IFC Expands Nonfilm Sked

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The Independent Film Channel is increasing its originalprogramming this year, with offerings that include a documentary on cult filmmaker JohnWaters and a new original series that will be packaged with its offbeat Split Screenseries.

'This whole strategy complements the rotation of ourinventory of independent films,' said Ed Carroll, executive vice president andgeneral manager of Bravo and IFC.

IFC will produce a 90-minute documentary on Waters -- whosefilms include Hairspray and Polyester -- that is slated to premiere in thethird quarter. The network will use that documentary as the centerpiece around which itwill air a number of Waters' films, according to Carroll.

IFC, through its IFC Productions, will also co-produce afeature film: director John Sayles' follow-up to Lone Star, called Men withGuns. The film -- the first IFC co-production that will go into wide theatricaldistribution -- will premiere in March from Sony Classics. Men with Guns willeventually air on IFC.

When it launched in 1995, IFC set a goal to work with anIFC advisory-board member each year, tapping into that talent pool, on an original projectthat spotlights icons of the independent-film world. Last year, IFC co-produced its firstfull-length feature, Gray's Anatomy, written by and starring Spalding Gray,with advisory board member/director Steven Soderbergh. That film premiered on IFC inDecember.

In terms of original series, IFC has renewed SplitScreen, featuring John Pierson, for a 44-episode commitment over two years.

IFC has also acquired a new series called Fishing withJohn, in which John Lurie, director/actor and band leader for the group LoungeLizards, will go off to fish and converse with such wide-ranging film personalities as JimJarmusch, Tom Waits, Willem DeFoe, Dennis Hopper and Matt Dillon. The show debuts in Juneback to back with Split Screen. 'It will be the quirkiest hour ontelevision,' Carroll said.

IFC plans to use three events -- the Independent SpiritAwards, its live coverage of the Cannes Film Festival and the Waters documentary -- asthemes around which it can air films from its library.

IFC added 6 million homes last year, 4.2 million of themcable, to reach 12 million by year's end.

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