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Jerry HARVEY

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - California filmmaker and programmer
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: April 9, 1988
Date of birth: October 28, 1949
Victim profile: Deri Rudulph, 38 (his second wife)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
Status: Committed suicide by shooting himself the same day
 
 
 
 
 
 

Jerry Harvey (1949 1988) was a California filmmaker and programmer, best known for his work on Z Channel, a pioneering cable station in the Hollywood Hills. Harvey's devotion to cinema and choice of rare and important films had an important influence on such directors as Robert Altman, Quentin Tarantino, and Jim Jarmusch. Jerry Harvey's life ended tragically in 1988 when, after murdering his wife, he took his own life.

Early life

Harvey was born in Bakersfield, California, in 1949. His upbringing was not a happy one. His father, a judge in Bakersfield, Kern County, had sent the most people to death row than any previous judge in his county. His eldest sister Mary disappeared before he was a teenager, and his next-eldest sister Ann died in a very theatrical suicide.

As a child, Harvey became obsessed with the movies. The first film he ever saw, Jubilee Trail, inspired him to eventually make and "midwife" films.

Filmmaking

While attending UCLA in the 1970s, Harvey developed a fast friendship with Douglas Venturelli. The pair cowrote a number of screenplays. Monte Hellman directed their script, a western, called If China 9, Liberty 37. The western was a genre Harvey loved. The film never received American distribution.

Programming

Harvey began programming at the Beverly Canon (a local cinema). There, he developed a reputation for programming offbeat films by well-respected directors, such as Altman's The Long Goodbye. He was best known for screening the director's cut of Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch, for which Peckinpah personally brought in the print.

Z Channel

It is said that after hearing him yell at the TV one time, his wife Vera suggested that he write to the head of programming at the cable network SelecTV to complain. The letter so impressed the heads of SelecTV that they invited Harvey to program a few films. His choices, a Laura Antonelli soft-core flick and a documentary about political uprising in Greece, showed the eclecticism that would become his trademark at Z Channel.

Not long after he arrived at SelecTV, a job opened up at Z Channel -- a pay service founded in 1974 to bring better reception to houses in the Hollywood Hills. About six months after he started work at Z the main programmer took ill and Harvey stepped into his shoes. He took over programming in 1980.

Harvey became known for programming especially of foreign and independent feature films by up-and-coming directors. During his tenure at Z he pioneered both the director's cut and the cable "special event" trends by screening the three and a half-hour director's cut of Michael Cimino's rarely seen western Heaven's Gate. This would lead to a close friendship between Cimino and Harvey that would last his entire life.

 
 

Jerry Harvey (October 28, 1949 April 9, 1988) was an American screenwriter and film programmer, best known for his work on Z Channel, a pioneering cable station in Los Angeles from 1974 to 1989.

Background

Born in Bakersfield, California, a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Harvey first established himself within the film community by programming the director's cut of Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch at the Beverly Canon Theater in 1974. Peckinpah himself was in attendance. The film played that day to a sellout crowd.

The very concept of "the director's cut" had no commercial viability until Harvey demonstrated it with this screening. After, as longer versions of such films as Touch of Evil by Orson Welles began surfacing from studio vaults, "director's cuts" became a staple of the Revival House theater-circuit. (In the 1960s and '70s, before the rise of Home Video, "Revival Houses" were the only way to see films as their makers intended.) Harvey's passion for film won him great friendships with such maverick filmmakers and master directors as Robert Altman, James B. Harris, Monte Hellman, and such actors as Peter O'Toole. He brought these relationships to bear on his work at Z Channel, where he became director of programming in 1981. The films whose director's cuts Harvey championed, using Z's as a showcase, include: Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate, The Ruling Class with Peter O'Toole, Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America, Karel Reisz's The Loves of Isadora. John Ford's Up the River, Bernardo Bertolucci's 1900, Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch and Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid.

A 2004 documentary directed by Xan Cassavetes, Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession, detailed Harvey's life and accomplishments. Altman and Harris attested to Harvey's great sympathy and inspirational value as a champion of film. Younger filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino, and Jim Jarmusch likewise acknowledged the influence of Z on their own work.

The film also chronicles a tragic history with women. Harvey's two older sisters, Mary and Ann, committed suicide in 1975 and 1978 respectively. These deaths, and the inherent despairs which triggered them, haunted and afflicted Harvey -- destroying two longtime love-relationships, first with Doreen Ringer-Ross who lived with Harvey from 1973 to 1978, and photographer-filmmaker Vera Anderson, who married Harvey shortly after Ann's suicide in '78, and divorced him in 1984. Harvey's second wife, Deri Rudulph (born December 21, 1949), married him in February, 1986. They remained together until April 9, 1988, when Harvey killed Rudulph with a pistol before turning the gun on himself.

Z Channel

Z Channel, launched in 1974, was one of the first Pay TV services in the U.S., and because it served Los Angeles, filmmakers constituted most of its subscribers. The channel enjoyed tremendous popularity and influence even before Harvey took charge of its programming in 1981. Producer Charles Joffe told filmmaker Xan Cassavetes that the primary strategic reason Woody Allen's Annie Hall won the Academy Award in 1977 is because it had played so frequently on Z Channel during the weeks the awards were being voted on.

Jerry Harvey's first significant coup came in 1982, when studio executive David Chasman alerted him that the director's cut of Heaven's Gate (film), written and directed by Michael Cimino, was lying fallow in a British vault. Few had seen this version since its one week run in Manhattan, in November 1980. (The film had been so viciously attacked that it was generally believed, even by studio insiders, that Cimino's original version had ceased to exist altogether.) Harvey retrieved this one remaining print and gave it a highly publicized "world premiere" on December 24, 1982. The success of this airing was consequential. Cimino's version was shortly released on home video, where it is now the only version available.

Although Harvey saw to it that "Z" (as it was affectionately known by its subscribers and devotees) kept commercial pace with its rivals Home Box Office, Showtime and The Movie Channel -- always showing the latest box office hits -- Z's primary appeal to viewers lay in its devotion to films that were passionate, and personal.

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Jerry Harvey

 


 

 

 
 
 
 
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