Two years ago, an enterprising USC film school grad saw an opening with the demise of the long-running syndicated series “At the Movies.”
David Freedman started an online movie and TV review series, “Just Seen It,” with a clutch of fellow USC students and alumni. Through tireless tubthumping and a little luck, his humble endeavor was picked up last August by the PBS OC digital channel of Southern California’s PBS affiliate KOCE-TV, aka PBS SoCal.
Now the 30-minute program is going national after “Seen It” producer Hermosa Entertainment inked a pact with the National Education Telecommunication Assn. to distribute 13 episodes to 370 PBS affils. NETA has also committed to an additional 13-episode season, which will extend through the first half of 2013.
“Just Seen It” still features Trojan film buffs, but it also has drawn industry pros to join the panels that offer a healthy amount of arguing and dissection of new movies and TV series. In the tradition of thumbs-up/thumbs-down, the show has a contempo twist on its bottom-line assessments: “See it,” “Stream it” or “Skip it.”
“So many of the reviews that you see on the Web now are just guys in their underwear, in their mom’s basement, yelling at the camera and telling you why they like or hate a movie,” Freedman says. “No one cares whether someone else likes or hates a movie; they care if they’re going to like the movie.”
“Just Seen It” is revving up for an Oscar special on Feb. 12. And it devotes plenty of attention to the small screen, with a recent episode offering reviews of the pilots for midseason series including “Deception,” “Red Widow,” “The Following,” “The Carrie Diaries,” “Zero Hour” and “Cult.”
To date, the show has been a labor of love for the production team, which has “toiled for more than two years without pay,” Freedman admits. Freedman left a job at Bill Mechanic’s Pandemonium shingle to work on the show full time.
Skein’s next step is to find long-term sponsors to help underwrite future episodes of the show, even if it’s only on a “break even” basis in order to keep NETA and affiliate stations onboard, according to Freedman.
Freedman says the “Just Seen It” team of regulars prep every week and film on Saturday, all with the love of movies and TV shows in mind. Those efforts have been rewarded with an MPAA accreditation, making “Just Seen It” the only nationally broadcast half-hour review show to have that distinction.
“Movie reviews, and even more so, TV reviews, have been relegated to the ends of entertainment shows — not really given much time or credence,” Freedman says. “Our show (aims to) pick up the banner from where ‘Siskel and Ebert’ left off.”