Portraits of Hollywood’s Founding Power Players

Roundup: Pop Culture & the Arts ... Movies, Documentaries and Museum Exhibits

Those of us who hold Turner Classic Movies dear — who consider it the one indispensable channel among the 200 or 500 or 1,000 snaking into our televisions — don’t necessarily watch it very often. It can be enough to know it’s there, commercial-free and aspect-ratio-conscious, showing a silent movie in the wee hours of every Monday morning or classing up Halloween with “The Leopard Man” and “Cat People” (Jacques Tourneur, 1942, as if you had to ask).

That may represent food for the soul, but it’s not much of a business model for TCM. So you really can’t complain when the channel does something a little different to drum up publicity, exploiting the finite resource of its movie library — as in the mostly dreary 31 Days of Oscar programming stunt each February — or creating its own content, like original documentaries about Chuck Jones or Clint Eastwood.

Or when it does something a whole lot different, like “Moguls & Movie Stars: A History of Hollywood,” a seven-week series (beginning Monday night) that represents the channel’s most ambitious venture yet into original programming.

The prominence of the word “Moguls” (it’s twice as tall as “Movie Stars” in the program’s logo) is no mistake: this is a business history of Hollywood, and even more than that it’s a kind of family album of the men, mostly hard-driving Eastern European immigrants, who created the American film industry and dominated it well into the 20th century....

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