UPDATE #2: Robert Osborne Will Miss TCM Film Festival due to “Minor Health Procedure”

Updated 3/20/15 – 2:30 p.m. (ET)

sophia_loren_gallery_38In an update posted to the TCM Classic Film Festival website, TCM revealed that the previously scheduled Robert Osborne interview with Sophia Loren at TCMFF will instead be conducted by Edoardo Ponti, Loren’s son with producer Carlo Ponti Sr.

Ponti directed his mother in the 2014 short film HUMAN VOICE, which was screened at last year’s Cannes Film Festival with Loren in attendance. He also wrote and directed BETWEEN STRANGERS (2002), in which Loren co-starred with Mira Sorvino, Debra Kara Unger, Pete Postlethwaite, and Klaus Maria Brandauer. (This news was first reported by Christy Putnam.)

In addition, Ben Mankiewicz will fill in for Osborne at the Wednesday, March 25 TCMFF “Preview Event” with Angie Dickinson in the Blossom Room (site of the first Academy Awards) at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Admission to this event is $25 and it’s open only to Citi customers. On the event website Citi says “Due to medical reasons, Robert Osborne is no longer able to host this event.”

Original article – Published March 18

osborne1Turner Classic Movies announced today on Twitter and Facebook that primetime host Robert Osborne, the face of the network since its launch in 1994, will not attend the TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood next week, due to a “medical procedure.”

In a letter from the 82-year-old host to attendees of the network’s sixth annual classic film confab (which kicks off next Thursday) Osborne writes, “I’ve been putting off a minor health procedure (as everyone tends to do now and then). I planned to take care of it as soon as the Festival was over but my doctor said, ‘enough already, Osborne. Let’s get this done now so that sooner rather than later you can get back to introducing movies on TCM.'”

In addition to emceeing the opening night 50th anniversary tribute to THE SOUND OF MUSIC with guests Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, and many other of the festival’s highest profile screenings, Osborne was also slated to interview Oscar-winning actress Sophia Loren for a special to be broadcast next year. Osborne has conducted his Live from the TCM Classic Film Festival interviews in each of the TCMFF’s first five go-rounds, with those specials subsequently airing on the channel and getting a DVD release.

OsboNo word yet on who will cover Osborne’s duties on-site, which were also expected to include daily primetime wrap-arounds and interviews recorded in a lobby studio at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and appearances at events for top-tier Spotlight passholders. (Those passes – priced at $1,649 – sold out in early December, just three weeks after they were announced.)

How (or if) Osborne’s medical treatment will impact his on-air appearances on the channel is also unclear, though a brief convalescence would likely not be noticeable to viewers, due to TCM’s practice of pre-taping wrap-arounds several weeks in advance.

While the abrupt nature of this announcement, just days before an event that is heavily promoted as an opportunity to meet and interact with Osborne, is worrisome to fans of the channel (this one in particular), it’s also not the first time that health issues have taken him out of the spotlight.

In July of 2011, TCM announced that Osborne would be taking a three-month hiatus for minor surgery. That leave of absence ended up being longer than expected, with the beloved host returning to air December 1. Primetime hosting duties were filled for nearly five months by a parade of guest stars, beginning with actors Robert Wagner, Tippi Hedren and Jane Powell, and including stints from Rolling Stone film critic Peter Travers, singer Chris Isaak, New York Magazine critic David Edelstein, film historian Donald Bogel and actresses Lorraine Bracco, Winona Ryder and Illeana Douglas. When Osborne did finally return, fans responded with expected enthusiasm, and the groundswell of emotion received national press coverage.

A year later, in August of 2012, TCM again announced that Osborne would be “taking some time off,” this time offering no expected duration. That on-air hiatus lasted from August 30 until October 1, with Osborne explaining in a letter posted on the TCM website that his absence was actually a “vacation,” due primarily to his increasing workload at the network. Osborne’s note made only an oblique reference to health, suggesting that his new schedule would allow him to “occasionally sleep and stay as healthy as possible” for non-broadcast responsibilities, like the TCM Film Festival and the annual TCM Cruise.

The on-air configuration of the network changed during that period, with Mankiewicz’s role expanded from weekend daytime host to fellow primetime host. Mankiewicz took over Tuesday nights, Friday nights, and Silent Sunday Nights and TCM Imports in the overnight hours on Sundays. (He later ceded Friday nights to guest hosts under the TCM Spotlight banner of themed programming.) TCM also changed the nature of how their hosting segments were shot, with Mankiewicz moving into a newly designed set at the TCM studios in Atlanta and Osborne’s segments now being recorded in New York (where he is based).

And this year, though no official announcement was made, Osborne has been absent from the channel on a handful of nights, with Mankiewicz hosting in his stead. (On those occasions, Mankiewicz said he was “in for Robert Osborne” or that Osborne “has the night off.”)

23632_006_2945.jpgThough Osborne will be absent from this year’s TCM Classic Film Festival, his presence will undoubtedly be strongly felt. And blogger Elise Crane Derby reports that attendees will be able to offer their “get well” wishes to Osborne via a mailbox at the festival information desk, outside of Club TCM in the lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel.

Finally, on a personal note, the prospect of meeting Robert Osborne and my fellow classic film fans in person at the first TCMFF in 2010 got me through a life threatening illness and open heart surgery in December of 2009. I know I’m not alone in that sentiment, as countless viewers have reported that Osborne has been a comfort in times of sickness and difficulty. That speaks to the unique qualities of the man and the channel he represents, and I know I join with all TCM viewers in hopes for his speedy and complete recovery.

Robert Osborne and Jane Powell christen the first TCM SIghtseeing Bus Tour in New York in 2013 (photo by Will)

Robert Osborne and actress Jane Powell christen the inaugural voyage of the TCM Sightseeing Bus Tour in New York in 2013 (photo by Will)

About willmckinley

I'm a New York City-based writer, video producer, print journalist, radio/podcast host, and social media influencer. I've been a guest on Turner Classic Movies (interviewed by Robert Osborne), NPR, Sirius Satellite Radio, and the official TCM podcast. My byline has appeared in Slate.com and more than 100 times in the pages of NYC alt weeklies like The Villager and Gay City News. I'm also a social media copywriter for Sony's getTV and a contributor to four film-and-TV-related books: "Monster Serial," "Bride of Monster Serial," "Taste the Blood of Monster Serial," and "Remembering Jonathan Frid."
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50 Responses to UPDATE #2: Robert Osborne Will Miss TCM Film Festival due to “Minor Health Procedure”

  1. Tara Feeley says:

    I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again; I love reading your blog! Thank you …for being you! 🙂

  2. Peter Gong says:

    Well written, Will! Nicely put. Let’s us all pray for Mr. O’s speedy recovery. See you next week! Let’s chat!!!

  3. That’s too bad. No one back here at home is going to be nearly as impressed if I only cup Mankiewicz’s rear.

  4. Scott says:

    Holy Moley, Will, I did not know about the open heart surgery note. That’s an amazing story.

  5. Elise says:

    I say a tweet by Ben that he was preparing for the Lloyd interview

  6. Jesse says:

    thank you for the update…it is the one thing on my bucket list….to go to the festival and ask Mr. Osborne a ??? or two…a speedy recovery and thank you for this wonderful article…TCM has gotten me through 13 brain surgeries….

  7. Kelly says:

    Get well Robert we need you at TCM at perhaps 2016 Film festival hopefully

  8. Oh man, seriously? As always, you never fail to bring the big news first – this is the first I’m hearing of this. I hope everything’s okay. Thanks for filling us in, Will x

  9. Pingback: A Classic Movie Blog: Classic Links

  10. psweet says:

    GOD BLESS YOU

  11. coconut2012 says:

    Because I admire & truly love Mr. Osborne, I hope he makes a speedy recovery however i wish him to retire already.

    It’s time to do so.

  12. Tony Franzese says:

    Mr. Osbourne is “C”lass ! And was happy to watch Shanghai Express tonight as his guest. Thank you Robert & TMC. The show would not be the same otherwise.

  13. Anne McCracken says:

    TCM & Robert brought me through cancer. He deserves all the time off he can get. We’ll take him on any terms.

  14. Pingback: Dates Announces for 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival + 5 Ways to Keep it Fresh | cinematically insane

  15. judy says:

    please go back to saying what is playing next on the daytime shows.. my sister is blind but loves TCM.. since you stopped saying what is next, she has to wait until 8 p.m. not goodfor the vision impaired.. thank you for your time.. love TCM as well

  16. Julia Reed says:

    Amazing story, and so well-written article. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Jean Wright says:

    why do we not get movies like Father Goose ,with Cary Grant if you can please put it on a weekend afternoon

  18. From the first airing of TCM I have been in constant admiration of the poise and grace, ease and knowledge that is Robert Osbourne. a real treasure, just know you are loved and a necessary part of our lives. God bless you and help you to be back soon. W. Thanks for the article.

    • Sherry Bigelisen says:

      My sister were raised on the films now shown on TCM and now on other cable stations. We’ve been devoted fans of TCM since it premiered. We watched old films on TBS before that.

      When we happened to meet Osborne on 57th Street and 7th Ave. he was charmingly delightful. He, along with a companion, graciously took the time to shake hands and speak with us both. I never like to intrude on celebrities as they deserve their privacy. However we are both such fans of this knowledgeable gentleman we took advantage of the chance meeting. I hope he recovers and once again hosts TCM.

  19. Izzy Cole says:

    My favorite movie channel ever is TCM, and I admire Robert Osborne. He is so dignified and gracious and so full of information and knowledge of all the movies and stars of present and past. Hope you have a speedy recovery and come back when you get better. You are in my prayers.

  20. what is going on now 4/2016 with Robert Osborne not appearing on TCM without any given reason? Is it still his health? Is he expected to come back? When will his fans be told about his current status? gary and Sandra auerback

  21. We love u Bob. U r the best.

  22. Claudia Sigle says:

    Robert get well soon. You’re missed by your fans And we all hope for a speedy return. Your warm smile and endless knowledge of the films you introduce are things we look forward to and miss when you’re gone. But most of all we hope that you will be well.

  23. Parev says:

    We miss you Robert…no one can take your place for no one can tell about the movie we’re about to see. You add something exciting that no one else does. Get well soon. We love you.

  24. Mary mccray says:

    Hope all is well with Robert miss him have him prayer him

  25. Eileen says:

    I also love and admire Robert O. He has such a wonderful way about him. Everyone feels like they know him personally. I only wish I did! Get well soon, Robert.

  26. Linda Seller says:

    We miss you- you are in our prayers!!!!

  27. Vince Butz says:

    With all respect TCM movies without Robert Osborne to introduce them is just not TCM. Thanks so much for keeping the TCM fans up to date.

  28. Susan P. says:

    We all wish you a speedy recovery. You are unbelievably missed.

  29. Robin Coates says:

    Get Well soon! You are the consummate host with class and swag.
    Robin

  30. E. Hefty says:

    Others may admirably stand in, but no one can replace Mr. Osborne. Hope he is well soon. I am a passionate friend , if not an offcionato, of classic films. The malady is catching, as all my family is TCM smitten.

  31. Beatrice A Prickett says:

    I am indeed a bit disheartened to read of Robert Osborne’s illness and absence from TCM for a while. I am an ardent TCM fan and look forward to seeing him on my favorite channel. Just seeing and listening to him, as he describes and gives insight into the movies I’ve watched and loved for years, is such a joy to me. I wish him well, a speedy recovery and watch with anticipation for his return to TCM.

  32. Mr Osborne I greatly miss your presence on TCM I recently lost my husband and my loneliness has been relieved quite a bit by seeing and hearing you talk about the classic films I grew up with. Please get well and return to us you are so greatly missed. Many hugs. Nancy s.

    • Alma Rosa Beghtol says:

      I was deeply saddened when I heard of Robert Osbourn’s absence from TCM. He is a class act and I am a fan of classic movies because of him! We miss you and pray for your return soon!

  33. Alma Rosa Beghtol says:

    We miss you and pray that you return soon! You are a class act!

  34. Holly Vincent says:

    Please let us know how Robert Osbourne is doing. I miss him on TCM so very much. He is truly a treasure. As I watched and listened to his recent narration about Olivia De Haviland on TCM, I realized how long it had been since I’d seen him on TCM. I hope he will be well again.

  35. Chris says:

    I miss watching TCM with you, Mr. Osborne. I always look forward to sitting down with you, eager to hear what you have to say before and after each movie. You are a first class gentleman and a walking book of knowledge when it comes to the movies. It’s like you are part of my family, and I never felt alone watching TCM because you were always there with me. Wishing you good health. Looking forward to the return of TCM (That Classy Man-Mr. Robert Osborne)

  36. Joan Smith says:

    Robert. TCM is not the same without you. Miss your lovely smile. Come back sooooooooon.

  37. Cheri' Boka says:

    I miss you so much! You truly are TCM, and it’s not the same without you there. Big hug and lots of well wishes for a rapid recovery. I look forward to seeing you soon! xo

  38. Pat Greene says:

    I miss Robert on TCM and hope he is well.

  39. Fred Bayer says:

    Robert,a wonderful human being.My wife and I miss your warm and interesting stories about
    TCM’s varied movies.Come back soon!

  40. Tina Karayanis says:

    We wish you a speedy recovery you are missed 😊

  41. bonnieb4d says:

    I really miss seeing Robert Osborne on TCM. Hopefully he will have a speedy recovery. I had no idea of his age until reading this article and feel quite selfish in wanting him to return on air. Whatever his decision would be, I wish him health and happiness.

    Best regards

  42. Joseph A. Villella says:

    I miss Robert Osborne. Is he coming back?

  43. Earl francis says:

    i miss mr osborne hope his sugery goes well.
    and that he makes a speedy recovery.
    Tcm is my favorite channel.
    god bless and return soon mr osborne

  44. Donna D says:

    I’m a huge TCM fan and YOU dear Robert Osborne make it even better. Wishing you a speedy recovery. Thank you.

  45. Karen Del Bianco says:

    Love you Robert Osborne!!!!

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