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Anyone Like Ben Better Now?


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TCMProgrammer, I also thank you for your message to us. It's not the first time I've seen you "try" to assure those who believe that TCM is headed the way of AMC that it's a very false assumption. I would like to add that not ALL of us have made this assumption, but have instead listened to you, trusted you, and are quite willing to let it go at that.

 

And, I would also like to add that with respect to Ben (who was once the topic of this thread), not ALL of us feel as harshly toward him as a few others do. So, when someone says "we" instead of "I" when they speak about him, please don't think that they are speaking for everyone.

 

I see Pre-code movies in your programming on a continual basis, for which I thank you. I enjoy them very much. I also greatly appreciate the fact that you provide your viewers with "variety" in terms of Genre, and the year the movie was produced. You have a very large viewership to serve, and it's great that you work so very hard to please so many in your programming selections every day.

 

I have only one huge and pressing "request" for you. Can you air "Min & Bill" this year? My needs are really very simple, you see, and it would greatly please me to see this movie again. Last year I requested a couple of Mario Lanza movies, and you came through...Thank You! Hang-in-there, and keep up the great job! This month's Oscar selections have been totally awesome! :)ML

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tcmprogrammer, thank you for your post. Again, its only because I love classic films so much and don't want TCM to change that I express these concerns. As someone who loves movies- old, new, silent, subtitled- I appreciate all of your efforts. Keep up the great work and I look forward to more Pre-codes!

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I hope that TCM sticks to it's Ben and Bob guns. If it's Ben OR Bob, I'd take Bob. I don't realy mind Ben that much, but there's nothing that draws me in. Maybe I'm getting old (41).

 

I do think that at its best TCM is/was a pretty cozy environement, magnetic to people, myself included, who are resistant to abrupt change which I've always felt put a "Ben-bad, Bob good" chip on a lot of shoulders. Ultimately what we're talking about, at best, is a minute of screen time between movies. The dialogue could be written by the same person and delivered by two different hosts and viewers probably wouldn't be any the wiser. The movies are the real important thing.

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  • 1 year later...

Ben M. got off to a poor start with me even before he got started.

In his introductory promo, he informed us that his grandfather had written Citizen Kane. Not co-written. Written. Right there, he made a bad impression. Doesn't he know? Or does he not care?

Then he told us that he was chosen as the new host because of his family name -- and because he really likes movies. Well, so do I, and I'm not as boring as he is. He just stands there like one of those operatic tenors who think that 'acting' means shifting one's hands ever so slightly every now and then; and he doesn't have the saving grace of being able to belt out an aria.

I won't listen to him any more. When I do weekend recording, I just edit him out before burning dvds.

I have a sneaking suspicion that he was chosen because TCM thought they needed someone hip and happening to appeal to younger viewers. Boy, were they wrong. Even my kids think that he's a loser.

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Mankiewicz isn't afraid to call a bad movie a bad movie. All movies have something notable associated with them no matter how small and I think this is what he centers on in his commentaries. But at the end of the movie, if it was a turkey, he says so.

 

Osbourne on the other hand is very diplomatic. He tells you a movie was bad in the politest most constructive way. Mostly he seems to love everything. I like Mankiewicz's blunt approach. Let's face it, most movies are ordinary or just plain bad. But it doesn't mean they're not worth seeing for whatever reason

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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.

 

This is not even true, As part of the younger generation (I'm 21), I would much rather see, as someone else put it, a young kid who's just crazy about the old movies and shows enthusiasm about them. Ben seems kind of cynical and dismissive of many films. I remember his commentary for Lana Turner's "Madame X" really annoyed me. He said it was a weepy chick flick. And maybe it is--but I think the commentator should take a more positive approach, since film criticism is so subjective anyway.

 

Anyway, if you are trying to reach out to a younger audience, why not hire someone particularly young? How old is Ben? He looks about 40.

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I don't know what all the hoopla is about, I've always liked him.

 

Glad someone else is stating pretty much my sentiment. I don't know if I recorded it, but I'm pretty sure at the beginning I remember Robert having him sort of like his other guests, telling us about who he was and what he was going to be doing (mostly weekend afternoons), etc., so I'm not just now coming to this.

 

I've never disliked him. Bob is like Ann Miller described him, so full of knowledge, friendly, "comfortable," and has just enough trouble with a few names to remind us he's really good but not the Almighty. Ben can appear cynical, with a trace of sarcasm, and can usually find something to make me laugh along the way. Both are my kind of people (and I'm mid-50s, if it matters). I would miss Bob more (just as I missed the other Bob on the "Always More Commercials" channel) if something changed, but I get a kick (usually) out of Ben. And I get the feeling he really is "into" cartoons, like me. Bob with the star's picture in the gold/silver frame, Ben stick-pinning it to the wall - me, both ways!

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I'm 32 and I love Robert. Ben, at first, reminded me a little too much of exactly what I'm trying to get away from when I tune into TCM. I thought, this guy really ought to be hosting some network reality show instead of lecturing me about Casablanca. But he's grown on me.

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I have seen many versions of who wrote what in Citizen Kane, but never have I found positive substantiation for what you claim.

Personally, I find so much of Orson Welles in the Citizen Kane screenplay that I cannot accept the notion that he added only a few finishing touches.

On the other hand, knowing something of Welles's character, I am certain that Mankiewicz did more on the script than Welles would have wanted to acknowledge.

To be fair, Welles did, in the lengthy interviews he did with Peter Bogdanovich, give Mankiewicz a good bit of credit.

 

My point was not to make a case for who did what, but rather to say that Ben M's comment was an arrogant overstatement. You can't ignore Orson Welles when you talk about the Citizen Kane script.

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Ben is growing on me - I think his style is a little less affected now. Will he ever ever be Mr. Osborne? Oh, in 40 or 50 years if he's lucky. (paraph: The Divorce of Madame X). Would I jump in that 'Stang and run around Hollywood with him? You bet. He really seems to enjoy the little Hollywood history bits and and I hope to see more of them. Maybe stars are more his interest than the actual films - that could explain why he seems so judgemental. Anyway - he's welcome ANY time of day over Zombie.

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I'm sure everyone here will be relieved to hear that there is at least one 20 year old in the universe who does not want tv catered to the general tastes of her generation. Personally, I would feel more at home in the world if I had been born in, say, 1917. I'm sure that most young people who would consider watching TCM would be the types to prefer classic programming that fits in with the movies rather than edgy hip attempts to cater to our age group.

 

I appreciate the TCM Programmer's assurance that TCM won't slip into the deep abyss that AMC did-- even though I am 20, I was well aware of AMC's decline when I was around 13 or 14, only a year after I had become obsessed with classic films. However, the fact that AMC started showing commercials was not the worst sin they committed. I think I could live with commercials, as long as my favorite movies were still being aired and my favorite forgotten stars were getting a chance to shine. The fact that the recent monthly promotions have been a little risque and heavy, that TCM introductions like One Reel Wonders have changed, and that Rob Zombie (!?) is now going to be hosting his own show (I agree with most of the movies he's picked, but quite frankly I'll be scared to watch the commentary!) makes me wonder if TCM isn't catering a little TOO much to my generation. Would you prefer to attract the tip of the top of my age group instead of turning us away?

 

Anyway... the post is about Ben, so here's my opinion: What I've seen, I've liked for the most part. I like his radio show, and on the whole he seems like a good egg. However, on the whole I really do wish that TCM would stop changing so much. I agree with an earlier post that if TCM really wanted young viewers, they could find a young, average joe or jane who is obsessed with classic films, to project their passion for films to the viewers. Maybe they could alternate each week between students majoring in classic film studies in college or something--but if they did something like this it should be like the syncopation station or silent sunday--only once a week. Or it should be like the guest programmer--once a month.

 

Long story short: Keep Ben AND Robert Osborne, Keep showing older films, TCM is GREAT and keep up the 99.9% Wonderful work!

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I seem to recall Ben Mankiewicz stating -- on air -- that Paul Newman won an Oscar for "Being There."

 

I beg to differ.

 

There have been other factual blunders, as well.

 

Seems like a nice enough guy, but maybe this really isn't the job for him.

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We "Bens" have to stick together. :)

I liked him from the start...his dry humourous interjections are quite refreshing. Movie-watching is fun, after all. He seems like he would be fun to hang out with and, growing up in Hollywood-I'm sure he knows a lot of cool places to go. OK, I admit it-I have a bit of a crush on him...

I also like Molly Haskell (tough-talking Virginian)...I wish they'd give her more to do.

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Okay...disclaimer: this is going to long and rambling:

 

Maybe I'm getting a hair to old for Ben's target audience (I'm 33), but I too find Ben to be, shall we say, "No Robert Osbourne."

 

Part of the problem might be that Ben's on-air persona seems to be aimed primarily at a male audience. I've seen at least a few occasions (I wish I could cite them, but alas, I wasn't taking notes) where he's said something I found somewhat offensive or sexist, which can be kind of annoying, even if the rest of his commentary is informative and interesting. (Someone earlier cited him describing a film as a "weepy chick flick"...) Of course, this sort of thing isn't specific by any means to Ben's intros on TCM...it's sort of rampant in general culture these days. I just think TCM should stay somewhat above that. It may go over just fine on whatever radio morning-show Ben hosts, but it seems sort of out-of-place when introducing "Little Women". And I don't think that it'll work to attract the latest generation of "Doom"-playing MTV-watching young males to classic movies.

 

[aside: They even have an entire horrible channel based on the premise that "sexist is cool!" (I'm talking to you, SpikeTV)...the only entertaining thing about it is that apprently the "channel for men" plays completely into the stereotype that men are drooling, boorish, sloping-foreheaded arsebuckets.]

 

Personally I think even if TMC wants to target the younger audience, they would be better off with a) someone who knows and loves movies, rather than the grandchild of someone who knows and loves movies, and B) a more diverse lineup of hosts. Right now it's old-white-guy (who knows his stuff) and young-white-guy-on-weekends, with Molly Haskell co-introducing one movie a week. They try here and there, with Mr. Bogle sitting in as guest host during the "African American Depictions in the Movies Month" a while ago, but still. they could do more.

 

(Incidentally, the nice thing about "The Essentials" and that thing where a guest picks four movies from TCM's library (I forget what they call that) is that Molly and Bob can actually "discuss" the movie...most of the introductions are "here's a factoid or two about the movie.)

 

I'm also curious about whether Ben and Robert write their own material, or whether they're both just working from a script. Robert clearly knows more than Ben about these things, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have a team of minions digging up "film facts" about his featured movies and writing it up for him. Maybe his writers are just better than Ben's writers, in their attempt to be all hip.

 

As for programming, I'm glad TCM still plays all the old movies. I don't mind the not-so-old movies from the 70's and whatknot, as long as they aren't the massive blockbusters everyone sees/knows...there are plenty of 60's and 70's (and even 80's or maybe 90's) gems that don't see the light of day elsewhere. As long as TCM doesn't go the AMC direction, we're all okay. AMC's sins are innumerable. Not only do they interrupt their films every few minutes with commercials and play a lot of really not-worthwhile hollywood blockbusters, but they also, in what little I've seen of them, pan-and-scan at least some of their post-Academy-Ratio pictures, and obscure the credits with commercials or promos for other AMC things.

 

The only inexplicably pan-and-scanned picture I can recall coming across on TCM was "The Quiller Memorandum" (why?). Of course, I've only had regular access to TCM for maybe half-a-year now, so maybe a few years ago things weren't so hot in terms of presenting the films as originally intended. I seem to recall some sort of colourization issue back in the day...

 

Sorry for rambling on...

 

aside to bestboy:

Unfortunately, Osbourne also isn't above making any mistakes, especially ones involving pronunciation. I recall him thoroughly massacring Machiko Kyo's name in his introduction to "Gate of Hell" (1953).

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Bens O.K., he kind of reminds me of A.J. Benza, the guy who was on E doing True Hollywood, who now does poker with Gabe Kaplan, however, he isn't bad, but I would like to see former out of work stars guest hosting, like Dennis Weaver and others did on the western channel.

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