Switching Channels is a broad, sometimes silly transfer of The Front Page or, more specifically, His Girl Friday, from the old world of smoke-filled newspaper offices to the gleaming modern setting of a satellite TV news station. This is the least distinguished rendition of the classic Ben Hecht-Charles MacArthur piece on record.
Ace anchor-woman Kathleen Turner leaves Chicago for a much-needed Canadian vacation and is swept off her feet by the dashing and obscenely rich Christopher Reeve. Upon her return, Turner announces to her crafty, manipulative boss (Burt Reynolds) that she is through with the news game and intends to settle down in New York with her new love.
Reynolds also is her ex-husband and, though he’d never admit it, still is in love with her, so he launches into a frantic campaign to keep her on the station. As in The Front Page, this involves her in covering the scheduled execution of a hapless man, played in a nice touch by Henry Gibson, who escapes just as his electrocution is about to be covered live.
Reynolds is good at his part’s sardonic insincerity, but isn’t really intimidating. Reeve comes off as the last word in confident swank in the seduction scenes. Unfortunately, he turns into a wimp almost from the moment he meets Reynolds, making it no contest. Turner suits her superstar news-hen role to a T.
Lensed mostly in Toronto, production looks a little thin around the edges and makes the setting, Chicago, look more like a suburb than a metropolis.