TCM Classic Film Festival 2012: Excerpts From Roundtable Discussions with Ben Mankiewicz and Robert Osborne//
Unlike other film festivals where films are in competition with each other. Can you talk a little about that?
Robert Osborne: I love the fact that there is a TCM and you can see movies that you wouldn’t normally get to see. But we also recognize that there’s nothing like seeing a movie on the big screen, as it was meant to be seen. So I think the value of the festival is that you can see Casablanca, you can see North By Northwest, you can see Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing and you can see it on the big screen with a lot of other people. That’s the way it was mean to be seen. It’s a totally different experience. You can see Casablanca twenty-five times and it’s a totally different movie when you see it in a theater on the big screen, when you’re focused on the screen and you are sharing it with a thousand other people and the experience.
I think that is the importance of the festival. What the feels like. More and more people are not going to the theater. I watched a kid on the train coming from Boston to New York watching a whole movie on an iPhone. It was all laying across the seat on this little thing. Well, it’s interesting to see it that way but you miss the detail and the kind of overwhelming experience of seeing it in a theater and having Audrey Hepburn’s face three feet tall or something. And the shared experience.
Can you talk a little bit about the Guest Programmers on TCM?
RO: It was actually my idea at first to have the guest programmers because Stephen Sondheim… and I were having a talk [all laugh] and that happened because he’s a big movie fan. I know nothing about music and I think everybody that’s around Stephen is into music so that’s all they talk about. So I am kind of fresh air because I don’t know anything about music, I don’t know any questions to ask him. He was the one that said, “Well, if I was ever going to program, I would do this and this and that.”
So I took that idea and they said let’s do a night of Stephen Sondheim selections. Then Bill Cosby was having a conversation with the guy who was running the station at the time and he mentioned this and Cosby said, “Well, I’ll come in and do this.” Stephen didn’t want to come on camera. So Bill Cosby became our first guest programmer, then we did a night of Stephen Sondheim’s, then the whole guest programmer thing started.
Are there any celebrities that you’ve been longing to include in the festival that you have yet been able to do so?
RO: Yes. There are a lot of people. We’d love Doris Day to come and participate. We’re a little closer all the time. She just did a promo for us for all the Doris Day films we’ve been showing lately on TCM. She did the voice over for it and stuff. It’s just convincing her she should get on camera because she hasn’t been seen for a long time and she is aware that the first thing everyone is going to say is how she looks. Everyone’s going to say she’s older, she doesn’t look like Doris Day did in 1958.
We’d love to get her, we’d love to get Olivia de Havilland and Michael Caine and Sean Connery. You understand the reticence too. They have nothing to sell. They’re not out there and they don’t have to do a film festival or anything else to get attention and most of them really don’t want attention anymore. You know, they’ve done all that and gone through all that stuff and the women have to get their hair done and all that. Just to have people say, “Oh, they got a lot older. She doesn’t look like she did in 1939.”
*Do you have any thoughts on how they’re not letting out 35MMs anymore? I go to the Castro a lot in San Francisco and all they show is 35MM and now they’re going to have to convert to digital only.
RO: I know. It’s very sad. I am a part owner in a movie theater up in Port Townsend, Washington and we got a notification from Fox and Disney that as of January 2013 they’re not going to be making prints in 35mm any more. So if you want to stay in business you basically have to convert to digital. Now for a small town theater it is $60,000 per theater. Movie theaters today barely make enough money to stay in business as it is, because all the money that you pay the exhibitor goes to the exhibitor and all you make in profit is your popcorn stand. In small towns people don’t buy popcorn. So it’s going to put a lot of business out, small mom and pop operations all across the country and that’s going to have a terrible effect I think.
Because, again, it’s what happened when television came along initially, movie theaters moved out of downtown areas, movie palaces. They finally ended up in malls and multiplexes. Once movie theaters move out of a downtown area it’s dark at night. That’s when crime starts taking over places in the downtown area. If people don’t come downtown to go to a movie at night there’s no businesses. The restaurants down there close, the coffee shops close, all of that. And it has a really amazing effect.
I know it did on the small town I grew up in. Once the movie theaters were gone, at night you wouldn’t even want to go downtown because that’s where all the bad people were hanging out. It just has a big effect on everybody. That’s a big investment for small towns. People just don’t have that kind of money. Except the big chains.
Pages: Page 1 | Page 2 |