The Faces of TCM Remembers 2014

936full-lauren-bacallBreak out the Kleenex, because the 2014 edition of TCM Remembers is here.

In mid-December of every year, TCM honors the cinematic luminaries we’ve lost in the last twelve months with an emotional assemblage of film clips, artfully rendered still images, and newly shot framing footage, scored with an emotional piece of popular music. It’s an annual moment of reflection and catharsis for classic films fans, and an opportunity to pay one final tribute to beloved figures we’ve lost. This year’s montage is a powerful piece of filmmaking, covering a period in which an inordinate number of icons left us: Shirley Temple, Lauren Bacall, Mickey Rooney, and James Garner, among many others – along with gone-too-soon contemporary performers like Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Annex - Temple, Shirley_21TCM Remembers 2014 includes original framing footage shot on the grounds of the Swan House, an historic Atlanta mansion completed in 1928 for the Edward H. Inman family. The music track is “All I Want,” an ethereal ballad by the Irish rock band Kodaline which was also featured in THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. The montage opens with an image of Eli Wallach from THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960) and concludes with truly tear-jerking vocals of Shirley Temple singing “Auld Lang Syne” from WEE WILLIE WINKIE (1937). In between, the film honors 68 actors, directors, producers, writers, cinematographers, visual designers, make-up artists and stuntmen. There’s even a shot of Frank Mankiewicz, the journalist, political strategist and father of TCM host Ben Mankiewicz.

The five-minute film debuted on-air today, and is also posted on TCM’s YouTube page.  TCM Remembers 2014 was produced by TCM’s Andrew Alonso and directed and edited by Scott Lansing of Sabotage Film Group.

Here’s a list of the unforgettable faces in TCM Remembers 2014:

072014-kabc-garner11. Eli Wallach, actor
2. Mickey Rooney, actor
3. Richard Attenborough, actor/director
4. Maximilian Schell, actor
5. Gordon Willis, cinematographer
6. Frank Yablans, producer
7. Philip Seymour Hoffman, actor
8. Andrew V. McLaglen, director
9. Donald Sinden, actor
10. Saul Zaentz, producer
11. Mike Nichols, filmmaker
12. George Sluizer, director
13. James Rebhorn, actor
14. Birgitta Valberg, actress
15. Bob Hoskins, actor
16. Joan Rivers, comedian/actresseli-wallach-768
17. Alicia Rhett, actress
18. Jacques Bergerac, actor
19. Paul Mazursky, writer/director/actor
20. Elaine Stritch, actress
21. Menahem Golan, producer/director
22. Alain Resnais, director
23. Brian G. Hutton, director
24. Ralph Waite, actor
25. Gottfried John, actor
16. Carla Laemmle, actress
27. Angus Lennie, actor
28. Don Keefer, actor
29. Keiko Awaji, actress
30. Joan Lorring, actress
31. H.R. Giger, visual designer
32. Herb Jeffries, Actormickey-rooney-5
33. Lauren Bacall, actress
34. Dickie Jones, actor
35. Juanita Moore, actress
36. Ken Takahura, actor
37. Gary McLarty, stuntman
38. Lorenzo Semple Jr., screenwriter
39. Ann Carter, actress
40. Martha Hyer, actress
41. Marc Platt, actor
42. Ken Thorne, composer
43. Mary Anderson, actress
44. Shirley Yamaguchi, actress
45. Renee Asherson, actress
46. Oswald Morris, cinematographer
47. Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., actorAnnex - Bergen, Polly_01
48. James Shigeta, actor
49. Richard Kiel, actor
50. Audrey Long, actress
51. Karlheinz Bohm, actor
52. Rosemary Murphy, actress
53. Frank Mankiewicz, journalist
54. Donatas Banionis, actor
55. Russell Johnson, actor
56. Polly Bergen, actress
57. Stefan Gierasch, actor
58. Richard Schaal, actor
59. Shoji Yasui, actor
60. Dick Smith, make-up artist
61. Stanley Rubin, writer/producer
62. Sid Caesar, actor
63. Harold Ramis, writer/director/actor
64. Geoffrey Holder, actor
65. Robin Williams, actor
66. Ruby Dee, actress
67. James Garner, actor
68. Shirley Temple, actress

Kudos to all involved on another fine job.

And here are the individual TCM Remembers montages for Shirley Temple (who died on February 10), Mickey Rooney (April 6), Eli Wallach (June 24), James Garner (July 19), and Lauren Bacall (August 12).

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Play It Again, TCM Auction

LionFollow the Yellow Brick Road to Bonhams in New York City on Monday, November 24 for There’s No Place Like Hollywood, the “definitive movie memorabilia auction,” presented in conjunction with Turner Classic Movies.

Beginning at 1 p.m. (ET) in their Madison Avenue showroom, Bonhams will auction 378 costumes, props, scripts, personal items, posters, and all manner of movie memorabilia from the 1910s to the 2010s. And if you’re not able to be there in person, just click your heels – and your mouse – and log on to Bonham’s website, where you can follow the festivities live. (The auction is expected to last 5-6 hours.)

I attended a press preview on Thursday and got up close and personal with the original Cowardly Lion costume worn by Bert Lahr in THE WIZARD OF OZ. (There was a secondary costume used in the film and in live events which sold at auction recently for $1 million; this costume is expected to far exceed that.)

Designed by MGM’s famed designer Adrian, the Lion costume was constructed of actual lion skin and fur and contains a hidden front zipper and an attached tail. Archivist and collector James Comisar, founder of the Museum of Television, acquired the costume twenty years ago after it was re-discovered in one of the oldest buildings on the MGM Lot. I chatted with textile conservator Cara Varnell who told me about cleaning the costume hair-by-hair, to restore the Lion to his cowardly former glory. And you thought your job was tough.

You can see all my pictures from the press preview here.

And, since I know many of you won’t make it to Bonhams for the auction, I shot a little video tour of the Cowardly Lion costume and some of the other WIZARD OF OZ items.

The other signature item at the auction is Sam’s piano from CASABLANCA (1942). If the Maltese Falcon sold for a record $4 million (with Bonhams premium) at the first TCM auction last year, who knows how much the piano will go for. CASABLANCA is probably the bet known classic film of all time, and Sam’s piano is the most integral prop in the film. Outside of the ruby slippers, there may be no other item more representative of the Studio Era.

And if you don’t believe me, just ask Robert Osborne, who spent some time chatting with me at the press preview, and was nice enough to pose for this exclusive picture.

2014_11_20_Osborne_by-Will“Thanks for everything you do for the fans,” I said to the patron saint of classic film. “We really appreciate it.”

Here’s looking at you, Bob.

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UPDATE: TCM Returns to DISH Network After Month-Long Blackout

Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 12.25.28 PMGreat news for classic film fans who subscribe to DISH Network: Turner Classic Movies is back. At least until March.

After a monthlong blackout that began on October 21, a joint announcement was made today that DISH and Turner have reached an agreement that will temporarily restore TCM, CNN, CNN en Espanol, HLN, TruTV, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, and Boomerang to more than 14 million subscribers nationwide. With this new agreement, the threatened blackout of TNT and TBS will also be forestalled. DISH’s contract for carriage of TNT and TBS was set to expire on December 5.

According to a Turner statement, first quoted by The Wrap, “DISH Network and Turner Broadcasting announced today that they have mutually decided to restore service of CNN, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, truTV, TCM, HLN, CNN en Espanol and Boomerang, and extend the carriage of TBS and TNT. Dish and Turner will not have any further comment.”

Variety is reporting that the agreement is only a short-term extension. The deal that was confirmed this morning will restore the Turner networks only through March, essentially giving both sides five more months to resolve their differences.

Both sides have dismantled their propaganda websites, as well, with the Dish Stand For You site and Turner’s Save My Shows page trumpeting the resolution of the dispute. Of course neither side mentions that the solution may only be temporary.

This article will be updated periodically as more information becomes available. 

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VIDEO: Robert Osborne Introduces MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET at Macy’s

postThere was a chill in the New York City air, but the hearts of classic film fans were toasty warm when Robert Osborne introduced an open-air screening of MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET outside Macy’s Herald Square tonight.

The beloved TCM host – the only white-haired man more popular than Santa himself – was joined by Amy Kule, executive producer of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and a full house of fans seated in comfy couches before a giant LED screen. And yes, Virginia, the 1947 film was presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio, and nobody seemed confused by the black bars on the left and right of the screen.

Over the course of the day, TCM screened the Christmas classic seven times, with thousands of New Yorkers taking a break from their work day to enjoy an iconic movie and a free cookie, courtesy of Macy’s. (TCM Tour guide Sarah Lilley told me that she handed out 3,000 cookies to fans in five hours. Who knows how many pre-Holiday diets she single-handedly ruined.)

This was the second year TCM and Macy’s partnered for these screenings, and it looks like it won’t be the last.

“This has become our annual tradition,” Kule said to Osborne before tonight’s screening. “And I’m so pleased that you’re here.”

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Update: TCM Brings MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET to Macy’s 34th Street

TreeUpdated 11/21/14 w/ pictures and video from the screenings. 

“This is quite an opportunity!” Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) tells Doris Walker (Maureen O’Hara) when she offers him a job “playing” Santa in MIRACLE ON 34th STREET (1947).

The same might be said for Turner Classic Movies, which has announced a full day of screenings of the Christmas classic outside the iconic department store in which it’s set – Macy’s Herald Square in New York City. On Thursday, November 20th, TCM will present MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET seven times, with on-air host Robert Osborne introducing the 6:15 p.m. 6:00 p.m. screening live.  (No word yet on whether he’ll arrive by sleigh.)

MIRACLE ON 34th STREET will screen at 8:15 a.m, 10:00 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 3:15 p.m., 6:00 p.m., and 8:00 p.m. in beautiful black-and-white on a large LED screen outside in Herald Square Plaza on Broadway between 34th and 35th streets. (This is the area in which Macy’s stages musical numbers for their annual Thanksgiving Day parade.) Limited seating will be available to the public, but fans are permitted to bring chairs of their own to insure seating (just not this one). Macy’s is accessible via the B/D/F/M/Q/R and PATH trains to 34th Street and 6th Avenue, or the 1/2/3/A/C/E, Amtrak, and New Jersey Transit to Penn Station at 34th and 7th Avenue.

In addition to Osborne’s appearance, the 6:15 p.m. 6:00 p.m. showing will kick off with “a special holiday greeting on behalf of TCM and Macy’s” and an appearance by Amy Kule, executive producer of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (essentially the job Maureen O’Hara’s character had in the film). And all screenings are FREE.

So what exactly is the “opportunity” here for TCM?

77173-004-FAA96EFDThe network does not currently control broadcast rights to MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET, so this day-long marathon is the only chance to connect the TCM brand with one of the best-known Holiday films of all time. For reasons that are beyond my comprehension, viewers who avoid older films like sour egg nog most of the year often rediscover a select few during the Christmas season. Films that benefit from this – IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946) on NBC, WHITE CHRISTMAS (1954) on AMC, A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983) on TBS – tend to become viewing traditions for families, and can help to introduce new fans to the classics.

And what better way to initiate an old-movie-weirdo-in-training than by watching a great old movie with other fans (weird or otherwise)? Whether it’s at an historic theater in Hollywood as part of TCM’s annual Classic Film Festival, or outside Macy’s during the Holidays, this is one of the things TCM does best: creating live experiences that transcend the television.

“It’s our mission to share the greatest movies of all time with new audiences,” newly minted TCM general manager Jennifer Dorian said in a statement. “And this is a treat for the whole family.”

Best of all: the forecast calls for unseasonably mild temperatures on November 20. That truly is a Christmas miracle.

PicUPDATE 11/20/14

Here are my Instagram shots from the 1:30 p.m. screening:

TCM_001 TCM_002 TCM_003 TCM_004 TCM_005Update 11/21/14 

Watch my video of Robert Osborne’s introduction to the evening screening here.

 

 

 

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TCM Survives Turner Layoffs, Announces New G.M.

RobertAfter months of speculation in the wake of announced layoffs and buyouts, and a grassroots campaign in support of Turner Classic Movies and its staff, the impact cost-cutting initiatives at Turner Broadcasting will have on TCM is now clear.

First, the good news: TCM will continue to air classic films without commercial interruption, as the channel has done for the last two decades, to the delight of millions of viewers (including this one). And the popular “off-channel” experiences that allow TCM’s fiercely loyal fan base (again, looking in the mirror) to connect with the network in-person will continue.

“TCM is committed to maintaining the same high quality you’ve come to expect from us,” a Turner spokesperson told me. “That includes TCM’s extraordinary lineup of movies, which will continue to be presented uncut and commercial-free, as well as live events like the TCM Classic Film Festival and the TCM Cruise.”

Also, in the wake of an extensive management reorganization at Turner that culminated with the hiring of Kevin Reilly as the new head of TNT and TBS last week, I can report exclusively that TCM has a new general manager. 

Jennifer Dorian Portrait Senior Vice President, Strategy DevelopmentEffective immediately, Jennifer Dorian, previously the chief strategy officer for Turner Entertainment Networks, takes on the position of general manager of TCM, a role formerly filled by Jeff Gregor. Whereas Gregor managed the channel in addition to his responsibilities as chief marketing officer for sister networks TNT and TBS, Dorian will be dedicated solely to TCM, which will remain based in Atlanta.

In her previous role with the company, Dorian had been in charge of strategy development for TNT, TBS, truTV, and TCM. She joined Turner fifteen years ago after stints at Pizza Hut, Inc. and The Coca-Cola Company and led the rebranding of TNT in 2000 and TBS in 2004, as well as the relaunch of Court TV as truTV in 2007. But perhaps most notably to TCM fans, according to Deadline Hollywood, Turner management credits Dorian “with the exploration of brand extension into new areas – such as TCM’s Classic Film Festival.” The fact that the new TCM chief helped to establish a hugely popular venue for viewers to connect with the network face-to-face should be encouraging to loyalists.

Now the bad news: there will be fewer of those faces at the network to connect with.

twI’m told by a source that Turner has laid off approximately a dozen TCM employees as part of the company-wide Turner 2020 initiative, first revealed by CEO John Martin on June 2. While the loss of even one job at  is disheartening, it appears that TCM has been impacted the least of all the Turner networks in terms of headcount reductions.

On October 6, Turner announced they would eliminate 1,475 positions, including 975 in Atlanta, and those layoffs are already rolling out across the company. CNN has been hit with staff reductions in Atlanta, Washington D.C., New York and Los Angeles, with roughly 300 positions – 8 percent of the network’s total staff – expected to be eliminated. And Layoff Fever has also spread throughout parent company Time Warner, with HBO expected to eliminate 7% of its 2,400 employees and Warner Bros. already in the process of cutting 10% of its 9,000 person workforce.

So how did TCM emerge from a harrowing and tumultuous period largely intact, when other sister networks within the company did not? Part of that may have to do with the channel’s relatively small full time staff. But perhaps a larger component has to do with Turner’s acknowledgment that TCM is a core brand with a passionate viewership that is fiercely loyal to the channel and its staff.

“(O)ur parent company recognizes that TCM is a very valuable jewel in the portfolio,” Scott McGee, a senior writer/producer at the network, told Alicia Mayer and me on a recent episode of Hollywood Time Machine.

With Dorian, a marketing guru described as “a big champion of the (TCM) brand,” at the helm, a newly autonomous Turner Classic Movies may be poised for growth in areas viewers can only imagine. And, as DISH network continues the inexplicable blackout of the channel that began on October 21, now may be the time for TCM to start thinking outside the (cable) box.

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Update: Dish CEO’s “Antagonistic” Comments Damage Negotiations with Turner

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 4.44.38 PMUpdated 11/6/14 

As the dispute between DISH Network and Turner Broadcasting enters its third week, relations between the two companies are starting to feel like a marriage gone sour.

On an earnings call with investors this morning, Turner CEO John Martin responded to DISH CEO Charlie Ergen’s comments about the satcaster’s blackout of eight Turner Broadcasting channels, calling his remarks “antagonistic and aggressive.”

The blackout of TCM, CNN, CNN en Espanol, HLN, TruTV, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, and Boomerang began in the early morning hours of October 21, impacting more than 14 million DISH customers nationwide. Martin expressed confusion at the tone of the comments today, implying that the two sides had been far closer to an agreement than Ergen’s remarks suggested. 

Ergen“(W)hile there clearly were more deal points to get done, they were not of the type of nature that would result in networks going dark,” Variety quotes Martin as saying.

Martin’s conspicuous use of the past tense also extends to Dish’s announced “virtual cable” service, which will deliver a paired-down offering of channels to subscribers via the Internet for $20-$30 per month. The “over-the-top” (OTT) offering is designed for cord-cutters and so-called cord-nevers who “don’t live in the same place all the time,” such as college students and twenty-something Millennials. A deal had been place to include Turner networks on the service, but Martin said Turner’s involvement in that offering was now “unclear.”

“To us, it is unclear exactly what the dispute with Dish is,” the Hollywood Reporter quotes Martin as saying. “(W)e’re disappointed particularly, given the fact that Dish had previously agreed to our network’s rates and our carriage proposals weeks ago.”

unnamedSo if the blackout is not about Turner’s demand for higher subscription fees from DISH customers, as DISH has insisted from Day 1, then what complicated the negotiations, which collapsed on October 21?

One potential sticking point may be HBO’s standalone streaming service, set to launch in 2015, which was announced by Time Warner on October 15 – just days before the blackout began. Although details of the service have not yet been revealed, HBO CEO Richard Plepler said today that the network is looking to pull in as many as 5 million subscribers with the subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) version of HBO, which may (or may not) resemble the HBO GO streaming platform currently offered to customers with authenticated pay TV subscriptions.

Targeting an available customer base of 10 million broadband-only customers in the US who don’t subscribe to cable TV, Turner’s corporate cousin HBO may find itself in direct competition with DISH’s planned internet-only offering.

Whatever the reasons, like in all disintegrating marriages, it’s the kids (or in this case the viewers) who are suffering the most in this fight.

Update 11/6/14 

Turner has updated its Save My Shows website, referencing the the “aggressive nature of the comments” from Ergen and the fact that DISH had agreed to increased rates for the blacked-out channels “weeks ago.” DISH’s consumer Dish Stands For You continues to insist “Turner is making unreasonable financial demands.”

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Posted in DISH Network, TCM | 16 Comments