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TCM digs deep for database

Site partnering with AFI

“IMDB on steroids” is the way Tom Karsch, exec VP-general manager of TCM, describes the network’s interactive movie database, which launches Jan. 1.

TCMdb.com has joined the American Film Institute to fill the site with content from 130,000-plus titles, including 1.25 million people and more than 10 million pieces of information about movies, from their rise in the 1890s to the present day.

“No other movie database will have the depth and breadth of content that we will offer, particularly regarding the American classics,” said Richard Steiner, managing director of TCM Interactive, which he calls the “online curator of movie history.”

Most of the information will be free to the online surfer.

In addition to credits, synopses and box office reports, TCM.db will offer hundreds of movie trailers, production notes, movie clips, stills, movie scripts and in-depth articles by critics and film historians. Eventually, Steiner said, users of TCM.db will be able to “contribute their own movie knowledge to the database,” although TCM’s research staff will have the final say.

As for the network itself, now in 71 million cable and satellite homes, TCM has scheduled “I’m King Kong! The Exploits of Merian C. Cooper,” a one-hour documentary biography of the co-producer/director of the original “King Kong.” Docu, narrated by Alec Baldwin and produced by Kevin Brownlow, premieres Nov. 22.

Starting sometime next year, TCM will try to lure more young viewers to the older-skewing network by slotting “TCM Underground,” a weekly series of “edgy cult classics” every Friday at midnight. “Underground” will be a showcase for movies not usually shown on TCM, such as kung-fu pics, blaxploitation movies and a selection of Russ Meyer’s skin flicks. “This series will be an answer to people who think TCM takes itself too seriously,” said Karsch.

And in July, under the umbrella title “The Cinema of Outsiders,” TCM will feature movies from such mavericks as Orson Welles, Sam Peckinpah, Nicholas Ray, Samuel Fuller and John Cassavetes. Specially interviewed for the “Outsiders” series, to add historical context, are Martin Scorsese, Arthur Penn, John Sayles, Roger Corman, Spike Lee and Peter Bogdanovich, among many other filmmakers.

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