Ben's Top Pick for April
What do you get a TV network for its 25th birthday? If it were an anniversary, you'd give something silver, maybe a pair of decorative rabbit ears for the lobby. But this is a birthday--TCM turns 25 on April 14th--and we have everything we could possibly want. Mostly, we have the most loyal, passionate fans of any channel on TV. You've encouraged us, challenged us, sustained us. For 25 years. So for our birthday, we're giving back. The debt we owe you can never be repaid, but we're starting with the greatest gift of all: money. Alright, I've been immediately informed we can't do that. So we're offering the one thing in life more valuable than money: being on television (trust me, it's great).
During primetime from April 15th - 19th, 25 distinct TCM fans will join me on the air to present a single classic movie that speaks to them. And because love and passion for movies is at its richest when it's shared, each one of these fans will dedicate the movie they chose to someone who helped inspire their love of movies. From King Kong to Kitty Foyle and The Gold Rush to Glory, they made some quality choices.
We selected the 25 winners from all the entrants in our first ever Fan Dedication contest, where fans submitted brief videos describing what movie they'd select and to whom they'd be dedicating it. The videos were consistently moving. It then fell to our team of producers to sort through the 2.8 million submissions (that number is completely accurate - and though I can't prove it, this sentence is over) and select the best 25.
All kidding aside, watching these videos provided all of us with a reminder of what it means to work at TCM, why it matters to curate and contextualize these movies. TCM matters to you as much as it does to us. These movies connect us to our own histories, our collective histories, to the stories of our lives and to the lives of our parents and grandparents. This job has afforded me the opportunity to talk about movies with giants: Peter O'Toole, Sophia Loren, Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Martin Scorsese, Ann-Margret, Mickey Rooney, Esther Williams, Eva Marie Saint, Stanley Donen, Max von Sydow, Francis Ford Coppola, Shirley MacLaine (and her brother Warren), Ernie Borgnine, Angie Dickinson, Michael Douglas, Faye Dunaway...the list goes on and on. But I swear on my soul, nothing has been more satisfying for me than the chance to share stories with fans about why movies matter to us. I know that sounds like a line that came right out of the publicity department, but I swear it's true. Ted Turner and Robert Osborne justifiably get the credit as the major players behind the concept and the crafting of what TCM is today, but none of their efforts would've meant anything without the full-bodied dedication and spirited engagement of our fans.
April has been full of nostalgia on the network as we celebrate our 25th. Robert's first introduction to Gone With the Wind aired on our anniversary, the 14th, but if you missed it, there's plenty more of Robert ahead. In addition to airing a selection of his classic Private Screenings conversations, we've put together a new show highlighting Robert's best moments from those conversations. Best of Private Screenings will air April 29th at 8pm Eastern. We'll also have excerpts from Robert's conversations on The Essentials, where his guests included Sally Field, Drew Barrymore and of course, Alec Baldwin, who later flipped the script on Robert, making Robert answer the questions on Private Screenings: Robert Osborne. That'll also air on the 29th. And as many of you have likely already noticed, our star of the month, Greta Garbo, was our first star of the month back in 1994. Turning 25 feels like a big deal to each of us at TCM. It carries the weight of significance, the weight of our responsibility to serve as the champion of these great pictures and to preserve their legacy. And as you'll note from the rest of our schedule this month, we're going to continue to do that the way we always have--the way we plan on doing it when we turn 50 on April 14th, 2044--by presenting the best movies of Hollywood's Golden Age and beyond. And as always, we'll be presenting them uncut and commercial free. Thanks for watching.
by Ben Mankiewicz