The first official day of the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival began bright and early with a press conference at the Chinese Multiplex on Thursday, April 10th.
Robert Osborne was first to speak to us. He particularly addressed that TCM would have loved to have Olivia de Havilland attend the festival, but she finds adjusting to the time changes when traveling to and from California too arduous at this stage of her life. He said the last time she visited her daughter in Southern California it took her a year to recover.
Mr. Osborne also said that he had traveled to Paris at one point to film a PRIVATE SCREENINGS interview with Miss de Havilland, but when the TCM team arrived she was ill in the hospital, and a later attempt to connect in New York was also thwarted due to illness.
Osborne listed his favorite films for us: THE RAZOR'S EDGE (1946), SUNSET BLVD. (1950), A PLACE IN THE SUN (1951), and THIS IS SPINAL TAP (1984).
Ben Mankiewicz joined us next. He spoke of his gratitude for his job at TCM and of the bond that TCM has with its audience. He reminisced about spending one-on-one time with Mickey Rooney on the TCM Classic Film Cruise and shared the names of people he felt starstruck to interview, Peter Bogdanovich and Max von Sydow. He also mentioned the work that goes into preparing for the many introductions and interviews which take place in a short time frame at the festival.
Last up were TCM's programming director, Charlie Tabesh, and festival director Genevieve McGillicuddy. Among the topics they covered were TCM being a community beyond the channel itself, including social media and the film festival, and they particularly mentioned paying attention to opinions about the channel shared via social media.
Tabesh also said it's a thrill for him when someone at the festival enjoys a film they've never seen before or perhaps never even heard of.
I wish that Terry Teachout, who just wrote a sadly uninformed piece on TCM's 20th anniversary for the Wall Street Journal, had been present for the press conference. Teachout erroneously assumes "under-30 moviegoers [are] reflexively tuning out black-and-white films because they look old fashioned" and that TCM has "aging viewers."
The reality, as described by Robert Osborne in the press conference, is that over 60% of TCM viewers are in the 18-49 age range; additionally, roughly half of festival attendees are under the age of 30. This year the festival drew more attendees in their 20s and 30s than ever before, all lured by TCM and their love for classic films. Osborne said when he took the job he thought TCM would be a "nostalgia channel" but instead it's developed a very robust audience of younger people who love the channel. All of the speakers emphasized there was no need for TCM to do anything special to court younger viewers as it already has them.
Referring back to the Wall Street Journal article, Teachout also seems completely unaware of the fact that TCM offers on demand streaming via Watch TCM. TCM is to be admired for the cutting edge way it combines "old" (classic films) and "new" (embracing social media, bloggers, and streaming). (April 18th update: I received an email from TCM this morning with the great news that Watch TCM is now also available for the Amazon Kindle Fire! I just downloaded it.)
The Chinese Theatre being readied for the festival's opening night:
Following the press conference I was happy to meet several more bloggers for the first time in front of the Chinese Theatre, a lovely group of young ladies from all over the country which included Millie, Kate, Sarah and Nicole, plus Casey, who I'd been happy to meet the day before.
Then it was time to check in with TCM at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Here's a view looking down on the lobby; interviews are regularly filmed in the upper righthand corner and the TCM Boutique is in the upper lefthand corner.
After lunch I was invited to film a short interview with TCM, where I was asked questions about what TCM and the festival mean to me. Raquel went along with me for moral support, and she was filmed as well! (There's a photo from the filming at her blog.) We had the chance to share how, after knowing each other online for years, we were able to enjoy meeting at the festival for the first time last year. I haven't seen any of the footage used to date but we may well show up in retrospective videos or other promotional footage in the future.
Thursday was also credential time! I loved the photo from THE WOMEN used for the Media passes!
Members of the media also received a nifty tote bag depicting the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, a set of notecards, and a journal.
The notecards were based on a set of paintings inspired by classic films, painted by several celebrities in honor of TCM's 20th anniversary. Some of the artists were present for the opening of Club TCM. I was thrilled to have great close-up looks at Kim Novak, the beautiful star of so many films I've enjoyed...
...and lovely Jane Seymour. I've admired Seymour for many years, particularly in SOMEWHERE IN TIME (1980) and EAST OF EDEN (1981), so I really appreciated the opportunity to see her, even though she's not a classic film era actress.
Following the opening of Club TCM, I enjoyed dinner at Baja Fresh with Joel, Aurora, Paula, and Kellee, and then it was off to the first line of the night, for CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN (1950)! That was followed by Ginger Rogers in BACHELOR MOTHER (1939), a terrific double bill.
For more on this day, particularly regarding the press conference, please visit additional reports from Lindsay's Movie Musings, Out of the Past, The Hollywood Revue, Classic Movies, and Comet Over Hollywood. Update: Raquel has now posted a detailed transcription of Robert Osborne's comments at Out of the Past.
There have been many wonderful things written about the festival. A small selection of favorite pieces:
"Movie Heaven, Courtesy of TCM" by Leonard Maltin
"My TCM Film Fest Family Album" by Will McKinley at Cinematically Insane
"Who I Met, Who I Saw and My Thoughts on the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival" by Raquel at Out of the Past -- and be sure to check out all of Raquel's daily recaps!
"2014 TCM Film Festival Summary" by Joel Williams at Joel's Classic Film Passion
"TCM Film Festival 2014: The Stars" by KC at Classic Movies
"TCMFF: Days 1 and 2 Recap" by Lindsay at Lindsay's Movie Musings
"2014 TCM Classic Film Festival Quick Recap" by Chris Sturhann at Blog of the Darned
"The 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival: A Bridge Between Past and Present" by Daniel Schindel at Los Angeles Magazine
There are many more great blog posts and articles on the festival, so don't stop with this list -- I'm trying to read them all!
For more links to my coverage of the festival, please visit The 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival in Review.
Coming soon: A review of the first film I saw at the festival, CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN (1950), and a recap of Day Three, with much more still to follow!