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The TCM Classic Film Festival is underway here in Los Angeles and it has proven to be everything fans should be expecting. There is no time for rest here, because if you do, you may miss a key screening or a talk with your favorite stars. On day one, the first screenings may have not started until the afternoon, but it was an amazing preview of what’s to come over the next three days.
The day started with a press conference with hosts Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz and then TCM programmers Charlie Tabesh and Genevieve McCillicuddy. All four were engaging, despite the early time. We'll have some more detail on this later, but it was wonderful to know that TCM has reached out to 97-year-old Olivia De Haviland. Osborne explained that they hoped to have her come from Paris, but due to her health, were unavailable to have her here. They are very excited to have Maureen O'Hara here, as she is now 93.
One of the themes that ran through the conference was how young TCM viewers really are. They each said how impressive the current generation of moviegoers have latched on to the classics. Mankiewicz even cited a statistic that said that 66 percent of the channel's viewers are in the 18-49 demographic. Mankiewicz also spoke passionately about interviewing Mickey Rooney, who died just this week, on a TCM Cruise.
Over at the Roosevelt Hotel, Mel Brooks stopped by to be interviewed by Osborne. He was hilarious, sharing stories of Blazing Saddles, even singing the title song. He will be back on Saturday for a screening of the film.
Later today was the Red Carpet event before the opening gala screening of Oklahoma!. Shirley Jones was the toast of the event as the star of the film, but Tipi Hedren, Kim Novak, Margaret O'Brien and O'Hara were also there. Suzanne Lloyd stopped by to say how “delighted” she is that the films of her grandfather, Harold Lloyd, are now going to be more widely available to fans. She plugged Why Worry?, which is playing with a full orchestra this weekend. It was also great to shake hands with Richard Sherman, half of the Sherman Brothers songwriting team who penned so many classic Disney tunes.
Tonight, I had a double feature of comedies. I didn't get to see Fifth Avenue Girl, but I managed to get into Cheaper By The Dozen, the 1950 original. The audience saw the film presented on 35 mm and in glorious technicolor. Jeanne Crain looked gorgeous on the big screen. Next up was the hilarious 1939 comedy Bachelor Mother which pairs Ginger Rogers with David Niven. It's a real blast to see these on the big screen and with a packed house of fellow fans to laugh hysterically with.
Friday is a big day, with so many screenings, it makes our heads spin. The family of film fans is back for a festival dedicated to families. And it's just started.
images courtesy of Daniel Levine