Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The TCM Classic Film Festival 2020 Special Home Edition

This week Turner Classic Movies will be celebrating a "Special Home Edition" of the TCM Classic Film Festival.

As mentioned in my April TCM Highlights post, the at-home festival will run from April 16th through 19th, the original festival dates. The "in person" festival, of course, had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus epidemic.

Yesterday I was fortunate to sit in on a press conference call regarding the home edition of the festival. There were two call sessions due to the number of people involved, so I also appreciated reporting done on the second call by people like Christy at Christy's Inkwells and Jessica at Comet Over Hollywood, as different topics were discussed.

TCM host Ben Mankiewicz, General Manager Pola Chagnon, and Senior Programmer Charlie Tabesh were on the call. Some of the key takeaways gleaned from the two sessions:

*Tabesh came up with "robust" plans for the on-air festival the same day TCM realized they would have to cancel the Hollywood event.

*There was no way to simply postpone the event to later this year due to so many "moving pieces" including talent and venue availability.

*Many things planned for this year's festival will carry over to the 2021 festival, but some things will change due to different anniversaries, new restorations, or talent availability.

*Tabesh has worked to make this weekend's event "special," including "a lot of material" that would not typically be on TCM.

*The schedule largely focuses on films shown at past festivals in order to utilize special materials from the festivals, including interviews and tributes.

*Mankiewicz said "Programming this weekend will look different, and isn’t shot on my set."

*The cancellation of this year's festival will not impact TCM's programming negatively; nothing (i.e., new restorations) that was planned to be shown on TCM after screening at the festival will be held back from the coming year's schedule. At the same time, they had rights to some things for the live event which didn't necessarily include TV rights.

*Chagnon said that they are "cautiously optimistic" about this fall's TCM Cruise and are preparing as though it's going to happen, but obviously there is still much unknown about what will be going on months from now.

*TCM was able to stop production of some of the souvenirs for this year's festival, but there may be a few things which ultimately show up in the TCM Shop online. (Update: A report today is that 2020 festival merchandise will not be sold but can be won online this weekend.)

*TCM will consider adding some sort of virtual component to future "in person" festivals depending on feedback to this weekend's event. They welcome hearing from fans, via social media or through other methods.

*Response may also impact whether TCM tries doing some sort of genre-specific virtual festivals in the future.

One example of the fun things TCM is doing on social media: Today they released printable festival "tickets" for the Home Edition. In recent weeks TCM has also provided downloadable TCM set photos to use as teleconferencing backdrops and black and white "coloring sheets" of old TCM logos.

In terms of this weekend's schedule, which may be found here, at least viewers of the Home Edition won't have to choose from among five or six films screening simultaneously!

In my April Highlights post I focused on one film for each day of the festival: NEPTUNE'S DAUGHTER on the 16th, SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949) on the 17th, DOUBLE HARNESS (1933) on April 18th, and FLOYD NORMAN: AN ANIMATED LIFE (2016) on closing night, April 19th.

Additional information and highlights:

*The #TCMParty "live Tweet" schedule for the festival may be found here.

*On Friday evening, my friend Raquel Stecher will be hosting a "live Tweet" of the documentary HAROLD AND LILLIAN: A HOLLYWOOD LOVE STORY (2015).

*Friday evening's "midnight movie" (midnight Eastern time, 9:00 Pacific) is a fun one, CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954).

*On Saturday there's a showing of Harold Lloyd's SAFETY LAST! (1923). Seeing a different Lloyd film, WHY WORRY? (1923), at the festival with Carl Davis conducting a live orchestra is a favorite festival memory.

*Also on April 18th, TCM is showing one of my top favorite Hitchcock films, THE LADY VANISHES (1938). Seeing this at the 2013 festival, preceded by an interview with Norman Lloyd, is another favorite memory. The great Mr. Lloyd, whom I've been privileged to see on several occasions in the years since, is now 105!

*RED-HEADED WOMAN (1932) with Jean Harlow and Chester Morris, showing on Sunday, is a very "Pre-Code" Pre-Code!

Here are a few posts on the festival and schedule suggestions by my friends and fellow bloggers:

KC of A Classic Movie Blog -- who has also been my festival roommate for several years!

Aurora of Once Upon a Screen

Karen of Shadows and Satin

Kim of I See a Dark Theater

Kristen of Journeys in Classic Film

Beth Accomando for KPBS in San Diego

Finally, the beloved Larry Edmunds Cinema Bookshop, founded in 1938 and a unique fixture on Hollywood Boulevard for many decades, is struggling right now. Along with many other businesses, it's currently closed by order of the government, and it's also missing its biggest sales period of the year with the cancellation of the TCM Classic Film Festival and the abrupt termination of the Noir City Festival at its halfway point. For anyone inclined to help the store bridge the gap and make it to the other side of the pandemic shutdown, here is the store's GoFundMe page. They are also shipping orders placed over the phone.

It's a strange year, but I greatly admire and appreciate all the work Turner Classic Movies has put in to giving us the very best festival possible from the comfort and safety of our own homes. Hope to "see" you there!


Blogger Lee R said...

Call me dense, but I still don't understand what this Home Edition is? Are you saying the Festival will now be seen on TCM itself beginning 4/16 or is this some sort of website event or what? I don't get it.

6:25 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Lee,

My description of the festival in the TCM in April: Highlights post may help you better understand. What will be happening is not a replication of the Hollywood festival itself, which has as many as half a dozen films and events occurring simultaneously, but a special schedule airing on TCM from Thursday night through Sunday night, the time frame the festival would have taken place.

The Sunday night films were planned for this year's festival, but the rest of the schedule is drawn from past festivals. There will be special introductions on TCM, and that will be supplemented by online activities such as "Tweet-alongs" and contests on social medial platforms like Twitter.

Hope this helps!

Best wishes,

6:54 PM  
Blogger Lee R said...

I see, said the blind man to his deaf daughter.

You did clear it up, thank you.

12:10 PM  
Blogger Laura said...


Best wishes,

12:46 PM  

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