Robert Osborne, TCM Classic Film Festival ready to roll
BY GENE TRIPLETT
Robert Osborne is raring to get the reels rolling next Thursday at the first annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood.
Every evening for the past 16 years, Osborne has strolled across a warm-looking, well-appointed living room set to greet his viewing audience with a cordial smile and a friendly, “Hi, I’m Robert Osborne.”
The dapper, silver-haired, soft-spoken gentleman is genuinely glad to be hosting people who share his love of filmdom’s golden era, and as he introduces the movie that’s about to be shown (uncut and commercial-free), he shares fascinating little-known facts about the piece and the people who made it — information that comes not from cue cards or somebody else’s research, but his own encyclopedic knowledge of films and film history.
But while he’s sharing his movie love with more than 80 million homes, he’s usually looking into a television camera lense, and not the faces of his fellow film fans.
The TCM Classic Film Festival in Tinseltown is going to change all that, at least for its four-day run. The cable network has invited people from all over the country to come west and join in a celebration of classic movies from Hollywood and elsewhere, with more than 50 screenings, major events, celebrity appearances, panel discussions and, the rare opportunity to experience some of cinema’s greatest works as they were meant to be seen — on the big screen.
“In preparation for our 15th anniversary last April we pulled together 15 fans of TCM, just randomly picked to come to Atlanta for a taping and be guest programmers, each of them on one movie,” Osborne said. “And it was so much fun seeing these people, these movie fans from all over the different parts of the country get together, it was just like you couldn’t get a word in edgewise … and it was great fun. And I think it’s just going to be more of that in Los Angeles, when a lot of people from out of town who don’t get to talk movies with a lot of people are going to be there and really have a good time.”
Passes are on sale at TCM.com, priced at $499 for the “Classic Pass,” good for all regular passholder screenings, events and gatherings, and $599 for the “Essential Pass,” which adds one special event: the opening night red carpet gala screening of “A Star Is Born” (1954).
“I think the seed of it has been around for a couple of years,” Osborne said of the festival. “It just took time to kind of pull it together and figure out how they wanted to do it, where they wanted to do it, how big or whatever. And then they got the green light to really go big with it. I don’t know where it really started. I was certainly all for it.”
The stellar roster of guests introducing films and joining panel discussions includes Tony Curtis, Mel Brooks, Anjelica Huston, Danny Huston, Illeana Douglas, Eva Marie Saint, Martin Landau, Nancy Olson, Susan Kohner, Juanita Moore, Curtis Hanson, Cheryl Crane and Leonard Maltin — to name a few.
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