Tune in Tonight: Is Hollywood history repeating itself?

TCM continues its glance back at MGM’s history as the studio marks its 100th birthday. While few fans flock to the old silent films, the history and practices of these old mogul-run entertainment factories can teach us a lot about contemporary pop culture.

Patrick Stewart hosts the 1992 documentary “MGM: When the Lion Roars: 1946-1986” (10 p.m., TCM, TV-MA), a glance at the once-dominant studio as it adjusted to the harsher realities of post-World War II America, a time when film studios careened from their Golden Age to a much harsher environment, facing congressional hearings about Communist subversion and fatal competition from a small box called television.

As more households purchased TV sets, movie attendance plummeted. MGM and other studios also faced antitrust laws that forbade them from owning chains of movie theaters, breaking up a lucrative and convenient monopoly.

In some ways, the sheer power of the old studios to produce and distribute movies at will would not be equaled again until the rise of streamers like Netflix and its imitators. As in the days of the old Hollywood moguls, these massive companies have the power to create entertainment and stream it exclusively how and where they wish.

Prime Video’s recent reboot of “Roadhouse” (an MGM production) evoked a peculiar reaction. Many felt that it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, and some mourned that it wasn’t shown in movie theaters, where audiences could hoot and holler at the absurd proceedings with their fellow fans, once described as “all those wonderful people out there in the dark” by Norma Desmond in “Sunset Blvd.”

Some contend, or rather fear, that Amazon spent a fortune on the film with the express intention of keeping people from seeing it together in cinemas and continuing to break the habit of movie-going that had been battered by COVID restrictions.

Increasingly, giant streamers and studios are flexing powers unseen in Hollywood for decades. Ever since the advent of videotape and then DVD box sets, audiences have enjoyed the freedom to “own” movies and series and view them at will.

As streaming becomes the only option, entertainment corporations have greater power to make portions of their catalog simply vanish.

Another strange habit is making projects disappear before they are ever screened. In recent years, studios have teased fans at the San Diego Comic-Con and other showcases with news of massive projects and spent tens of millions of dollars on their productions, only to scrap them at the last minute, often for accounting reasons and tax write-offs. Very expensive distractions like “Coyote vs. Acme” and “Batgirl” have vaporized in this fashion.

Movie moguls are hardly in the business of making films nobody sees, but there are few better ways of projecting their absolute power and authority. This is not new to Hollywood.

Produced by Joseph P. Kennedy, directed by Erich von Stroheim and starring Gloria Swanson, the lavish 1929 epic “Queen Kelly” was infamous for having never been shown in the United States. But clips from it would later show up in scenes from “Sunset Blvd.,” the savage 1950 Hollywood satire, starring Swanson as a faded star and Von Stroheim as her butler.


— “The Neighborhood” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) has been renewed for a seventh season.

— Vance makes overtures to his estranged son on the “Thousand Yards” episode of “NCIS” (9 p.m., CBS, TV-PG), the 1000th episode in the franchise’s history.

— “Antiques Roadshow” (8 p.m., PBS, TV-G, check local listings) visits the North Carolina Museum of Art.

— A Marine is killed on a training exercise on “NCIS: Hawai’i” (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).

— “The Interrogation Tapes: A Special Edition of 20/20” (10 p.m., ABC) looks at the murder of a pregnant woman and her two children.


Facing competition from television, MGM produced a big-budget musical comedy about another transitional period, the shift from silent movies to “talkies” in the 1952 favorite “Singin’ in the Rain” (8 p.m., TCM, TV-G). During another massive shift in Hollywood standards, director Stanley Kubrick used the film’s title song to underscore the “ultraviolence” in his 1971 adaptation of Anthony Burgess’s novel “A Clockwork Orange.”


“The Voice” (8 p.m., NBC, TV-14) … “MasterChef” (8 p.m., Fox, TV-PG) … “American Idol” (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) … A possible buyer emerges on “Bob Hearts Abishola” (8:30 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) … “So You Think You Can Dance” (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14) … “Deal or No Deal Island” (10 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).


Jimmy Fallon welcomes Jennifer Lopez, Alan Ritchson and Gary Clark Jr. on “The Tonight Show” (11:35 p.m, NBC, r) … Kristen Stewart, Walton Goggins and Aric Improta visit “Late Night With Seth Meyers” (12:35 a.m., NBC, r) … Taylor Tomlinson hosts “After Midnight” (12:35 a.m., CBS).