‘Movies are a necessity to our lives’ – TCM Film Festival round-up

“What are you most excited about,” several people asked when I arrived in Hollywood at the Turner Classic Film Festival last Wednesday.

I fumbled for words like Ralphie trying to tell Santa what he wants for Christmas as I thought of the best answer.

My mind turned to seeing 93-year-old actress Maureen O’Hara introduce the film “How Green is My Valley” or to watching rare films like Alan Ladd in “The Great Gatsby” on the big screen.

Robert Osborne interview Maureen O'Hara before "How Green is My Valley." (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica Pickens)

Robert Osborne interview Maureen O’Hara before “How Green is My Valley.” (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica Pickens)

Suddenly it hit me: I was happy to be around people who appreciated classic films as much as I do- if not more. People with whom you can discuss classic film topics such as character actor Donald Meek or Robert Walker and Jennifer Jones divorce.

This year’s festival was the second time I attended. I had the privilege to receive media credentials, covering the festival for my website Comet Over Hollywood and the Shelby Star newspaper.

The festival started with a question and answer portion with Turner Classic Movie’s primetime host Robert Osborne, host Ben Mankiewicz, and TCM programers Charles Tabesh and Genevieve McGillicuddy.

“Movies are a necessity to our lives,” Osborne said.

My second go at the festival was different than my first time. My first time at TCMFF, I devoured as many movies as possible. For example, last year, I watched 18 films, and this year I only saw roughly 12.

I think this year I had a richer adventure. I watched films but experienced unique events not found anywhere near me.

Where else can you see an actor like Jerry Lewis immortalized during a hand print ceremony outside of TCL (Graumann’s) Chinese Theater or wait in line for two hours to see a rare appearance made by Maureen O’Hara.

But my favorite event was “Ask Robert,” which started under the pretense of a question and answer portion for Robert Osborne.

After four questions from the audience, Osborne’s lavalier microphone supposedly stopped working. Jeopardy’s host Alex Trebek appeared to remedy the issue.

The event turned more into “This is Your Life” celebration for Osborne to celebrate 20 years of Turner Classic Movies. Celebrities such as Eva Marie Saint, Diane Baker, Alec Baldwin, Bill Cosby (on video), Cher (on video) Robert Wagner, Jill St. John, and pianist Michael Feinstein shared stories about Osborne.

The crowd and guests toasted to Robert Osborne and 20 years of TCM. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica Pickens)

The crowd and guests toasted to Robert Osborne and 20 years of TCM. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica Pickens)

What you see is what you get,” said Osborne’s cousin. “When he talks to you, he makes you feel like you are the only person in the world that he wants to talk to.”

I also had the privilege to hear musician Quincy Jones and actor Alan Arkin reflect on their careers, as well as former child actress Margaret O’Brien pay tribute to the late Mickey Rooney.

“He always had his ‘Mickey’ face,” O’Brien said.

Maureen O’Hara received a standing ovation and she weakly waved her hand to tell everyone to sit down.

“Don’t be fooled into thinking I do magic things,” said the 93-year-old Irish actress.

The Turner Classic Film Festival is four days filled with film watching and walking down the strangest place in America- Hollywood Boulevard. You may don’t eat much, you may sleep four hours a night and it’s wonderful.

Posing with Robert Osborne's star on the Walk of Fame in front of the Montalban Theater. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica Pickens)

Posing with Robert Osborne’s star on the Walk of Fame in front of the Montalban Theater. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica Pickens)

Watch Comet Over Hollywood during the next few days for more detailed posts on different festival events including Jerry Lewis’s hand print ceremony, Maureen O’Hara’s appearance and Margaret O’Brien’s tribute to Mickey Rooney.

Which movies did I watch?
*American Graffiti (1973)
*East of Eden (1955)
*Paper Moon (1973)
*The Italian Job (1968)
*Eraserhead (1977)
*How Green Was My Valley (1941)
*Her Sister’s Secret (1946)
*National Velvet (1944)
*Gone with the Wind (1939)
*The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1968)
*The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Which special guests did I see? 
*Candy Clark- American Graffiti
*Paul Le Mat- American Graffiti
*Bo Hopkins- American Graffiti (who is also from Greenville, SC)
*Eva Marie Saint- Ask Robert
*Alex Trebek- Ask Robert
*Diane Baker- Ask Robert
*Alec Baldwin- Ask Robert
*Jill St. John- Ask Robert
*Robert Wagner- Ask Robert
*Michael Feinstein- Ask Robert
*Quincy Jones- Italian Job
*Maureen O’Hara- How Green is my Valley
*Here Sister’s Secret- Arianne Ulmer Cipes, daughter of Edgar Ulmer
*The Heart is a Lonely Hunter- Alan Arkin
*Jerry Lewis during his hand print ceremony
*Quentin Tarantino during his hand print ceremony

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page, follow on Twitter at@HollywoodComet or e-mail at cometoverhollywood@gmail.com


The Comet goes to the TCM Film Festival


Today, the Comet really will be over Hollywood.

Today I’m flying out from North Carolina to Los Angeles, CA for the fifth annual Turner Classic Movies Film Festival.

After attending the festival for my first time last year, I knew I wasn’t going to miss it when it rolled around the next spring.

The main difference this year is I am going to the film festival with press credentials.

I’ll be flexing my reporting muscles I use on a daily basis as a reporter at the Shelby Star in Shelby, NC and covering the different events and films I attend.

It will be a perfect mix of the two things I love: reporting and classic films. Folks at work even call me Torchy Blane.

Classic films have been a large part of my life so it’s a pleasure to share film experiences with others equally as passionate.

How can you follow me? 
Twitter: @HollywoodComet or @StarJPickens
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cometoverhollywood
Instagram: @HollywoodComet
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfaDOeIsKQhOJcPXUaHg98g
Or here! CometOverHollywood.com

Are you heading to the festival? Comment below and let us know what you are most excited about at this year’s Turner Classic Movies Film Festival.

Comet Over Hollywood owner Jessica Pickens with TCM host Robert Osborne at TCMFF 2013.

Comet Over Hollywood owner Jessica Pickens with TCM host Robert Osborne at TCMFF 2013.

Take a look at last year’s festival: https://cometoverhollywood.com/category/turner-classic-movie-film-festival-2/

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page for the latest updates or follow on Twitter at @HollywoodComet.

Turner Classic Film Festival: Mitzi Gaynor and South Pacific


Last night (Thursday, April 25) I saw my first film at the Turner Classic Film Festival: South Pacific.
The film was shown poolside at the Roosevelt Hotel and introduced by Ben Mankiewicz with France Nuyen and Mitzi Gaynor as special guests.
Nuyen told about how she got her role in the film and was a French model. She went on set with high fashion makeup and was told to wash it off for the film. She cried because she thought she would be ugly.
Gaynor was hilarious. Her feistiness and off color stories could be compared to a Debbie Reynolds interview.
Gaynor got the role of Nellie Forbush in South Pacific over actresses such as Susan Hayward, Elizabeth Taylor, June Allyson, Doris Day and several others.
While Mankiewicz was interviewing Gaynor, she demanded he bring out his new baby for everyone to see. By the end, she had taken over the interview.
Hilariously Gaynor told of how she complimented her costar Rossano Brazzi on his good looks and Brazzi said, “I know.”
During the screening of South Pacific, people clapped after each song.
The ambiance of the film by the pool was beautiful.
This is just a brief post to keep y’all updated during TCMFF.

This morning I saw Jean Harlow in Libeled Lady (1936) and am now waiting to see Suddenly It’s Spring (1947) with Fred MacMurray and Paulette Goddard introduced by MacMurray’s daughter, Kate MacMurray.

More about Friday’s events in the next post.