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Cabler IFC pulls plug on ‘B’cast’

'Simple mixup' leads to disappointing switch

NEW YORK — Movie buffs expecting to see the premiere of mockumentary “The Last Broadcast” on the Independent Film Channel Monday at 8:30 p.m. were in for a disappointment.

Instead of “The Last Broadcast,” IFC wound up cablecasting the umpteenth rerun of a docu called “The Bible and Gun Club,” providing no explanation for the switch.

Did supernatural forces intervene in the cancellation of the movie? “Last Broadcast” deals with a docu crew’s reconstruction of the murder of three cable-access show staffers, who have trekked into New Jersey’s Pine Barrens in search of the legendary Jersey Devil.

The explanation for the movie’s disappearance is much more mundane. “It was a simple mixup,” says Lance Weiler, who, with Stefan Avalos co-directed and co-executive produced “Last Broadcast.”

IFC assumed it owned the first cable window of the pic because in November 1998, it helped to draw attention to the movie by sending it out through a broadband Web site, making it available to the 250,000 homes hooked up to a cable modem at the time.

Nothing happened for a few months, but when “Blair Witch” became the surprise hit of 1999, Weiler said Cinemax, which prides itself on running offbeat documentaries, signed a deal with Weiler for an 18-month exclusive pay TV window. The contract actually kicked in on New Year’s Eve with an unscheduled sneak preview on Cinemax. The first official showing of the movie will take place in April.

Once he notified IFC of the deal with Cinemax, Weiler said the indie channel agreed to remove the picture and then pacted for the second window, also for 18 months, which will begin in September 2001, the expiration date of the Cinemax contract.

Weiler said the Cinemax and IFC deals, added to the 40,000 cassettes and 15,000 DVDs of “Last Broadcast” in videostores, will funnel just under $1 million into the coffers of Wavelength Releasing, the company formed by Weiler, Avalos and the producer of “Last Broadcast,” Esther Robinson.

A $1 million gross may not sound like much, but Weiler said he and his partners produced “Last Broadcast” on a desk-top computer for a grand total of $900.

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