The 2011 TCM Classic Film Festival officially kicked off on Thursday, April 28th in Hollywood with some 2500 fans arriving at the Roosevelt Hotel to celebrate cinema for four fun-filled days. Venues and events at this year's festival promised to be even bigger and better than its inaugural year. Whether it was screening favorite films on the big screen in theaters where they were originally shown, attending discussions about the films with the stars themselves, watching live tapings of Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz, or celebrating the art of classic cinema with other fans at the historic hotel...this was a party not to be missed.
Before the movie programming began, passholders were treated to a welcome party at Club TCM. Club TCM was located in the Blossom Room, the site where the very first Academy Awards banquet was held at the Roosevelt Hotel in 1929. It was a thrill to be part of such a special place and I kept looking around to drink it all in. Reflective of TCM's talent in art direction and production, the Blossom Room was transformed into an Art Deco bar and supper club. Bathed in red light, the architecture of the room was echoed in added columns and complimented with a sleek bar, dance floor, and a movie screen as the centers of the room. Then everything was surrounded by red leather booths, classic movie posters, palm trees, and photographs from Jack Pashkovsky adorning the walls. Club TCM was a great place for our parties, most panel discussions, and even as a relatively restful getaway in between all the screenings.
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing on the big screen on a set reminiscent of Club TCM
Staff perfectly matched the mood of Club TCM in their smart tuxedos
Collector Mike Kaplan loaned foreign classic cinema posters to the festival, including one from our opening movie An American in Paris
One of the many beautiful photographs of Old Hollywood from Jack Pashkovsky
First on the festival schedule was the opportunity to meet the people behind TCM. I was personally excited by the discussion since they do such an incredible job of honoring and presenting classic cinema. Hosted by Scott McGee, the audience was able to learn more about the network from their top tier professionals--Genevieve McGillicuddy (Managing Director of the Festival and in charge of TCM Marketing and Branding), Charlie Tabesh (Programming Director), Pola Changnon (Creative Director), Tom Brown (Director of Original Programming), Darcy Hettrich (Director of Talent), and Jeff Stafford (TCM Digital). It was an insightful look into the passion, talent, and work ethic of each of these people and their teams. As we all see every day on TCM, the quality of their production is so high--such attention to detail--and they possess a level of respect for both art and artists that is unmatched by other networks. I loved Darcy sharing that they send hand-written notes to guests after appearing on TCM, which speaks volumes about the consistency in quality across everything they do.
My favorite moment, though, came from the last question from the audience. A woman actually asked for original programming that would show the fabulous fashion of classic cinema, especially when it still obviously has such an impact on today's trends. I couldn't believe it! The request garnered a rousing round of applause from the approving audience and of course I couldn't agree more. After all, that's the whole point behind GlamAmor!
After the discussions in Club TCM, everyone moved into the lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel where this year's festival allowed passholders to be a part of TCM tapings with both Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz. Being in the audience was a fun way to show our support of the network as well as meeting other fans. Some of the fans were even interviewed on-air about their passion for classic cinema, including Theresa Brown (above). The tapings were also an opportunity to watch all the behind-the-scenes action and interviews with celebrities such as Mickey Rooney, Barbara Rush, Alexis Gershwin, and Ileana Douglas.
Robert with Tom Brown (Director of Original Programming, above) and
Holly Hadesty (Studio Group Wardrobe, below)
Carol Strong giving Robert a touch up before going on-camera
Barbara Rush, who starred alongside the Rat Pack in Robin and the 7 Hoods, was instrumental in Robert's early career. She said it was easy to see that he would be a success when "he looked like a president and sounded like Orson Welles," not to mention possessing an encyclopedic knowledge of classic film. I also met a fan who knew Robert from his Hollywood Reporter days who shared that Robert was still just as genuine and considerate as he was back then. For those of us who love Robert, this comes as no surprise at all. Happy birthday, Robert, and best wishes for many more!