30 user 44 critic

Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004)

A documentary on the Z Channel, one of the first pay cable stations in the US, and its programming chief, Jerry Harvey. Debuting in 1974, the LA-based channel's eclectic slate of movies ... See full summary »


On Disc

at Amazon

1 win. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

An inside look at the hectic production of Heaven's Gate, the media circus that turned it into a synonym for movie flop and how it added to the tectonic change that occurred in Hollywood film studios after it infamously flopped.

Director: Michael Epstein
Stars: Steven Bach, Hal Ashby, Sandy Berke Jordan
Rewind This! (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Home video changed the world. The cultural and historical impact of the VHS tape was enormous. This film traces the ripples of that impact by examining the myriad aspects of society that were altered by the creation of videotape.

Director: Josh Johnson
Stars: Ben Jousan, David Gregory, Micah Matthews
Girl 27 (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

The reclusive Patricia Douglas comes out of hiding to discuss the 1937 MGM scandal, in which the powerful film studio tricked her and over 100 other underage girls into attending a stag party, where she was raped.

Director: David Stenn
Stars: Baby Peggy, Richard Bann, Kelly Brown
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A documentary about the history of exploitation movies, from the silent movie era to the 1970s.

Director: Elijah Drenner
Stars: Robert Forster, Eric Schaefer, Eddie Muller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The story of the Australian exploitation genre cinema of 1970s and 80s.

Director: Mark Hartley
Stars: Phillip Adams, Glory Annen, Christine Amor
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A fast moving odyssey into the subterranean world of the rarely explored province of Filipino genre filmmaking.

Director: Mark Hartley
Stars: Carmen Argenziano, Allan Arkush, John Ashley
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A documentary on DIY producer/director Roger Corman and his alternative approach to making movies in Hollywood.

Director: Alex Stapleton
Stars: Roger Corman, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Dubbed "The Cannibal Cop," Gilberto Valle was convicted in March 2013 of conspiring to kidnap and eat young women. Valle argued it was all a fantasy; the prosecution's narrative convinced ... See full summary »

Director: Erin Lee Carr
Stars: Gary Allen, Violet Blue, James A. Cohen
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A documentary on Henry Darger, visionary artist, janitor, and novelist.

Director: Jessica Yu
Stars: Henry Darger, Dakota Fanning, Larry Pine
Crazy Love I (2007)
Documentary | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The bizarre true story of Linda Riss and Burt Pugach.

Directors: Dan Klores, Fisher Stevens
Stars: Burt Pugach, Linda Pugach, Bob Janoff
Marwencol (2010)
Documentary | Biography | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

After a vicious attacks leaves him brain-damaged and broke, Mark Hogancamp seeks recovery in "Marwencol", a 1/6th scale World War II-era town he creates in his backyard.

Director: Jeff Malmberg
Stars: Mark Hogancamp, Emmanuel Nneji, Edda Hogancamp
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction is a mesmerizing, impressionistic portrait of the iconic actor comprised of intimate moments, film clips from some of his 250 films and his own ... See full summary »

Director: Sophie Huber
Stars: Harry Dean Stanton, David Lynch, Sam Shepard


Credited cast:
Vera Carlisle Anderson ...
Herself (as Vera Anderson)
C.L. Batten ...
Himself (archive footage)
David Chasman ...
F.X. Feeney ...
James B. Harris ...
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Don Hyde ...


A documentary on the Z Channel, one of the first pay cable stations in the US, and its programming chief, Jerry Harvey. Debuting in 1974, the LA-based channel's eclectic slate of movies became a prime example of the untapped power of cable television. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexual content, violent images and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

16 August 2007 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Kanazi Z: Mia yperohi emmoni  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This film was made only after the financing for another film project, a fiction film, partially collapsed. See more »


Jerry Harvey: [when asked in the 1980s about the secret of Z Channel's success] I don't know. If I told you, it wouldn't be a secret.
See more »


Features The Leopard (1963) See more »


Italo - Western Theme
Written and Performed by Steven Hufsteter
Courtesy of Meinemusic
Administered by Bug Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

For the love of cinema
25 June 2005 | by (Milwaukee, WI) – See all my reviews

For any of us who grew up with cable being a basic amenity and movies at our disposal with the dozens of premium movie channels, Blockbusters on every corner and now DVDs on our doorstep with the click of a mouse button, it is hard to imagine that there was a time when movie lovers were limited to seeing edited versions of commercial films on network television, blank VHS tapes cost $20 apiece (true story – my Dad used to have to choose the films he taped very wisely) and the only easy way to see a film was when it came to the local movie theater. In 1974, however, the first pay-channel appeared on West Coast cable boxes, with a programming director who had a genuine love of films and filmmakers; this channel was called the Z Channel, and very fittingly, Alexandra Cassevetes (daughter of John and Gena Rowlands) created an incredibly fascinating film documenting its rise and fall.

Jerry Harvey was a college dropout who intensely loved film and film studies, making him the ideal choice for deciding what films would appear on Z Channel. Various former co-workers, critics, directors and actors, mostly independents, offer their fond memories of a channel that had the power to make or break a film or filmmaker. (Cassavetes includes a story about how one of Hollywood's most infamous film debacles, "Heaven's Gate" ended up being ridiculed because of terrible editing; when Z Channel ran the director's cut it was heralded by the public and critics alike.) The vision that Harvey had for the channel and the output it had is envious even by today's standards. They would have Bergman film festivals, uncut versions of films that had only been seen in their edited format, cult and avant garde films; and directors like Alexander Payne (sporting an old Z Channel t-shirt) and Quentin Tarantino share their memories of having tapes of old Z channel broadcasts.

Unfortunately, personal demons and a family history of psychological issues ended Jerry Harvey's life and the life of his wife when he first killed her then killed himself. This was shortly after the eventual demise of the Z channel itself, which first sold out and shared programming with ESPN, and then was dissolved altogether. Despite its unceremonious demise, Z channel is remembered fondly by those that experienced its programming and were involved in its broadcasting, and is looked upon with reverence by anyone who considers themselves, like Jerry Harvey, a life-long student of film. This is an excellent documentary and really is a must-see for film buffs. 8/10 --Shelly

10 of 11 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
complete listing of Z channel programming??? jeffkiss
Who is the Jerry Harvey of our time? stewardia
Just saw it emperorpasta
Links/Connections darthcanuck
I want to go back in time and relive my teenage years in LA.... verisimilitude_mirror
Where can we see this movie duliocr

Contribute to This Page