Times Staff Writer

Are you a cable TV operator concerned about your industry’s flattening growth rate? Would you like to “wow” your subscribers with some piped-in pizazz? Well, for the right price, the Hollywood film studios are standing by, ready and eager to serve you with brand - new programs for the home screen . . . .

Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Assn. of America and a walking, talking, one-man commercial for the Hollywood studios, didn’t say that in so many words. But his message was clear before members of the new National Academy of Cable Programming Tuesday: Profits will accrue to those with the best programs, and “programs don’t come from the tooth fairy.”

Valenti left little doubt where they do come from. “They are created by people who are creative,” he said, and then rattled off a price list for Hollywood-produced sitcoms, hourlong dramas and made-for-TV movies.


His keynote address at the Beverly Hills Hotel--before the presentation of Awards for Cable Excellence (ACE Awards) in eight craft categories--came five days after his appearance before the National Assn. of Theater Owners in New Orleans, where he acknowledged that movies failed to attract a sufficient audience in 1985 and box-office business was down.

Clearly, the movie and cable businesses both are feeling the chomp of “those little tapeworms,” as Valenti called them--videocassette player-recorders that continue to show strength as an entertainment alternative. What better way to bite back, Valenti’s comments implied, than to provide viewers with competitive, Hollywood-produced programming via cable?

But Valenti didn’t arrive hat in hand. His attire--bright yellow shirt and maroon tie--made a fashion statement that matched the aggressiveness of his comments.

Citing A.C. Nielsen statistics indicating that viewers in cable-equipped homes tune to the commercial networks and independent stations 75% of the time, Valenti admonished cable operators to “band together to try to do something in the arena of programming.”

“I don’t believe that cable channels’ metal skeletons riding in the sky, fiber optics, K-bands . . . you name it, have any value unless they deliver programs people want to see,” he said.

Valenti reserved rare and frequent praise for Shelley Duvall, whose “Faerie Tale Theatre,” seen on Showtime, he credited as “one of the most ingenious programming concepts.”


“Faerie Tale Theatre” went on to win one of the few ACE awards presented at the luncheon--for George Riesenberger’s video lighting direction for the “Thumbelina” episode. Duvall herself was a presenter at the event, which will be followed Dec. 3 with the presentation ceremony for the major ACE Awards, to be held at the Beverly Theatre. (The ceremony will be telecast Dec. 6 for the East Coast and Dec. 9 for the West Coast on superstation WTBS.)

Other craft awards presented Tuesday:

Cinematography--Richard Ciupka for “The Blood of Others” on Home Box Office; Thomas Burstyn, for the “Murderous Feelings” episode of “The Hitchhiker,” also on HBO.

Art Direction on Videotape--Michael Edwards for “Jane Eyre,” on the Arts & Entertainment Network.

Art Direction on Film--Denis Gordon-Orr for “Timeslip,” on HBO’s Cinemax service.

Costume Design--Gill Hardie for “Jane Eyre”; Jane Greenwood for “Heartbreak House,” on Showtime.

Musical Score--David Sanborn and Michael Colina for “Finnegan Begin Again,” on HBO.

Film Editing--Edward Abroms for “The Guardian” on HBO.

Videotape Editing--Danny White for “Not Necessarily the News,” on HBO.