Joy, opening Christmas Day, brings early QVC days back to life

Tom Paine

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Update 12/29: Dear Bradley Cooper, this is how you pronounce 'Lancaster' (PennLive)

Joy is a film about a real-life woman of that name, Joy Mangano, who became a best selling inventor, designer snd marketer of products, first on QVC snd later on HSN. Directed by David O. Russell and starring Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper, it opens on Christmas Day from 20th Century Fox.

Mangano, a Long Island native, became a merchandising superstar on QVC, first with the 'Miracle Mop' and then with a succession of other products. She sold her company to QVC rival HSN (originally Home Shopping Network) in 1999. The film portrays the long period of struggle in both her personal life and in achieving her career ambitions.

O.Russell apparently strayed from the straight biopic format, fictionalizing or in some cases slightly altering details of her life. He also created an amalgam of a character in the QVC executive played by Cooper, in part intended to portray founder Joseph Segal. The late Joan Rivers is played by her daughter Melissa.

There won't be a premiere in West Chester (it was held in New York). There doesn't seem to be a great deal of local buzz. Joy is going up against a film named Star Wars. And it was filmed in Boston, so don't expect any local scenery. Still, Joy has generated considerable attention.

Another aspect of the film's production was the emphasis placed on recreating the QVC studio environment of the time. "It was a huge push to get that done on camera. It was like The Wizard of Oz, going from black and white to color and also the feeling of going to the Emerald City,” explained Joy production designer Judy Becker to The Hollywood Reporter.

Some have made an issue of Comcast's role in the film. Since I have not seen it, I can't say to what extent Comcast factors into it, but its reign as majority owner lasted from 1995 to 2003 when it sold its stake to John Malone's Liberty Media, and my understanding is that the film covers mostly an earlier period. So it will probably not end with a dramatic showdown between Joy and Brian Roberts before her deciding to sell out to HSN.

I asked QVC for comment on Joy snd got no response, but of course QVC's involvement with her ended a long time ago. Joy Mangano is still a big star at HSN, however. The shopping network recently celebrated her 15th anniversary there, and a new line of her products is scheduled for a January 9th launch in selected stores, a first for her company.

I've written before about how the home shopping network business is like an insular, somewhat dysfunctional family, though Amazon may pose a distant external threat to break up the party.

But Mangano's career path might come full circle. QVCA, the tracking stock created by Liberty Media to hold QVC and related assets, owns 38% of HSN. And Liberty Media management has made it clear that if the price and tax impact are right, and the stars are properly aligned in the universe, they would like to buy the rest of HSN and combine it with QVC.

Links 12/22: Comcast pumps 1Gbps over existing cable using DOCSIS 3.1 to Philly residence

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ITV shares fall as investors cool on bid after Comcast denies holding talks (The Guardian)

Comcast 'rolls out' 'world's first' DOCSIS 3.1 modem, pumping 1Gbps over existing cable (The Register)

A 'street battle' is brewing between Amazon and Microsoft (Business Insider)