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Thursday, August 11, 2011

"Now Playing" - BUYER BEWARE!

Maybe a month and a half ago, towards the beginning of the summer, I finally decided to give in and subscribe to TCM's "Now Playing" magazine. I had seen enough commercials on their channel (Turner Classic Movies), with Robert Osborne appealing the "exciting features" of the magazine. Here's what I was promised:

  • Editorial articles
  • Rare photographs
  • TCM's full schedule for the month (and by this, they're not kidding)
  • A crossword puzzle
  • Ben's picks (AKA, Ben Mankiewicz, Joe's nephew and host of TCM)
  • And many more thrilling features for you to pay $12 a year for!
Here's how the photographs of this "magazine" looked on their site:

Looks pretty great, right?

So, here I am, waiting for weeks and weeks excitedly for this amazing magazine about classic movies to show up. You can picture what I imagined - something big and glossy.

Yesterday, we came back from the orthodontist, strolled in the door, and I just happened to look over at the counter at the stack of mail - some clothing catalogs, some bills, some junk mail... and then something that looked like a pamphlet. Not even a magazine. A PAMPHLET.

It had a picture of Kirk Douglas on the cover. And it said "NOW PLAYING."

I went, "Oh no, oh no, this can't be it," as I held it in disbelief. Because it was made out of newspaper material. And it was so skinny, I was sure I could get through it in a few minutes. And so tiny. 

Then my dad took it from me and he started laughing, "This is it? This it?" And he began to flip through it. "I can fit it in my wallet!" And - "Good thing you saw it, otherwise I would've thrown it away." The first couple pages consisted of those "editorial articles promised" - maybe two or three squeezed onto a page, and the rest of it was their schedule for the month of September. And, oh. A crossword puzzle with Marilyn Monroe's face in the middle.

I'm not kidding. To show you how small it is, I've placed my pamphlet next to my iPod touch. It is about twice the height of my iPod.

But that's not all. Look how THIN it is.


It even had those little tabs on the top, like the little brochures in the mail do.


See? Right above Kirk's head.

I believe that good things can come in little packages. (I mean, look at Edward G. Robinson.) I would NOT have been disappointed with the size, or thinness, of the magazine if each page inside were filled with interesting articles. But the "editorial articles" written by the hosts take up only about the first five pages of the magazine. The rest is this -


Doesn't Helen Bonham Carter look like Ingy up in that picture? She's obviously no where near as pretty though.

Now, come on! If I wanted a program schedule, I would've ordered TV Guide.

So, I did check out the few, measly articles that were included. On the crinkly paper, a tiny worded tribute to Kirk Douglas on the first page, written by Robert O. Well written, but simply one page? I was looking for full spreads on the "stars of the month."

There is a "Book Corner," featuring a book about Judy Garland. A little note about the films they'll be showing on September 11th for the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and "Ben's Pick." A very quick note from the guest programmer of the month, Cher (I was actually surprised to learn from it that one of her favorite movies is "The Big Street," starring my one and only, Lucille Ball).

These articles are good and entertaining, but WAY too short. They could easily be expanded to fill the thin pages of this magazine. If they cannot afford a thicker magazine, they should cut down on the film schedule and fill it with articles instead. That would be a much more interesting read.

I expected a lot more and I was very let down. As for the "crossword puzzle," this is a let down, too. Most of the clues are too easy to make it any bit challenging. For example - "Some like it ____." Even the dumbest dimwit could tell you that it's "hot."

I'm going to give it a try, but what a disappointment! Especially since I love TCM. If you check out their page about the magazine, it looks a lot like some false advertisement to me...

https://secure.palmcoastd.com/pcd/eServ?iServ=MDI2MzE1ODA5NA==

I notice now that they tell you the size of the magazine and how long it is - 36 pages! Yippee! - but still, they don't make it very clear that all it really is a program guide.

* Lets out a sigh. * Oh, well. At least I know what's coming up on TCM this month.

On a brighter note, I received one of the many books I've ordered through the mail - "The Lucille Ball FAQ," which looks really great. And, also, my Lucille Ball Film Collection. At least that turned out alright.



26 comments:

StanwyckFan said...

Haha! Wow that's really small, isn't it? I'm glad you warned me, I was planning to subscribe to that starting this October! Oh well, I guess I can always check the TCM website for what's coming up next.

Rianna said...

LOL, I know, it's quite disappointing! And by the way, thanks for adding me to your blogroll! :)

StanwyckFan said...

You're welcome. By the way, thanks for adding me to yours! ;)

Jennifer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennifer said...

Thanks so much for this post about "Now Playing." I've been debating whether or not to subscribe, and thanks to you, I've made up my mind about that! : )

Rianna said...

Haha, you're welcome, Jennifer! I was disappointed, too. Oh and I just found Films of Yesterday and it looks great with so many wonderful reviews :) I'll most certainly be subscribing.

Jennifer said...

Thank you! I subscribed to you, too. : )

Old timer said...

What do you expect for 12 bucks! Jeesh!!

Rianna said...

Actually, this happens to be MY blog and therefore I can voice my opinion any way I wish. If it bothers you, you're welcome to leave.

Anonymous said...

I'm still going to subscribe today! It may not be a big glossy mag, but more TV Guide size and style. What's wrong with that for a little over a buck a month? I'd like to know what's coming up on TCM before I check the night's schedule on DirecTV. It should be worth that, at least.

TedB said...

We starting getting the magazine years ago before comcast grids and dvr searches. We got it for the programming, which they do a good job. The story lines help, and special programming is highlighted well. I think TCM should not promote the mag for its articles; it's clearly not that kind of mag, but for sitting in a chair and seeing what is coming in the next month, to program your dvr it does the job, and not to offend, if you buy a few years at a time, it is a couple of pennies a day.

Anonymous said...

Thank u!! I was so sad when they discontinued the huge catalog and thought this was going to be a "Magazine"......... thanks for the warning~ some people may think $12 is no big deal but every dime counts in this house due to a chronically ill child and one in college...rare is it that i treat myself and this would have been a huge let down!!!

Anonymous said...

You see Robert Osborne holding the mag in his hands during the commercial so you do see its small size. Not really false advertising.

Anonymous said...

I realize this review of "Now Playing" was written a couple of years ago, so I'm sure they've improved the magazine by now. Robert Osborne does say that it's a program guide with articles by the hosts, and a program guide is just what I'm looking for, ("Now Playing" looks the way "TV Guide" used to look, back when "TV Guide" was worth buying.) not only to know what's coming up, but sometimes I'll be channel surfing and come across TCM in the middle of a movie, and I'll want to know what movie it is. "Now Playing" would be useful for that, too. (AMC will periodically, during the course of a movie, show the title in the lower-right corner of the screen so you know what movie it is; TCM doesn't do that. I wish they would.)

Anonymous said...

There has been no improvement. Warning... the website is a joke. I tried to access my account online via their website and clicked to view my gift subscription status and it charge my for a new subscription even though the current was not even over. I can't see when it starts or ends. I also had no idea they stored my CC info. I'm waiting to hear back but its as though they reached into my wallet without asking. It really upsets me they would be that deceptive.

steve said...

have been a subscriber for 2 years have not received the past 3 issues, although they sent me 2 of the missing issues....5 days late notified them on the 21st,, received missing isue on the 5th someone is enjoying the book on my account. will not renew

Anonymous said...

Save the covers and decoupage them onto a frame or put under a glass-topped coffee table. Makes a great decor item for the film buff.

Anonymous said...

Just received a notification that the issue of TCM we received was the "last but one" we would receive - and it was the first we'd received! Called them and told them I'd contacted their online "customer service" twice but received no response, and their reply was. "I don't know anything about the online site - I guess it isn't working". And, since my subscription has now expired, they can't do anything for me. Needless to say, they won't get another cent out of me and their customer service is worthless.

Anonymous said...

I just picked up both Jan (Redford) & Feb (Zellweger???) 2015. They're free outside a movie theatre here in Los Angeles, so likely elsewhere. 46 pages each, but now in full glossy color mag paper, same dimensions as you mentioned. I guess I really was confused though because there are order/subscribe cards inside & I still imagined it was a separate thing & what I'd picked up were samples... I came online to order a subscription for my uncle & came across your blog post/review here & it all fell into place. A real duh moment for me, but I'm glad I read your review before placing an order. The commercials on TCM for it had my imagination building it up. Now you know how kids in the 50's must a felt waiting for their sea-monkeys to arrive! Hahaha

Anonymous said...

I've attempted to place an order over the phone twice. The first time, I don't guess the order was even taken. The 2nd time, I explained to the rep what had happened. She apologized. I placed the order again. One for me and one for my sister for her Christmas. We were promised to get the first magazine before March. Here it is, March 4th. My sister says she's not received hers and NO, I've not received mine either. I'll do what everyone else is doing and check online for the listings. Guess they really don't care about their customers.

Anonymous said...

Boy am I glad I read your blog. I too, just saw the commercial on TCM, was getting ready to order a full-size beautiful glossy magazine. I decided to see if there was a discount coupon, saw your blog (good thing it shows up high on the Google search list) and was shocked at what I was reading. BTW, I found a $9 discount code when I saw that these posts began in 2011, and were still going strong in 2015, and even with the discount, I will not be ordering. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

When will Clark Gable be the star of the month, again?

RJSArlington said...

I like the skinny little "PAMPHLET"

Reader said...

Also, their web site for subscribing isn't properly secured, so it's best not to subscribe online anyway.

Unknown said...

I was really disappointed that Martin Milner was left out of the memorial for 2015. He was in Compulsion, Sweet Smell of Success, Mr. Roberts.

Anonymous said...

What you were expecting is what I thought it would be. What a shame! I wanted to order this for my Dad who loves this channel with it's old movies and I thought too it would make a great informative companion to read along with. Thank-you for the "heads up."

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