Under its new ownership, The Family Channel is dedicating
$125 million to produce 26 original primetime movies for the network, which is relaunching
Aug. 15 as Fox Family Channel.
"The way to break out and make ourselves known, to
break through the clutter ... is to redefine the family movie into the next
millennium," said Lance Robbins, president of television movies and series for Saban
Saban and News Corp. are the joint owners of Family, which,
in August, will start airing kids' programming during the day and family fare during
Some of the made-for-TV movies that Fox Family has in the
works are: Addams Family Reunion, starring Tim Curry as Gomez and Darryl Hannah as
Morticia; Richie Rich: A Christmas Story; Casper Meets Wendy, featuring
George Hamilton, Cathy Moriarty, Shelley Duvall and Teri Garr; and Earthquake in New
York, starring Greg Evigan.
Fox Family's strategy is to produce original comedies,
suspense and adventure movies that the whole family will watch together, Robbins said, and
not movies that will drive either parents or kids out of the room because they're
either too adult- or child-oriented.
He noted that the first obstacle that he had to overcome at
Fox Family was only getting pitched scripts for movies starring two 10-year-olds and no
adults. "That is not a family movie today," Robbins said.
Kids have more sophisticated tastes now, as witnessed by
their flocking to theatricals such as Titanic, according to Robbins.
Fox Family will be airing its original movies twice a month
on Sunday nights, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., Robbins said.
Fox Family will also have the world premieres of four
theatrical movies from major studios. Those include Family Plan, with Leslie
Nielsen and Judge Reinhold in charge of a summer camp of orphans; and The Real Howard
Spitz, starring Kelsey Grammer as a curmudgeon crime novelist.