Monday, April 21, 2014

"I'm Just a Girl Who Can't Say No"- Day 1 of the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival (Part 1:The Panels)

I've been meaning to write a few posts over the last couple of days, but instead I wind up reading other recaps from other bloggers and getting lost in the pictures and reliving the whole experience. But I did buckle down and manage to get a Pre-Festival post up.  Now it's time to dive into Thursday of the Festival!  It's so funny how you can look forward to something SO much and then in a blink of an eye, it's over.  I can't believe that a little over a week ago I was surrounded by 100s if not 1000s of classic film fans on Hollywood Blvd and now it's back to real life.

Anyway! I started my Thursday of the Festival by getting to Club TCM around 10am.  I wanted to soak in the experience and I ended up getting the insider information about getting all the social media buttons.  I'm kind of a nut when it comes to collecting things.  I was able to get the first 6 right away, I even did a Vine video! Which I had never done before, you can check it out, if you'd like:

I really enjoyed all the signage this year.  I then headed over to the Chinese Multiplex, to see what was going on there and was delighted to see the marquee. 
 A few wonderful posters:

And there was a little living room set-up along from Genworth with a great installation for TCM's 20th Anniversary, which was also used for a fun photo booth area, complete with accessories.

I then headed back over to the Roosevelt hoping to catch a glimpse of some of the interviews Robert Osborne was going to do in the lobby and Ben Mankiewicz was going to do poolside.  It proved to be a bit too hot for me poolside, so I stayed in the lobby.

It also gave me another opportunity to peruse the Boutique.  I contemplated purchasing this for my friend's baby, but ultimately decided against it.

 Also during this time I finally spotted the fabulous billboard that featured the cast of The Women with their director George Cukor, it was right there on Hollywood Blvd. the whole time!

I then got my first Robert Osborne spotting of the festival, I love seeing him around, he's always so kind and generous.  I watched as he interviewed Ira Wohl and Paula Prentiss and found out that all of his suit jacket are outfitted with a little button in the back so he can sit and stand with it on more easily, the more you know.  I couldn't get great pictures of the button or either interview, but in the crowd for the interviews were: 

 Greg Proops, I'm so sad that I missed Bachelor Mother and his introduction.

And Paula's husband, Richard Benjamin

Meet TCM

After this, I headed over to the Egyptian Theater for the Meet TCM Panel.  This was similar to the panel last year.  But there were more TCM employee participants and they focused more on their talent relations, research and the Watch TCM App.  This year the panel included:
Tom Brown, VP of Original Productions, Dennis Adamovich, Senior VP of Brand and Digital Distribution, Jeff Gregor, General Manager of TCM

Charlie Tabesh, Senior VP of Programing, Dennis Millay, Director of Programing, Darcy Hettrich, VP of Talent

Alexa Foreman, Senior Researcher and Producer and Richard Steiner, VP of Digital Activation
The panel was emceed by the lovely Scott McGee and was very informative and engaging.  The panel kicked off with Scott reading an excerpt from the Kitty Packard Pictoral that encapsulated what it means to be a classic film fan and a fan of the network.  One of the interesting things that they discussed this year was the nurturing of the relationships with the celebrities/talent.  Darcy talked about the evolution of getting celebs on board.  She said that it took awhile, probably about 5 years to get people to come to them.  A very cute story that was shared was about Anne Bancroft.  She was an early fan of the network.  She didn't even have the channel, so what she would do was look in the TV Guide and then call her neighbor and ask them to tape the channel for her.  

I can completely picture Anne Bancroft doing that. Darcy continued to talk about the struggle to get talent and celebrities early on, but their philosophy all along was to treat the talent like gold.  They also found out that many older celebrities would get a flurry of fan mail whenever one of their films were shown on TCM.  In every instance, when they talked about the stars and celebs that are featured on the channel or have a relationship with the channel were referred to as family and that they have worked to turn it into a large, happy family.  This family also includes the descendents of many classic film stars.
Charlie then talked about how the festival has changed during the last 5 years and he shared some very interesting statistics about the first year and this year:

Number of Films
Club TCM (hours of material)
Number of Restorations

It's very impressive how the festival has grown from the first year to now, that they've been able to utilize more venues around Hollywood and that they've helped support so many restorations.  Charlie also said that many of the archives and studios now approach TCM and in the past TCM used to have to go to them.
 Next, Richard talked about the Watch TCM app (which technically, as a Time Warner subscriber I don't have access to).  Richard talked about how much it's grown in less than a year and shared 2 funny stories.  One involved Alexander Payne contacting TCM to ask if they had seen the TCM app, not realizing they had been the ones who released it and the other was that Francis Ford Coppolla couldn't get the app to work so he contacted them for some troubleshooting tips. He also noted that they're working on getting the rights to more shorts for the app.
Before opening the panel up to questions Tom Brown talked about how when they first started out they could only really work with the stars they had access to based on what they had rights to, but now they're able to branch out, and do projects like the Night at the Movies series.  He also talked about being incredibly proud of the emmy nominated Moguls and Movie Stars documentary. Which is a wonderful overview of the history of the studio system and film.  He said that one thing on his wishlist would be a Moguls and Movie Stars Part II covering the 1970s-2000s.  Darcy then chimed in with her wishlist of talent, she's been working very hard to get Doris Day.

They then opened it up to questions, luckily this year there weren't as many awkward and personal questions about people's Now Playing magazine or closed caption issues, like last year.  Someone asked a follow up question about getting Doris Day for an interview and Darcy said that they have been nurturing it for 20 years and said that Doris is very shy and doesn't realize the adoration for her.  Someone asked if they plan on doing a documentary or something about Ben Mankiewicz and his Hollywood family history.  It seemed like there was some interest in that and that they did a conversation with Ben and his father on one of the cruises, so maybe one day that will be aired.  The next question was one that I think many people had, why wasn't there a festival app this year?  Richard fielded this one and said that they looked at the usage data from the previous years and it indicated that there no need for a festival and that it was redundant along with the printable schedule and the program guide.  I don't know if I agree with that choice, but I'm glad there was at least some explanation.
It was great getting to hear from the people who work so hard to make TCM the wonderful channel and brand that it is.  It was fairly evident that they care as much about the movies, fans and the network as we all do.

Sons of Gods and Monsters

Up next was the Sons of Gods and Monsters panel at the Hollywood Museum.  Which was a conversation with Rick Baker and Joe Dante, moderated by Scott McGee.  I didn't know what to expect from this discussion, since I'm not much of a horror fan, but I left with a newfound respect for both men and the genre.
Joe Dante began by speaking about how his interest in movie monsters started, he shared that he grew up with Disney movies and it wasn't a huge jump to from animated monsters to real ones.  He talked about watching classic movies on TV and how he felt that he was a loner and the only person interested in this, but then he discovered the magazine Famous Monsters.  At the time he thought it was a one shot magazine, but it took off.  Joe wrote 10 letters to the magazine over the years and at 12 years old one of his letters was featured as an article titled, Dante's Inferno.

very spooky indeed
Rick Baker also talked about his love and great interest in Famous Monsters magazine.  They both talked about feeling isolated by their love of monsters and talked about the illustrator Basil Gogos who frequently illustrated the covers of the magazine.

Rick talked about how supportive and caring his parents were.  He said he had always wanted to be a doctor but he changed his mind and became a monster maker instead 

I enjoyed listening to Joe Dante speak about how deep his love for monsters go, he made a very interesting analogy.  Scott asked why he thought kids respond so well to movie monsters and he said that as a kid you feel like a monster, other people are in control of you, there are a lot of things you don't understand.  He suggested that that's why so many children relate to and like movie monsters.

They then discussed some of their favorite movie monster makers.  They both spoke highly of Jack Pierce, Jack Dawn and Jack Barron.  Rick noted that there were many make-up artists named Jack and that he was mad at his parents for not naming him Jack.  Rick also talked about his admiration for Ray Harryhausen.  He talked about how different the technology is now, back then Ray would have to wait until the film was processed to see if there were any errors, it wasn't instantaneous.  There also wasn't the luxury of fixing mistakes, because it cost too much money.

In addition to discussing movie monsters they both touched on what it was like in the 50s to be a film fan.  Joe commented, that if you didn't see a movie when it first came out, you'd have to wait 5 years for it to come on TV, then another year.  So it was hard to see all the movies you wanted and it's so much different than today.

Jack Pierce putting the finishing touches on the Wolfman
 This then led the conversation towards the evolution of movie make-up and how things have changed over the years and the importance of staying current.  Rick Baker talked about how eventhough Jack Pierce saved Universal Studios with his movie monsters, he was still using the "out of the kit" process when it was popular at the time to do applied pieces and Jack was resistant to updating.  Learning about Jack Pierce being overlooked encouraged Rick to always stay current.  He talked about embracing computers during Gremlins and that while computers did make things faster, he's not sure it actually makes the work better.  In the old days you'd present maybe 2 options for a character, but now you can offer up thousands of options.

found at
 Scott then asked if there was still soul in the monsters of today, Rick commented that the real magic is with an actor in the make-up chair, becoming that character.  That's when you get a better performance.  He also said, just because you can have 20,000 werewolves defying gravity on the ceiling, it doesn't mean you should.  Both Joe and Rick then talked about remakes.  Joe equated remakes with "going back to the well," they can be different and a varied interpretations, but also shows a lack of creativity.  But he did also note that some our favorite movies are remakes, he gave the Maltese Falcon and The Wizard of Oz as examples.  He then talked about he new Spiderman movies and noted that the franchise was rebooted a little too soon, it wasn't as though we had all forgotten about the last interpretation.  I actually completely agree with him on this point.  He then went after the Psycho remake, which was shot for shot of the original, Rick chimed in, "I worked on that."
the least scary image associated with the movie that I could find
Scott then opened up the discussion up for questions.  Someone asked Rick about creating the werewolf in "An American Werewolf in London."  He said that the idea of making the werewolf more of a '4 legged hound from hell' was completely John Landis' idea and in fact Rick fought it and wanted the typical biped werewolf with the howling.  Rick continued, that in this case the director knew what he wanted, but also trusted Rick to do what needed to be done.  Joe then added that for Gremlins 2 he wanted mutated Gremlins so that Rick could have something to do, which also allowed all of the different Gremlins to have different personalities.

1931s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, even Fredric March is afraid
Someone then asked Rick about curating Bob Burn's Halloween House.  I had never heard about this, but it sounds both scary and amazing.  It sounds like Rick does elaborate set-ups every year.  He also shared a story about the Hells Angels coming one year and everyone thought there was going to be trouble, but instead they offered their services for crowd control.  Someone then asked which film did they find to be the most impressive film.  Joe answered with 1931's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  He went on and on about the transformation scenes and the stellar performance by Frederic March.  It was interesting to learn that the transformations were accomplished through both the lighting and the make-up.  They would use make-up with certain colors and then put on different filters depending on which make-up they wanted to show up.

The discussion then ended with both men sharing their love for The Twilight Zone.  Joe commented that the show was a phenomenon for his generation, that it made people ask, what if?  He also noted that Rod Serling was able to get away with a great deal of social commentary by changing a character into a martian, it removed the human element.

That does it for the panels.  They were very informative, engaging and interesting.  Since this ended up being MUCH longer than I anticipated, I went ahead and made this a Part 1 to the first day and I will share my red carpet experience, the Shirley Jones introduction and thoughts about the movie Oklahoma (where the winds come sweeping down the plain) in Part 2.  I hope to get that up soon.  In the meantime enjoy many, many other bloggers recaps/personal experiences/reviews of the Film Festival:

Laura's Misc. Musings

Comet over Hollywood

Out of the Past

A Classic Movie Blog

Scathingly Brilliant

Once Upon a Screen

And even a write up from Leonard Maltin


  1. I enjoyed your post since I wasn't at these panels, Diane! It's great to hear about other things that were happening while I was busy elsewhere.

    It was great to see you at the festival! Thanks much for sharing the link to my blog! :)

    Best wishes,

    1. Thanks so much Laura!! It was great seeing you at the festival too and of course, I've loved reading your festival recaps.

      Thanks again!

  2. I agree with Laura. I missed both of the afternoon events to see Mel Brooks interviewed, so it was good to hear what they were like. Regarding the Apps, there might be another reason for the low usage. I work for Comic-Con and one of the problems we have there is that there are so many people there all trying to post to facebook, tweet, etc. that no one can get enough bandwidth to use the apps effectively. Thanks for posting. I'll keep an eye out for new updates. I'm sure there's other stuff you caught that I missed.

    1. Thanks so much for the comment Chris. I was so torn about going to the panels and missing the Mel Brooks interview, but decisions have to be made. Oh interesting points about the app, I wonder if that played a part in their decision not to have one this year. I've also enjoyed your updates and will be sure to keep tuning in.