TV shows are produced mostly in Los Angeles, New York and Canada. So how did a television series from Oregon become one of the most popular shows on PBS? The tale spans a quarter century. Matinee at the Bijou first hit the tube in 1980, when two entrepreneurial film junkies from Oregon pitched the idea to PBS. Their vision was to bring back the pre-1960 movie matinee experience exactly as it was, when the trip included a cartoon, short, serial and feature. PBS embraced the concept and Matinee At The Bijou became one of the network’s top rated series throughout the 80s, sometimes rated among the top ten shows on PBS.
Bob Campbell, one of the creators, acquired the rights from his partner in 1982 and shepherded the series through five consecutive seasons. In the mid 90s, TV Matters, a Netherlands-based company, acquired the broadcast rights to the original episodes, gave the series a makeover, and re-edited the original 80 shows into 52 fresh episodes for a second time around on select PBS stations. Two new serials were added for the new versions and audiences once again raved and returned for more.
Fast forward to 2006. PBS has given the green light to a sequel series and is assisting in the search for show sponsors. Campbell has reunited much of the original team, including the director, editor, and songwriter – and added three distinguished film collectors with substantial film resources and access to rarely seen gems. (There will be more about these gentlemen in a future post.)
Best news of all is that the great Debbie Reynolds, the star of Singin’ in the Rain, is joining Matinee at the Bijou as our host. Ms. Reynolds will also be singing the new Bijou theme song, penned by Rich Mendoza, who wrote the original Rudy Vallee theme. Our fully digital Oregon production house (COBI DIGITAL HD) is geared up with all the latest HD technology and work is underway on the film selection process, production design, and spreading the word that BIJOU IS BACK.