TCMFF 2020: The Special Home Edition

This week, many of us would have been traveling to Hollywood for the Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival (TCMFF).

Unfortunately, due to the current COVID-19 situation, the 2020 event had to be cancelled. However, the leaders of Turner Classic Movies (TCM) put their heads together, and created a special TCMFF Home Edition to keep fans and their staff engaged during a difficult time.

On Tuesday, a media round-table was held with TCM Host Ben Mankiewicz, TCM General Manager Pola Changnon, and TCM Senior Vice of Programming Charlie Tabesh.

Each shared that this has been an emotional time, as they look forward to the festival as much as the fans do. I didn’t expect to get teary on the call, but hearing how emotional the cancellation is for the staff (as much as the pass holders) made me cry a little.

Here is a summary of the questions asked during the media roundtable:

Can you give an overview of why TCM decided to do the TCMFF Home Edition?

Pola Changnon: A month ago, we were concerned about the evolving situation and how that may or might not affect our festival dates (April 16-19). It was around this time a month ago, that it became clear that we would have to cancel the festival. We didn’t feel comfortable postponing — you can imagine the work it takes to rearrange the films and locations. Within a day, all of us were together in Los Angeles for business. We started the day off with an acknowledgement that we would have to cancel. By the end of the day, Charlie Tabesh felt confident that he could pull something together for the network in place of the festival. This is a special weekend that people look forward to all year long – both staff and pass holders. We asked ourselves how could we do this and will it be special enough? Within a couple of days, Charlie came up with something so robust.

Charlie Tabesh: We had to figure out, “How do you make this different than what is already on TCM?” We wanted it to be special and include a lot of material that we wouldn’t include day-to-day on TCM.

Our first idea was that we would play movies that we were planning to show at the festival this year. The issue there is we wouldn’t have the guests, tributes and other special videos that were done over the years.  One of the reasons we included previous festival moments so that it involved some of the best of past festivals, we figured out how to make it special with Ben’s intros, and talk about how we were there with celebrities and use tribute pieces and interviews that happened before a film. That’s what makes it different as far as production.

Ben Mankiewicz: We shot intros in a way that I’ve never shot anything. We have had a scaled down crew with no one coming within 10 feet of me. We shot and wrote fresh intros—we always write fresh intros — but fresh as in related to the festival. Programming this weekend will look different, and isn’t shot on my set. I’m also reminded by what Pola said—people look forward to this weekend all year. That includes us. A large part of what we look forward to is the connection we have with our fans. When TCM announced that we couldn’t do the festival, I was asked to write something to say on the air. In both writing and delivering it, I got really emotional. I almost couldn’t get through without crying. I didn’t expect that. It’s emotional for all of us. Charlie’s crew helped me provide some new context. All of what TCM does this weekend – online, social media — is to engance the programing we will have airing this weekend.

What is the plan for next year? Are you going to keep the same programing that was planned for this year?

Charlie Tabesh: There are a lot of things we can take from this year and move it to next year. But next year there may be different talent or different restorations and anniversaries. There will be things that will reshape the festival. We have a bit of a head start, but the work will still need to be done for next year.

Following the upcoming home edition, will TCM plan other events for the upcoming year?

Ben Mankiewicz: Anecdotally, the response I get on social media is almost the most significant response that I have gotten anywhere. The engagement with fans is the best and most meaningful part of my job. I think we have learned there is real value of having this online component so that even more people can be included.

How to watch:

You can find the full schedule for the TCMFF Home Edition here.

To make the best of this weird quarantine situation, Comet Over Hollywood will post throughout the weekend what we’re watching during #TCMFF and outfits I would be wearing if I was there. Follow along on Twitter at @HollywoodComet.

Comet Over Hollywood: Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival 2019

At 2018 Turner Classic Movies Film Festival

I will be back this week in Hollywood for my sixth Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival (TCMFF). The festival runs from Thursday, April 11, through Sunday, April 14.

Here’s how you can follow my adventures and updates:
· Twitter: @HollywoodComet
· Instagram: @HollywoodComet
· Facebook: Facebook.com/CometOverHollywood

For those who have never attended, this is like a film 10k. From 9 a.m. to after 12 a.m., you watch classic film after classic film with other fans who know and love Guy Kibbee as much as you do.

My tips for first-time attendees:
· I know you are excited, but it’s okay to skip a film and eat a meal. You have to keep up your strength for all that movie watching!
· Be sure to take care of yourself: hydrate and maybe take some vitamins or Emergen-C. I know that sounds crazy being so excited and also exhausted can be taxing on your system.
· Say hello to people you think you might know online. Everyone is excited to be there, so they most likely will be excited to see you too.
· Strike up a conversation while waiting in line for films. You never know, the person behind you may be as big of a Laraine Day fan as you are! This is one of the few places where you can have everyday conversations with film fans that speak your language.
· Have fun! You may not get into a film you want to see, but don’t take it too hard and ruin your trip. There are other wonderful movies to see!
· If you have time, explore the area!

For my top festival picks, I’m most looking forward to:
· The addition of the American Legion as a film viewing location
· The Dolly Sisters (1945) on Nitrate
· Seeing fellow film fans and friends and discussing classic films with them!

Do you have questions about the festival? Comment below or e-mail them to me at CometOverHollywood@gmail.com.

Five years of the Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival

Each year when I return from the Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival (TCMFF), I have a hard time articulating the experience.

“How was your trip? Who did you see?”, friends and coworkers ask.

I practically stutter like Porky Pig as films I watched and classic stars I clapped for swirl in my head like a kaleidoscope, thinking “Where do I begin?” The same thing happens when I try to put into words here about this extraordinary festival. So many exciting things happen over the span of three and a half days that it can be difficult to put your arms around it to begin to describe it: Tearing up as 100-year-old Marsha Hunt was interviewed by Eddie Muller, standing inches away from former child star Claude Jarman, Jr. as I interviewed him on the red carpet, excitedly hugging and catching up with friends I only see once a year at the festival.

The 2018 TCMFF festival was my fifth time attending. The festival began in 2010, and my first year was in 2013. I have attended every year since, except I, unfortunately, was unable to attend the 2017 festival due to other obligations.

Covering the red carpet for the 2018 Turner Classic Movies Film Festival

TCMFF 2018 was full of firsts for me. It was my first year covering the red carpet arrivals (a separate post to come on this), my first time seeing a movie at the Cinerama Dome, and the first time my boyfriend, Brandon, attended the festival (and his first time in California). I even skipped all midnight screenings so I could sleep, something I generally don’t do. I also had the opportunity to visit the American Society of Cinematographers clubhouse with TCM Backlots, which was an amazing experience.

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Hooray for Hollywood: Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival 2018

The Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival is a paradise for classic film fans.

After not being able to attend the 2017 festival, I have returned for my fifth TCM Film Fest. Throughout the festival, I will be sharing photos, short videos and tweeting quotes or facts shared during film interviews. I even hope to get in a couple of blog posts during the festival.

Outside the Hollywood Roosevelt, April 2018

Here’s how you can follow me:

· Twitter: @HollywoodComet

· Instagram: @HollywoodComet

· Facebook: Facebook.com/CometOverHollywood

For my top festival picks, I’m most looking forward to:

· Seeing actress Nancy Kwan, who I have been a fan of for awhile.

· The film “None Shall Escape” (1944) with guest star Marsha Hunt. I’m a fan of Miss Hunt and have never seen this film.

· A Star is Born (1937) on Nitrate. This is my favorite version of this story and it will be gorgeous on Nitrate film.

· Seeing fellow film fans and friends and discussing classic films with them!

Style on Display: Katharine Hepburn exhibit in South Carolina

Katharine Hepburn photographed by Alfred Eisenstaedt for LIFE magazine in 1938.

When it comes to classic film actresses, Katharine Hepburn placed herself far from the crowd of studio starlets.

Her characters were strong, she didn’t attend Hollywood events, and she didn’t present herself in a soft, feminine manner.

“Kate wasn’t someone you could mold easily, that you could control,” said director Dorothy Arzner, who directed Hepburn in Christopher Strong (1933).

And when you think of Katharine Hepburn, you think of her clothing—particularly her pants, something so innocuous now but an article of clothing “polite” women of the 1930s and 1940s weren’t seen wearing in public.

These pants and other items of Katharine Hepburn’s costumes and clothing are on display in the Upcountry History Museum in Greenville, SC, as part of the “Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen” exhibit, running through January 14. The costumes are on loan to the Upcountry History Museum from the Kent State University Museum. The Hepburn Estate donated Miss Hepburn’s collection to Kent State University Museum.

Costumes from the play version of “The Philadelphia Story” at the Upcountry History Museum.

“It was Miss Hepburn’s wish that her personal collection of her performance clothes be given to an educational institution. Her other personal effects were sold in a Sotheby’s Auction for charity,” said Jean L. Druesedow, director of the Kent State University Museum in an e-mail interview. “Her executors discovered the Kent State University Museum through friends of friends and Gladys Toulis, the first director of the Kent State Fashion School.”

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Nitrate is Hot: First time at the Nitrate Picture Show

Contemporary classic film fans have the luxury of watching older films in many different forms. Stream on Netflix, buy it on BluRay or DVD, watch it on their phone on YouTube, or turn the television to Turner Classic Movies at any point in the day.

But despite all of these options and opportunities, sometimes film lovers want to see the film the way it was meant to be shown—on the big screen. But the real treat is if the movie is projected on film, but not just any film—rare nitrate film.

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Musical Monday: Anchors Aweigh (1945)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Anchors Aweigh (1945) – Musical #18

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
George Sidney

Starring:
Gene Kelly, Kathryn Grayson, Frank Sinatra, Dean Stockwell, Pamela Britton, Rags Ragland, Billy Gilbert, Henry O’Neill, Leon Ames, Grady Sutton,
Themselves: Jose Iturbi, Carlos Ramírez

Plot:
Two sailors (Kelly, Sinatra) are on leave in Los Angeles when they meet a lost little boy, Donald (Stockwell). When they return Donald home, they meet his Aunt Susan (Grayson), who raises the boy and has dreams of becoming a singer. To impress her, the sailors mislead Aunt Susan and tell her they know famous pianist Jose Iturbi, so she can audition for him. Now they just have to find Jose Iturbi.

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