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HBO Archives serves up new entertainment collection

Documentary producers have a new entertainment collection to mine from, thanks to the latest offering from HBO Archives. Rounding out the other HBO Archives collections of Sports, Wildlife, Contemporary and the 'March of Time' newsreels is the Entertainment News collection, culled from HBO's dedicated entertainment news division that ran from the late '80s to the late '90s. Max Segal, director of HBO Archives, details where the footage was all this time and how producers can use it now.
November 30, 2009

Documentary producers have a new entertainment collection to mine from, thanks to the latest offering from HBO Archives. Rounding out the other HBO Archives collections of Sports, Wildlife, Contemporary and the ‘March of Time’ newsreels is the Entertainment News collection, culled from HBO’s dedicated entertainment news division that ran from the late ’80s to the late ’90s. Max Segal, director of HBO Archives, details where the footage was all this time and how producers can use it now.

Segal says that the HBO Archives team is still in the process of putting the collection together in the New York-based offices, pulled from boxes that were sitting in a Burbank warehouse. ‘We started to dig deeper into what HBO owns, what are producers looking for, and we realized we had about seven or eight years of entertainment news footage,’ says Segal.

The West Coast entertainment news division covered everything from celebrity interviews to movie premieres and behind the scenes segments. ‘[We had] over 13,000 tapes and this summer we had about 200 boxes shipped to us,’ he says. ‘There’s a team of people now going through these tapes, in all different formats, and we’re almost through the first pass of getting it searchable. Selectively we’ve been digitizing and putting clips online.’

The collection includes clips of Jerry Lewis, the Smothers Brothers and George Carlin and also things that Segal describes as footage that seemed perhaps more important at the time. ‘That’s what we find to be the most fun, [like] Tiffany having her 16th birthday party,’ he says. He also adds that the entertainment news division also covered music, and so the collection has footage of musicians like James Brown and Ray Charles together.

The Entertainment News collection has a show reel online (www.hboarchives.com/entertainment) for producers to get a sense of what’s there and Segal hopes that by the end of the year, the team will have gone through the 200 boxes and the collection will be easily accessible. ‘It’s been a long process but at least we know the footage now and we can go into detail with clip logging and digitizing,’ he says.

‘If it’s not digitized, if it’s not even cataloged, it’s ready,’ adds Segal. ‘If someone says, ‘I hear Johnny Cash was on some TV show in the ’80s,’ even though it’s not digitized or it may not even be in our database as a text description, we have a deeper database and we can just pull from storage. We’ll make a screener available right away.’

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.

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