network (SNN) news director John L. “Sully” Sullivan, IV, tells his best reporter and ex-wife, Christy Colleran, to go on a vacation. As she checks into a Canadian resort for a three-week stay, Christy accidentally moves a candlestick, setting a credit card on fire. She apologizes to card owner, Blaine Bingham, owner of the sporting goods company, Bingham Industries. Later, Blaine rescues Christy after she loses her canoe paddle in the lake. Over the course of her vacation, Christy and Blaine fall in love. Later, Christy returns to Chicago with Blaine. Arriving at SNN studios, Blaine waits in the lobby as Christy reports to Sully, who orders her to go to the downtown jailhouse where convicted murderer Ike Roscoe is awaiting execution by electric chair. Christy accuses Sully of always focusing on the news, like the volcano that erupted during their honeymoon. While Sully laughs, Christy announces she is quitting the TV station and marrying Blaine the day after tomorrow in New York City. Not wanting to let Christy leave him, Sully insists on meeting Blaine. In the lobby, Sully says he would like to treat Blaine and Christy to lunch. Christy insists they need to leave to catch their flight to New York. However, Blaine says they could purchase tickets for a later flight and accepts Sully’s lunch offer. Christy heads back to get her laptop, but Sully offers to go instead. Finding junior reporter, Siegenthaler, Sully orders him to purchase all available airplane seats departing Chicago for New York. At the restaurant, Sully receives a call ... +


In Chicago, Illinois, Satellite News Network (SNN) news director John L. “Sully” Sullivan, IV, tells his best reporter and ex-wife, Christy Colleran, to go on a vacation. As she checks into a Canadian resort for a three-week stay, Christy accidentally moves a candlestick, setting a credit card on fire. She apologizes to card owner, Blaine Bingham, owner of the sporting goods company, Bingham Industries. Later, Blaine rescues Christy after she loses her canoe paddle in the lake. Over the course of her vacation, Christy and Blaine fall in love. Later, Christy returns to Chicago with Blaine. Arriving at SNN studios, Blaine waits in the lobby as Christy reports to Sully, who orders her to go to the downtown jailhouse where convicted murderer Ike Roscoe is awaiting execution by electric chair. Christy accuses Sully of always focusing on the news, like the volcano that erupted during their honeymoon. While Sully laughs, Christy announces she is quitting the TV station and marrying Blaine the day after tomorrow in New York City. Not wanting to let Christy leave him, Sully insists on meeting Blaine. In the lobby, Sully says he would like to treat Blaine and Christy to lunch. Christy insists they need to leave to catch their flight to New York. However, Blaine says they could purchase tickets for a later flight and accepts Sully’s lunch offer. Christy heads back to get her laptop, but Sully offers to go instead. Finding junior reporter, Siegenthaler, Sully orders him to purchase all available airplane seats departing Chicago for New York. At the restaurant, Sully receives a call from Siegenthaler about the airline bookings. Not to let Christy become aware of his plan, Sully says into the receiver that Christy’s replacement, Karen Ludlow, is doing a great job. Christy insists she is a better reporter than Karen Ludlow, but Sully affirms that Ludlow, not Christy, who will cover Ike Roscoe’s 12:01 am electrocution. When Blaine asks who Ike Roscoe is, Christy tells him that after Ike’s son, Anthony, died from a drug overdose, Ike killed the drug dealer. However, the dealer turned out to be a police officer. Blaine asks why the Governor does not issue a pardon, but Sully and Christy believe the execution is a political issue, related to the Democratic primary contest between the Governor and Roy Ridnitz, the State’s Attorney who convicted Ike. Sully suggests that if Christy were to have a poignant interview with Ike, the Governor might pardon him. Blaine tells Christy she needs to do the interview to save the man’s life. Touched by Blaine’s selflessness, Christy agrees, but on condition that Sully purchase equipment from Blaine’s company for an SNN gym. Christy leaves and meets her camera crew at the jailhouse. Warden Terwilliger denies her interview request, but Christy informs him she knows about the bribes he receives from prisoners to use his office for conjugal visits. Reluctantly, Terwilliger agrees. Later at SNN, Sully purchases exercise equipment while Blaine calls for airline tickets. Shocked that all flights are sold out, Blaine suggests he could get tickets on the 11:00 train. Sully finds Siegenthaler and tells him to book all the train tickets, as well as seats on helicopters and another transportation. Afterward, Sully calls the mailroom and orders that next week when the Bingham Industries shipment arrives, they should return it. Christy telephones Sully, letting him know that she got the interview. Blaine gets on the line with her and tells Christy he purchased train tickets. Realizing he is too late, Sully calls Siegenthaler to stop the bookings. Afterward, Sully notices a book titled, You Can! You Will! Cure Your Height Phobia in 10 Easy Days, in Blaine’s briefcase. He decides to get a picnic dinner with silver candlestick holders for the train. Sully offers Siegenthaler as a guide to the silver store, but tells Siegenthaler to take Blaine to a city skyscraper. Sully further orders SNN’s front desk security officer, Abigail, to thoroughly search Blaine if he ever returns. Siegenthaler takes Blaine downtown. Blaine gets on the glass elevator with Siegenthaler, but as the elevator rises, Blaine has a crippling anxiety attack and places his foot on the emergency stop button. Elsewhere, State’s Attorney Roy Ridnitz arrives at his campaign headquarters and learns about Christy’s interview with Ike Roscoe. He orders Warden Terwillger to cancel the interview. However, Terwillger catches up to Christy, who tells her cameraman to start filming. Terwillger relents and lets them inside the cellblock. After Ike’s interview, he mentions that today is Harold Houdini’s birthday, and when he was a practicing magician, he would perform Houdini’s tricks with his son. Upon Christy’s request to perform Anthony’s favorite trick, Ike makes Christy’s pen disappear from his hand, then reappear in her pocket. Later, Ike is escorted into his cell and pulls Christy’s pen cartridge from his mouth. Outside, Christy walks to the nearby criminal courts building, followed by fellow television reporters Zaks, Tillinger, and Carvalho. Arriving in the pressroom, Christy greets newspaper reporters Morosini, Obregon, and Jessica. Ike Roscoe’s attorney, Pamela Farbrother, arrives, and tells the reporters that Ike did not receive a fair trial, but they ignore her. Pamela leaves crying, and Siegenthaler telephones Christy to inform her that Blaine is stuck in an elevator. Christy rushes to the building and learns that Sully told Siegenthaler to get Blaine onto the elevator. To distract Blaine into releasing the emergency stop, Christy kisses him. Returning to SNN, Christy, Siegenthaler, and her crew run into the newsroom with Ike’s interview, but Abigail the security guard stops Blaine, and thoroughly searches him. Christy goes on-air to introduce her exclusive interview with Ike Roscoe. After the interview, the Governor is inundated with calls from citizens asking him to pardon Ike Roscoe, and decides to issue a pardon during the 11:00 news. One of the Governor’s aids, Crannock, sneaks away and telephones Ridnitz about the pardon. Ridnitz orders Warden Terwilliger to move the execution to 10:00 pm, under the pretense of ongoing riots and bomb threats. Ridnitz further decides to invite the media to televise the execution. At SNN, Sully turns on the television to see if other stations are reporting Christy’s interview. However, the first story reported is on the record amount of “no-shows” for flights to New York. Sully receives a call from Ridnitz’s associates, informing him that Ike Roscoe will be electrocuted earlier than scheduled, and his execution open to reporters. Blaine arrives, reminding Christy of their train. Christy says goodbye, and leaves with Blaine. At the jailhouse, reporters crowd the execution chamber. Before Roscoe is escorted to the chamber, his lawyer, Pamela Farbrother, arrives and kisses him. Afterward, the guards guide her away. As Ike is blindfolded and strapped into the chair, Ridnitz and Warden Terwilliger stand by to press the buttons that will send the electrical currents. However, when the buttons are pressed, the power goes out due to a power surge resulting from all the TV cameras being plugged into the chamber’s one outlet. After flicking their pocket lighters on, everyone discovers that Ike has escaped. Meanwhile, Christy sees Ike as Blaine’s limousine passes the jailhouse. She gets out and tells Blaine she will meet him at the station. When she catches up to Ike, Christy tells him to go to the second floor courthouse pressroom. Christy telephones Sully and tells him she found Ike. After she hangs up, Ike hides inside the pressroom copier as other reporters arrive. When Obregon goes to use the copier, he hears the machine groan. Christy offers to fix it, and unhooks Ike’s shirtsleeve caught inside the machine. Just then, Ridnitz arrives with armed police, and announces that Ike was seen on the third floor. After the others disperse in search of Ike, Christy lets him out of the copier. Pamela arrives and hugs Ike, but pushes him back into the copier as reporters return. Obregon attempts to fix the copier himself. To distract him, Pamela jumps out a room’s window to the courthouse lobby. Sully arrives with Siegenthaler and Christy’s crew. As Christy gestures to the copier, Sully orders SNN reporter Karen Ludlow to interview Pamela about her jump. After the reporters run downstairs, Ike gets out of the copier and records an interview with Christy about his escape. Afterward, Ike hides in the copier once again when the reporters return. To get the copier out of the courthouse, Sully offers to buy the copier, and Obregon agrees at first. Blaine arrives and Christy convinces him to wait five minutes. Having second thoughts, Obregon asks for the copier back. Instead, Sully offers him a job at SNN in exchange for the copier. After Sully and Christy leave for the elevator, reporters Zaks, Tillinger, and Carvalho conclude that Ike is hiding inside of the copier. The elevator arrives with Ridnitz and police. Sully and Christy stand in front of the machine, but officers pull them aside and shoot. Ridnitz opens the copier, and finds it empty. Ordering police to continue their search, Ridnitz asks Sully and Christy where Ike is. Warden Terwilliger arrives and announces that the Governor has just pardoned Ike Roscoe. Unseen by Ridnitz, Christy turns on a news camera, and tricks Ridnitz into confessing that he wanted Ike executed in order to win the election. Just then, the Governor arrives and reiterates that he has pardoned Ike Roscoe. Christy assists Ike as he climbs down from roof of the elevator car, then informs the Governor that she has Ridnitz’s confession on bribery, attempted murder, and other charges on tape. Sully hands the tape over to Siegenthaler and tells him to run the story. Sully and Christy return the newsroom, and Blaine tells Christy that her true loves are the news and Sully. After Blaine leaves, Sully tells Christy they are going to Hawaii for their second honeymoon. Later, as they lie on a beach enjoying their trip, a volcano erupts. Christy is shocked, but Sully laughs. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.