‘Split Screen’ to make Slamdance bow

“Split Screen,” John Pierson’s irreverent TV series on independent filmmaking, will premiere at the third annual Slamdance Intl. Film Festival on opening night, Jan. 17. The first installment of the four-part series will screen prior to Mike Davis’ “Eight Days a Week,” a romantic comedy about a teenager who stands under the window of the girl of his dreams for an entire summer.

Since “Split Screen” was developed by Pierson last summer and was originally scheduled to air on the Sundance Channel (with sister Viacom company MTV repeating episodes of the program), Pierson may use the Utah screening as a soapbox to lambaste Sundance for passing on the program, which Pierson subsequently set up at rival cabler the Independent Film Channel.

“It didn’t work out,” said a source at the Sundance Channel. The IFC will show the four episodes of “Split Screen” starting March 10. The IFC’s sister channel, Bravo, will sneak-preview the program on Jan. 17 as part of its “IFC Fridays” lineup.

“I’m just pleased that people will get to see ‘Split Screen’ – if I make any remarks about Sundance, they will be humorous rather than vindictive,” Pierson said. As for the tone, Pierson added, “Unlike Barbara Walters, who gets her guests to cry, we get people like John Waters, Eric Bogosian and Spike Lee to laugh.”

The program takes an in-depth look at independent film and features Pierson, who is a veteran producers rep and the author of “Spike, Mike, Slackers and Dykes.”

The first episode opens with Pierson and Lee talking about “She’s Gotta Have It” and also includes a segment of Waters chatting with his mentor, Herschell Gordon Lewis, who is best known as “the King of Gore.” Viewers will also get to meet Pierson’s mailman, Bob, who will bring new films in each episode.

“John Pierson’s experience, keen sense of discovery, and left-of-center viewpoint ideally qualifies him to comment on the independent film scene. We’re honored to work with the Independent Film Channel to showcase ‘Split Screen,” said Slamdance’s executive director, Jon Fitzgerald.

In other Slamdance news, the festival announced its slate of documentary films. Five films will screen in the doc category: Michael Paxton’s “Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life,” Nicholas Hondrogen’s “Perfect Moment,” Larry Locke’s “Pin Gods,” Ronald Levaco’s “Round Eyes in the Middle Kingdom,” and A.J. Catoline and O.B. Babbs’ collaboration “Timothy Leary’s Last Trip.” For more information, call (310) 204-7977.

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