On Monday night at 8 o'clock, the familiar "TCM Feature Presentation with Robert Osborne" intro played as usual on Turner Classic Movies. But when the lights came up inside TCM host Robert Osborne's cinematically swinging bachelor pad in Atlanta, Robert Wagner was loitering near the trademark red leather chairs.
"As you can see, I am not Robert Osborne," the veteran actor intoned. "Never fear, Robert is just taking a break and will soon be back doing what he loves best."
Earlier in the day, the Atlanta-based film channel announced to viewers on Facebook and Twitter that Osborne would be taking "a short break for minor surgery." In a press statement emailed to Intel, TCM reps declined to detail the nature of Osborne's illness but said he will take a vacation following his surgery and plans to return in three months. He also plans to attend the network's inaugural TCM Classic Cruise to set sail for Cozumel Dec. 8.
In the interim, TCM viewers can expect various legendary Hollywood guest hosts to drop by Bob's place to introduce films, including Wagner (this week), Jane Powell (week of July 18) and Tippi Hedren (week of July 25). Moving forward, TCM will announce additional guest hosts as they head into Atlanta to record their segments. Since TCM usually works ahead four to six weeks prior to air, Osborne's absence has been quietly arranged in advance, indicating that this was a planned surgery.
According to TCM reps, Osborne, who turned 79 in May, recently signed a new "multi-year agreement" with the network. Additionally, he'll be seen every Tuesday and Thursday night this month via the network's fascinating "Race & Hollywood: Arab Images on Film" festival and his "The Essentials" hosting duties each Saturday night with Alec Baldwin. Both series were recorded in advance.
Subscribers to TCM's monthly magazine Now Playing, meanwhile, can look forward to Osborne's August "Summer Under the Stars" cover story winging its way to mailboxes this week.