Wednesday, June 06, 2007

SitcomsOnline.com Exclusive: Interview with AmericanLife TV's Mark Ringwald; Comcast Adds 'Boss', 'Pegs,' and Returns 'Facts'

We have had the pleasure to interview Mark Ringwald, VP of Programming for AmericanLife TV! AmericanLife TV Network of course is the only full-time cable network devoted to America's 78 million "baby boomers." AmericanLife TV Network delivers entertaining classic TV shows along with award-winning originals to create its 24-hour schedule. The network reaches over 10.5 million subscribers across the US. The network started out in 1985 as the Nostalgia Channel, then it was renamed to GoodLife TV, and now we have AmericanLife TV. Despite the name changes, the network always focused on classic TV.

Mark Ringwald has been good to us for quite some time. He has always provided prompt responses to SitcomsOnline and we thank him for that. This will be our first public interview with him, so I hope you all get a good taste of this fine cable network. So, without further adieu here is our interview with Mark Ringwald, VP of Programming for AmericanLife TV:


"Seven Questions with AmericanLife TV's Mark Ringwald"


SitcomsOnline: Hi Mark, this is Pavan from SitcomsOnline.com, hope you remember me from our previous conversations? First off let me say thanks for this opportunity and for your time. We are very excited for the 20th TV library deal that AmericanLife has struck. How will we see these shows eventually? We know the Sunday night line-up will change in June with Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere and L.A. Law.
Mark: Yes I do and it is always great to talk to you and your readers about great classic TV series.
We are going to be introducing a new night of series each month through October, so that by then there will be at least a few new series on every night. And we have started off with three big dramas. I told our promotions staff that we should create promos just using the theme songs, because they are so popular. In fact after screening the first couple of episodes, I can't get the theme to St. Elsewhere out of my head. I've been humming it in meetings!

SitcomsOnline: As of now, we have heard that you guys possibly have a library deal with CBS Paramount as well. Mission: Impossible was announced, but can we expect any more shows?
Mark: The deal with CBS Paramount was only for the one series, although we license Combat from them also. There is some similarity, at least in my mind, between the two series. They were both so well written and so well acted that it never occurs to you that they are over 30 years old. If you like great television and you start watching a show like Mission: Impossible, then there is no way you can change channels, which is good for AmericanLife TV.

SitcomsOnline: We really love your Saturday line-up of classic sitcoms such as Chico and the Man and Welcome Back, Kotter. Will we see more sitcoms join the line-up, via the Fox, CBS or Warner deals? Also, how are the classic TV shows doing in the ratings?
Mark: Look for a new night of comedies, similar in stature to the dramas, to premiere in July. And because we are not chasing the 18 to 34 audience, we are not relying on ratings as much as the response from viewers. So keep those cards and email coming!
http://www.americanlifetv.com/contact.php

SitcomsOnline: The Warner Bros. deal has carried the network for a number of years. How long will this deal last and can we expect more shows from this library anytime soon?
Mark: At this point a lot of the shows have been airing close to five years, so it is time they took a rest. I am sure we will be doing another deal with them soon; they are after all one of the largest studios.

SitcomsOnline: Fans have asked us quite frequently if AmericanLife will also add classic TV in the mornings/afternoons on weekdays in addition to primetime? Will we see series aired multiple times a week rather just once a week in the future? Most of the classic TV ALN airs is unedited, can we continue to expect that?
Mark: The only problem we have is that there aren't enough hours in the day. As a destination for Baby Boomers our goal is to provide entertainment, information and lifestyle programming that specifically caters to them. So we have to provide a balance of programming. There are fans (including me) of Fixing Dinner and 'Til Debt do Us Part also.
As far as editing, we will continue to air the classic programs uncut. I hate watching badly edited programs as much as the next guy.

SitcomsOnline: I have to ask a personal question here. I am a fan of '80s comedies, and am wondering if Mr. Belvedere and Small Wonder are part of the 20th TV deal? ALN has aired a few '80s comedies in the past such as My Sister Sam, so these would be nice, too. Perfect Strangers from Warner Bros. would also be nice to see.
Mark: Mr. Belvedere is part of the package, but we have no immediate plans to schedule it. Thanks for the suggestions!

SitcomsOnline: Finally, you guys have been known as "the only independent network devoted to the Baby Boomer generation." Competing cable network TV Land has also announced recently that they will also cater to the Baby Boomer generation by adding shows they grew up with (you know, M*A*S*H, Andy Griffith Show, etc) and shows they watch now (Scrubs). Any thoughts on this? And will AmericanLife follow that motto or just air shows that boomers grew up with?
Mark: Our philosophy is that the classic television shows must take them back to a better (a least in quality of the shows) time. If we air a more contemporary show, it must reflect back on those earlier times.

SitcomsOnline: I thank you once again for your time and wish you continued success!
Mark: Thank you very much.

EDIT, 6PM ET: Due to an overwhelming response regarding coverage of this channel, readers flocked in and asked us if AmericanLife will be on more cable or satellite systems soon. Mark kindly got back to us and gave us this response:
Cable companies, Dish and Direct TV have lots of demands for the "space" they have. Beyond lots of channels there is Video on Demand, telephone and high speed internet and now HD programming. We often hear from them that, "consumers haven't been asking for AmericanLife TV." Of course if people haven't heard of us, how do they know they want us, so for those of you that do know about us, please keep calling your cable or satellite operator and letting them know, "I want my AmericanLife TV!!!"

For more information on AmericanLife TV, including to see if it is available in your area or how to get the network, log-on to their website at http://www.americanlifetv.com. And as always, stay tuned right here on the blog for scheduling updates for this wonderful network!

Comcast's free OnDemand service TubeTime will add the short lived '80s sitcom Square Pegs starring Sarah Jessica Parker. The service will also add the long running ABC sitcom Who's the Boss? starring Tony Danza and Alyssa Milano. Both shows should be available to view on the service starting now. The Facts of Life will return to the service after nearly a year and should be available to view now as well.
I'm not sure yet if the current line-up of Diff'rent Strokes, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Soap and What's Happening!! will remain, but most likely they will. We will let you know when we find out.

We'll be back with more news, if there is anything.

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