Photos and story by Nikki McKim
For four unforgettable days in Hollywood, I was transported to a world of cinematic magic and nostalgia at my favorite event of the year – the Turner Classic Film Festival.
It’s been a month since I returned from the highly anticipated event that promises one-of-a-kind programming “set within the theme ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet: Celebrating Film Legacies.'”
At this annual event, film enthusiasts from across the globe gathered to connect with other movie lovers and industry insiders, engaging in lively Q&A sessions and thought-provoking panel discussions with actors, directors, and other film professionals.
The historic Blossom Room inside the iconic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel provided a stunning backdrop for the Welcome Media Reception held on Wednesday afternoon. Pola Changnon, the General Manager of Turner Classic Movies, kicked off the event by introducing the five hosts of TCM – Ben Mankiewicz, Eddie Mueller, Alicia Malone, Jacqueline Stewart, and Dave Karger – who would be leading the Festival’s exciting programming over the next four days. As the event began, guests mingled and enjoyed refreshments while taking in the glamorous surroundings of one of Hollywood’s most legendary venues. Changnon commented how getting the five hosts together is a rare treat that happens maybe once a year at the Festival.
During the event, each host shared what they looked forward to the most. Eddie Mueller expressed his excitement about interacting with movie enthusiasts. ‘It’s the absolute best thing about the festival,’ said Mueller. “I know the fans love something about the Roosevelt Hotel is that it has the slowest elevators in the world. So then when you’re in the elevator, it’s like, you’re getting to spend quality time with the hosts., But seriously, I’m looking forward to seeing the fans. The movies are all great, but the fans are a total experience.'”
Jacqueline Stewart also expressed her excitement for the fans but added that seeing Donald Bogle win the Robert Osborne Award was amazing. ‘You know, his work has been directly influential on my research.’ said Stewart. ‘His book Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks, which is 50 years old, It’s the foundation for black film study, so he’s the perfect person to honor, and I’m excited.
Dave Karger shared that he was looking forward to an event he was hosting. ‘The first movie I ever saw when I was five was Grease. I was Didi Conn looking at Frankie Avalon as the Teen Angel singing Beauty School Dropout. So the fact that I get to introduce Beach Party starring him and Annette Funicello at the poolside… I’m going to hold it together. I’m really looking forward to that,’ said Karger.
Alicia Malone was excited about an event she would attend as a spectator. ‘I’m really looking forward to seeing Ben’s conversation tomorrow night with the legendary Angie Dickinson. And also hearing from Steven Spielberg and Paul Thomas Anderson, two of the best filmmakers working today who have already directed classic films,’ said Malone. ‘I think it really speaks to our “Where Then Meets Now” tagline because you have Angie talking about Rio Bravo, and then you have Spielberg and PTA talking about the “now” and the future of the movie with film preservation. And this guy [Mankiewicz] is always fun and funny to watch.'”
Mankiewicz said he agreed with Stewart, but he came to Bogle differently. ‘I think I’ve interviewed Donald on the air more than any other person, and his passion for these movies comes across. Every conversation I have with him reminds me of something we talked about the last time. So I was touched that we decided to give him the Robert Osborne Award, and I’m thrilled to be a part of that ceremony. I’m definitely looking forward to it,’ said Mankiewicz.”
Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is owned by Warner Bros. Discovery and was initially launched in 1994 as a joint venture between Turner Broadcasting System and MGM.
The network has also adapted to changes in the media landscape by offering streaming options and other digital content, which has helped to keep it relevant and accessible to viewers. TCM has built a loyal and dedicated fanbase online through Twitter and Facebook, with groups of fans who gather to watch films together under the hashtag #TCMParty. Overall, TCM should continue to be a significant player in the world of classic cinema for many years to come.
This year’s TCM Film Festival celebrated Warner Bros. turning 100 years old in 2023.
Founded on April 4, 1923, by brothers Harry, Albert, Sam, and Jack Warner, the company has become of the largest and most successful film studios in the world, producing many iconic movies and TV shows, including Gone with the Wind, The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca. Warner Bros. has a rich history in the film industry. The studio was the first to develop new technology and released the first talkie, The Jazz Singer, in 1927.
In May 2021, Warner Bros. announced that it would merge with Discovery Inc. to create a new media company that would be among the largest in the world. The new company, which is expected to be called Warner Bros. Discovery, will bring together some of the most iconic brands in entertainment, including Warner Bros., HBO (now Max), CNN, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, and TLC, among others.
As the CEO of Discovery Inc., David Zaslav has expressed a strong commitment to the power of storytelling and the importance of preserving and celebrating the rich history of the media industry. TCM is widely regarded as one of the most critical and influential brands in film and television. Zaslav has expressed his admiration for TCM and its role in preserving classic films and has said that he is committed to continuing TCM’s legacy. I expect classic film fans, especially TCM fans, to hold Zaslav to that commitment.