TCM’s first annual Classic Film Festival attracts thousands in Hollywood, millions at home

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With the rousing success of the inaugural Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival in Hollywood over the weekend, the Atlanta-based cable channel hoped to help eradicate “The Sunset Boulevard” syndrome.

Thousands attended the star-studded festival on the left coast while millions of other TCM viewers watched many of the same films screen on the network.

“Sunset Boulevard,” the Tinseltown tell-all classic directed by Billy Wilder, introduced the world to the cautionary tale of faded silent screen legend Norma Desmond (played by a 50-year-old Gloria Swanson).
Like many forgotten stars of the era, Desmond screened her old movies at home and longed to be recognized in the industry that had abandoned her.

It  played on the big screen at Mann’s Chinese Theatre at the festival over the weekend while TCM aired the film Sunday night.

“One of the great things about this festival and TCM as a network is that is helps to shed light on many of these forgotten stars and re-introduce fans to their work,” TCM host Robert Osborne told Intel this month.

“For many years, once films were out of the theater, many were just forgotten about,” Osborne explained.

Recalled Osborne: “When I was first in Hollywood, I would go to parties and see many of these famous movie stars and I realized that nobody cared about them. Sure, if Cary Grant was in the corner, people would certainly be whispering and there would be a lot of hoopla. But others weren’t so lucky. People like [‘Road’ movies actress]  Dorothy Lamour had been largely forgotten at that time. People just didn’t care. Now, with this festival and airing these movies on TCM, we have an opportunity to showcase this work and celebrate these careers.”

For example, in attendance in Hollywood over the weekend to discuss their Oscar nominated roles in director Douglas Sirk‘s classic 1959 film “Imitation of Life” were actresses Susan Kohner Weitz and Juanita Moore.

A wheelchair-bound Tony Curtis was on hand to discuss “Some Like It Hot” and “Sweet Smell of Success.”

Intel hears that TCM festival organizers in Atlanta had multiple requests for faxed copies of contracts when booking some of the more senior celebs in attendance…

During an interview taped on the spot with Hollywood Walk of Fame star recipient Mel Brooks at the festival, the director of “Young Frankenstein” and “Blazing Saddles” repeatedly shifted the focus of Osborne’s broadcast Q&A in order to to praise the work of Osborne and TCM.

Brooks’ classic 1968 comedy, “The Producers” screened at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on Friday night.

“That’s the real joy of this for me,” Osborne told us. “Just putting these films on the big screen for fans to see is terribly exciting.  If you’ve never seen Judy Garland in ‘A Star is Born’ or John Travolta dancing in that white suit in ‘Saturday Night Fever’ on the big screen, it’s like seeing them for the first time.”
To read blogs and see full coverage of the weekend, go to the official festival website TCM has created for the weekend.

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