IFC focus on ‘Z Channel’ doc

Cassavetes to direct pic about L.A.- based feevee

IFC has greenlit production on the original doc “Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession,” about the groundbreaking cable station of the ’70s and ’80s and its head programmer Jerry Harvey.

Project completes IFC’s promise to deliver eight original projects by the end of 2004, including new series from Gina Gershon and Nanette Burstein (“The Kid Stays in the Picture”) and the original docs “Slasher,” “In the Company of Women” and “In Search of Ted Demme.”

Xan Cassavetes, daughter of writer-director John Cassavetes, is set to direct the documentary about the Los Angeles-based network that launched in 1974 as one of the country’s first pay cablers. Z Channel ran a diverse lineup of films that included classics, international and indie pics and Hollywood hits. Z was also the first to air director’s cuts.

“For a while in the ’80s, Z Channel became the repertory house for the entire city,” said IFC exec VP-general manager Ed Carroll. “It was the early days of pay TV, before exclusivity deals between studios and networks — which allowed for a programming inventiveness that would be difficult to replicate today.”

Doc will also explore Harvey’s emotional and psychological descent, which eventually resulted in his death and demise of the cabler.

“Z became almost indistinguishable from its tormented creator,” IFC’s director of original programming Alison Bourke said. The documentary is a “story about a small but revolutionary cable station, and IFC believes the innovations and historic influence of Z needed to be chronicled.”

Project will include commentary from Robert Altman, Jacqueline Bisset, James Woods, Quentin Tarantino, Jim Jarmusch, Alexander Payne and Paul Verhoeven.

Bourke will exec produce for the channel. Rick Ross of Maja Films and Marshall Persinger of Fresh Produce Films will produce.

Doc will air in the fourth quarter.

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