From Sweetback to Jackie Brown AMC Traces the Blaxploitation Phenomenon With Hell Up In Hollywood

AMC Celebrates Black History Month on Tuesday, February 4, 2003 at 10:00 PM

Jericho, NY, January 20, 2003 – It was a genre that swept through Hollywood like a storm. It was rebellious. It was thrilling. It was cheap to make. Featuring virile antiheros, scantily clad women and infectious soundtracks, blaxploitation films made studios take notice after director Melvin Van Peeples turned his $500,000 film, SWEET SWEETBACK'S BAAD ASSSSS SONG (1971), into $15 million at the box-office. By 1973, the genre peaked with the release of such films as SHAFT (1971), THE MACK (1973), and COFFY (1973). On February 4, 2003 at 10:00 PM, AMC will explore the blaxploitation era with HELL UP IN HOLLYWOOD, a one-hour special that traces the development of the urban-themed movie genre, its powerful messages, and the reasons behind its widespread appeal.

After decades of misrepresentation in the movies, black actors of the 1970s were looking for new forms of expression. With limited roles in the mainstream arena, these actors became a part of an independent film circuit that made movies about the black experience for black audiences that featured black actors. In an era of the Vietnam War and the Watts Riots, this was a welcome form of entertainment for many inner-city moviegoers, whose anger and frustrations were reflected on screen. Filled with political themes, these low budget films followed a sure-fire formula complete with a charismatic leading man, a flock of barely dressed women, and street justice against "da man."
Though audiences embraced these movies, some African-American viewers and activist groups criticized them for glamorizing violence and depicting the race in a negative light. HELL UP IN HOLLYWOOD will show how the genre was affected by the backlash it received from its critics and the NAACP.

In the early 1970s, as moviegoers opted to maintain vigils in their living rooms with images of the Vietnam War on their television sets, theater chains and studios experienced major financial losses. Desperate for revenue, studios like MGM and Warner Bros. turned to blaxploitation films. Featuring clips from such films as SHAFT (1971), SUPERFLY (1972), DOLEMITE (1975), and interviews with Melvin Van Peebles (Sweet Sweetback's Baadassss Song), Isaac Hayes (Shaft), Rudy Ray Moore (Dolemite), Sheila Frazier (Superfly), Gloria Hendry (Black Caesar) and many more, AMC's HELL UP IN HOLLYWOOD zeroes in on the cultural relevance of a genre that continues to seep its way into popular culture.

An AMC original production, HELL UP IN HOLLYWOOD is produced by Prometheus Entertainment and Foxstar Productions in association with Fox Television Studios and AMC. Kevin Burns executive produced and Eric Anderson produced the special for Foxstar. Jessica Falcon served as the executive producer for AMC.

AMC is a 24-hour, movie-based network, dedicated to the American movie fan. The network, which reaches over 84,000,000 homes, offers a comprehensive library of popular movies and an increasingly visible, critically-acclaimed, slate of original programming that is a diverse, movie-based mix of original series, documentaries and specials. AMC has more than doubled its original programming over the past 3 years and garnered many of the industry's highest honors, including seven Emmy awards. AMC is "TV for movie people."

A leader in sports, news and entertainment programming, Rainbow Media Holdings, Inc. is a subsidiary of Cablevision Systems Corporation (NYSE:CVC). Rainbow owns and manages AMC, WE: WOMEN'S ENTERTAINMENT, IFC (The Independent Film Channel), muchmusic usa, Mag Rack, Rainbow Sports Networks, News 12 Networks, and MetroChannels as well as the Rainbow Advertising Sales Corporation and Rainbow Network Communications. Rainbow is a fifty-percent partner in Fox Sports Net and has a strategic partnership with MGM (NYSE:MGM), which owns a 20% stake in three of Rainbow's national networks: AMC, WE: Women's Entertainment, and IFC.

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