Emmy winner Alec Baldwin snuck back into the city recently to reunite with his cinematic soul mate, Academy Awards historian and TCM host Robert Osborne to record their third consecutive season of “The Essentials” together.
The popular Saturday night TCM fixture ( last weekend, the series had the distinction of being parodied on “Saturday Night Live”) returns March 5 as Osborne and Baldwin examine the merits of 1967’s “Cool Hand Luke” starring Paul Newman. The prison flick is one of 14 the pair selected jointly for the 11th season of “The Essentials.” Other films the pair picked include: 1986’s “Hannah and Her Sisters,” 1945’s “Mildred Pierce,” 1941’s “Ball of Fire,” 1948’s “The Bicycle Thief,” and 1940’s “The Bank Dick.”
Baldwin’s 2011 “Essentials” picks include: 1962’s “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” and the late-night selection “Kiss of the Spider Woman.” Osborne’s picks include 1936’s “Dodsworth,” a film that’s been rediscovered in part due to exposure on TCM.
As part of the 2011 TCM Classic Film Festival set for Hollywood in April, the duo will debate one of the festival’s honorees, a restored version of 1951’s “An American in Paris” on April 30 and on Christmas Eve, the pair will present a screening of “Miracle on 34th Street.” In all, the pair recorded 30 new episodes.
Watching Baldwin and Osborne tape a season of “The Essentials,” it’s often impossible to determine who is having more fun. Baldwin sits in his trademark leather chair, film notes strewn on either side of his seat, attempting to match wits with Osborne while routinely breaking up the crew with jokes. Osborne, meanwhile, relishes the opportunity to present viewers with the unique perspective Baldwin brings to the series as a working actor.
Of the experience this time around, Baldwin related via an emailed statement: “I’m proud to be able to sit down with Robert Osborne again as we present some of the greatest films ever made. It is a true joy for me each year to be able to share my love of movies with the TCM community of fans.”