Metro Detroit TV program makes a programming pivot in wake of coronavirus pandemic


As Hollywood has wound down during the coronavirus pandemic, Metro Detroit-based movie program "Movie Show Plus" is making some changes and emphasizing the "Plus" in its title.

The show, which airs at 10:30 a.m. Sundays on TV20 and 2:30 p.m. Sundays on WADL-TV (Channel 38), typically features movie reviews, interviews and other movie-related features. 

As theaters have closed down and new movies have been reduced to a trickle, "Movie Show Plus" — which has gone through several makeovers but has been on the air in Metro Detroit, in some fashion, for most of the last 20 years — is now featuring interviews with movie theater owners and local businesses to see how they're reacting to and dealing with the COVID-19 shutdown. 

"We’re still 'Movie Show Plus,' the idea being that we always talk about movies, plus we're open to whatever we want," says "Movie Show Plus" executive producer and host Tom Santilli. "We're pivoting into, for the short term, ways to provide local movie audience with information on the movie industry in Detroit."

The show was off for most of March and the entirety of April and returned with a new episode May 3, which featured interviews with Emagine Entertainment chairman Paul Glantz, Maple Theater managing partner Ruth Daniels and a chit-chat between Santilli and "Movie Show Plus" co-host Greg Russell.

Upcoming episodes will feature more interviews with local theater owners as well as features on local businesses the show has featured in past episodes.

"There wasn’t really a news element to the show before, and now it's completely based off the news," says Santilli, who started with "Movie Show Plus" in 2012 and took over as executive producer in 2018.

"Movie Show Plus" is supported by sponsorships and advertisements, and when those dried up following the stay-at-home order, so did the show's revenue stream.

While the show typically pays for air time on TV20, the station has allowed "Movie Show Plus" to air new episodes through June free of charge.  

"Our entire model of business model has been thrown out the window, that’s why we had to pivot to something new," Santilli says. "We’re adapting, just like everybody else."

And Santilli, a lifelong movie fan and film critic, also finds himself adapting to a life without movies. 

"It hurts like a death," says Santilli, who's used to seeing several movies a week in theaters. "When people experience death, there's an empty feeling, and that's what this is like. Movies are what I personally do to get away. They're my therapy, and I miss seeing movies in a theater and that shared experience with other people."


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