Right about now, I should be in sunny California with nary a thought in the world, save for the the anticipation which comes from my love of classic cinema. You see, this week (April 16-19) marks what would have been a part of my annual trip to Hollywood, USA for the TCM Classic Film Festival. Click here and check out my coverage in years past.
Sadly (but wisely) the activities had to be cancelled due to the aforementioned world events. However that sadness did not last long. To everyone’s surprise and pleasure, the good folks over at TCM forged ahead shortly after announcing the cancellation, announced the TCM Classic Film Festival: Special Home Edition.
The theme, a celebration of the past decade of the TCM Classic Film Festival, features favorite movies and festival moments, TCM hosts and special guests that can all be enjoyed from the comfort of your home. The festival kicks off at 8:00PM Eastern with a screening of A Star is Born (1954).
To kick things off, yesterday, a few of us participated in a Pre-Festival Roundtable with TCM General Manager Pola Changnon, Senior VP of Programming Charlie Tabesh and TCM Prime Time Host Ben Mankiewicz. The conversation ranged from Ben Mankiewicz’s sharing his favorite interviews to the impact on this year’s festival will have in the immediate and long-term future. Here are a few highlights from our rapid-fire session:
The reshuffling provides an unprecedented opportunity for the network and its fans. As Pola Changnon suggested, bringing the festival into our homes means that the party is not just limited to those attending in person. Now, the festival’s reach extends to many who may otherwise be unable to make the trip. It was also hinted that audience engagement may be reviewed and even used in future planning and considerations!
The TCM Classic Cruise is still on for now. TCM staff are in constant contact with the cruise operator (Disney) and monitoring all pandemic-related developments closely. As the situation evolves, they are keeping all booked passengers updated of any changes. But the overall feeling is one of careful, cautious optimism that the cruise (scheduled for October) will proceed as planned.
How they came up with the programming mix for the Special Home Edition. If anyone reading this is not wholly aware, there are differences between distribution rights for film versus television broadcasting. This created a unique challenge for the programming team, since they could not simply ‘shrink’ each scheduled feature to TV. As described by Charlie Tabesh, this played a role in how the schedule came together. This revised scheduling will have no impact on the network’s overall programming for the rest of the year.
Stay tuned to the festival website and all social media (and participate!). Go to the TCM/Festival websites as well as the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube accounts for exclusive content and the chance to interact with TCM on-air talent and special guests. I will also be online as my schedule permits to offer real time reactions and chat with fellow cinephiles!
Were you planning on attending this year? What are you most looking forward to most for this unique gathering of old movie fans, from far and wide? Share in the comments below.