Thursday, April 10, 2014:
The 2014 Turner Classic Movie Classic Film Festival officially got underway on Thursday, April 10. For those of us attending with media credentials, the day started with the chance to attend press conferences with TCM’s Robert Osborne, Ben Mankiewicz, Senior Vice President of Programming Charles Tabesh, and Managing Director Genevieve McGillicuddy.
The biggest revelation from Robert Osborne’s conference was about Olivia de Havilland. There has been much speculation lately that Olivia would be doing a Private Screenings interview and would possibly be making an appearance at this year’s festival. The Private Screenings interview rumors were true, but unfortunately, it did not end up happening. Olivia agreed to do the Private Screenings interview and since she lives in France, Robert Osborne and the TCM crew flew out there to film it. But when they got there, Olivia was in the hospital. Olivia felt awful about not being able to do the interview and offered to fly to New York to film it there instead, but once again, health problems stood in the way. As for her coming to the festival, she simply cannot handle traveling that far anymore. According to Robert, the last time she traveled to California to visit her family, it took her a year to fully recover from it.
Although many people might expect a classic film festival to be mostly full of people wanting to revisit movies from their youth, that couldn’t be further from the truth. 66% of TCM’s viewers are 18-44 years old and about half of festival attendees are under 30. Robert Osborne stated that when he got started with TCM twenty years ago, he thought it was going to be a nostalgia channel, but he’s thrilled that younger people have embraced it so strongly. In fact, Charles Tabesh said one thing he would really like to do in the future is have a series of child guest programmers. (Personally, I hope that works out because that could be really fascinating.)
There has long been concern among some TCM viewers that TCM will start showing more and more modern movies in hopes of luring in younger audiences. Robert, Ben, Charles, and Genevieve were all very adamant that the TCM we all know and love will not be changing. There’s no need for them to actively court young viewers when they already have young viewers. TCM just celebrated its 20th anniversary and Ben made it clear that when TCM celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2034, it will not be playing a bunch of movies from 2004.
One interesting thing Robert Osborne said is that he never expected his job description to include being a nurse. He and Ben both said they are most moved by hearing fans tell them about how Turner Classic Movies helped them cope with periods of unemployment, illnesses, and other difficult times in their lives. Ben elaborated that the personal connection many fans have with TCM is completely unique. Although he enjoys watching things on ESPN and HBO, he does not have the attachment to those networks the way people do with TCM.