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Anyone Like Ben Better Now?

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Looking over the LONG thread of posts on second string TCM host Ben Mankiewicz which were posted last year - last one is from September.


Anyone like him better since then? I've always liked him a lot, and I think he gets better all the time.


Anyone agree?



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spadeneal, I agree that Ben has gotten better over time. My problem with him is that he tries to be a little too hip and edgy and instead appears condescending and a trifle dismissive of the films he is commenting on. And I'm not certain if he writes his own material, but I have disagreed with several of the comments he's made. I do like Cartoon Alley and think he has done a very good job there.


But let's face it. Robert Osborne is the man when it comes to classic movies. Bob always acts like an old friend who, like yourself, just loves the movies. Ben doesn't quite generate that same genuine warmth and interest in the films he's commenting on. Perhaps that's just my perception. What do you folks think?

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lizimbrie88, you're quite correct. There is no projected warmth.


Osborne, like Dorian and Clooney on AMC, had the same effect as many of the good hosts on Masterpiece Theatre. They added to the movie watching experience. I pause my tape for Osborne's bits of trivia when a movie comes on.


When Ben shows his face, I just fast forward.

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Given that Ben Mankiewicz was hired to reach a younger audience connecting with TCM these days, I think he has done a good job for them. I have also noted that where he once started out down in a basement/storage-room "studio", he has gradually been provided with a much nicer studio environment. Someone higher up must be thinking that he has earned it. I agree with them.


I also find it totally unfair to compare him to Robert Osborne, who has spent an entire career perfecting his Hosting skills, and developing his vast wealth of information that he so effortlessly shares with us.


In my humble opinion, I think that Ben is learning and developing very nicely, and I find no reason to fault his efforts.

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I'll try to be as nice as I can. Ben may be a nice guy and might be a good guy to have a beer with but as far as his job at TCM......I just can't stand the guy........he has a snotty-nosed condescending attitude and a certain measure of "I'm modern and I'm cynical".........it quickly wears thin.


I can't help but think.......no wait......I KNOW he would NEVER have the job he has were it not for his last name. Now.....put him on "The Man Show" on comedy central where cynicism rules and he may be perfect.


As far as him attracting the youth in droves to TCM.......I just can't imagine it's working.


And again I must state I am talking about his job performance not about who he is as a human.

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Ben does a fine job, but watching him I sometimes get the sense that he really does not have an interest or a passion for the movies, whether they are new or old.


Personally speaking, the age of who is presenting the films never matters to me (I am 40), what matters to me is the person's enthusiasm and passion. That is what energizes the movie-watching experience for me.

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Touche, tom, and I know it isn't accent grave over the 'e', thank you W.C.Fields, but it's some kind of accent.


I agree, one thousand percent. Brilliant post.


As I've stated, I don't give media people the same 'break' I give normal human beings. Since Ben is OBVIOUSLY getting paid who knows how much for his few minutes on film, he SHOULD be the consummate professional. And he is not. So, he should not have been hired.


Good point as to the name recognition. I never thought of that. Same goes for Clooney. George, that is. If not for Rosemary and his father, he wouldn't have been given the time of day in television. He couldn't act his way out of a paper bag on Roseanne and he wasn't much better on ER. He has improved, somewhat, but he's still more pretty than he is talented. And just THINK of all the UNpretty, MORE talented actors out there who are just withering on the vine...well, Hollywood and Vine...and waiting tables while schmucks like Jim Carrey get paid $26 million.


Oh, sorry, veered off into a rant there.


I don't know WHOM Ben is attracting, since the youts of the world, I imagine, aren't beating down the doors to TCM. TCM had better realize their core audience and realize it damn quick.


Or they'll soon be in the same crap pile as AMC.


Oh.....I wasn't supposed to be nice too, was I? Sorry, can't do it.

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This is precisely my feeling, Liz. This issue of appealing to a younger demographic is probably altogether valid, but it always makes me miss the era portrayed in my favorite movies even more. You know, back in the days when everyone wanted to be more sophisticated and adult in behavior and appearance, rather than hip and edgy. "Hip and edgy" often gets a bit tiresome for me (age 45).



> spadeneal, I agree that Ben has gotten better over

> time. My problem with him is that he tries to be a

> little too hip and edgy and instead appears

> condescending and a trifle dismissive of the films he

> is commenting on. And I'm not certain if he writes

> his own material, but I have disagreed with several

> of the comments he's made.

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Ben's attitude and style appeals to today's 20's & 30's

year olds watching his new set reflects today's youth's

homestead. But thats ok with me. Just as Roberts is for

the older generation. A suitable host for two generations

I think Ben's just trying too hard to appeal in attitude

and style to today's generation and he's not unfortunately accomplishing his feat......

Ben needs to relax and just tell us the facts of a particular movie with a different attitude with the real

Ben M's style. lolite.

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loliteblue, here's where I'm torn. While I agree it's a good idea to get the viewership of the youts to TCM, which they probably didn't have two years ago, why not bring the youts up to our level, instead of us going down to their level?


Now, before this seems like a flaming remark, here's my thought process. And it's based on what AMC did. AMC was old movies hosted by old men who gave a glimpse into the past, including spotlights on old movie theaters around the country. Fascinating. Unique. Specialized.


Then AMC decided they had to be part of the trend. Had to appeal to the youts, or how the youts are viewed by Madison Avenue. So out went the old movies, the old men, and the movie theater spots. In came the young hosts, the first of whom was actually decent and can be seen on E! now, I believe. Then the station denigrated into showing...can you hear me, TCM?...recent movies, action movies, garbage movies, just because they were recent. Then, horror of horrors, in came the commercials.


So, loliteblue, I see the new host as a portend of things to come. TCM is already showing waaaay too many recent movies for my taste, but hey that's me. I know it's been stated that TCM has no intention of bringing in commercials, but hey I don't believe Oswald alone killed Kennedy, so I also do NOT believe TCM.


My longwinded point. Why can't the youts appreciate TCM as it is, or was?

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Great Post Stoney!


I just think Ben is so contrived feeling.......it's so obvious what TCM is trying to do regarding him and that is why it doesn't work.


If they had a young hip kid who was nuts about old movies and we saw a sincere passionate kid excited about the movies it would have a better chance at grabbing the younger generation.


Now personally, I still don't think TCM has much of a shot attracting the young - raised on gameboy, computers, attention deficit disorder youth of America......anybody watch MTV lately?


Face it........TCM is mostly for the 40 and up group with a few exceptions...(my 7 year old daughter being one...I am working on the brainwashing....).......and TCM is not going to stay the way they are now for much longer.............you can argue it but it's a fact.

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Had to make a test entry before I got long winded and then it wouldn't update.




I agree with most all the posts on here--Ben's getting better but he does she smarmy and cynical (that's the Libra coming out in me-everything in balance LOL!)

But I understand that Bob can't do it all, and Ben's youth will bring in a younger audience to appreciate the older movies. While most of the movies they show on the weekends are movies we've (board members) seen a million times, they usually ARE older movies, not movies released in the last 20-25 years. They are the classics, and to get new viewers you have to shown well known movies so maybe they might investigates the lesser known movies by these same actors and directors.


As far as showing newer movies, I'm glad this Oscar month that TCM decided to mix it up a bit and show the newer Oscar winners and nominees. Even I'll admit that I normally don't enjoy Oscar month because after the first few years of it, I got tired of seeing TCM recycle the same old movies. (I've had TCM since it's been on so I guess I'm an old time viewer.) I'm sure after the end of the month, we'll go back to the great TCM we all love. But I'm willing to give them the 31 days of Oscar ever year. Now only if they would lease some older winners from other studios that we don't see, I'd be a happy camper.


Sorry for the rambling.

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I still can't find a single reason for feeling that Ben Mankiewicz deserves this spot, or that plenty of other people aren't available who can do a better job. After all, Herman Mankiewicz was Ben's grandfather. He was the one with the renowned intelligence, wit and famous quotes (whether drunk or sober). Ben never even knew his grandfather. And unfortunately, the fact remains that most young people today have no idea who Herman Mankiewicz was. I'm honestly very open to the idea of a younger host, but please offer us better, more suitable qualifications that just a familiar Golden Age name.

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Stoneyburke, tomagain77, and orson4ever - I cannot agree with you guys more. All of your posts were right on target.


I haven't liked Ben since he started, simply because he has no passion for the movies that he's speaking about. It's so obvious that he doesn't care that it's almost insulting to the films he's introducing. And that may sound harsh, but that is how I see it. He is obviously in the wrong field.


I'm 25, and I find Bob a much better host. I watch TCM for what it is, not because I'm looking for something "hip" on T.V. If I want that, I'll turn on MTV, but when I turn on TCM I want it to be the glorious step back in time that it has always been. It's a visual museum of our cultural history, and it'll be a damn shame when they go the way of the other stations.


To answer the original question of this thread, I DO NOT think Ben has gotten better with time, he's the same uninterested, vapid, tying-to-hard to please bore that he's been since day one. And believe me, I'm not trying to insult him personally, because personally he might be a great guy. It's just his persona as a host that really stinks. If they want to appeal to a young audience then they need to get a young fan of classic movies - plain and simple. Someone who will talk about them with the same passion that Bob and the rest of us have for them.

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I love the dialog that we have on the boards, and I really am glad that people have different opinions and (for the most part) respect each other.


Regarding Ben - I think he's great. He isn't Robert, that's true. I don't believe there's anybody out there that can compare with Robert, who is the best. But Ben brings a different personality, one that I (and a lot of other people) enjoy. Having said that, it's great to see a range of opinions (as we see on just about anything we do on the channel).


One thing that drives me crazy, though, is that people were so burned by what AMC did that they're convinced we're headed in that direction. I've heard that for the past few years - every time we play a film from the '80s or '90s, a lot of people are certain it's just a step toward AMC.


I promise, promise, promise that isn't part of the existing plan for the network (I can't say never because who knows what management changes there may be years from now? I can just tell you that - right now - there is absolutely no plan to add commercials and that has nothing to do with the newer movies that we play). And look at some of the festivals we have coming up - classic comedy including a lot of the great silents comedians, Marx Brothers, Abbott and Costello, etc. in April. Orson Welles in May. Mexican classics in May. Ingrid Bergman (including her Swedish films) in June. Claudette Colbert in March. We restored the lost Hughes silents. Those aren't festivals we do so we can attract a commercial audience.


Anyway, I'm glad there's a lot of passion. And I've taken some heat from people here at the network for playing newer films during 31 Days of Oscar, so you guys aren't alone. But it is not a part of some larger agenda to go the way of AMC - that is something I can definitely promise.

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Sorry, tcmprogrammer, to be driving you crazy! Let me explain some of my baggage.


I think TCM is doing a great job. In a sea of drivel and drek, they're the Little Tugboat That Could (I know, I'm mixing vehicles of transportation). Just to let you know, when I see snails being eaten alive on Fear Factor, I'm off to send yet another email. The American Humane Society, Film Division, and I are on a first name basis.


Now, TCM isn't doing anything reprehensible, but yes, we rabid film lovers were burned. Very burned. Like many here, I was a classic film lover as a child, and didn't even know it. Thanks to this board, I do now. So when AMC came out, I was blase. I didn't tape many movies, and then whammo, they were gone. Without so much as a by your leave. I didn't see the signs. And the signs were black and white movies shunted to the wee hours of the night from their former prime time positions. Then Bob and Nick were gone. And finally, the ultimate insult, commercials reared their ugly heads.


Now, I had heard about TCM and read about TCM, but Cablevision, in its imbecility, only brought it into the lineup in Jan. 2004, a full ten years after TCM had been created. So, I've been scrambling like a madwoman trying to tape every black and white movie available.


I'm rambling. Yes, there's passion. And that's good. We're proprietary about the station and about this board. That's good too. And we've welcomed Robert into our homes, but are leaving Ben standing on the stoop right now. There's something about him that we, okay I, don't trust and hence don't like.


Why not Bob Dorian? Wasn't he available? I would have liked to see him working again.


But no matter. I can fast forward past Ben. And again, all of this blather was just an explanation of why I keep bringing up the AMC comparison. Heck, if you were a Mystery channel, I'd be comparing you to A&E and waiting for you to feature sensationalistic tripe from the offices of Bill Kurtis.


So, howza 'bout re-programming the block of Pre-Code films you showed in 2002, when TCM was just a speck in the eye of Cablevision? I promise to quit comparing you to AMC if you do! Well, for awhile at least.......:)



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Thank you tcmprogrammer for your post.


It's very refreshing to hear that TCM isn't going to change it's programming, at least for the next couple of years. As you know we are all HUGE fans, and that is one of the reasons why we get a little worried about it. We don't want it to change, since it is really the only place where people who are passionate about films like us can go. And with the way things change so rapidly in our society, TCM could be here today and gone tomorrow, like AMC was. But like I said, I'm glad to read your reassuring comments.


And by the way - thanks for the preview on what's coming up! I was already thrilled with Claudette Colbert and the comedy festival, and now a tribute to Ingrid Bergman! Great news!

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Stoneyburke - I didn't see your post until after I posted mine. I too was saddled with Cablevision and finally gave up and bought a satellite system a few years ago, JUST for TCM. And I have to agree with you about the Pre Codes. I would LOVE to see that festival again, or any of the films that were played during it.


tcmprogrammer - if what we have to say bears ANY weight at all in the decision making process over there, PLEASE give us more Pre Codes!

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Personally, I've always liked Ben. He's no Robert Osbourne, but he does give classic movies a certain modern style to them. I think he is much better on camera these days then he once was. Also I thought it was silly of him playing up his family connections at his introduction. What's wrong with him just being a young, good looking person that loves classic movies?

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