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TCM Classic Film Festival
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TCM Classic Film Festival
Robert Osbourne and Mitzi Gaynor at the 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival | John Nowak Photo, Turner Entertainment

The TCM Classic Film Festival ran from Thursday, April 25 to Sunday, April 28, and I attended all four days. While most film festival goers clamor for that new indie flick that’s sure to be a breakout box office hit, this festival is all about classic movies.

Turner Classic Movies hosts Robert Osbourne and Ben Mankiewicz fielded questions from the press pre-opening day at The Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard, directly across from the TCL Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. The location couldn’t have been better, and the hotel and staff were wonderful.

TCM Classic Film Festival
TCM Classic Film Festival: Ben Mankiewicz and Lisa de Vincent

A few tidbits from the press Q&A: 

I asked Ben what caused his fashion change from the slightly edgy film student look to the more professional host attire he dons now. He said the first caveat in his original contract was that he must always appear with the “chin spinach.” When his contract was renewed a few years later, he asked if that item could be removed, and the powers that be looked at him quizzically and said he must be mistaken. He begged to differ and pointed it out to them.

Ben also shared that his brother [NBC News reporter] Josh Mankiewicz is continuously voted one of the best-dressed men on TV, adding that he thought Josh would be proud that for the first time, Ben was sporting a pocket square.

Robert said what a pleasure it was to work with Cher. He noted that she was more than professional — arriving on time, not demanding any special treatment, and bringing her own costume changes. He said there were no diva dramas, but wistfully admitted he almost wished there had been. Robert’s favorite movie is “The Razor’s Edge.”

TCM Classic Film Festival: Robert Osbourne
TCM Classic Film Festival: Robert Osbourne | John Nowak Photo, Turner Entertainment Networks

We were then invited to hang around the hotel lobby to watch Robert film the intros from the festival, as well as the channel’s upcoming films. Like a kid, I found a spot either to the right or left behind Robert’s shoulder, so viewers at home could say, ‘Oh look, there’s Lisa.’ And no, I didn’t mouth the words ‘Hi Mom’ behind Robert’s back.

And speaking of Robert’s back, the reason he looks so polished on set and doesn’t have to button and unbutton his suit jacket as he sits and stands? His jacket has buttons up the back!

I also had a private moment with TCM Vice President of Programming Charles Tabesh. I think I scooped him on this subject, because after he replied to my question, he added, “I really shouldn’t say anything.” If it was a personal matter — like he was about to run off with his dog walker — I swear I’d keep my mouth shut, but this is business, and my job is to help their marketing department get the word out even if it is a mite early.

TCM will be releasing a streaming version of the channel hopefully this summer. Yay!

The festival’s opening film was “Funny Girl,” shown at Grauman’s and “South Pacific,” accompanied by a Q&A with Mitzi Gaynor. The film was screened outdoors on a lovely moonlit night, poolside at the Roosevelt, replete with hors d’oeuvres, drinks and a jazz band to set the mood.

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