Here! kicks off to company's subs beginning Aug. 29

DirecTV has become the first U.S. distributor to agree to carry a pay-per-view service directed at a gay and lesbian audience.

Here! Pay Per View service will offer four independently produced theatricals each month for a retail price of $3.99 apiece. Although the principals declined to comment on the split, DirecTV will keep about 60% of each retail dollar, with the other 40% going to Here! owners Paul Colichman and Stephen P. Jarchow.

Here! kicks off to all of DirecTV’s 11 million satellite homes beginning Aug. 29 with “Sordid Lives,” a comedy released by Here’s theatrical arm in 2002 and starring Olivia Newton-John, Beau Bridges, Delta Burke and Bonnie Bedelia. Here! is a division of Regent Entertainment, which has produced movies including “Gods & Monsters,” which won the Academy Award for adapted screenplay, and “Twilight of the Golds,” with Brendan Fraser and Faye Dunaway.

‘Merci’ on sked

Other movies planned for Here! pay-per-view include the Merchant-Ivory production of “Merci, Dr. Rey,” with Dianne Wiest and Vanessa Redgrave, and “Friends & Family,” with Tony Lo Bianco and Tovah Feldshuh.

Colichman said his eventual goal, possibly within the next year, is to turn Here! into a 24-hour-a-day cable network targeted to gays and lesbians. He deliberately decided against beginning with a 24-hour channel because of the barriers that prevented two proposed 24-hour nets from being launched last year despite elaborate pitches by their owners to cable operators and satellite distributors.

The two that flopped were an unnamed channel developed jointly by MTV and Showtime, and Pridevision, an American version of the existing Canadian network. They failed at least in part because operators became worried about a backlash from their subscribers, even though the two planned to charge a separate monthly fee for their services, as high as $10 a month for Pridevision.

No explicit films

Colichman said Here! will shun sexually explicit movies and videos. “We want mainstream, middle-of-the-road programming for gays and lesbians from the age of 16 on up,” he said.

“It’s important,” he added, “that talent agents and managers are comfortable bringing their clients to us… If people want porno, let them take it off the Internet.”

Colichman points to surveys estimating that there are between 25 million and 30 million gays and lesbians in the U.S., who spend upward of $450 billion a year.

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