‘Through the Looking Glass to TCM’

Above: The TCM 15th Anniversary Guest Programmers: (left to right)
Jay Looker, Joe Buonocore, Monica Elliott, Jeff Hoyak, April Lane, Lynn Zook, Anna Seager, TCM Host Robert Osborne, Philip Himberg, Juan Castro, Peter Bosch, Lisa Mordente, Kyle Kersten, Lani Golstab (seated), Rome Mendheim, and Theresa Brown.

Before April 14th, 1994, I was a simple movie fan, enjoying an occasional movie, especially those from the ’30s and ’40s that had played on tv seemingly round the clock when I was a kid.

After that date, when Turner Classic Movies went on the air, things were never the same for me and as it turns out for many like-minded fans. I had to get a VCR and cable and later I had to find out what movies were on the network on a monthly basis! Little did I know that date was just the beginning of an ongoing  education in the language and people of film that has continued to be an enriching aspect of my life–even if some of those who claim to know and love me might occasionally prefer to describe this “education” as an “addiction”. Whaddya they know?

Aside from learning about the history of movies from the earliest to today, one of the delightful things about becoming a member of the TCM audience online has been getting to know other movie lovers, some of whom you will have a chance to meet this month too.

As part of the joyous celebration this April marking the first fifteen years of TCM’s presenting the world of cinema to all of us, I offer this post, which features a conversation with six of the 15 Fan Guest Programmers we will all meet this month. In an unprecedented event, fifteen fans of Turner Classic Movies were asked by the network to participate in selecting from their favorite movies, flying to Atlanta, and recording an exchange with host Robert Osborne to introduce and comment on one movie for the station’s broadcast.  The favorite movie selections of all the Guest Programmers and their conversations with Robert Osborne will be featured each evening on TCM from Monday, April 13th through Friday, April 17th. The complete schedule for that event can be seen at the end of this post. The age and backgrounds of the participants runs from a 14 year old young man who loves Fred and Ginger to a pair of architectural and film archivists to a 69 year old gentleman whose lively posts on the TCM Message Boards has earned him the affection of a diverse group of readers.
Guest Programmers Peter Bosch, Theresa Brown, Joe Buoncore, Kyle Kersten, April Lane, and Lynn Zook were individuals I have gotten to know over the years by visiting the TCM Message Board. Our cyber-acquaintance there has blossomed into friendships that go well beyond the topic of movies. That shared love of cinematic observations and discoveries has nurtured and entertained us, even as we also found ourselves supporting each other through life’s inevitable roller coaster ride offline. These individuals were also kind enough to respond positively when I peppered them with questions recently about the experience of a lifetime during their whirlwind trip to TCM’s homebase in Atlanta last November.

Moira: What made you first interested in classic movies?
Peter Bosch, guest programmer

Californian Peter Bosch, (left) a writer who will be introducing the TCM premiere of the little seen theatrical valentine, Those Lips, Those Eyes (1980) on Monday, April 13th, is a gentle and knowledgeable man who says that to him,“happiness is still seeing that WB shield before a movie.” Peter explained that he had “loved movies, all movies, since I was about 6 years old.” As a boy, he  began collecting movie posters and lobby cards from classic films that he hadn’t even seen, though eventually a Seattle TV station that had “Humphrey Bogart Theater,” “Errol Flynn Theater,” and “Bette Davis Theater” each weekend” allowed him to see some of the gems from these actors.

One of what Peter described as a “wonderful memory” was the “very first time I saw ‘Casablanca‘ and so many others” during these broadcasts. This experience deepened his “appreciation of Warner Brothers more than any other studio.” As he grew up Peter found that his “interest in movies past and present led [him] to writing about them for a number of magazines and newspapers.  And I even got to interview some of the stars of the past during that time.” Some of these interviewees include TCM regulars Mickey Rooney, Buster Crabbe, Stewart Granger, and Robert Stack as well as contemporary actresses Jamie Lee Curtis, Jane Seymour, Cybill Shepard, and the late Joan Hackett.

 

Those Lips, Those Eyes posterWhen it came to choosing his movie for his moment in the TCM sun, Peter was in a bit of a quandry. “I thought seriously about picking my favorite movie, Casablanca, because think how incredible that would be…on air…on TCM…with Robert Osborne discussing Casablanca! …But I wanted to pick something that hadn’t been shown yet, and still be something I felt I could talk about it in some detail. Those Lips, Those Eyes has been one of my favorite films for a great many years.  It was one of those films that played a week in a theater and then was gone for good, but it stayed with me because it was a film I identified with because of similar events in my own life about discovering the theater.  Plus the family life the main character had with his father in the film was very much like my relationship with my own father when I was about that age.
As Peter tried to narrow his choice down to one movie, there was, he explained, “one other film I was tempted to go with, and that was Cinema Paradiso because I feel that movie reflected my own life as a kid watching movies.  I wasn’t really allowed in the projection booth at the main theater I used to go to for matinees but somehow I got to be in there quite often, fascinated by it all.  Later in my teens, I worked a bit for the very same theatre and used to hang around the booth even more.”

When Peter was asked if he forgot to mention anything about his movie during the filming of his segment with Robert Osborne, he said that “I was too much in awe that I was actually there at TCM in Atlanta and meeting him – and the excitement knowing I would be filming with him the next day.  It would be fun to sit down with him again and spend some real time talking about films.  I know from his interview on the TCM website that he was a seat filler for the Oscars, and I did that, too, so that would be a good starting point for a discussion. Peter also said that he had spoken to the producer ahead of time about my choice and told her I wanted to bring up how the screenwriter of Those Lips, Those Eyes shared much the very same background as the main character (played by Tom Hulce) in the movie, that it seemed to be basically his own personal story.  We both agreed it would be something good to put in there…but somehow when the cameras began rolling, I just completely forgot about it.  But, of course, I recalled it a minute after we wrapped.  I asked the producer, kidding, if we could have a moment where they might have a shot of my back and I could dub it in.”

Peter also mentioned that during the filming of “a promo interview they did with me in downtown Atlanta was certainly humorous at times.  Living in Hollywood as I do, I am so used to seeing streets blocked or shut down because of film crews.  However, here I was in this special restaurant, just me and about a dozen or so crew members, camera trucks and makeup/wardrobe wagons outside, PAs with walkie-talkies, police, and they were having all foot and street traffic come to a standstill when they were ready to film…ME!  I was getting the famous star treatment, but I kept thinking, “Something isn’t right here…and I think it’s me.”


Theresa Brown, Guest ProgrammerTheresa Brown (left) of NYC, an ebullient young woman with a passion for films and filmmaking, has chosen the sleekly seething Bette Davis film, The Letter (1940) as her movie for presentation.

Theresa will be the first to kick off the Fan Guest Programmer Week on April 13th. Theresa describes herself as having been one of those kids who used to sneak downstairs late at night to watch black and white films. T. says that she has “little clearcut recollection of when my love of classic films began. I know I used to stay up late to watch “old movies” on tv’. Theresa recalls that she’d wait for her “tattle-telling little sister” to fall asleep before venturing downstairs. To prevent any interruptions from her sister, Theresa says that she “used to turn on the tv, but keep the volume way down low…and turn down the brightness on the television so it would look like the tv set was off. Then I’d Lombard & Gable, and Fred & Gingered my way through the night. School? WHATEVER!!”

Theresa, who says that she likes “movies of the MGM variety in the 1940′s the best”, describes herself as “a big budgeted glossy type gal”, but confesses that her  “favorite genre is film noir.  The more fatale the femme is…the more dumb the sap is…the better I like it.” Bette Davis in "The Letter" (1940)This affinity for femme fatales may have played a role in her choice of The Letter, but another may have been the influence of the Fan Programmer’s late aunt, described by Theresa as “a Bette Davis fan,” who helped to make Theresa a fan of the Warner Brothers queen too. “I thought Bette Davis was fierce and fearless. I always have a mental grudge match in my mind between Bette Davis and Barbara Stanwyck and would wonder who’d win. I see Stanwyck staring down MacMurray near the end of Double Indemnity Then I’d see Bette Davis pumping those bullets in The Letter or the looks-that-kill she gives in All About Eve or as her deadly Regina in The Little Foxes. I dunno; but there’d be an awful battle. I picked The Letter simply because Bette Davis‘ last line in that movie is the best line I have EVER heard in a film. She says it knowing that she’s won her husband and could go on to live a happy life with him.  She says it because she cannot betray herself: ‘With all my heart, I still love the man I killed.’ It is the number one KILLER line for me in all of film.”

Theresa recalled the filming of her segments with Robert Osborne as going pretty smoothly, (though there was one misplaced costume, until TCM staffers came to the rescue).She commented that “I think I got everything in there that I wanted to say about The Letter and was happy to give the great Gale Sondergaard a shout-out during my time on-camera. Honestly, I wished I had kissed Robert Osborne on the cheek for all the world to see. Looking into his gray-blue eyes, I felt he was really truly listening to me. Yeah, delusional, huh? Of course, after my segment airs I’ll be at home screaming: “DOH! GEEZ!! DOH!!!”


Joe Buoncore, Guest ProgrammerJoe Buoncore of Florida, (left) a man of a few, well chosen words, (concealing a mischievous sense of humor and an encyclopedic knowledge about the most famous and the forgotten filmmakers), will be introducing the seminal, sinfully entertaining Billy Wilder film noir, Double Indemnity (1944) on Wednesday, April 15th. Joe described himself with characteristic brevity as “being about 8 or 9 when I got into the groove [of the movies of the] 1940s & 1950s.” Like many of his contemporaries, Joe “enjoyed horror films from Universal and Abbott & Costello at the time.” His later favorites “were Doris Day, Jeff Chandler, Maureen O’Hara, Tyrone Power, Shelley Winters, etc.” After Joe‘s discovery of “film noir and  Barbara Stanwyck” there was no going back.  A classic film fan for life had been born, and, as anyone who has ever enjoyed one of Joe’s appreciations of the great and the forgotten on the TCM website, his choice of one of “Babs” Stanwyck‘s best films is quite apt. Joe, who said that the “list of 10 films [he compiled] was difficult to do…” and he sounds relieved when he found that “TCM assigned me Double Indemnity. Fred MacMurray will never know what hit him opposite Barbara Stanwyck in "Double Indemnity" (1944)Since the movie is one of my favorite film noirs and Barbara Stanwyck my favorite actress, it hit the spot.”

When asked if there was anything he wished he had added to his segments with Robert Osborne, Joe said that “Although I got a lot in, I could have given more credit to Fred MacMurray, Billy Wilder, Miklos Rozsa and the supporting players plus some key scenes.” Of course, there was also a widely reported incident during the laid back programmer’s introductions, but as Joe, used to the tropical style of casual dress in Florida tells it, a voice on the production crew just before they were getting ready to film pointed out that he had “forgotten to wear my socks at the [on-camera] interview. It was embarrassing putting on a pair of socks while sitting opposite Robert Osborne although he put me at ease telling me that Elizabeth Taylor forgot to wear her shoes to Liza Minnelli‘s  wedding.” Sockless Joe says that his only other regret is that “at the end of the interview I forgot to say: ‘After being a movie buff for over 60 years this is the frosting on the cake.’”


kyle-kerstenKyle Kersten, (left) of Hollywood, California is a thoughtful
person whose discerning eye for  film will be on display when he presents the timely iconic Capra classic about American dreams and delusions, Meet John Doe (1941) on Thursday, April 16th. As Kyle explained, his interest in movies derived in part from “a desire to be culturally literate”.  In his experience, Kyle has found that “being familiar with certain iconic film titles has become important in discourse these days.  Film references, especially classic film references, have become allusions in contemporary writing.  Barbara Stanwyck snuggling up to a suicidal Gary Cooper in "Meet John Doe" (1941)Where writers used to make literary allusions to Shakespeare and Dickens, they now reference films like “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington“, “Casablanca”, “To Kill A Mockingbird”, “High Noon” or “Dr. Strangelove….  I was particularly curious about all the myriad of films from 1939 that has led to that year being called “The Greatest Year In Film History”.  When investigating the films of that year, you’ll come upon “Stagecoach” which will lead to an interest in John Ford’s “Calvary Trilogy”.  Watching 1939′s “The Roaring Twenties” can lead a viewer to the gangster titles like “Angels With Dirty Faces” or “Scarface”.  And if one hasn’t seen “Destry Rides Again”, you’re missing out on a great many jokes in “Blazing Saddles”. Because these classic films are all superior entertainment and great art, it is easy to get “hooked” and want to see more.  It’s like falling down the rabbit hole. (Oops.  A literary reference!)”. After wrestling with the question of what film to choose, dividing his choices into categories of Group A (films I’d like to discuss such as “One, Two, Three“) Group B (films I’d be comfortable discussing such as “Inherit the Wind“–for the performance of Fredric March),  and Group C (films I’d like to see premiere on TCM, such as “Ruggles of Red Gap“–because it’s very funny),” Kyle settled on a film that he describes as one that is “probably my favorite film”, Meet John Doe (1941).
When asked if there was anything he wished that he’d added to his on-air segment with Robert Osborne, Kyle mentions two things. He wished he’d remembered to talk about a resemblance between “the appearance and demeanor of…Meet John Doe‘s Edward Arnold” and an eerie similarity  that Kyle detected in Former Vice President Dick Cheney!  Our Fan Programmer also added that wishing a “‘Happy 15th Anniversary, Robert!’ would have been [an] ideal” way to end his session with Mr. O.


April Lane, guest programmer
New Yorker April Lane (left) is a Manhattanite who blends an appreciation for film romance with an abiding affection for the epic scale of classic movies. As April explains,  she “gravitated to older classics from the very beginning as a child.  There was no one who really exposed me to them, nor did anyone in or outside my family care about them.  I guess you could say it was just a matter of “chemistry”—classic movie and I just clicked from the start.” Fortunately, on the April 14th Anniversary of TCM, April will be introducing the very first movie ever broadcast on Turner Classic Movies, Gone With the Wind (1939). April expressed shock that this, perhaps the greatest of all American movies of the studio era, was chosen from her list. Of course, it may have been a moment of kismet, since GWTW and particularly “Clark Gable [were] the first to have made a strong impact on me” in classic film.
A beautifully lit scene from Gone With the Wind (1939)

April says that when she was asked to provide a list of her ten favorite movies “in order of preference…I had a very agonizing time because there were really THREE movies I was dying to talk about:  The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (I really wanted to ramble on my love of all things “Fordesque”), The Misfits and Gone with the Wind.  I never, ever thought I’d get GWTW.  It seemed too much to hope for, so I actually put it third on my list—-imagine my astonishment when I was told that was to be my movie!” When asked if there was any additional comment that she wished she’d said during her taping, April said: “Oh my goodness, yes!  I wish I’d said something original, ha!  I honestly have little recollection of what I did say—I believe I just babbled and said nothing remotely remarkable because I was so in awe and so nervous.  But seriously, I had wanted to talk about how much I identify the character “Scarlett O’Hara” with the film’s producer and driving force, David O. Selznick.  Scarlett O and David O were very much one and the same to me, and I’d like to have discussed that a little.  I blew it. The only other thing that April expressed regret for failing to say was: “Robert, could I be your personal assistant?”


Perhaps April’s choice of the sweeping Civil War epic was just as well, since another passionate John Ford fan was among the Fan Programmers.

Lynn Zook, guest programmer Lynn Zook, (left), who grew up in Las Vegas but now lives in Sherman Oaks, CA, will be bringing one of John Ford’s classics to us on April 14th, when she introduces She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949). With a childhood framed by the classic movies that were often broadcast on many stations then, Lynn, described how “classic movies captured my imagination because they offered a window into what seemed to me then, an era long past. While the majority of films were rarely historically accurate, they did offer a genuine look at the way we were.  As she eloquently described it, “growing up in the West, I have a natural affinity for Westerns, especially the John Ford/John Wayne ones.  My dad was a big John Wayne fan so we watched a lot of westerns together when I was growing up.  There’s just something breathtaking about western vistas, especially framed by Ford and his cinematographers.  The westerns taught my generation about honor, the Code of the West and how your word was your bond.  In some ways, many of us of a certain age incorporated those lessons into our daily lives.”
Lynn Zook says that when they “told me that I had been selected to be a Fan Programmer.  I was like ‘Are you sure you have the right person?’ and she said she was certain.  After getting all the details, I called Jon [Lynn's husband] at work and asked him if he wanted to go to Atlanta with me in November.  We were asked by TCM to keep this all “off the record, on the QT and very hush-hush” as they didn’t want word leaking out ahead of time.I told my family and a couple of other friends prior to going to Atlanta and they were thrilled for me.”

Though Lynn found it a challenge to narrow down her movies to just 10 films, she was also concerned since she “wanted to be able to talk intelligently about all my choices.John Wayne as Nathan Brittles in "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" (1947) I wasn’t worried about being nervous on-camera as much as being able to talk about my film with Robert Osborne without stumbling too much. At the top of my list was To Kill a Mockingbird which is my all-time favorite film.  But, as I explained in my notes to the Programming staff, I doubted that I could talk about the film without crying.  Charlie Tabash, the VP of Programming, jokingly wrote back later that ‘crying is good television’ and I replied, just as jokingly,  that watching a 51-year-old woman try to talk while mascara is running down her face is probably not that entertaining.”

“Given my affinity for my Johns: Ford and Wayne as well as westerns, I knew that there had to be one of their collaborations on my list”, Lynn explained. While it was difficult choosing just one of the three favorite Ford & Wayne collaborations from She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, The Searchers, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, the first film was settled on, in part because it demonstrates “what a good actor John Wayne really was” in his role as Nathan Brittles, the Cavalry man about to retire.

When reflecting on what she might have wished she could have added to her segment with Robert Osborne, Lynn, a serious student of character nuance in Ford’s work, mentions such details as “the way Wayne and Vic MacLaglen play the early morning scene on the day of Nathan’s retirement [in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon]…you instinctively know that Brittles and Quincannon were once good drinking buddies.  But we learn, Nathan gave up drinking when his wife and daughters died almost ten years earlier.” Lynn also wished that she’d had time to talk more about the characters’ relationship to “Major Mac Allshard (the wonderful George O’Brien), [who] have been together in the Army since before the Civil War.” Lynn feels that the poignancy of the tenuous position of Sgt. Tyree (Ben Johnson), a defeated Southerner who may be the best of them all,  is felt deeply by Nathan (John Wayne), who “truly feels an affinity with him.”


Moira: How did it feel to be chosen a guest programmer? What was the reaction of your family and friends to your having been chosen to be a guest programmer?

For Theresa Brown, hearing the news of her selection as a Fan Guest Programmer “took me over the moon. I was incredibly happy. I jumped and screamed; my heart leapt. You see, loving classic films…TCM is the place to be. I tried out for the guest programmer spot with my video pitch on AOL last year. It was disappointing to have lost. But getting THIS chance was a hundred times better becuz I got to meet like-minded film buffs. My family was excited for me but my friends…boy, my friends are incredibly happy for me because they know how much movies mean to me. (I still don’t think my folks understand what movies means to me). I am honored and really really happy about being chosen.”

Joe Buoncore joined Theresa aloft, though the self-described “ardent TCM fan…was on cloud nine. I couldn’t believe it. My family and friends were very happy for me. Although I was nervous and hesitant I decided to give it a shot and was very happy that I did.”

Peter Bosch says that when he was notified that he would be part of this event the “excitement was beyond belief when I got that phone call.  I was shocked and surprised, and totally “YES!!!”  There are still times now when I find it hard to believe it happened to me.  You know when those stars are announced and they leap on stage to accept their Oscars, and they start to get all, “I don’t believe this!  This can’t be happening to me!  You don’t know how much I wanted this but how unbelievable this truly is!!!” kind of thing?  Well, that it is how it was for me, except I truly meant it.”

Peter says that he “only told a few friends but they were very happy for me, feeling with my love of movies that I was the person to do it.  A great many people at work don’t know anything about it airing in April, let alone even know that I was chosen…and they won’t until the day of the event when I will send them an email as I dash out the door.”
April Lane felt that “it was one of the happiest moments when I received the phone call about it.  I was deeply honored and couldn’t quite believe it was really happening—all those years watching old movies and reading really weren’t a waste of time after all, ha!  Everyone I’ve told has been very surprised (most aren’t that familiar with TCM) and excited.
The warm, convivial and discreetly rowdy little cocktail party attended by the Guest Programmers and TCM staff
Moira: When you were in Atlanta visiting TCM’s home, did anything about the city or the studios of TCM surprise you?

In response to this question, the Fan Guest Programmers burbled over with their appreciation for the unexpected stellar treatment they received from everyone connected with TCM. This welcome began the minute visitors stepped off the plane, with warmth and appreciation from the person who met them at the airport, and continued at the luxurious accommodations at The Mansion on Peachtree where they were guests.

Perhaps the most overwhelming experience was the unexpected sight of a party on the stage where The Essentials is shot when the guests arrived at the surprisingly large TCM studios. As Kyle described it, there stood “TCM Vice-Presidents, Department Heads, Production Staff, Marketing Staff, Robert Osborne, his researcher, videographers, photographers, Web Staff and a reporter from the Atlanta newspaper and even interns who came in to work on a Sunday to greet” the Guest Programmers. As April reported, even Robert Osborne described the gala cocktail hour as  “the noisiest party he’d been to, because everyone there had something in common to talk about!”

Kyle Kersten, who said that he “expected to be a ‘fly on the wall’ and just watch, look and listen. I like being an engaged observer more than the center of attention. But that wasn’t ‘the plan.’” Finding himself telling a highly placed and interested executive of his dislike of the new intro to the primetime movies, Kyle started to ask himself how this could be real.  Others, like Lynn Zook and her party found themselves amazed to have Robert Osborne casually join them for a convivial conversation before one event in the bar while they discussed “a terrible Richard Burton movie” [Doctor Faustus] which was blaring from the bar’s television and discussed the difficulties of getting some longed for interviews with living legends. As Kyle described it “So for three days we all lived TCM’s version of one long ticker-tape parade down Michigan Avenue… and we were Ferris Bueller!” The bar of The Mansion on Peachtree, where the Fan Programmers stayed during their visit to TCM

The city itself surprised some of the programmers. Atlanta had grown enormously since Lynn and her husband Jon had last visited in the early nineties.
Lynn and her fellow West Coaster, Peter Bosch, both observed a certain something missing. Peter said that what “truly startled me about Atlanta was that only one or two people I met had a Southern accent.  I was so looking forward to the lovely ladies all sounding like Scarlett O’Hara, but didn’t find any.  Atlanta, like Los Angeles (where I live), is made up of people who have come from somewhere else.”

Joe mentioned that he “was struck by the size of the studio surprised me. It was massive once you walked through it. It was amazing how professional and cordial everyone was during the taping which helped to relax me.” While all the fan programmers I spoke with were impressed with the cordial efficiency and helpfulness of the entire staff, Theresa said that “nothing surprised me because I really had no expectations. I was given the chance to have a tour of the city, but I just wanted to stay in the studio and soak up that environment.” Theresa did express deep regret that she “missed the Trolley Ride From Hell” experienced by several guests touring Atlanta under funny circumstances described at length here on the TCM Message Boards.

Moira: Were you surprised by some of the other Fan Guest Programmers you met in Atlanta?

 

Many of the programmers immediate responses to this question was to mention Juan Castro, “the youngest of all of us at 14″, as Lynn pointed out. “We know that TCM has a lot of fans and viewers but I was really impressed with Juan’s love for Swing Time (1936) and the films of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.” Theresa‘s response to the diverse individuals who participated in the event encapsulated it best: “Hmmm, Yep. Gay, Black and young [and older]. The diversity of the programmers surprised me. I guess what surprised me the most is that there are more people out there like me. OMG! Crazy-ass film buffs, like me. They love movies too! And the obvious…Juan Castro was fourteen years old. What does a kid know about classic films? Puhleeze! But he knew, Moira. He knew. And he was such a nice, low-key, shy, self-possessed young man. (Who also played the hotel piano I heard).  I didn’t know teenagers still came that way. Good job, Mom and Dad!!”

Juan, a talented young man who entered the Guest Programmer contest last year (requiring the submission of a video), was disqualified because he was too young to participate. The TCM staff were understandably charmed by him and called him to take part in the 15th anniversary celebration. You can see Juan‘s Youtube video description of his experience here . I suspect that the world of film will be hearing from him again.

Many online cyber-friends such as Joe (who was accompanied by his charming daughter Audrey) and Lynn met for the first time after corresponding online for years. The visitors were delighted to discover that another Fan Programmer, Rome Mendheim, lived in Los Angeles, as did previously acquainted friends, Kyle, Peter and Lynn.  As Lynn describes it, since then, “Rome‘s been hanging out with us, so now we are a quartet”.

The Fan Programmers with Robert Osborne at Home, the restaurant where they had a celebratory dinner.
One of many memorable moments during the trip seems to have been on Monday night, when TCM hosted a dinner at Home, a restaurant in Atlanta, (where you can see the Guest Programmers with RO above). Another happy memory was forged after dinner when several programmers and their guests “retired to the bar and talked till the wee hours of the morning about films and TCM.”

Moira: Has life changed since you went home from this event?

April, whose sigh can almost be heard through her words remarked that “I’ve had a very happy memory brighten up an otherwise tough year for me, and for that I’m extremely grateful.”

Joe
, as always going with the flow, says that “At first it was bells and whistles as well as an interview with a newspaper. It has since calmed down although I’m still getting emails and phone calls.”

Kyle, who works in the restaurant and hospitality business, said that his life has “not really” changed. “Though I have found out that some of my regular lunch customers are avid TCM watchers.  My appearance is being tracked in quite a few PDAs.”

Lynn also says that her life is pretty much the same.”I’m planning on watching all the Fan Programmers that week in April.  My friends both in Los Angeles and in Las Vegas are all excited for me as is my family.  In February, TCM had a special screening here in Los Angeles of The Birds. Four of us Fan Programmers (Kyle, Peter, Rome and me, along with Jon) decided to attend the screening.  Not only was the movie to be shown but Robert O would be talking with Tippi Hedren beforehand.  Well, before he introduced Ms. Hedren to the capacity crowd, he told the audience about the upcoming Fan Programmer event and had us stand up so he could introduce us.He did the same thing a few days later when we attended a talk and book signing for his recent tome, Eighty Years of the Oscar. That was pretty cool.

Peter responded that “I wouldn’t say my life has changed any.  My salary at my job certainly hasn’t.  But I do feel special whenever I think how lucky I am that I get to be on TCM, talking with Robert Osborne in front of millions of people (though there may only be a dozen or so people out here on the West Coast watching me because I will be airing opposite “24″ and “Dancing with the Stars.)…But, seriously, I really do feel honored by this incredible opportunity.  I truly don’t think my life has changed one iota…but I do get to have that special memory of when I got to work with TCM and appear on the network with Robert Osborne.”

Theresa has reflected on her experience, commenting that “I did something special. I know now that the work environment I am in is not healthy. That really hit home to me when I saw the way the TCM staff treated us and treated each other. Respect, respect, respect. Life hasn’t changed appreciably. But having been invited to Atlanta, I think I am ready to pursue my dream of actively working in the industry.” The lady also had the novel experience of a brush with fame when she “received my first celebrity perk!!!”

15th Anniversary Issue of TCM's Now Playing GuideRecently Theresa described a visit “to a cinemabilia store here in NYC called Jerry Ohlinger’s. I went to buy some photo stills from Bette Davis’ classic: All About Eve. Working in the store is a young man and woman who I’ve dealt with before. When I walk in the store today, the young man said to me: “You’re going to be on TCM.”

“HUH????”

“The young lady says, ‘We get the TCM Now Playing Guide here, and we saw your picture on the back.’ She pulls the tv guide from behind the counter and turned it to the back. There I was…with my fellow Fab 15 programmers. OMG! I bought nine photos and autographed the Now Playing Guide for the store. I got a discount on one photo.I’m a STAR!!! I’m a STAR!! Where’s my limo, where’s my butler???”

Moira: What do you plan on doing on the night of the broadcast of your segment?

Lynn, whose husband Jon unfortunately became ill during the visit to Atlanta, says that “since Jon didn’t get to see me do the interview live (due to being ill), we are going to watch it together.”

Peter says that he has “thought of everything from a quiet, little evening at home by myself (with DVR recording it twice when it is on, plus recording it on my DVD recorder, just in case) to turning my projector from my screen and shining it outside on the building next to mine (a la Cinema Paradiso) so everyone can see it!   But I don’t know quite yet, exactly.  However, if you see me the day before the airing painting the next door building wall white, you will know which choice I went with.

Joe reports that he “will most likely [be] viewing the show at my daughter Audrey’s house on her wide screen tV set (I won’t be wearing socks). Audrey was my guest in Atlanta and is also a film buff.”

Theresa is mulling over a couple of ideas for the big night. As she says, “I envision spending it with friends at a restaurant called The Film Center Cafe which shows TCM all day all the time. But then I figured it’d be crowded and noisy, and my rowdy gang wouldn’t sit still to really hear what I had to say. It’s important they hear me. But you know, I don’t quite know WHAT I’ll be doing. But basking in the glory of my friendships, while sharing my experience with TCM would be wonderful melding of two worlds. I’ll guess I’ll know closer to the event.”

A wise April plans on “opening a bottle of bubbly and sharing a good laugh at myself with friends.”

However you plan on spending this celebration with TCM, I’d like to extend my congratulations to all the Fan Programmers and TCM as well as all those who continue to support this treasure trove of movies. Thank you in particular to Peter, Theresa, Joe, Kyle, April and Lynn for all your help with this week’s blog. I hope to get to know the rest of the Fan Programmers starting in the week of April 13-17. Please see below for a list of names, movies and dates of broadcast during this event.


15th Anniversary of Turner Classic Movies

Below is the schedule of movies being shown and the person introducing them during the Anniversary Week Celebration on TCM:
*All Times Eastern

Monday, April 13
8 p.m.
Guest Programmer: Theresa Brown of New York, NY
Film: The Letter (1940)

10 p.m.
Guest Programmer: Lani Golstab of Austin, Texas
Film: Grand Illusion (1937)

12 a.m.
Guest Programmer: Peter Bosch of Hollywood, CA
Film: Those Lips, Those Eyes (1980)

Tuesday, April 14 (TCM’s 15th Anniversary)
8 p.m.
Guest Programmer: April Lane, New York, NY
Film: Gone with the Wind (1939)
(GWTW was the very first film aired on TCM in 1995)

12 a.m.
Guest Programmer: Lisa Mordente, Nanuet, NY
Film: Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

2 a.m.
Guest Programmer: Rome Mendheim, North Hollywood, CA
Film: Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)

Wednesday, April 15
8 p.m.
Guest Programmer: Joe Buonocore, Deltona, FLA.
Film: Double Indemnity (1944)

10 p.m.
Guest Programmer: Juan Castro, Northridge, CA
Film: Swing Time (1936)

12 a.m.
Guest Programmer: Lynn Zook, Sherman Oaks, CA
Film: She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)

Thursday, April 16
8 p.m.
Guest Programmer: Anna Seager, Salisbury, Md.
Film: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)

10 p.m.
Guest Programmer: Jeff Hoyak, Pequannock, N.J.
Film: The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

12:15 a.m.
Guest Programmer: Kyle Kersten, Los Angeles, CA
Film: Meet John Doe (1941)

Friday, April 17
8 p.m.
Guest Programmer: Monica Elliott, Atlanta, GA
Film: The Maltese Falcon (1941)

10 p.m.
Guest Programmer: Philip Himberg, Santa Monica, Calif.
Film: So Long at the Fair (1950)

11:30 p.m.
Guest Programmer: Jay Looker, Sedona, Ariz.
Film: Silk Stockings (1957)



0 Response ‘Through the Looking Glass to TCM’
Posted By s. shannon : April 2, 2009 2:28 am

Some of the finest and most in depth coverage I have yet to see ANYWHERE!!!
AGAIN, C.O.N.G.R.A.T.S.!!!

Posted By s. shannon : April 2, 2009 2:28 am

Some of the finest and most in depth coverage I have yet to see ANYWHERE!!!
AGAIN, C.O.N.G.R.A.T.S.!!!

Posted By MDR : April 2, 2009 8:05 am

Wow, the only thing better than celebrating TCM’s 15th Anniversary is reading a post by moira about some of the people that have enhanced my love and knowledge about classic movies on the channel’s message boards over so many years. Thanks so much for writing this inside look of this month’s fan programmers (and to the fans themselves for sharing their experiences with us through you). What a special event, one that demonstrates (indeed underlines) how special Robert Osborne, TCM and its staff are and why we cherish the channel so much. Long live TCM for its uncut, commercial-free environment and for preserving classic film history for us all. Great article (as always) moira!

Posted By MDR : April 2, 2009 8:05 am

Wow, the only thing better than celebrating TCM’s 15th Anniversary is reading a post by moira about some of the people that have enhanced my love and knowledge about classic movies on the channel’s message boards over so many years. Thanks so much for writing this inside look of this month’s fan programmers (and to the fans themselves for sharing their experiences with us through you). What a special event, one that demonstrates (indeed underlines) how special Robert Osborne, TCM and its staff are and why we cherish the channel so much. Long live TCM for its uncut, commercial-free environment and for preserving classic film history for us all. Great article (as always) moira!

Posted By E. DuBois : April 3, 2009 12:21 am

Amen! I’m looking forward to all the guest programmers. Many of these pics are ones I’ve enjoyed many times over, so I’ll be sure to watch at least a couple of these.

Here’s to another 15 years of TCM.

Posted By E. DuBois : April 3, 2009 12:21 am

Amen! I’m looking forward to all the guest programmers. Many of these pics are ones I’ve enjoyed many times over, so I’ll be sure to watch at least a couple of these.

Here’s to another 15 years of TCM.

Posted By Jacqueline T Lynch : April 4, 2009 11:01 am

What a great post, Moira, and thanks for sharing this experience of the guest programmers. There is something funny about that moment you meet someone who loves, really loves old movies as much as yourself. There is a bizarre and perhaps miraculous connection, and what is most miraculous is that, as you’ve noted, it does transcend race, age, ethnicity and everything else we usually think of to separate us. The common thread is the sharing and examination of the human experience, and that all that’s left after the song and dance, the gunfight, the fade to black.

Posted By Jacqueline T Lynch : April 4, 2009 11:01 am

What a great post, Moira, and thanks for sharing this experience of the guest programmers. There is something funny about that moment you meet someone who loves, really loves old movies as much as yourself. There is a bizarre and perhaps miraculous connection, and what is most miraculous is that, as you’ve noted, it does transcend race, age, ethnicity and everything else we usually think of to separate us. The common thread is the sharing and examination of the human experience, and that all that’s left after the song and dance, the gunfight, the fade to black.

Posted By Chris in Vegas : April 4, 2009 10:21 pm

What would be even better would be a guest programming consisting of films selected by the Morlocks!

Posted By Chris in Vegas : April 4, 2009 10:21 pm

What would be even better would be a guest programming consisting of films selected by the Morlocks!

Posted By jay : April 5, 2009 9:56 pm

I am such a huge TCM fan–I am one of those devoted viewers who immediately turn to TCM when I turn on the TV. These movies never fail to utterly capture me! I love the dialog, the story lines, and everything about them. And when I meet someone who shares my joy for these gems, I am immediately taken to that moment of a film that sparked my love!

Posted By jay : April 5, 2009 9:56 pm

I am such a huge TCM fan–I am one of those devoted viewers who immediately turn to TCM when I turn on the TV. These movies never fail to utterly capture me! I love the dialog, the story lines, and everything about them. And when I meet someone who shares my joy for these gems, I am immediately taken to that moment of a film that sparked my love!

Posted By Andrew : April 6, 2009 9:31 am

Well done, TCM. Your choice to celebrate this anniversary by recognizing your very diverse fans–Black, White, Asian, young and old–shows an understanding and sympathy with your audience that other media outlets could learn from in the future. I hope that the next 15 years will be even more successful. It’s also great to hear that Robert Osborne is as down-to-earth a guy in person as he appears to be on TV.

Posted By Andrew : April 6, 2009 9:31 am

Well done, TCM. Your choice to celebrate this anniversary by recognizing your very diverse fans–Black, White, Asian, young and old–shows an understanding and sympathy with your audience that other media outlets could learn from in the future. I hope that the next 15 years will be even more successful. It’s also great to hear that Robert Osborne is as down-to-earth a guy in person as he appears to be on TV.

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