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Why Are People On TV But In Movies? – ‘The Why’

Welcome to the newest edition of The Why“Why are people on TV but in movies?” you ask? This question arose following a chat with a young lady from Souderton, Pennsylvania who caught your sometimes acting author‘s portrayal of a “single male” on an infomercial recently.

In truth, the use of prepositions in many languages can be tricky. (That’s one way you can tell when some “supposed” chick from Nigeria or Ghana is scamming you, guys.) There are overlapping prepositions, competing patterns, special exceptions and just plain weird single phrases from the less educated that the more educated have decided to accept into the official language.

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Suze Lanier-Bramlett/Image: SB

As someone who has appeared everywhere–the stage, TV, film and in her own music video—L.A.-based songstress/actress Suze Lanier-Bramlett offered her opinion on the question recently. She suggested: “People say: ‘what’s on TV tonight?’ Actors love to say: ‘I am!’ Movies are usually 90 minutes . . . two or more hours. Somewhere in that time actors hope they’re in it.” (Suze Lanier-Bramlett and her friend Morgan Fairchild will soon be seen on Oprah Winfrey’s Oprah Winfrey Network).

While her words ring true let’s dig deeper into the question, shall we? Let’s break it down as they say.  First, why are people on TV? When one works in a TV series or even a made-for-television movie they are seen on TV. Series narrators have often been known to recap by saying: “Previously on (name of series) . . .”

There is also perhaps some historical significance involved here. Before TV or even radio actors appeared onstage in the theatre. It was the norm to use the phrase “on the stage.” When radio came into being performers would still often perform on a stage of sorts and thus you would listen to actors and singers “on the radio.”

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Why are people on TV but in movies?/Image:BillyHoward

Now we come to the start of television. Originally programs were picked up by an antenna. They could only be seen on specific network channels that broadcast the show. Additionally, television is fluid and ever-changing.   An actor might be on a show but only for a specific season or perhaps even only on a specific episode. (For that matter, today you see actors and singers with videos online on YouTube.)

Now why are people in movies? While actors might appear on the silver screen—a phrase that is not as popular since the birth of multi-plex theatres with lots of smaller screens—movies are still shown in a theatre.   Actors are in a specific movie that is an unchanging body of work. It remains the same no matter how many times it is viewed.

Television was first broadcast live and would change per broadcast. To this day it changes from episode to episode and from season to season.   Once an actor is in the movie he or she remains in the movie forever.

Why are people on TV but in movies? Now you know.

You ask the questions.  We provide the answers.

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About Will Phoenix

W. Scott Phoenix, B.A., B.S. was born in Hawaii, raised in Pennsylvania and resides in California. He has been a published writer since 1978. His work has appeared (under various names) in numerous places in print and online including Examiner.com. He is a single parent of three children and has also worked as an actor, singer and teacher. He has been employed by such publications as the Daily Collegian and the Los Angeles Times.