Thursday, April 17, 2014

The 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day Two

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!


Blogger Along These Lines ... said...

Great round up. It's amazing how fast you make friends at these events.

3:24 AM  
Blogger Jerry E said...

Hi Laura
Gosh, what an amazing place to be! I very much envy you having all this on your doorstep. I am following and very much enjoying your day-by-day blow-by-blow account of events!

BTW, a while back you reviewed "THE MONUMENTS MEN" and I said I had tickets to see it. Well my wife and I went to see it last night and both thought it one of the finest new movies we have seen in some time. I am most impressed with George Clooney as a film-maker (he starred/directed and co-produced) this intelligent and adult movie.
Seeing Clooney in his moustache and army uniform I was reminded more than once of the King, Clark Gable.

Best wishes,

3:34 AM  
Blogger Irene said...

Cheaper by the Dozen - one of my favorite films since I was a youngster. Own a DVD now :)

Regarding the younger generation not being interested in classic movies - ha! I know my daughter (who is turning 30 - yikes!) has always loved them, but then I think I probably passed on my love of them to her as you probably did to your children. On the other hand my daughter's boyfriend, who is 25, also loves them and his parents are not really into movies, so go figure. His favorite movie is Casablanca :)
Sounds like you had a marvelous time!

9:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the mention and the link, Laura. And thanks for disputing that absurd article.

11:59 AM  
Blogger Nicole Newcomb said...

I'm so glad you had a great time at the festival and it was wonderful to meet you. :)

12:41 PM  
Blogger kate gabrielle said...

It was so nice to meet you, Laura! Hopefully we'll all see you again next year -- we're definitely planning on returning!

ps. Thank you so much for linking to us! Nicole's blog is Vintage Film Nerd, at :)

4:00 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

It really is amazing how quickly everyone gets to know each other. I enjoyed chatting with total strangers in lines as well as with people I had previously gotten to know online.

Thank you so much, Jerry! I wish you and my readers across the Atlantic could visit. I'm *so* glad to know you enjoyed THE MONUMENTS MEN so well. As I've written before, I think many critics got this one wrong and that over the long run the movie and its reputation will hold up well.

Irene, isn't CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN fun? I've now posted my review. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the "younger generation" and classic films!

I'm so happy to have mentioned your wonderful post, Will, it's one of my favorites on the festival. I was disappointed that the WSJ published a column based on assumptions rather than facts.

Nicole and Kate, I loved meeting you! And it was fun to see SUNDAY IN NEW YORK with someone who loves it so much. :)

Kate, thanks so much for sharing Nicole's link, I'd had a memory lapse and had intended to research it later. Thanks to you I've now updated my post to include that link as well!

See you in '15!

Best wishes,

9:15 PM  

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