Switching Channels

Switching Channels

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ted Kotcheff
Produced by Martin Ransohoff
Written by Jonathan Reynolds
Based on The Front Page
by Ben Hecht
Charles MacArthur
Music by Michel Legrand
Cinematography François Protat
Edited by Thom Noble
Switching Channels Inc.
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release dates
  • March 4, 1988 (1988-03-04)
Running time
105 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $19 million
Box office $9,129,999

Switching Channels is a 1988 American comedy film remake of The Front Page and His Girl Friday.[1] It stars Kathleen Turner as Christy Colleran, Burt Reynolds as John L. Sullivan IV, Christopher Reeve as Blaine Bingham, Ned Beatty as Roy Ridnitz, Henry Gibson as Ike Roscoe, and George Newbern as Sigenthaler. The film was notorious for its harsh infighting between Reynolds and Turner during filming. The film was seen as a failure, both commercially and critically.

It is available on DVD in Regions 2 and 4. It is also available as a DVD-R in Region 1 through the Warner Archive MOD program.


Sullivan (Reynolds) is the operations manager of Satellite News Network, a fictitious cable TV news channel. He tries to prevent the impending marriage of Colleran (Turner), his best reporter and ex-wife, by keeping her on the job during the critical news coverage of an upcoming execution and prison break.


Filmed primarily in Canada with a Canadian director (Ted Kotcheff), Switching Channels features many popular Canadian character actors in supporting roles: Al Waxman as Berger, the station manager, Ken James as Warden Terwilliger, Barry Flatman and Anthony Sherwood as television reporters Zaks and Carvalho, Joe Silver as newswriter Mordsini, Tony Rosato, Jackie Richardson, Philip Akin, Laura Robinson, Fiona Reid and Jack Duffy. It also co-stars Charles Kimbrough as the hapless Governor.


Critical response

Siskel & Ebert gave Switching Channels mixed results: Ebert was positive about the film and liked how the film did overall; however, Siskel expressed strong disappointment in the film and gave Switching Channels a thumbs down.[2] Rotten Tomatoes currently lists Switching Channels with a 56% rating.[3]

Reeve, who played against type as the hapless fiancé, later expressed regret in making the film, believing he "made a fool of himself" and that he had only taken the project as a distraction from depression following a divorce. He also reportedly had to act as "referee", as costars Turner and Reynolds feuded with each other during filming. According to his autobiography Still Me, one of the main reasons he took the role was because Michael Caine was originally lined up to play Sullivan, and he had enjoyed working with Caine six years earlier in Deathtrap, but after signing on found out that Caine had been booted out in favor of Reynolds. Another scene Reeve was in disfavor of was his character suffering acrophobia by showing fear when in a scenic glass elevator, a likely spoof of Reeve's best known role as Superman.

The film was nominated for two Golden Raspberry Awards: Burt Reynolds was nominated for Worst Actor and Christopher Reeve for Worst Supporting Actor. However, they respectively "lost" to Sylvester Stallone for Rambo III and Dan Aykroyd for Caddyshack II.


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