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Guest Programmer(s)


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Seeing as how this is Drew Barrymore's third year on The Essentials, one would think TCM would use the guest programmer series as kind of an audition process for the Essentials co-host job. Yet none of the people selected as guest programmers so far in 2014 seem to be likely candidates for that position -- Judge Judy and George Pelecanos thus far, with Mother Dolores Hart and Gene Wilder scheduled for May and June respectively.

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That's an interesting idea, but I do not think the purpose of the Guest Programmer series is to audition future co-hosts of Essentials. Though I am sure that if someone really knocked it out of the park, they would be invited back, maybe for something else, like the Friday Night Spotlight, where they would get a whole month to introduce films.

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Good point, TB.

 

Another factor is that most Guest Programmers are busy with their own careers/lives and likely don't have the time to co-host a season of *The Essentials*.

 

Co-hosting the *Essentials* is putting together a list of films that fits the reason for the franchise. Then, working with Robert O, to come up with a final list (with alternatives in case a film is not available for rent).

 

After that, a good co-host watches the films (usually between 27-29 a season), takes notes and prepares for the week long filming with Robert O and crew.

 

Being a Guest Programmer is a much less time consuming.

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> Though I am sure that if someone really knocked it out of the park, they would be invited back, maybe for something else, like the Friday Night Spotlight, where they would get a whole month to introduce films.

 

I could see this happening. I notice that some of the people selected to introduce films, like Anthony Bourdain, for example (even if he seems to be a polarizing figure) are very good at speaking clearly and animatedly about whatever film they're introducing.

 

Someone I thought was terrible was Matthew Broderick, who I think introduced the Friday Night Spotlight dedicated to screwball comedies, back in I think November? It was interesting to me, that someone like Broderick, who I believe regularly appears on Broadway, would be so terrible at introducing the films. He was monotone and dull. To me, he gave off the impression that he was either REALLY nervous, or didn't really want to be there.

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>Co-hosting the Essentials is putting together a list of films that fits the reason for the franchise.

 

And that right there is key. Each series has its own format. A guest programmer may choose titles that are completely unrelated. For instance, when Bob Newhart was on, he presented BLOCK-HEADS (a Laurel & Hardy picture) and SUNSET BOULEVARD-- two films that have very little in common with each other, thematically.

 

But the Friday Night Spotlight is more structured, and the film choices all relate to one central idea.

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I remember first seeing *The Seven Ups* in the theatre. Its a good movie with a spectacular chase scene (one of the very best ever) as the highlight. Its almost like the story was built around the chase. And the guest programmer seemed to favor the movie primarily for the chase. I saw the Duvall film *The Outfit* for the first time tonight. Not much of a story there, if you just crave the violence and action its great, right there with a "Dirty Harry" film or the Lee Marvin film *Point Blank* . I can like one of these films but don't need a steady diet of them. Mr Pelecanos commented how much he liked the crime films when they dealt with the nature of why criminals behave the way that they do. With that in mind I would have thought he would have chosen one of the Warners 30's crime films like *Public Enemy* or *Angels With Dirty Faces* , etc. Explaining why the guy becomes a criminal is the root of those stories.

 

Edited by: mrroberts on Mar 18, 2014 2:52 AM

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I agree with you. In general, I don't like guests. Just show the film. An exception would be if the guest is someone still around who has a close connection to the film. There are fewer such people around, but they're out there. For example, *Lois Smith*, who played the small but important role of Anne in East of Eden, lives in my neighborhood. She's very articulate, would be a great guest the next time they showed the film.

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I thought the idea of a "guest programmer" was to show that some people who make their living doing other things also have an interest in classic film, and were asked on the network to show people THEIR favorite films and talk a bit about why they are. The general public might have the notion that say, QUEEN LATIFAH has no interests beyond her own celebrity status and modern popular culture. That she might have had a long love of classic film might be interesting to many, and seeing which old movies have had a bight spot in her heart shows a different light on her personality. (Latifah is just a hypothetical example. I don't really know if she even LIKES classic film.) We here in this forum readilly accept that some dusty old movie may have changed the lives of other forum members, but may have never considered the impact some of them may have had on celebrities.

 

Sepiatone

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That's the kind of approach I don't like. I don't really care about what contemporary celebrities think about classic films; also, that approach leads to showing the "usual suspects," as these people don't go for the more obscure stuff.

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Never have cared for guest programmers or The Essentials guests. Just show me the movie.

Learned a long time ago that just because someone is a good actor or director, it does not mean they are good at anything else, such as picking out or describing classic movies.

Also, seems the guest programmers frequently pick the same movies that are already being shown over and over and over. Same for The Essentials.

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Also, seems the guest programmers frequently pick the same movies that are already being shown over and over and over. Same for The Essentials.

 

I've always wondered how much of this "sameness" is the guest programmer's fault, and how much of it is due to the constraints imposed by the prime time schedule. I'm not talking about R-rated films so much as I am about films that might be considered too obscure for prime time viewers, who presumably are more "mainstream" oriented than a lot of us true TCM junkies whose favorite films usually show up around 2:00 AM.

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When I saw *Ride The High Country* on the schedule as a programmer choice I thought the same. A good film for sure, but really being overplayed on TCM. I would like to think that anyone doing the guest programming would try to think a little out of the box. We all have favorite films that are very popular and well known by the general public. I would want to promote something lesser known or appreciated, share that film that I thought was special and deserving of a viewing.

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When I saw Ride The High Country on the schedule as a programmer choice I thought the same. A good film for sure, but really being overplayed on TCM. I would like to think that anyone doing the guest programming would try to think a little out of the box. We all have favorite films that are very popular and well known by the general public. I would want to promote something lesser known or appreciated, share that film that I thought was special and deserving of a viewing.

 

OTOH I appreciated that the two most overplayed movies that Pelecanos chose last night were relegated to the bottom of the schedule when only the DVRs and DVD recorders were likely to have been awake. Whereas the first three films that get played here a lot less frequently got placed in the first three slots of the evening. I've seen The Outfit before, but the last time it played on TCM was back in 2010 at 4:00 AM. It was nice to see a classic mob movie like that in prime time for a change.

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> I've seen The Outfit before, but the last time it played on TCM was back in 2010 at 4:00 AM. It was nice to see a classic mob movie like that in prime time for a change.

 

I agree, Andy. I really enjoyed watching THE OUTFIT last night and was glad it had a good time slot.

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>I thought the idea of a "guest programmer" was to show that some people who make their living doing other things also have an interest in classic film

 

That's how I see it. I also think it is a way of using modern celebrity to increase TCM's visibility across different platforms. No harm in that!

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