Cablevision’s Rainbow Media and MetroChannels: Getting Real, With More NY Attitude

New York, NY, March 21, 2000 — Spring will usher in the first of several major changes for MetroChannels, the award-winning trio of cable networks dedicated to the experience of living in New York. The bold new moves – which include a bevy of series premieres and new channel packaging – are the first initiatives implemented by former Discovery Networks head Greg Moyer, the President of Regional Programming for Rainbow Media Holdings.

“New York is a human circus and Metro is here to give you a ringside seat – 24-hours a day, and with all the honesty and attitude that is the Big Apple” states Moyer. “Our new programming philosophy goes beyond our much-appreciated informational programming to include long-form entertainment series and live, unfiltered event coverage that lets the city speak for itself.”

Curiously, at a time when the interconnectivity is “shrinking the globe,” Moyer sees local television programming as the next media frontier. “At the same time people find the entire world just a click away, they feel a genuine longing for a real connection to the communities in which they live,” Moyer says. “Metro is television about the experience of living in New York. And we’re filling the need by providing an unprecedented 378 hours of New York-centric original television on three channels each week.”

Over the next six months, MetroChannels will premiere more than a dozen original series that eavesdrop on the art, entertainment, sports, and cultural events that unfold across the region on any given day. The intent is to capture the excess of excitement and stimulation that no one has the time to experience in person, but that the individual would watch if it were available at the touch of a remote control.

The changes begin on April 3 as the MetroGuide channel is renamed METRO and a fresh line-up of primetime programming makes its debut. Over the Summer more shows premiere on METRO while the second channel, MetroLearning, gets a makeover. By Fall, Metro Traffic & Weather will also sport a new look and feel.

METRO: New Programs With the “Authentic Voice” of New York

No show better expresses the “unfiltered” New York sensibility than Rhythm & Dues; the first weekly performance series wholly dedicated to the region’s local music scene. Every Friday night at 9 PM, viewers can join an intrepid team of music reporters as they uncover new sounds. Rhythm and Dues will showcase an hour of performance by both up-and-coming artists and cult favorites taped at institutions such as The Village Vanguard and the Bottom Line as well as edgy performance spaces such as Arlene Grocery and the Knitting Factory. The April 7 episode will feature The Bottom Line’s Singer/Songwriter Series “In Their Own Words,” with artist like Marshall Crenshaw, Beth Nielsen Chapman and Cindy Bullens discussing the inspiration for their songs with audience members and moderator Rita Houston of WFUV. Upcoming shows will be headlined by the critically-acclaimed singer/songwriter Toshi Reagon and Blue Floyd, an ensemble that performs blues interpretations of the “space anthems” of Sixties psychedelic warriors, Pink Floyd.

Additional “authentic New York voices” will be coming to viewers nightly beginning April 3 with Subway Q&A. This daily short-form program asks New Yorkers to speak their minds about subjects both serious and silly in the one venue where the high and mighty are side-by-side with the everyday working folks: the New York subway. Host Tad Low, co-creator of VH1’s Pop Up Video, will bring his edgy, exuberant and comic personality to these segments. A daily half-hour version of the show is slated to debut this Summer.

“Much of New York television is overly polite and packaged, a sharp contrast to the honest, in-your-face attitude of the man- and woman-on-the-street,” adds Patrice Andrews, SVP of programming and promotions for MetroChannels. “Our new shows take a giant step away from traditional television by eliminating the slick formats that the medium too often imposes on real-life events. We’re also putting people on television who are knowledgeable and passionate about their chosen areas of expertise rather than relying on the “teleprompted” talking heads seen in most news and talk programs.”

METRO will also debut Buzzcut, a regular top-of-the-hour newsbreak featuring updates on the hottest metro area entertainment and cultural events happening around town. From movie premieres and Broadway show openings to restaurant finds and concerts, Buzzcut will provide insider access to the personalities behind the productions. The series will include contributions from METRO reporters Maria Marino, Tinabeth Pina and Christina Ha.

METRO TVNY: Classic New York TV – Some Done Tongue-In-Cheek

New Yorkers will have the opportunity to look, and most times laugh, at themselves with TVNY, a primetime block of classic NY-based television series commencing April 4.

“Whether they’re rich or poor, over- or unemployed, New Yorkers have a real sense of humor about themselves, their life situations, and the daily trials of living in New York,” quips Metro’s Andrews. “Series television has long been a conduit through which we, and the world at large, have come to laugh at the way New Yorkers deal with life. Showcasing classic New York-based series — complete with our own pop-up opinions and attitude– is an ideal way to add some comedy and self recognition into Metro’s entertainment programming mix.”
TVNY will air Tuesdays – Thursdays, from 9 – 11 PM on Metro. The line-up includes:

  • TVNY Tuesday features The Bronx Zoo at 9 PM, a one-hour drama starring Ed Asner as the rugged principal of a tough inner city school. It’s followed at 10 PM by Central Park West, Melrose Place/Sex in the City creator Darren Starr’s sizzling drama of power hungry New Yorkers starring Michael Michele, Lauren Hutton and Mariel Hemingway.
  • TVNY Wednesday is dedicated to Brooklyn Bridge, Spin City creator Gary David Goldberg’s acclaimed series about the trials of a Brooklyn immigrant family of the 1950s. Watch for it at 9 PM.
  • TVNY Thursday features a trio of great shows commencing at 9 PM with Car 54 Where Are You?, the classic cop comedy featuring Fred Gwynne. At 9:30 PM comes The Associates, a Golden Globe nominated courtroom comedy featuring Martin Short and Joe Regalbuto. At 10 PM comes the television series adaptation of the Al Pacino’s undercover police drama, Serpico, starring David Birney.

NEW YORK STORIES: Telling New Yorkers About New York

This Spring, METRO’S award-winning series, New York Stories, promises new and exciting documentaries about the people, places and history of the New York metropolitan area. METRO has increased its investment towards its Emmy-nominated weekly series by showcasing exclusive programming including historical documentaries, profiles of notable New York personalities, works of independent New York filmmakers and programs celebrating the cultural diversity of this region. The much-watched strand will serve up the world television premieres of several new documentaries including: All Visitors Must Be Announced, a chronicle of the lives and secrets of NYC doormen; and Book Wars, a humorous look at the life of one NYC’s paperback book street vendors.

STUDIO Y: A Rare Forum for Young Voices

If METRO is all about finding the voices of New York, then Studio Y goes one step further by putting the power of TV into the hands of metro area teens. “We give teens the keys to our studio, and offer them a unique opportunity to air their thoughts and opinions on everything from relationships and politics to music and fashion trends,” adds Andrews. “We adults just back away and see what they have to say.”

Studio Y, the first and only live daily television show for metro area teens, is hosted by Leila Sbitani and Welly Yang. Each day, five different teens join Leila and Welly to interact with high-profile guests, take viewer phone calls, and voice their opinions in group discussions. The Think Tank also screens Rough Cuts, original short videos made by teenagers, and reviews the newest products marketed to teens – from films and fashions to books and web sites. Studio Y airs Monday – Friday at 5 PM.

Rainbow Media’s MetroChannels are the first and only suite of television networks devoted entirely to the experience of living in the New York metropolitan area. MetroChannels consist of METRO, Metro Learning, and Metro Traffic&Weather. METRO showcases what New Yorkers are passionate about by providing regularly scheduled original programs focusing on everything from fine dining to live music and sports, classic New York TV series and documentaries about the people, places and history of New York. MetroLearning provides unfiltered coverage of events unfolding in the many diverse communities throughout this metropolis. Metro Traffic&Weather is the tri-state’s first and only 24-hour local traffic, transit, and weather channel. Since its 1998 launch, MetroChannels has received numerous accolades for its programming — the 1999 & 2000 Community Spirit Award, New York Festivals Awards, Omni Awards and the Communicator Awards. In addition, MetroChannels was among the top 10 networks nominated for the 1999 local New York Emmy Awards.


Aileen Budow

Sal Cataldi/Darcey Agostino
Cataldi PR