Public television viewers in Orange County will be able to see the controversial documentary “The Thin Blue Line” on May 24 at 9 p.m., but they will have to tune in to Los Angeles PBS station KCET (Channel 28).
Because of cost considerations, KOCE Channel 50 in Huntington Beach did not purchase the “American Playhouse” series, which includes “The Thin Blue Line.” The innovative film--which interweaves dramatic re-creations and interviews to a Philip Glass soundtrack--details the case of Randall Dale Adams, who was convicted of first-degree murder in Dallas, Tex. Adams was sentenced to death for shooting a police officer and was at one point only 3 days away from execution. The film raised serious questions about the guilt of Adams, who was released earlier this week after his conviction was reversed.
“We didn’t buy ‘American Playhouse,’ ” said Judith Schaefer, KOCE’s director of public information. “We just couldn’t afford it this year.”
Although the series is offered to stations on a sliding scale, based on market size, it is still “one of the top two or three most expensive shows” offered by the Public Broadcasting System, said Cindy Ksenics of PBS in Washington.
Several of the original dramas funded by the series have also been released theatrically, including “Stand and Deliver” and “Smooth Talk.” Regardless of their popularity, they are not sold separately to individual stations, Ksenics said in a telephone interview.
“Original drama is very expensive to produce,” and it is popular, Kirk Groeneveld, KOCE’s program director, said. “Obviously, people ask for these shows.”
“American Playhouse” must be purchased several years in advance, Groeneveld said, and “we made a determination that we did not have $72,000 for that series” that year.
The fact that KCET, one of a consortium of stations that produces “American Playhouse,” purchased the series was not a factor in KOCE’s decision, Groeneveld said.
“We try to maintain a separate identity” from the large Los Angeles station, Groeneveld said. In addition to original productions, KOCE sometimes schedules popular PBS network showings at different times from KCET for the convenience of viewers.