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What is this baloney on TCM now?


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Here's a tongue-in-not-too-firmly-in-cheek assesment of current television. Hope some of you can find the humor in it.

 

 

from the NYTimes 16Sept

Op-Ed Contributor

My Plan to Save Network Television

By CHARLIE HAUCK

Los Angeles

 

LET’S say you’ve created a network television series for the 2006-2007 season. It’s beautifully calibrated to appeal to the only viewers of any value to advertisers: young people. It’s about a family of migrant lifeguards. They travel to beaches all over the world in revealing swimwear, saving lives and drinking popular beverages. They have a soon-to-be-famous catch phrase, which they use in the face of any adversity: “You can’t stop progress.”

 

The attractive brothers and sisters are in their late teens and early 20’s. Mom is played by a movie **** still in her 30’s whose film career has stalled. Dad’s reserve unit was called to Iraq. He can come home during sweeps week.

 

But after your premiere the Nielsen ratings bring distressing news: old people are watching your show. Maybe they like the family’s pet cockatiel. Maybe one of the lifeguards reminds them of the young Alan Ladd. But they are wreaking havoc on your demographics, the lifeblood of a series. Your show is “skewing old.”

 

Many assume that mature viewers, with their $2 trillion a year in spending power, would be welcomed by the networks. Well, they aren’t. Advertisers want to lock in viewers’ buying habits early in life, not struggle with them to change brands in their last few decades. The key demographic in the weekly Nielsen ratings report is 18-49. Anyone outside that range is undesirable. People over 49 do not buy interesting products. They detract from the hip environment advertisers seek. The shows they watch tend not to become “water cooler” shows. They are not, as one media buyer puts it, “an opportunity audience.”

 

The majestic glacier that is network television is very gradually melting. Many young viewers, particularly males in their 20’s, have been stolen away by such lures as the Internet, iPods, the Xbox and opera. This makes the young people who do watch all the more valuable to advertisers. They have far greater disposable income than older people, and they actually dispose of it. Advertisers gladly pay steep premiums for those young eyes. But it is more difficult to single them out when older viewers clutter the demographics.

 

The fact is, mature viewers are threatening the well-being of network television. I have a bold but common-sense suggestion: old people should not be allowed to watch TV.

 

I anticipate the predictable charges of “discriminatory,” “unfair,” “idiotic.” Well, millions of elderly people live in age-restricted retirement communities, and you don’t hear young people whining about that. Right-thinking older Americans will see this as a chance to do something for their country. Nurturing a nation’s consumer base is as vital as protecting its streams and forests. It’s time for people over 49 to “take one for the team.” Besides, it’s really not such a terrible sacrifice; they have Sudoku now.

 

Once the necessary “49 and Out” federal legislation is enacted, we’ll need a system in place to block older viewers’ network access. Fingerprinting, iris scans, re-purposed V-chips, psychoacoustic masking? Perhaps it would be possible to borrow some of the amazing technology being developed in the Transportation Security Administration’s laboratories; they aren’t using it at the airports.

 

Boomers will feel they should be exempt from this law. They’re “younger” than previous old people. They’re in tune with contemporary culture. If you’re a boomer and thinking along those lines, take this simple test:

 

“They combed out Ann Miller’s hair and found the Lindbergh baby.”

 

If you laughed at that, if you understood the references, you have no business in front of a television set.

 

This ban applies only to the Big Four broadcast networks. Older viewers would still be free to tune into the many cable channels. At programs like “The O’Reilly Factor,” an onslaught of people still in their 50’s will be greeted with flowers.

 

A warning to certain lobbyists for the elderly, who may resort to selfish interpretations of the Constitution to thwart this needed legislation: beware the backlash. Nielsen Media Research, the keeper of the ratings, is owned by VNU, an increasingly powerful media conglomerate headquartered in the Netherlands. The Netherlands, where laws governing euthanasia are extremely lenient. “You can’t stop progress.” I’m just saying.

 

Charlie Hauck is a television writer and producer.

 

Kyle In Hollywood

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> So what is TCM to do? It seems you can't ever please

> everybody all the time.>>

>

> Mr Ranger,

>

> If the postings on this entire board as of late are

> any indication, TCM can't please anyone all the time.

 

 

Actually TCM could please all of the people all of the time, if they stuck to showing the old classic movies, which is what everyone expects from TCM. Not modern movies, not Japanese cartoons, not modern shorts (which belong on the Bravo channel), not 70's talk shows, just the old movies. No one could complain about that because everyone knows TCM is here just to show those movies from the golden age of Hollywood. There are other channels for all the rest of that stuff.

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I cannot believe it, this is exactly what lzcutter started a thread about under Hot Topics. I gave my opinion. I did not say nobody should watch foreign films or shorts, or even Woody Allen. I said I could not understand the hype about him. For your information, the photos Mia found were several years old of Soon, not recent, meaning something had been going on for a long time. Additionally, I was a physically hurt ex-wife but I never asked for anything more than child support which I never got anyway. I never charged him with physical cruelty which my doctor bills would have proven, but it wasn't worth it to me, I just wanted to get rid of the scum.

 

Dewey: I hate to break it to you but I read at least one book a week, much is fiction but I read non-fiction about things that pertain to me and my family or friends for instance, hyperactivity in children, bulimia, depression, cancer research and other topics important to me. The production of film, although interesting to me, is something I will NEVER be involved with so I leave info on that to the promos named: 'The making of . . . ' I watch a lot of bios because the lives of stars intrigue me, and I watch a lot of talk shows that I trust just as I only join internet sites that I trust are reliable. Therefore your snipe about taking up reading was not worthy of these boards.

 

Finally, at 61 I've seen many changes in movies, on T.V. I saw silents, I have been a movie fan all my life, I've watched movies go from silents, to talkies, from Black and White to color, and from on-the-job trained actors, directors, character actors, supporting players, and technicians become 'great' at their jobs. A little 15 minute or half hour short is not going to 'teach' me how to appreciate movies, I've already learned what I like.

 

Now you guys (or whatever you are) might do well to go over to Hot Topics and read lzcutters' thread about 'Why are we so rude to each other'. Remember, this is an opinion site and personal remarks are uncalled for.

 

Again, "That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!" B-)

 

Anne

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I personally am not into shorts except for the classic comedy ones and While I think what TCM did was a decent idea I only watched and Tivoed one of the shorts..Don Siegel's "Star In The Night" (1945) A very warm, sentimental modern retelling of the Nativity with J. Carroll Naish in the lead role..I highly recommend this if one can find it..

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All I know is that for the marjority of the day on TCM, I enjoyed many classic short films (some very rare) and impossible to obtain elsewhere.

It was joy to see the lovely Thelma Todd along with Zasu Pitts, Charlie Chaplin, movie stars at work and play, Virginia Grey tap dancing, historical events, the splendid Oscar winning "Star in the Night", etc. etc.

And since I'm lucky enough to like variety, I also enjoyed some of the newer 'artsy' shorts, especially "The Grandmother". I was also impressed and touched with the lady who had a stroke, and is comforted with films that she recollected from the past.

Now, I'm looking forward to the Dick Cavitt classic interviews.

 

Gotta go, and revel in "Freaks", only on TCM.

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Jason Els:

 

I forgot something.

 

"By bothering to understand and learn from this shorts festival we will be able to gain greater appreciation for the films some here so narrowly define as, "classic.""

 

I don't like pizza although my brother had a thriving pizza place for years here in our town. But if I did like pizza, would it help me to know how the dough was developed or if the ingredients were fresh or frozen? Do I need to know how Dominic or Pizza Hut learned how to make the dough? Would that knowledge enable me to enjoy pizza more? Also, I like football, would it help me enjoy the game if I watched home movies of Jim McMahan playing in community tag games like I watched my grandson a few years ago? Would I enjoy it more if I saw a 15 minute film of McMahan playing in high school or college? The man led the Bears to an unheard of nearly perfect record in 84-85. I loved his grace in his forward pass, and thrilled at the risks he took to lead the team. I also enjoy John Ford's westerns, I don't need to know how he acquired the knowledge to use certain backgrounds like Monument Valley. As long as I see his finished product and it is likable to my eye, that's all I need. Maybe some people need this knowledge, that is their right, but I don't like TCM infringing on my enjoyment in trying to teach me something I don't particularly care to learn. I want to see Clark Gabel romancing Jean Harlow and Ava Gardner in the same role 30 years apart, I don't care HOW he learned to irritate both of them while they were in the bath, I just want to smile at the fact that he does it.

 

I'm done.

 

Anne

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Mrs. L., I am afraid you're doing youself a disservice. To learn more is enriching, not arduous nor superfluous.

 

Pizza? I usually try to keep my own personal tidbits away from the board, but I'll offer this. I don't cook. I have a roommate who is a chef, but if he weren't here I'd be using the oven as bookshelves. I've spent most of my life in San Francisco and Manhattan, where cooking is unnecessary -- there's plenty of sustenance in these Cities. When guests come to my apartment and need something from the kitchen, I'm lost. I have no idea where anything is. But I love food. And yes, it does help me to know how the pizza dough is made. I want to know what type of wood burning oven they use to make the pizza. I love the texture of a corn meal dough (very California, and very un-NYC). I enjoy the Food Channel and reading cookbooks and learning all that I can about being a gourmand. It's a passion.

 

Football? If I may change this to baseball. You see, I hated baseball all my life. I hated playing it. I'd never been so bored in all my life as when I attended some games. But six years ago San Francisco got a new ballpark, and out of civic pride I attended what I thought would be one game. The park turned out to be magnificent. It's very intimate and each seat seems so close to the game that one can't help but feel involved. So I returned. But the love of the game didn't come until I started learning about the history of it and its players. I love that our general manager played in the outfield of the San Francisco Giants with his two brothers in the early 1960's. All three positions played by siblings. Now his son plays with us too. The more I learn about how we got to this point in baseball, the more I appreciate it. I'm now a season ticket holder.

 

Movies? I buy DVDs now. Not because I want the movie. I buy them because I want the audio commentary and additional features. I think one appreciates any art form more when they learn more about it. Monet paintings are lovely, but I think they lovely and interesting when we discover that Monet had cataracts. It's thought that he was actually painting what he was seeing! To him, impressionism was not an affectation, but was working through a physical handicap and making it work for him. That tidbit makes me want to take a second look at his work.

 

It's your perogative, of course, if you don't want to learn more about the background of the movies, directors, etc. But I'm afraid you're missing out. It adds another dimension to know how John Ford learned about Monument Valley. This knowledge allows us to know him a person and an artist, rather than an invisible entity behind a camera. These tidbits help us to recognize a style and to define what we like. As Martha says, "It's a good thing."

 

Let's be good to ourselves. Be curious. Learn. Discover. Enjoy!

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For your information, the photos Mia found were several years old of Soon, not recent, meaning something had been going on for a long time. Additionally, I was a physically hurt ex-wife but I never asked for anything more than child support which I never got anyway. I never charged him with physical cruelty which my doctor bills would have proven, but it wasn't worth it to me, I just wanted to get rid of the scum.

 

I have no idea how old the photos were, but they could have been as much as five years old when Mia found them and still been legal (17 is the age of consent in New York). i do know that Soon Yi and Woody are apparently happily married and have been for quite a while. My point is that accusing him of being a child molester is over the top and not fair to Woody (who I am not a fan of, by the way.)

 

I'm glad you got out of an abusive marriage -- no woman should take that from anyone.

 

In the interest of full disclosure on this topic, I suppose I should mention that I'm 47, my girlfriend is 27, and we've been dating since a month after her 18th birthday. So mixed age relationships don't bother me at all. Child abuse does, but that's an entirely separate topic than dating someone of legal age.

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I simply don't understand this thread. First, what's the big deal when TCM dedicates one day (out of 365) to short films? There was a clear chronological and thematic pattern at work: demonstrating how so many major directors learned their craft. Besides, around 17 hours was dedicated to pre-1965 movies. How do they not count as "classics" or "movies"?

 

I also don't understand the comparisons to IFC. Since when has IFC ever shown short films made by major Hollywood studios during the 1930s and 1940s? Sure, the Hermes shorts were similar to some of IFC's stuff, but they were clearly just the excuse to have an all-day shorts festival. And frankly, they were among the weakest of all the films being shown yesterday.

 

Regarding the Janus films, I'm shocked that people who claim to love and appreciate classic movies would exclude a whole range of wonderful classic movies just because they were made in non-English-speaking countries. I'm tempted to say that if you don't appreciate Renoir's or Kurosawa's movies, then you don't really appreciate the full extent of the beauty, power, or pleasure of classic movies. For many years, TCM has demonstrated a commitment to showcasing at least one foreign-language film per week in its programming. So even though you may not like reading subtitles, TCM is not "becoming IFC" when they show a masterpiece by Kurosawa or Renoir or Bergman. They've been doing it for years -- just not always during primetime hours.

 

Finally, not everybody in America has access to art-house movie theaters. Therefore, TCM is sometimes the only medium whereby many Americans have access to these sorts of movies. They basically introduced me to both silent and foreign-language cinema, and that was seven years ago. Just imagine what I would be missing out on if I didn't have access to these movies through TCM!

 

I applaud TCM's effort to do something different. Some of us are extremely happy to be introduced to something new rather than having to watch "Casablanca" for the twenteith time. Oh, wait! "Casablanca" is on at 6:00 today, so people who would prefer to watch it for the twentieth time can do so. So what are they complaining about?

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Very well said. I think it's so sad that most of the posters on here are resistant to change of any kind. I love it that TCM is willing to be different at times. And for goodness sakes, still about 95% of the programming is classic movies. So give it a rest everybody! Like I said a few posts ago, I'm grateful to have had the chance to see Seventh Seal the other night, and The Pawnbroker a few weeks ago. Doubt I would have that opportunity on any other network. So let those of us who want something different occasionally have our wish.

 

Brad

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Jack:

 

My tidbits are my best avenue of expression and explanation.

 

I really, truly don't want to start a war in this but when I say a movie fan all my life, I mean from the age of 3 or 4, I was a little Shirley Temple, I could sing on- key, dance, and act. I was always in plays and musicals in grammar, and high school. Unfortunately at 15 I mentioned I wanted to be an actress and was house bound for 6 weeks except for school until I said I was wrong. I couldn't wear makeup until I was 16, and no dating until 17. Which is probably why I married 2 months after my 18th birthday. Anyway, I read everything I could, in secret, about acting and all its properties during my teen years, thinking I could still have my dream, but I screwed that up when I met my first husband. Twenty five years ago my late husband and I drove through Monument Valley when someone told us about Ford using it and found many of the background scenes he used. I watch all the director weeks and the bios, and conversations all the time. I know the directors I like, so when they are spotlighted, I watch. I know I do not like foreign films, so I don't watch them. You and everyone else is of course, welcome to watch, I just hate my evenings being stolen from me by things like this past week. With VCR's in almost every home, I would prefer they put these things on in the early morning hours so I can sleep through it, but you (general you) can tape and watch at your leisure. I know what directors I like, as well as what actors, and I don't feel I need more info on them. The few DVD's I have, I watch the movie then turn it off, I don't watch the extra stuff, maybe I will later and see what you mean. i.e. I'm willing to learn about what I like, but when it comes to things I don't care for, I don't.

 

You, Jack, are at least willing to allow me my quirks, but some people get downright nasty about a truthful opinion. BTW, the thought of cornmeal pizza dough is outrageous to these Italian ears, pizza dough is bread dough to me.

 

Anne

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>>And the nerve of TCM to show films by those hacks Kurosawa, Wajda and Bergmann! Doesn't everyone know that only films made in English have a right to be called classic?<<

 

I hope this was sarcasm. Frankly foreign films tend to be more artistic and important than the American ones. They are classics.

 

But set this aside, Quiller I couldn't agree with you more. I don't know why people are complaining about yesterday. They showed some great meaningful shorts.

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"You, Jack, are at least willing to allow me my quirks..."

 

That's because I'm the quirkiest of all, Mrs. L. And wouldn't we be dull without our quirks? Well, I'll make it my quest to seduce you into loving some of these other aspects of film I'm patient. Give me twenty-five years. It's good for me to have a goal.

 

:)

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> Okay. okay. here's the thing . . . I don't like

> shorts on a movie channel. Oh my

> God, the woman doesn't like Chaplin, or Keaton,

> or W.C. Fields or the Keystone Cops:

 

Alright Anne, now you and I gotta have a fistfight ;)

 

The word "movie" is not defined by its length. It is defined by the way it was made--on celluloid, often at 24 frames per second. The birth of the movies was not marked by feature-length stories. It was defined by "shorts." MOVIES that were often as short as a few seconds.

 

Now that's obviously not your cup o' tea. Fair enough.

 

But you must give Buster Keaton another chance. I beg you. He began his career making shorts, but he graduated to making feature-length films. His work is the most accessible of all silent comedians, in my opinion. My 8-year-old son adores him.

 

Please, *please* do not dismiss him, or Chaplin, for that matter. You'd be doing yourself a grave disservice.

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Well said, Quiller.

 

In the interest of full disclosure, I thought some of the Hermes shorts (particularly the Mario Van Peebles one) was kinda crappy. But that's not a big deal.

 

Even the greatest of classic Hollywood filmmakers made crap. Have you ever seen "Two-Faced Woman"? Shame on you Cukor.

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sweetbabykmd wrote:

>

>

> Actually TCM could please all of the people all of

> the time, if they stuck to showing the old classic

> movies, which is what everyone expects from TCM. Not

> modern movies, not Japanese cartoons, not modern

> shorts (which belong on the Bravo channel), not 70's

> talk shows, just the old movies. No one could

> complain about that because everyone knows TCM is

> here just to show those movies from the golden age of

> Hollywood. There are other channels for all the rest

> of that stuff.

 

 

There will always be SOMEONE who doesn't like what TCM is showing even if they stuck to showing the "old classic movies" as you stated, sweetbaby. There used to be a poster here called LeoBertucelli who constantly complained every time that TCM showed a silent film! Much arguing, flaming, name-calling, and even polite debate ensued.

 

Or people will complain that TCM is showing (fill in the blank with movie title) too much or not showing (fill in the blank with movie title) enough!

 

So, I agree with Brad that you can't please all of the people all of the time.

 

Sandy K

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Quiller was quoting me. If you go to my original post, I hope you can feel the sarcasm dripping off the screen.

 

To my horror, mrsl confirmed my sarcastic assessment of her by repeating that foreign-language films don't belong on TCM!

 

> >>And the nerve of TCM to show films by those hacks

> Kurosawa, Wajda and Bergmann! Doesn't everyone know

> that only films made in English have a right to be

> called classic?<<

>

> I hope this was sarcasm. Frankly foreign films tend

> to be more artistic and important than the American

> ones. They are classics.

>

> But set this aside, Quiller I couldn't agree with you

> more. I don't know why people are complaining about

> yesterday. They showed some great meaningful shorts.

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Well, I gotta chime in on this one.

 

Last night, as I was enjoying the Hermes shorts festival on TCM, I started to get a niggling feeling at the back of my head as I was smirking at the wry, tongue-in-cheek humor that suffused Griffin Dunne's amusing short film on the E.T.-Reese's Pieces revolution "Your Product Here."

Umm, I thought to myself with growing trepidation, "a lot of the crabbier sorts who frequent the TCM message boards aren't gonna like this too much."

Some 40 minutes later, as "Din of Celestial Birds" was rounding third toward home I couldn't help but chuckle under my breath. I wasn't sure what the film meant, mind you, but I knew this. "That same bunch of Negative Nellies* has gotta be downright apoplectic by now."

As for me, well I was downright tickled -- like a schoolboy who's just gotten his first valentine from a cute girl who's sitting at the other end of the classroom.

Sure, to quote from another poster on this same issue, "TCM is changing." For the better, may I add, and I can only applaud wholeheartedly and say to that poor, beleaguered guy (gal?) who gets to be TCM programmer, "Keep up the good work."

 

Now, for a little personal background. I am a 39-year-old, white, middle American male who has from an early age just happened to adore cinema. And by "cinema," friends, I mean the movies -- from 1888's revolutionary "Traffic Crossing Leeds Bridge" to 2001's revolutionary "Fight Club" and all in between. My chosen identity for the message boards is "Robert Harron," which is my own little tribute to the great silent film actor (1893-1920), who appeared to such great effect in so many of D.W. Griffith's classic silent films. Among my personal favorite films I'd number "Yankee Doodle Dandy," "The Blue Angel (1930)," "The Wizard of Oz" (1939), "Psycho" (1960), "West Side Story. (1961); "City Lights" (1931), "M" (also 1931); "An American in Paris" (1951); "The Maltese Falcon," (1941); Blue Velvet (1985); "Ivan the Terrible, Part 1" (1945); the afore-mentioned "Fight Club" and "Moulin Rouge!" (2002). Oh, and I mustn't forget "Intolerance," (1916), which is certainly the single greatest motion picture I have ever seen.

I, for one, as a true-blooded movie lover, am getting pretty darn sick and tired of reading the tired, repetitive and needlessly vicious attacks on this beautiful, innovative network which is by far the greatest blessing my TV has ever given me. (Yep, I rank it even ahead of C-SPAN.) So, TCM is trying to broaden its appeal, allegedly, to a younger demographic? What of it? If the network is able to spark an interest in the 20-and-under set of such national treasures as "The Lost Weekend" and "The Quiet Man," I don't think I'm gonna 'crab' over it, to use lingo from another personal favorite of mine, "The Broadway Melody" (1929.)

 

I think, though, that what the network is really doing is trying to broaden the horizons of its existing demographic, by truly showing the whole width and breadth of what cinema is and can be about. TCM is the window from which I first became acquainted with Ramon Navarro, of whom I had never heard until I was probably 35 or so. It also introduced me to Lawrence Tierney, Frank McHugh, Bessie Love, Elliott Nugent, Wallace Reid, and God knows how many others. This is the place where I first saw "The Extermanating Angel," "Maria Candararia" "So This is College" (what a gem!) the 1931 "Private Lives" and Orson Welles' reconstructed version of "Othello" as well as two other extraordinary Welles' pictures, "F for Fake" and "The Immortal Story." I am of the opinion that this last piece may actually be the best thing Welles ever did. (By the way, TCM programmer, any chance you might show that again so I and some others could tape it, maybe?)

 

As for the Hermes shorts from 2006? The point, of course, is that the entire festival -- from Chaplin forward -- was designed to spotlight how the arc of short films has evolved from the silent days to an era in which anything is possible through the aids of computer graphics and other stylizing tricks. And yet, of course, each of the contemporary films was influenced in any number of ways by the older films that went before -- a point which surely any fair-minded viewer would be able to discern. Of course, it's plenty easy just to make a snide comment about how one such short was a "candy commercial," which doesn't begin to comment on the clever satire and comment that is part of this short film.(But of course the 'commercial' comment wasn't mean to be fair -- just a nasty little barb from a nasty little... But I guess I don't really need to finish that sentence come to think of it.) I'll just say that anyone who tuned in TCM from 8 to 10 p.m. last night and was shocked by the films airing should really pay a bit more attention to the network and it's web site. These films had been promoed for -- how long? One month? Two? Geesh.

 

Well, enough hectoring. Keep the faith, TCM, and don't fret. A lot of us 'get it.' And we sure do thank you -- for the great nights in the past, and all the great nights yet to come.

 

Cordially,

Robert.

 

*I actually had a different phrase in mind, but this is a G-rated post.

 

Message was edited by:

RobertEmmettHarron

 

Message was edited by:

RobertEmmettHarron

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Lovely indeed.

 

And until TCM brings in censoring moderators, we who want to say whatever we like about movies or TCM are free to do so. Hopefully, however, without the namecalling of late, which is quite hurtful to some.

 

Rock on, RobertEmmettHarron. Long live the freedom of speech in America, God bless her, it and us. Long live the freedoms of expression in art, music, drama and word in America, again God bless her, them, and us.

 

dolores

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