If not for COVID-19, fans would be rubbing elbows with TCM hosts and movie stars such as Julie Andrews this weekend in Hollywood.
Instead, movie buffs will stay safely at home and watch the TCM Classic Film Festival: Special Home Edition, which started Thursday night and runs through Sunday on TCM.
The cable network’s programming will feature past movies that screened over the years at the TCM Classic Film Festival, as well as the event’s onstage tributes for stars varying from Faye Dunaway (accompanied by a screening of her 1976 movie “Network”) to Peter O’Toole (with the 1962 classic “Lawrence of Arabia,” of course).
Other stars include Eva Marie Saint (with a screening of her movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock, the 1959 classic “North by Northwest”), Kim Novak and Piper Laurie. (“North by Northwest” screens this afternoon; “Network” on Saturday; “Lawrence of Arabia” on Sunday morning.)
Hear that banjo? The home edition tonight will feature “Deliverance” (1972), along with footage of a 2013 cast reunion at the festival with director John Boorman and stars Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty and Jon Voight.
Other films featured in the home edition will vary from the classic comedy “Some Like It Hot” (1959) this evening, with footage of star Tony Curtis at the 2010 festival, to Saturday’s screening of “Casablanca” (1942), which has screened three times at the festival. Director Peter Bogdanovich, who went on stage with Monika Henreid, daughter of “Casablanca” actor Paul Henreid, to introduce the movie at the 2010 festival, has returned to co-host this on-air screening.
A major highlight on Sunday will be “Singin’ In the Rain,” the 1952 musical that screened at several of the festivals. Those attending the festival’s screenings included star Debbie Reynolds.
While fans won’t see Ms. Andrews, the home edition will present the film that would have accompanied her Hollywood appearance this year. Not “Mary Poppins” or “The Sound of Music,” but “Victor/Victoria,” the 1982 comedy directed by her late husband, Blake Edwards. Watch for it late Sunday night.
The home edition of the festival will feature new introductions by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz, who talked this week to the News-Press and other media during a conference call.
“The programing you’ll see this weekend will look different because I won’t be on my set,” said Mr. Mankiewicz, who comes from a family of legendary filmmakers that he discussed at the 2018 festival. “We shot some stuff in a way that I’ve never shot things before, with an unbelievably scaled down crew.
“Nobody came within 10 feet of me,” he said, referring to social distancing.
When this year’s Hollywood festival was canceled, TCM asked Mr. Mankiewicz to present a video message for viewers.
“Both in writing it and delivering it, I got very emotional,” Mr. Mankiewicz said. “The first take I almost couldn’t get through without crying.
“We wanted people to know there would be a festival next year and that we’ll get through this together,” he said.
Mr. Mankiewicz said TCM staff, hosts and fans all look forward each year to the Hollywood festival.
It’s not unusual at the festival, which features venues such as the historic TCL Chinese Theatre, for fans to bump into TCM hosts for impromptu chats. And the festival is a place where fans who never met each other suddenly start long conversations after the mere mention of a movie or star.
“The reason we look forward to is because of this rewarding connection that we offer to our fans,” Mr. Mankiewicz said. “The engagement with fans is the best part of the job. It’s the most meaningful part of the job for anybody associated with TCM.”
Also participating in the conference call were Charlie Tabesh, the TCM senior vice president of programming, and Pola Changnon, the network’s general manager.
Ms. Changnon said there will be a lot of content, including TCM hosts and special guests, this weekend on the network’s social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube). She promised surprises for fans.
Mr. Tabesh noted that the annual festival has become a convention for movie buffs.
“It’s sad that we can’t do the festival in person this year, but it is pretty fortunate we can do it virtually in a lot of ways that we couldn’t have done previously,” he said. “I think our hope in all these various platforms is that people can get together in a virtual sense and enjoy the festival and be together for the weekend that way.”