That Wacky Redhead

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Brainbin, Nov 18, 2011.

  1. Thande A special man who knows these things Donor

    Jan 22, 2005
    God's Own County
    That's a pretty innovative idea, there's no reason why the Pokémon concept couldn't predate videogames and be primarily a card game. One would assume that it would probably outrage fewer moral guardians in the US as a result (well, I suppose there's the tarot comparison...) which would have repercussions later on. And any TL with a place for Sega has to be a good place in my book!

    To a lot of you early Sega stuff is probably something you've only maybe read about years later, but I grew up playing my friend's Master System (AKA the SG3000), it was the first console I ever played. Of course in TTL some of the most iconic Sega stuff may not come about, seeing as they were created in response to Nintendo successes. Will Nintendo enter the console market themselves, or perhaps they will just move into making games for Sega... (irony meter explodes)
  2. Roger Redux The Revisionist

    Feb 14, 2015
    The Mother of all ASBs (a.k.a. "The Real World")
    There's more than ONE?!! :eek::eek::eek:
  3. Brainbin Kingpin of the Cultural Cartel

    Jul 26, 2009
    The British Empire
    It's been quite some time since I've had so many replies to make! :eek: Thank you all so much for your outpouring of enthusiasm, both in response to this thread reaching the million-view milestone and to the latest update! The time has finally come for me to clear the backlog, so please bear with me...

    I'm sure if I'd seen either of those episodes (or shows, for that matter), I would appreciate the reference. (I have an... ambivalent relationship with 21st-century television.)

    (On that note, the Golden Age of Television was in the 1950s. Don't let anyone else tell you any different.)

    Thank you all so much for the congratulations! :eek:

    A distinction I wear with pride :cool: (I'd even change my signature to include it if I weren't already right up against the character limit.)

    John Glenn's term expires on January 20, 1985. He has to win re-election in 1984, and I've not even established that he's chosen to run again. Not to mention that he's been elected in 1980, which means he is suspectible to the Curse of Tecumseh (which is eight-for-eight at this point in history, I remind you). Maybe that's one of my big surprises for this coming cycle! Not to mention that Doc Brown would have no idea who John Glenn was in 1955. I'm reminded of Sam Baines' classic line from the OTL film: "Who the hell is John F. Kennedy?"

    The 1952 Summer Games were held in Helsinki - and it was already known by 1955 that the 1956 Summer Games would be held in Melbourne. Tehran wouldn't have been that big a stretch.

    Thank you for the kind words, KingofArkham, and welcome aboard! And skipping ahead a bit, I'm glad you enjoyed that latest update as well ;)

    I'm not going to say such a thing is impossible - even IOTL some scenes in The Poseidon Adventure were shot aboard the Queen Mary - but it's hard to see sustained profitability from such a venture without a Love Boat-type show coming along - which would necessitate a refit to meet the needs of that production, followed by tourists coming on board expecting a *Love Boat experience, as opposed to a Queen Mary experience. I also think it's telling that most shows set aboard cruise ships - including OTL's Love Boat - have been primarily set-bound.

    Thank you, Nivek, I'm really pleased that you enjoyed my update! :)

    Hopefully those of you who are interested in video game timelines are already aware of Nivek and RySenkari's delightful Player Two Start. If not, you really should make yourself aware!

    Why don't you send me a PM with what you have in mind and we'll discuss it further.

    No, he still makes video games ITTL. Gunpei Yokoi continues to make toys for Nintendo, though.

    I'm really not sure what purpose SEGA served Gulf+Western IOTL beyond diversifying their portfolio, to be honest. It was only toward the end of the Second Generation that they decided to actually have SEGA start cranking out consoles - but by then it was too late. Fortunately, they sold to CSK Holdings (who also bought them ITTL, BTW) with Okawa-san at the helm, as you say.

    The 1980s just aren't the 1980s without collectible fads. And the Japanese love their children's card games! :D

    Although I feel obliged to note that technically, Pokemon is an RPG IOTL, as well ;)

    As Mr. E says, IBM and SEGA, and their lines of work having a logical extension into microcomputers and video games respectively, both predate the POD. As for Pocket Monsters, recall that Tajiri's inspiration was his childhood experience of collecting and fighting stag beetles, which also (most likely) predate the POD (or at least were able to withstand what minor butterflies could have affected him).

    Ah, so you're an Apple then, are you? Unfortunately, both my co-writer for this update and I are PCs :p

    (Speaking of which, I find it funny that nobody has mentioned the complete omission of Bill Gates and/or Paul Allen from this update.)

    Neither do I, and neither does e of pi, and we were both very happy to take the opportunity to see him put in his rightful place. He was a great salesman, no doubt about it, and he was great at stealing the ideas of and taking the credit for others. Which is what makes him a perfect infomercial pitchman. (Fun fact: in a previous draft, he actually was going to be a used car salesman, as a direct nod to the famous AH trope, but when we played out his "pitch", we realized it was much better suited for 1980s-style infomercials.)

    Thank you! It's been both fun and challenging for me as a writer.

    It's a very delicate balance. That there is a debate currently going on as to which side of the fence my timeline in general and this update in particular can be found is probably a good thing.

    That's... quite the laundry list you've got there :p

    I'm sure you're aware that one man is responsible for all three of those properties. So it's not so much that Nintendo make the games, but rather that Shigeru Miyamoto does...

    Definitely another advantage to strangling Apple in the cradle, yes.

    Well, it won't be happening before September 20, 1986. Sorry :(

    By Jove, I think you've got it! ;)

    Thanks for keeping us honest, Kalvan. You're absolutely right, of course.

    I've mentioned 1980s anime and its reception stateside before, so that might provide some clues as to whether a Robotech would even exist ITTL.

    Thank you, Professor!

    Indeed, although I will note that the ongoing debate between Pocket Monsters and Pokemon has even spread to the TWR backchannels...

    It's also easier to mispronounce.

    Which isn't a consideration ITTL, thank goodness.

    You are correct that the Yu-Gi-Oh manga was the original property, first released in 1996, and was followed by the defictionalized children's card game three years later. (The anime premiered in 1998.) As far as I know, a card game being adapted into a manga (and then an anime) is unprecedented ITTL - but there's a first time for everything!

    Well, one movie (though with a second in development, apparently) and a 13-episode cartoon, anyway. But yes - an excellent point.

    You know the moral guardians - they can make hay of just about anything. But you're right - Pocket Monsters isn't too big a threat to their false sense of security.

    I had a feeling you would enjoy that part :cool:

    And I suppose this is the part where I finally drop the bomb. Remember Shigeru Miyamoto? Well, guess who he works for!
  4. Nivek Resident Videogame Expert

    May 4, 2009
    Santa Marta,Magdalena,West Venezuela
    Thanks to you, and thanks for the plug of the timeline, this timeline was one of the inspiraitonf for the collaboration between rysenkari and myself in Player two Start(this, Dirty laundry and Thande own experiment), thanks for the kudos, heavily appreciated. :eek:

    As you say, Miyamoto can do videogame, but he will not defect to sega unless he have the bless of yamaguchi, a minor annedocted of the master:

    He when enter nintendo was to work mostly to please her mother( an old friend of Hiroshi yamaguchi) but he originally wanted to follow the steps of Master Osamu Tezuka and being a mangaka, his work with nintendo was to earn capital before pursing his dream, but the work relationship inside, he playing space invaders and own yamaguchi shift to videogame make him stay to the company because he knew videogame would be the manga of future(and was right). He is still a nintendo employee at heart first, meaning SEGA must give him a massive offer or be part a talent draft.

    And that as people say, the irony of Miyamoto in SEGA would be massive, if not, he would help Tajiri and Sugimori with Pokemon Artwork and related duties.

    YEAH Sega with Paramount was always weird(was a big surprise learn about that) here make sense for a while before giving his 'rightful' owner, Okawa-san. Hope if we can get more info before the TL ends.

    Thanks for kudos and answer, waiting how this videogame saga will unfold
  5. Mr.E The Man that Time Forgot

    Aug 2, 2012
    The Mountainous Democratic Republic of Colorado
    Well that makes sense. He had been working for Nintendo since 1966.

    I meant the term as in "Tabletop RPG," but yeah, you're absolutely right.

    So, how does he get to Sega, exactly? And what is his job, exactly?
  6. THE OBSERVER Independent Progressive

    Jul 22, 2010
    New England
    Let's agree to disagree then.
  7. Ogrebear Well-Known Member

    Apr 14, 2012
    I just presumed that the famous deal between Bill and IBM for DOS simple never happened and IBM went their own way and/or brought Bill and Paul in house.
  8. Thande A special man who knows these things Donor

    Jan 22, 2005
    God's Own County
    This could be good and bad...
  9. su_liam Incompetent planetary engineer

    Feb 15, 2011
    Eugene, OR
    I'm just picturing Pikachu toting a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. I'm not sure if that's badass or just bad.
  10. Nivek Resident Videogame Expert

    May 4, 2009
    Santa Marta,Magdalena,West Venezuela
    Something we forgot....without Nintendo...the Seattle Marines future not look bright...
  11. Emote Control Plenty of genius, not enough sense.

    Apr 26, 2011
    Sounds more the black sheep of the Pokemon family, Phreakachu.
  12. Threadmarks: Upsetting the Applecart

    Brainbin Kingpin of the Cultural Cartel

    Jul 26, 2009
    The British Empire
    Upsetting the Applecart

    The final verdict in the Trial of the Century was framed as the culmination for an epic, years-long power struggle, but it did not result in a Hollywood ending. The aftershocks of that trial’s verdict took some time to fully settle. The protracted negotiations that ensued as a result of the collapse of Paramount Pictures would see new power players emerging from the ashes of the old, and quickly rising to the top – the Lucases (and Andy Taylor) and their associates at Lucasfilm, Israel Asper at CanWest, and Ted Turner of Turner Broadcasting were all among them. They weren’t the only ones, either – indeed, the dissolution and reorganization of Paramount had followed on the heels of several other movie studios changing hands. Of the major studios from Hollywood’s Golden Age, only MGM remained independent by the mid-1980s. [1] It was only natural that the entertainment industry would become vulnerable to outside interference in such a moment of weakness and uncertainty.

    Kirk Kerkorian, a Las Vegas mogul and venture capitalist, had attempted – ultimately without success – to wrest control of MGM from Bronfman in the late-1960s. In the wake of such smash successes as Napoleon and Ryan’s Daughter, MGM became a less viable target for him, forcing him to set his sights elsewhere. There were plenty of other studios in Hollywood, after all, and most of them struggled through the 1970s. Kerkorian managed to acquire an interest in one of the old “Little Three” studios, Universal, in 1978. [2] This enabled him to put his long-standing plan into action; purchasing a film studio was merely a means to an end. This end goal was to exploit that connection in order to shore up his other interests, namely those in the hospitality industry. Therefore, he sponsored the construction of the Universal Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, which opened in 1982 and featured “the world’s largest globe” dominating the atrium (and visible through a glass entryway from the Strip proper). [3] This suited Kerkorian’s needs just fine – disappointed that he could not gain control of one of the Big Five, it was said that he ultimately chose Universal for its impressive title as well as for the globe imagery of their logo, which was exploited not only outside the resort complex, but as part of the showgirl revue which headlined the resort.

    With the absorption of United Artists into the CanWest fold, the other remaining “Little Three” studio besides Universal was Columbia Pictures, which found an interested buyer in RCA. NBC already fell under their corporate umbrella – buying a film studio in addition to a television network was a natural outgrowth for the media conglomerate. Their SelectaVision VDPs had provided the company with the capital they needed to acquire the studio, and they did so in the early 1980s, ahead of other interested buyers. The hope was that Columbia’s existing television division (Screen Gems, later re-branded to Columbia Pictures Television) would produce shows which would air on NBC – both ABC and CBS remained independent at this time and had no formal association with any production studios. [4] In-house productions were an expensive and risky proposition. Executives at RCA and NBC both hoped that this would change going forward, with Columbia bearing the brunt of the production costs. There was a special irony in Columbia coming to be owned by RCA, as the “C” in CBS stood for Columbia – though Columbia Pictures and CBS had never been affiliated, the name referring to a national personification of the United States of America similar to Britannia in the United Kingdom, Marianne in France, and Mother Russia (or Mother “Homeland”, as the multiethnic Soviet Union referred to her) in… Russia.

    It was difficult for any company to top either Kerkorian for naked greed or RCA for blatant opportunism, but the soft drink manufacturer Coca-Cola turned the trick in seeking to buy out 20th Century Fox – which, unlike Columbia and Universal, had actually been one of the Big Five in days of yore – in order to fill all of that company’s future output to the brim with product placement. [5] Never again would any character be seen drinking or be heard discussing Pepsi in any future Fox film. Critic Roger Ebert, one-half of the beloved critical duo of Ebert and Siskel and a noted opponent of product placement, briefly alluded to his distaste for this acquisition in one of his columns, noting that “I think we can all agree that The Sound of Music would have been a much stronger film if the characters took some bottles of Coke with them when they went hiking through the Alps. That way, if they ever ran into the Nazis, they could start flinging bottle caps at them!”

    Nevertheless, despite these dramatic changes in ownership – which brought every major studio in Hollywood (excluding the Walt Disney Company) into the hands of some conglomerate or another – the media continued to focus on the players who had gained the most from the collapse of Paramount, and these were outsiders who wanted in, all of whom had built their own media empires. Both Asper and Turner were profoundly ambitious; the Lucases, who had gained by far the most from Paramount (obviously) were surprisingly rather less so.

    At Lucasfilm, George Lucas quickly found that, as a wise man once said, having a thing was not so pleasing, after all, as wanting it. What he’d wanted had been the studio infrastructure and financial capital necessary to produce motion pictures without any outside interference – and he sought much the same for his old friends and colleagues (to the point that industry wags sometimes decried Lucasfilm as the “USC Film School Alumni Association”) – Steven Spielberg sat on the studio’s Board of Directors alongside many of George’s other old friends and fellow New Hollywood auteurs: Francis Ford Coppola found himself on the cusp of a career resurrection; Martin Scorsese – who, like many in Hollywood, had cleaned up his act and shunned cocaine after the death of Robin Williams, was rewarded for getting his life together by getting a seat on the board; John Milius was also a member. Lucille Ball was offered a seat on the board, but declined it, as she had done with many such appointments in the past. Lucas wanted his studio to become known as a bastion for auteur filmmaking – although (in the wake of Coppola’s disaster with Tucker, first among other examples) Lucas made clear that budget overruns and falling behind schedule would not be tolerated. George would – and did – continue to write and produce films himself, but chose not to actively direct the upcoming Journey of the Force sequel, leaving that Spielberg, as the first of what was intended to be many Steven Spielberg films for Lucasfilm Studios. [6]

    Still, George didn’t like being a studio chief – as Lucille Ball could (and often did) tell him, it was grueling work – which his wife, Marcia, wanted no part of, having no interest whatsoever in running a film studio. She was quoted during a media scrum held on the steps of the US Supreme Court immediately after her landmark victory that “I don’t know what the future holds in store for us, but I can tell you I won’t be using a Moviola again for a real long time.” [7] Although she had won two Academy Awards for Film Editing, she was totally serious, and stuck by her impromptu pledge – happy to raise a family away from the spotlight, because she wanted more kids. Their daughter Amber was 10 years old – another daughter or even a son would be nice. The mutual decision on the part of the Lucases to focus on a hands-off approach to studio running had also been inspired by Ball, whose technique of hiring capable, competent, and trusted underlings to make their own decisions, only reining them in or vetoing them when necessary, had obviously been very successful for Desilu.

    That left the studio’s third partner, Andy Taylor, Esq., to step up to the bat. After years of researching and immersing himself in the filmmaking industry, and with his landmark legal victory surely a tough act to follow, he felt a change in careers would be appropriate. Therefore, Taylor was formally appointed the President and COO of Lucasfilm Limited – along with (naturally) the general counsel. George served as the CEO, a position that befitted his skills at “big-picture” concepts, along with the CCO, or Chief Creative Officer. Marcia served as the CPO, or Chief Product Officer, a position which had fairly vague responsibilities because rigid corporate hierarchy did not suit her versatile skillset – in practice she functioned much as she had for most of her professional career thus far: as an editor, a polisher, a fine-tuner, and a sounding board. As Lucasfilm’s offices continued to occupy space in the former Paramount Melrose lot, she enjoyed lunching with her former co-workers at Desilu Post-Production, not to mention her one-time boss Lucille Ball. Both George and Marcia found plenty of time to spend away from their offices once they adopted their second child, a son whom they named Anakin.

    That said, the Lucases did not divorce themselves from Hollywood politics, taking a stand on perhaps the most controversial issue of the day, at least once the Trial of the Century itself (along with the Hollywood Accounting debate that it had brought to the fore) had been largely resolved. This concerned the modification of motion pictures, following their initial release, and most often by firms and/or individuals who had the legal right to do so (being in possession of their copyrights) but had nothing to do with the production of such films. The most famous participant in such modification practices was Ted Turner, the media mogul who, by the 1980s, found himself in control of a plurality of motion pictures produced during Hollywood’s Golden Age.

    Turner was alone among the newer power players in Hollywood who favoured post-release modification of motion pictures. Canwest Paramount and Lucasfilm were both in support of preserving films in the form of their original releases – though George Lucas, ever the auteur and vexed at his experiences with the studio in the making of American Graffiti, added the caveat that this was imperative primarily in the case of films whose creative vision was that of the creator. Citizen Kane was the obvious example, one which would become a rallying cry for the movement, especially after Turner (who owned much of the RKO library) facetiously suggested colourizing the film, forever earning him the ire of cineastes and film critics everywhere. [8] It should be noted, of course, that Turner had a vested interest in allowing edited re-releases, considering his investment in post-production technology that facilitated certain processes (such as colourization) along with a truly impressive library of films on which to use this technology; Lucasfilm and CanWest Paramount, on the other hand, had sold their acquired film libraries to other interests and effectively had no dog in the fight.

    Ted Turner had quietly accumulated the largest library of classic American films owned by anyone in the world – the Paramount, RKO, and 20th Century Fox oeuvre all belonged to him. Like Lucille Ball at Desilu, one of his openly acknowledged inspirations, he invested in many innovative technologies, most notably colourization. Turner fancied himself a visionary, and also viewed black-and-white as an unfortunate technical limitation of its era, and surely one that filmmakers would have eschewed, had the option to film in colour been available. Naturally, he believed that his view on black-and-white photography was shared by everyone in the industry – and he invested heavily in those startup organizations that sought to bring colour to black-and-white footage. However, he faced opposition almost immediately, starting with America’s two most beloved film critics, Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, who devoted an entire half-hour episode of their program, Coming Attractions, to the artistic reasons for filming in black-and-white, and why the visuals would be degraded by adding in a false layer of colour. [9]

    In many ways, it was not surprising that colourization would become popular in the 1980s, a visually “loud” decade of neon and pastels that followed the drab, earth-tone, stylistically-monochrome look of the 1970s. The garishness of the visual aesthetic was in many ways far more reminiscent of the 1960s, the first decade in which colour fully superseded black-and-white, in film and on television, the medium upon which Turner built his empire. However, the technology to turn existing black-and-white media had not yet been developed at the time. Indeed, many shows of the 1960s – including two of the most popular shows of the era, The Andy Griffith Show and The Beverly Hillbillies – had transitioned from black-and-white to colour partly through their runs, usually to jarring effect. Turner, who syndicated many of these classic 1960s series on TBS, proposed that colourization could allow syndicators to present their entire shows in a single, consistent picture format. This was an eminently practical and fairly uncontroversial suggestion – and because the later seasons of these shows were filmed in colour, true frames of reference existed for all of the characters, settings, and props. When Turner presented this proposal to syndicators, he was met with good responses across the board – except from Desilu Sales, the syndication arm of the famous television studio of the same name (whose own The Lucy Show had started out shooting in black-and-white and then switched to colour early in its run), which did not answer any of his marketing department’s calls.

    This tentative triumph merely served as a smokescreen for the main event, however. Turner’s company was taking old black-and-white movies and colourizing the footage – without the consent of their creators (who were either dead or – even worse – actively hostile), which they were fully within their power to do since they owned the copyrights; no court of law would grant an injunction to stop them. The court of public opinion,however, was an entirely different matter. Ted Turner, a heartless mogul born with a silver spoon in his mouth, was facing off against the actors and directors who had defined the Golden Age of Hollywood, perhaps the pinnacle of American popular cultural influence – and many of these had risen from obscurity and squalor to do so.

    Even four decades later, these men and women loomed large in the collective consciousness, though many of them had since shuffled off this mortal coil. Along with Ebert and Siskel, many of the survivors began advocating that the government archive the original prints of classic Hollywood films in order to protect them from being permanently altered (and, effectively, lost) to technological “restoration”. In perhaps the greatest assemblage of Golden Age stars ever seen outside of Hollywood, many of them began to actively petition for film preservation – Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, Fred Astaire, Gregory Peck, Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, and Barbara Stanwyck were all among them. Before their deaths in the early-1980s, Henry Fonda and Ingrid Bergman both expressed similar sentiments. Lauren Bacall spoke on her own behalf as well as that of her legendary (and late) husband, Humphrey Bogart, in denouncing colourization. Although most of her films had been shot in colour, HSH Princess Grace of Monaco [10] also spoke out in favour of film preservation when asked about the subject at the Cannes Film Festival – making her the second-most prominent political figure to support it.

    The Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress were both frequent recipients of petitions and appeals of this nature, both from these Golden Age celebrities and from everyday people. This movement dovetailed with the movement to preserve films that were, in the normal course of events, genuinely in danger of becoming lost, as many pioneering movies of the silent era already had been. (Home video, which had helped to save many of them – every Academy Award-winner for Best Picture prior to 1980 was released on home video by 1984, Journey of the Force being the last of these – could only do so much.) [11] A consensus that films were, indeed, works of art was emerging – and like any works of art, their destruction should be rallied against and prevented whenever and wherever possible. These two initiatives, taken together, would soon yield dramatic results.

    Former President Ronald Reagan, himself a former actor (and one-time President not only of the United States of America, but also the Screen Actors Guild), was an early supporter of adding motion pictures for preservation within the Library of Congress, and this advocacy served to rehabilitate his image somewhat post-Presidency. In a famous speech given to SAG, Reagan called on the US government to enact legislation which would create a film preservation board. “Movies inspire us to laugh, to learn, to live,” he said at the event. “They also help us to escape from cold, hard reality. People who come to own the copyrights for these films by happenstance, and decide to ‘tinker’ with them – compromising the vision of the filmmakers, cast and crew for their own whims – only reminds us of that cold, hard reality.” Reagan, always known for his sense of humour and self-deprecation, was also famously quoted as saying “There are some who would say my starring alongside a chimpanzee in a B-movie did more good for this country than my four years as President.” [12] This earned him a standing ovation; true to form, once the applause died down he added “I’m not sure if you’re clapping because you think that’s funny or because you agree with me.” Reagan’s post-Presidential involvement with the film preservation movement marked the beginning of his rehabilitation in the public eye – though his Presidency had been considered uneven at best, disastrous at worst.

    The incumbent President, John Glenn, was not an actor but an astronaut, though he shared Reagan’s appreciation for the power of modern mass media. His own exploits had been brought to the masses through television – and, soon enough, would be dramatized in the film adaptation of the popular non-fiction book about the Mercury Seven, Seven Up [13] – and he too was open to the idea of an archive, though he liked the idea of preserving not only film but also television, a medium whose earliest works were not archived nearly as completely as those of film. Rep. George Takei, also a former actor and a key Glenn ally, supported the Library of Congress admitting works in film and television for preservation, as did Senator Marlin DeAngelo (who represented the state of California) and many other politicians, and figures in the media. [14]

    There was support from some quarters for extending these new protections to television and radio in addition to motion pictures, however this was not deemed suitably feasible due to the large volume of serialized material produced in each medium. This despite a great number of radio and especially television programming having already been wiped from network archives because of that sheer volume, arguably proving a greater need for what remained to be preserved. Far more of the earliest years of television programming no longer existed than had been preserved, and oftentimes what little had been saved was down to the combination of pluck and foresight possessed by individual producers and archivists. Tape wiping was endemic to television production, regardless of location; for example, the BBC was as guilty of the crime as any of the American commercial networks were. Nevertheless, logistics would have necessitated library space far beyond what Congress was willing to provide the Department of the Interior for this undertaking. [15]

    The Republicans had taken back the House of Representatives by 1983, when legislation creating the National Film Registry (the National Film Preservation Bill) was tabled, but many of these Republicans were more urbane, patrons of the arts in the Rockefeller mould – even many fiscons were willing to support the bill because of Reagan’s advocacy for it. As a result, the National Film Preservation Act passed in 1984, creating the National Film Registry. [16] 1985 would be the inaugural year of induction for films into this registry, which naturally would be done in a lavish annual ceremony of the kind to which Hollywood types were well accustomed.

    This would force Ted Turner’s hand. He had influential – and vocal – opponents who were far more persuasive and charismatic than he, united only in their opposition to him – on one side of the political spectrum, Chicago liberals Ebert and Siskel on PBS; on the other, Californian conservative Ronald Reagan, former President of the United States. However, Turner’s tenacity was as much a virtue as it was his downfall; he stubbornly continued to colourize the films in his possession, and showed only those versions on his TBS, which by now had not just a nationwide reach, but in fact an international one, as it could also be seen on most cable packages offered in Canada. [17] Nevertheless, Turner did redirect his efforts somewhat in the wake of the film registry’s creation. He had acquired a sizeable television library prior to moving into films, and his deepest regret was not being able to snap up I Love Lucy – still one of the most popular shows on TBS – before Desilu was in a position to buy the show back. (Turner failed to realize that doing so would have given him even more bad press in the court of public opinion.) Still, he knew that Lucille Ball was a reasonable woman; like him, she was a skilled entrepreneur, and perhaps if he were to meet with her, he might be able to win her over.

    In contrast to Turner, Lucasfilm had the ideological motive of supporting film preservation based on the auteur philosophy of its chief creative force, CanWest Paramount was both more cynical and more pragmatic; the owner of that studio, Israel Asper, was a foreigner, and sought to endear himself and his company to the Hollywood intelligentsia (ambivalent at best, and hostile at worst, to his presence). As the Film Preservation Act was making its way through Congress, however, his native Canadian film industry was also undergoing significant changes. Most notably, a new ratings system was introduced during this time, inspired by the MPAA ratings system used in the United States, but with some key differences. [18] The Canadian film ratings system was one of many worldwide which introduced a restriction on pre-adolescent moviegoers, which many judged to be sorely lacking in the MPAA ratings system.

    Edgar Bronfman, scion of the Seagram distillery dynasty, also owned a major film studio – MGM – and was also Canadian, like Asper – the two even shared their Jewish ethnicity. Naturally, then, they were exceptionally fierce rivals, but their combined positions of strength allowed to apply considerable leverage upon both the Canadian and the American film industries – and enable those two industries to co-ordinate their laws and regulations more harmoniously. Both the Asper and the Bronfman families were supporters of Canada’s Liberal Party, which had been in opposition since 1972 – the governing Tories, under Prime Minister Robert Stanfield, was not their natural ally.

    However, they were able to make this work to their advantage – trading their support in exchange for concessions from the Canadian government. Both favoured loosening of the famed Canadian content restrictions, and each in different areas: Asper, who also controlled Global Television, wanted there to be fewer mandatory broadcast hours of Canadian-made programming on his stations; Bronfman wanted there to be a lower threshold of manpower and materiel to qualify a production as “Canadian” (in order to receive funding and incentive from the federal and provincial governments, and in order to allow more dubiously “Canadian” programming in under even the weakened regulations that would remain). Asper supported this endeavour as well, viewing it as key to his company’s overall strategy. Both were able to secure pledges from Stanfield’s Minister of Communications in the run-up to the 1982 federal election (in exchange for support from the Aspers and the Bronfmans).

    Attempts by the opposition Liberals to turn this into a scandal when the backroom deal was inevitably exposed during the election backfired when they promised Canadians that a Liberal government would “protect Canadian talent” by forcing Canadian viewers to watch more of their own subpar programming on Canadian stations. Coupled with the unpopular simultaneous substitution system which often prevented Canadians from picking up the feed from American stations, this allowed the Tories to frame the Liberals as promising viewers “fewer viewing options than anywhere else on this side of the Iron Curtain”. It was not the first time that the Liberals had been accused of Communist sympathies, nor was it the first time that their attempt to appeal to the country’s intelligentsia resulted in their being outmanoeuvred by the Tories and their more populist approach.

    That said, Canadians did favour some degree of cultural protectionism from the Americans, if not as pervasive as the Liberals would have it. In that respect, Stanfield was insulated by his vociferous support for Canadian sport – protecting the CFL from the encroaching NFL being foremost among his accomplishments in the eyes of many. Just as only Reagan could go to Moscow, only Stanfield could sell out to Hollywood. Indeed, sporting events “involving at least one team whose membership or management is at least 50% Canadian in origin” – essentially, every NHL and CFL team, as well as every Canadian team in the other leagues – were given more “points” in the rejigged CanCon system, incentivizing stations and networks to bolster Canadian sports coverage, even as dramatized genres fell by the wayside. [19] After the PCs formed another majority government in the aftermath of that election, loosening of CanCon restrictions were formally introduced into Parliament, and would ultimately receive Royal Assent in 1983 – just in time for Asper and CanWest to reap the rewards from a favourable ruling in the Trial of the Century.

    One company that was not able to win over an influential clique was the Japanese conglomerate Sony, developer and manufacturer of the Beta video format, whose appeal in the landmark Sony Corporation of America vs. Universal City Studios, Inc. case reached all the way to the Supreme Court, in one of several important media-related cases that body deliberated in the 1980s. Essentially, the plaintiffs (a consortium of Hollywood studios, led by Universal) alleged that VTR technology (unlike VDP technology) allowed for the end user to record transmitted images onto their tapes as well as playback existing ones. This, in turn, allowed for consumers to engage in time-shifting practices – they could watch live programming, such as sporting events, after the fact, and that this violated the copyrights of those who produced such media. This opinion was held by the majority of producers in the American entertainment industry, though not all of them – time-shifting had some defenders, such as Mr. Fred Rogers, who hosted and produced Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and testified in favour of time-shifting before the Supreme Court. However, his influence was ultimately limited.

    The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the use of VTR technology which allowed for the recording of existing media by the end consumer, be it through direct transmission or tape duplication, was a violation of copyright and that the availability of such technology (which was, on most VTR machines sold in the United States, simply a “record” button on the control panel) would have to be eliminated. [20] At the same time, the court took pains to confirm that camcorders and VTR recording for commercial and industrial use remained legal, because these resulted in the creation of original content and did not have the potential for copyright violation. Therefore, the sale of VTR players with recording capability was to be tightly restricted, a responsibility which would later be deemed to fall under the purview of the Federal Communications Commission.

    Although the verdict technically did not outright ban the existing VHS and Beta formats, their only real edge over the CED and Laserdisc formats had been eliminated. Sony, recognizing when they had been beaten, withdrew Beta from the US market. However, both the Canadian and the Mexican judiciaries would eventually rule that time-shifting was legal, allowing for the emergence of a black market which made acquiring an “old-style” VTR trivial, in an echo of the Prohibition era (to which many critics naturally compared the VTR ruling).

    The collapse of the domestic VTR market was treated in many of the trade papers as the culmination of the “new order” having swept the entertainment industry by the mid-1980s, but it seemed the only true constant was change. The time for stagnation, as in most other sectors of the economy, had passed; the new (and surviving) power-brokers, having consolidated their gains and shrugged off their losses, were poised to make new strides in the years, and quite possibly the decades, ahead…


    [1] IOTL, of course, MGM was purchased by Kirk Kerkorian in 1969, and merged with United Artists (in the wake of that studio’s collapse as a result of Heaven’s Gate). Kerkorian would stubbornly hold onto the studio for decades, only briefly selling to none other than Ted Turner (who was unable to retain the studio, but did keep the library).

    [2] Kerkorian also attempted to buy out Columbia in 1978 IOTL, but ultimately failed because he already owned MGM – spurring antitrust action against him which was ultimately successful and forced him to sell his interest back to the previous owners. ITTL, he doesn’t own any other film studios, allowing him a clear shot to Columbia.

    [3] The MGM Grand opened much later IOTL – Kerkorian purchased an existing hotel (the Marina) in 1989 and closed it to develop the MGM Grand on the land, which then opened in 1993.

    [4] CBS would remain independent until it was acquired by Westinghouse in 1995; that same year, the Walt Disney Company bought out ABC. NBC belonged to RCA until 1986, when RCA was sold to General Electric, which had previously owned RCA (and therefore NBC) until 1930, when it was forced to divest them as a result of antitrust legislation.

    [5] Coca-Cola bought out Columbia Pictures IOTL, and subsequently rammed that studio’s films full of product placement – including, most notoriously, the Bill Cosby vehicle Leonard Part 6. (The Coca-Cola Company also produced New Coke during this era, so the 1980s were not the most fertile period for their marketing department.)

    [6] Before anyone asks, this is the first full-on collaboration between George Lucas, the screenwriter, and Steven Spielberg, the director. There may be more to come thereafter, perhaps even involving a throwback to the old cliffhanger adventure serials, but not for the foreseeable future.

    [7] Marcia Lucas, who (unlike her husband George) did not enjoy a comfortable upbringing, was content to enjoy the high life once the Lucases had made their fortune from Star Wars IOTL. The only difference here is that George (exhausted from years of marginal living as a result of the lawsuit) finds his own views more compatible with those of his wife after coming into their hard-earned money.

    [8] Orson Welles was said IOTL (on his deathbed, no less!) to have said “Don’t let Ted Turner deface my movie with his crayons”.

    [9] Siskel and Ebert did this IOTL as well – in a 1986 special entitled “Colorization: Hollywood’s New Vandalism”. You can watch the special online right here.

    [10] Yes, she’s still alive ITTL. She had a stroke, but not while she was driving, and it was mild enough that she made a full recovery.

    [11] It should be noted that Oscar recognition correlates very strongly with the long-term survival of a film; not a single Best Picture winner (IOTL or ITTL) has been lost, nor have any of the films nominated, with a solitary exception: 1928’s The Patriot. (It is, therefore, sadly impossible to determine which film should have won Best Picture at the 2nd Academy Awards.)

    [12] Reagan refers here to 1951’s Bedtime for Bonzo, certainly the most notorious movie in his filmography. Fun fact: apparently he never saw the picture himself until 1984.

    [13] TTL’s version of The Right Stuff, though not written by Tom Wolfe (remember, New Journalism isn’t as prominent ITTL), and written later (published in late 1980, just in time to cash in on Glenn’s presidential run) and more complimentary towards Glenn (who, IOTL, did not care for The Right Stuff because he didn’t like how he was depicted in the book).

    [14] One of the reasons the act passes on an earlier timetable ITTL – key TTL-only sponsors of the relevant legislation.

    [15] Once we reach the (IOTL, present) era when entire series can be stored on thumb drives, then we can talk about a National Television Registry. Alas, this TL ends in 1986…

    [16] The National Film Preservation Act passed in 1988 IOTL, and the first batch of films were inaugurated into National Film Registry the following year.

    [17] Fun fact: the CRTC granted a licence for WTBS specifically to be broadcast in Canada, and this was never extended to cover the TBS network that emerged from it. Therefore, Canadians continued to receive the TBS Atlanta feed, and were exposed to the many delightful ambulance chasers and fly-by-night “career schools” in the area through their commercials. When, some years ago, WTBS was rebranded as “Peachtree TV”, divorced entirely from TBS… the CRTC refused to change the licence to accommodate this, and therefore Peachtree currently serves Atlanta… and Canada.

    [18] For fear of overcrowding the body of the text, I present to you a simple index of the Canadian motion picture ratings:

    C For Children Aged 10 and Under
    E Visa pour les enfants 10 ans et avant

    F For Families and All Ages
    Visa général et pour les familles

    PD Parental Discretion Advised
    SP Surveillance parentelle suggéré

    PD-M Parental Discretion Recommended – Mature
    SP-M Surveillance parentelle recommandé – Thèmes mûr

    13+ Ages 13 and over / 13 ans et plus

    16+ Ages 16 and over / 16 ans et plus

    18+ Ages 18 and over / 18 ans et plus

    AO/AS Adults Only / Pour les adultes seulement

    [19] This is easier ITTL than IOTL, because there are more Canadian major league sports teams: by 1984, there were 8 NHL teams (7 IOTL), 10 CFL teams (9 IOTL – barely, as Montreal’s CFL presence was… tenuous), 2 MLB teams (the same as IOTL), and 2 NBA teams (none IOTL).

    [20] Yes, that’s the reverse of OTL’s verdict, which (narrowly – the margin was 5-4) ruled in favour of time-shifting. This could have some most intriguing precedents…


    Thanks to e of pi for his assistance in the editing of the update, and thanks also to Dan1988 for his help with the alternate Canadian film ratings system!

    And yes, although it may have taken me half a year, that concludes the 1983-84 cycle! Just two more to go…
    Electric Monk and Mackon like this.
  13. Mr.E The Man that Time Forgot

    Aug 2, 2012
    The Mountainous Democratic Republic of Colorado
    Wonderful update!
    I suppose colorization never bothered me, because, well, black and white was the only option back then. Had color film been available, they probably would have used that. That said, since they were in black and white, it probably should stay that way, if only because some colorized films look terrible compared to their original. I saw the 1960 version of Little Shop of Horrors in color, and it looked, like Ebert said, like someone painted over the black and white, and it looked terrible. The original black and white version looked far cleaner.
    Last edited: May 13, 2015
  14. Clorox23 Well-Known Member

    Jun 21, 2011
  15. Emperor Norton I Calbear's Love Child

    Oct 27, 2008
    New Netherland
    *Skimmed it, so don't shoot me if I'm wrong with my assumption*

    It probably goes underground. Dubbing was illegal even when recording wasn't, and that was still huge. There's basic VCR hacking, and the foreign video player market that imports can come from. Keep one foreign NTSC market producing the machine which can record, and it'll continue. On a smaller scale, but it'll continue.
  16. Orville_third Banned

    Mar 3, 2009
    Piedmont Socialist Republic
    A shame TV shows weren't able to get preserved- though if the Cold War ends, there may be a bunker or two available.
    Or if the court punishes Metromedia more when Paul Winchell sues, networks may have to preserve more.
    Coke buying Fox means Murdoch won't get it, on the plus side.
    Would Lucas's choice of corporate titles influence other businesses, either in film, entertainment or elsewhere?
    Two problems with the Mercury title and book. One was likely addressed in the article- no Wolfe means less of a focus on the test pilots like Yeager. The other is a prior use of the title. Phillip Morris (Yes- they owned 7-up!) might sue, as would British documentarians Paul Almond and Michael Apted (creators of the documentary of the same name), and the guys behind "The Seven Ups", a movie from 1971.
    I assume the DofI would have power over the NFR, not the Library of congress as OTL?
    Would the CanCon changes deprive future viewers of various Canadian shows?
    I am surprised that they did not include something like the Restricted Cougar that BC had.
    (This one is interesting, as the cougar looks a lot like the Pink Panther(!))
  17. DaiKiwi New Member

    May 28, 2015
    I was looking for any AH's where Frederick III lived longer, and somehow got distracted by this one. That's the way it goes. I'm currently up to page 100, and am working my way page by page up to date. When I discovered, about 30 pages in, how long this thing runs I though about just reading the updates. However all the replies and comments are so interesting that I've decided not to cheat and am doing it the hard way. The downside is that I keep wanting to reply to three year old posts, which is about as useful as shouting at the television.

    This is a great AH, with an original POD and I'm really enjoying how the butterflies work on it. Many thanks to you Brainbin and to all the contributors/commenters.

    If you're still keeping reader's demographics - 1968, New Zealander, also lived in Wales for the best part of a decade from the mid90s.

  18. Roger Redux The Revisionist

    Feb 14, 2015
    The Mother of all ASBs (a.k.a. "The Real World")
    Welcome to the TWH Fanclub DaiKiwi! There's donuts in the lounge!

    Yeah I had the same problem with wanting to jump in to the old conversations.
    One thing about "cheating" though (to play 'devil's advocate' for a moment) is that Brainbin's really good about quoting all the posts he's responding to, so if you only read his posts (just to catch up) you really won't miss too much of the back-and-forth.
  19. Mr Teufel Active Member

    Mar 3, 2013
  20. Orville_third Banned

    Mar 3, 2009
    Piedmont Socialist Republic
    Thanks for posting that! When I get some money (Next week, if all goes well), it will go for it!