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.

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!

Remembering Robert Osborne, a Friend to all Classic Film Fans

It was Thursday, April 25, 2013, and I had just flown into Los Angeles from North Carolina for my first Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival.

My first glimpse of Robert Osborne in person in 2013 (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P)

I was excited, tired and scared. It was my first solo plane trip, and I had unwisely flown into the festival the day it started, rather than the day before. I was momentarily homeless until my friend, Lindsay — who I was staying with — got out of class at UCLA. I stashed my suitcase in the hotel room of another friend, Jill, and went with her to the Roosevelt Hotel to get my film festival pass and for a press announcement.

I’m sitting at a small table, nervously saying hello to friends who I knew only from the internet before the film festival. And then film historian and Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne walks out on stage. Everyone else around me is calm and collected but I’m about to burst. I didn’t know if I should cry, laugh or faint. I had only been in Los Angeles for two hours and there was my hero standing 15 feet away from me!

Robert Osborne introducing “Desert Song” in 2013 (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P)

That Saturday during the festival, I was first in line for a rare screening of The Desert Song (1943), a Dennis Morgan and Irene Manning musical that isn’t often seen because of copyright issues. A volunteer confided that she heard Robert would be introducing the film. I excitedly sat in the front row so I could get a good picture.

Robert discussed the film and said that he had never seen The Desert Song and would be joining the audience to watch. While the Technicolor Warner Bros. film danced on the screen, I could barely focus; knowing Robert was somewhere behind me in the crowd.

After the film ended, I waited outside to see if I could get a picture and fulfil my dream of meeting Mr. Osborne. Another fan held Robert in conversation and it looked like I may not get my chance. When the fan left, I meekly approached him and asked for a photo.

“Yes, but we will have hurry because I have to meet Ann Blyth before Mildred Pierce,” he said.

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Travels with My Parents: TCMFF Through New Eyes

I returned to Hollywood by way of North Carolina last week for my third Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival (TCMFF). I was excited to visit with my fellow film lovers and bloggers, hear classic film stars discuss their careers, and watch films on the big screen- the way they should be seen.

But this year had a new layer of excitement: My parents were joining me for their first ever TCMFF. After going to the festival on my own for two years, my travel buddies were the people who originally introduced me to classic film when I was a baby.

After we left Hollywood, I realized our only photo together was documenting their first In-N-Out Burger experience. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P)

After we left Hollywood, I realized our only photo together was documenting their first In-N-Out Burger experience. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P)

This wasn’t Mom and Dad’s first time in Hollywood. My family took a trip to Los Angeles in 2006, so they were familiar with the craziness of Hollywood Boulevard complete with people dressed in disheveled Spongebob costumes or impersonating Prince’s singing.

Since my first year at TCMFF, I knew they needed to come. After two years of care giving for my grandmother and her estate, my parents took a much needed vacation to what like to call “The Disney World of Classic Film.”

We pretty much stuck together the whole festival, because we shared similar interests in the films that we watched. These are their post festival reactions:

Julie Andrews was wisked quickly down the red carpet before "Sound of Music." (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P)

Julie Andrews was wisked quickly down the red carpet before “Sound of Music.” (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P)

Mom (Lisa):
I really had a good time. I enjoyed seeing a lot of the movies and meeting all of the bloggers of websites that I have been reading for so long. My favorite was the Disney film “So Dear to My Heart,” because it was such a sweet, simple story and I really enjoyed it. It would be nice if Disney would put it out on DVD. My other favorite was “Why Be Good?” with Colleen Moore. It’s almost 90 years old and it raised a lot of the same concerns that you see now, which I thought was interesting. I also really liked “Reign of Terror.” We were one of the last people in the theater and by pure accident we were on the front row, five feet away from where Norman Lloyd was going to be interviewed. Errol Flynn’s family sat beside us during “The Sea Hawk,” which was also really cool. I loved hearing Jane Withers speak during the Hollywood Homes Movies at the Roosevelt because she was a hoot. I also loved seeing Sophia Loren. We were two rows away and she looked fantastic. The overall festival was a great experience. It was very well done and everybody there was very friendly and helpful. There wasn’t anything that I didn’t enjoy, except I wish I could have seen even more films. We will definitely have to go back another year to see Robert Osborne. I hope he’s feeling better so he can be there. I would love to hear his interviews.

Actress Sophia Loren being interviewed by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz before "Marriage Italian Style" (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P)

Actress Sophia Loren being interviewed by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz before “Marriage Italian Style” (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P)

Dad (Bill):
The two movies I enjoyed the most were “Why Be Good?” and “Don’t Bet on Women.” I liked the earlier movies, because it was interesting to see that many of the ideas between then and now are relatively the same. Cinematically, my favorite was “Psycho.” It was really worked well on the big screen. It’s one of my favorite films, and I have never seen it on the big screen. The way it was presented was very impactful. I enjoyed all of the interviews we saw. Norman Lloyd was interesting because he is 100 years old and has amazing commentary with all of his stories. He has worked with so many different people! I enjoyed seeing Sophia Loren, because she is truly an icon. I have heard about her since I was a kid and it was amazing seeing her in person. The whole film festival was very organized. My only disappointment was there were several movies that I wanted to see all scheduled at the same time and I couldn’t see them all.

Myself:
I always love meeting and visiting with readers, film fans and fellow blogger friends. My favorite film of the whole trip was “Reign of Terror,” a new-to-me film. It was my top pick of the festival and I was thrilled that I was able to see it; I was actually the last person who got into the theater before they filled up. The cinematography by John Alton under the direction of Anthony Mann was breathtaking and innovative. I enjoy Robert Cummings as an actor and loved having the opportunity to see him in darker role. “Reign of Terror” is unique, because it is a mix of film noir set during the French Revolution with some humor mixed in; not something you come across very often. Character actor Arnold Moss was probably my favorite character in the film as the delicious snake-in-the-grass Fouché. He had all the best lines.

Robert Cummings and Arnold Moss in "Reign of Terror."

Robert Cummings and Arnold Moss in “Reign of Terror.”

Another notable feature about TCMFF is you have the opportunity to see several films that either haven’t been seen in many years, because they were lost or in a restoration process, or it’s a screening of the restoration’s debut. It’s always a special experience to watch a silent film with a live accompaniment, but it was extra special to be there for Carl Davis’s premiere of the new score for “Steamboat Bill, Jr.” Live accompaniments may not be anything new for some people but that is something you seldom (or never) experience in many areas of the southeast.

Along with my parents joining, this year was a little different, because I had a few new experiences. We got into Los Angeles a little earlier and had the opportunity to do a little sight seeing. It was also my first year in the bleachers watching the red carpet events. It was fun cheering for Julie Andrews, Shirley Jones, and even the passholders, as they entered Gruaman’s Chinese Theater. I also took some time to see the handprint ceremony with Christopher Plummer, who seemed like a gentleman. It was a hilarious coincidence that I ended up sitting beside Errol Flynn’s grandson, Sean, in “The Sea Hawk.”

The 2015 TCMFF may be my favorite year so far, because nine of the 14 films I saw were new-to-me. The only downside was that TCM host Robert Osborne was unable to attend. Along with all of his other fans, I send warm wishes for a speedy recovery.

Shirley Jones on the red carpet at TCMFF. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)

Shirley Jones on the red carpet at TCMFF. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)

Films:
Queen Christina (1933)
Sea Hawk (1940)
Reign of Terror (1949)
Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)
Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928)
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
Why Be Good? (1929)
So Dear to My Heart (1948)
Air Mail (1932)
The Loved One (1965)
Nothing Lasts Forever (1984)
Don’t Bet On Women (1931)
Psycho (1960)
Marriage Italian Style (1964)

Christopher Plummer exits Grauman's Chinese before his handprint ceremony. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)

Christopher Plummer exits Grauman’s Chinese before his handprint ceremony. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)

Special Guests:
Robert Morse- red carpet and “The Loved One”
Shirley Jones- red carpet
Marty Ingles- red carpet
Diane Baker- red carpet
Norman Lloyd- red carpet and “Reign of Terror”
Film editor, Anne V. Coates- red carpet
Julie Andrews- red carpet
Christopher Plummer- red carpet and his handprint ceremony
William Shatner – Plummer’s handprint ceremony
Shirley MacLaine – Plummer’s handprint ceremony
Alex Trebek – Plummer’s handprint ceremony
Errol Flynn’s daughter, Rory Flynn- “The Sea Hawk”
Errol Flynn’s grandson, Sean Flynn (Sean and Rory sat next to me in The Sea Hawk)
Peter Fonda- “Young Mr. Lincoln”
Film Historian, Leonard Maltin
Composer Carl Davis – “Steamboat Bill Jr.
George Lazenby- “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”
Director Tom Schiller- “Nothing Lasts Forever”
Zach Galligan- “Nothing Lasts Forever”
Director Edgar Wright- “Psycho”
Sophia Loren – “Marriage Italian Style”

 

Norman Lloyd on the red carpet at TCMFF. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)

Norman Lloyd on the red carpet at TCMFF. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)

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

Comet Walking Around Hollywood: Turner Classic Film Festival 2015

tcmff2Comet Over Hollywood is covering the Turner Classic Film Festival for my third year this week. The festival runs from Thursday, March 26, through Sunday, March 30.

I arrived in Los Angeles, CA, by way of North Carolina on Tuesday for the sixth annual Turner Classic Movies Film Festival.

Once again, I will be covering various events, film screenings and interviews throughout the festival.

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

What am I most excited about this year?
-New-to-me Lizabeth Scott film “Too Late for Tears” (1949)
-New-to-me Robert Cummings film “Reign of Terror” (1949) with actor Norman Lloyd in attendance.
-“Young Mr. Lincoln” (1939) on 35mm with son of Henry Fonda, actor Peter Fonda discussing the film
-New-to-me “Don’t Bet on Women” (1931), starring Jeannette MacDonald in her only non-singing role.
-James Bond film “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969) with George Lazenby in attendance.
-New-to-me hilariously terrible looking “Boom” (1968) starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
-New-to-me rare Walt Disney film “So Dear to My Heart” (1948)
-“The Loved One” (1965) on the big screen with Robert Morse in attendance.

How can you follow me? 
Twitter: @HollywoodComet
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cometoverhollywood
Instagram: @HollywoodComet
Or here! CometOverHollywood.com

Though Robert Osborne can not attend the festival this year, he will be in our hearts and thoughts. #GetWellBob I'm pictured here with Mr. Osborne in 2013.

Though Robert Osborne can not attend the festival this year, he will be in our hearts and thoughts. #GetWellBob
I’m pictured here with Mr. Osborne in 2013.

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.

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

 

‘Try to say Robert Osborne without smiling’:Celebrating 20 years of Osborne, TCM

“I love my husband first, and then Robert Osborne second,” said Eva Marie Saint during a surprise guest appearance.

Friday afternoon during the second day of the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival turned into a sort of surprise party of TCM’s primetime host Robert Osborne.

Osborne sat before an audience, prepared to start a question and answer session called “Ask Robert.”

The questions began: What movies do you think should have been nominated for an Academy Award but weren’t? Will TCM ever film a special on Leslie Howard? How often are you in Atlanta?

Alex Trebek surprising Robert Osborne during the Ask Robert Event at The Montalban Theatre on Friday at the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival In Hollywood, California. 4/11/14  PH: Mark Hill

Alex Trebek surprising Robert Osborne during the Ask Robert Event at The Montalban Theatre on Friday at the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival In Hollywood, California. 4/11/14
PH: Mark Hill

After half a dozen questions, Osborne’s microphone supposedly malfunctioned. Then entered “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek with a microphone to remedy the issue.

“This isn’t your retirement party, Robert,” Trebek said. “We are here to celebrate 20 years of you and TCM.”

Following Trebek, celebrity guests and family members appeared in a “This is Your Life”-like fashion, sharing memories with a genuinely surprised Osborne.

“We’ve been keeping this a secret for three months!” said actress and Osborne’s close friend Diane Baker.

Eva Marie Saint, Diane Baker, Alec Bladwin, Bill Cosby (on video), Cher (on video), Robert Wagner, Jill St. John, Ben Mankwicz, Michael Feinstein and Osborne’s cousins and nieces –coming from as far as Connecticut– honored the film historian.

Jill St. John and Robert Wagner celebrating the 20th Anniversary of TCM with Robert Osborne during the Ask Robert Event at The Montalban Theatre on Friday at the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival In Hollywood, California. 4/11/14  PH: Mark Hill

Jill St. John and Robert Wagner celebrating the 20th Anniversary of TCM with Robert Osborne during the Ask Robert Event at The Montalban Theatre on Friday at the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival In Hollywood, California. 4/11/14
PH: Mark Hill

In the last 20 years, Osborne has recorded roughly 30,000 film introductions for Turner Classic Movies.

A blooper reel was shown of Osborne doing his introductions and family photos of Osborne when he was a child and at more recent family reunions was shown.

Michael Feinstein celebrating the 20th Anniversary of TCM with Robert Osborne during the Ask Robert Event at The Montalban Theatre on Friday at the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival In Hollywood, California. 4/11/14  PH: Mark Hill

Michael Feinstein celebrating the 20th Anniversary of TCM with Robert Osborne during the Ask Robert Event at The Montalban Theatre on Friday at the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival In Hollywood, California. 4/11/14
PH: Mark Hill

Pianist and singer Michael Feinstein performed “The More I See You” sung by Dick Haymes in “The Diamond Horseshoe” (1945), which Osborne said in an e-mail was his favorite song.

“This is totally unexpected,” Osborne said, obviously overcome with happiness. “My God, what a treat!”

Even when the celebration was for him, Osborne began to share career highlights and features about each guest.

“This isn’t about me, it’s about you!” Saint playfully scolded him.

During the celebration, Osborne said every time he does an introduction to a film, he is talking to three people: his elderly aunt who loves movies, a young friend who wanted to learn about movies and a friend who knew everything there is about movies.

“I wanted to say something that would interest all three of those people,” Osborne said.

At the end of the 90 minute celebration, sparkling cider was passed out in the audience, and everyone toasted to Osborne.

“The job is yours as long as you want it,” said TCM officials as they toasted to 20 years of Turner Classic Movies and Robert Osborne.

Celebrities including Jill St. John, Alec Baldwin, Alex Trebek and Robert Wagner, toast to 20 years of TCM and Robert Osborne. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica Pickens)

Celebrities including Jill St. John, Alec Baldwin, Alex Trebek and Robert Wagner, toast to 20 years of TCM and Robert Osborne. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica Pickens)

What did they have to say?

Eva Marie Saint surprising Robert Osborne during the Ask Robert Event at The Montalban Theatre on Friday at the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival In Hollywood, California. 4/11/14  PH: Mark Hill

Eva Marie Saint surprising Robert Osborne during the Ask Robert Event at The Montalban Theatre on Friday at the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival In Hollywood, California. 4/11/14
PH: Mark Hill

“Try to say Robert Osborne without smiling. I love Robert. I love my husband and then I love Robert Osborne . He is the best interviewer I have ever had. Of all my leading men (Cary Grant, Paul Newman), Robert is my favorite.”
-Eva Marie Saint, actress

Diane Baker with Robert Osborne during the Ask Robert Event at The Montalban Theatre on Friday at the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival In Hollywood, California. 4/11/14  PH: Mark Hill

Diane Baker with Robert Osborne during the Ask Robert Event at The Montalban Theatre on Friday at the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival In Hollywood, California. 4/11/14
PH: Mark Hill

“Every time I have made a transition in my life, from starting as an actress to going on to be a professor, you have been there to guide me. When I was making the move to teaching, I told you I wanted to give back to the young people. Isn’t that what you are doing on TCM?”
-Diane Baker, actress

“Robert Osborne is a handsome, honest human being with a great voice. I don’t believe he has ever had a false moment.”
Bill Cosby, in a video message, who was a supporter of TCM when it first started

The Osborne Family celebrating the 20th Anniversary of TCM with Robert Osborne during the Ask Robert Event at The Montalban Theatre on Friday at the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival In Hollywood, California. 4/11/14  PH: Mark Hill

The Osborne Family celebrating the 20th Anniversary of TCM with Robert Osborne during the Ask Robert Event at The Montalban Theatre on Friday at the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival In Hollywood, California. 4/11/14
PH: Mark Hill

“What you see is what you get. Robert is really very funny. He still goes to his high school reunions. When he talks to you, he talks to you like you are the only person in the world he wants to talk to.”
-Osborne’s cousin

“This is the longest relationship with a man I’ve ever had.”
-Cher, in a video message

“Robert and I have many of the same tasks, but we work at different times. I don’t get to see Robert often and I don’t know if he knows how important he is to me.”
– Ben Mankiewicz, TCM host

‘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

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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.