Baldwin & Lithgow Set to Host TCM's 'Essentials' Series

Baldwin & Lithgow Set to Host TCM's 'Essentials' Series

Turner Classic Movies (TCM), television's foremost authority and showplace for classic film, is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year by sharing a passion for cinema with the network's devoted fans. The centerpiece of the celebration will be an April festival featuring a group of 15 TCM fans presenting their favorite movies. Celebrity fans of TCM will be featured throughout the year. TCM's 2009 lineup will also feature a month-long examination of RACE AND HOLLYWOOD: LATINO IMAGES IN FILM in May.

Original productions in 2009 will include a partially animated reflection on the childhood of legendary animator Chuck Jones; a unique and innovative special from Warren Beatty about the legacy of Dick Tracy; and an all-new documentary special on movie thrillers.

In March, Emmy® winner and longtime TCM fan Alec Baldwin joins TCM host Robert Osborne for a new season of THE ESSENTIALS, while Oscar® nominee and Emmy winner John Lithgow will host the third installment of THE ESSENTIALS, JR., beginning in June. New editions of TCM's GUEST PROGRAMMER showcase will feature such personalities as Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins, comedian Richard Lewis, legendary comedian Bob Newhart, Oscar and Emmy-winning actress Cloris Leachman, comedian and commentator Dennis Miller, director John Landis and actor Tommy "Tiny" Lister. In March, Patti Davis will join Osborne to introduce the films of her father, Ronald Reagan. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin will be on-hand with Osborne July 20 to introduce a collection of movies commemorating the first moon landing.

Other events scheduled include a festival commemorating 1939, Hollywood's Golden Year; a collection of hilarious mockumentaries; a month-long look at the greatest directors of all time; a collection of comedies featuring Hollywood's funniest ladies; festivals celebrating the careers of the Korda brothers, Frank Capra, Morris Engel and composer Bernard Herrmann; and TCM's annual Summer Under the Stars festival in August.

"We are very excited about sharing our 15th anniversary with the fans who have helped make TCM television's ultimate authority on classic film," said Charles Tabesh, senior vice president of programming for TCM. "We also look forward to taking a close look at Latino images in film in our third RACE AND HOLLYWOOD festival and premiering a number of new, original specials covering a range of topics. No other network on television can offer the depth of cinematic programming, commentary and history that TCM provides."

The following are the highlights of TCM's 2009 slate:

TCM Original Programming:
CHUCK JONES: MEMORIES OF CHILDHOOD - Premieres Tuesday, March 24
TCM and filmmakers Peggy Stern and John Canemaker, who earned Oscars® for the animated short "The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation," have collected the memories of one of Hollywood's greatest animators in this unique, half-hour film. The project grew out of director Stern's interest in exploring the childhood experiences of artists. In 1997, Canemaker, a longtime mutual friend of Jones and Stern, brought them together for the interviews that became the basis of the film. During the interviews, Jones spontaneously began sketching his boyhood self as he related his memories. These sketches later inspired the documentary's animated sequences, which Canemaker directed. Shortly before his death, Jones had an opportunity to see a test cut of the film, with new animation and archival imagery blended into the interview footage, and pronounced it "delightful." The Jones family subsequently provided additional material from the family archive, resulting in an intimate film full of revealing anecdotes about the events and personalities that influenced his early creative life and long career in cartoons.

Film historian and critic Leonard Maltin sits down with Dick Tracy, as played by Warren Beatty, for this innovative half-hour interview special in which the two men discuss the legacy of Chester Gould's square-jawed detective. The special is peppered with clips from the various Tracy incarnations, including the RKO serials starring Ralph Byrd; the film noir-ish features with Morgan Conway; and Beatty's big-budget, Oscar-winning blockbuster. The special will be presented in conjunction with TCM presentations of Beatty in Dick Tracy (1990); Conway in Dick Tracy, Detective (1945) and Dick Tracy vs. Cueball (1946); and Byrd in Dick Tracy's Dilemma (1947) and Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (1947), the latter featuring Boris Karloff.

In the first of its new series of original documentary specials looking at specific genres of cinema, TCM focuses on thrillers, including film noir classics and Alfred Hitchcock nail-biters. Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey are executive producers for Dreamworks on the documentary series. Laurent Bouzereau is writer/producer/director.

TCM Showcases:
Each month on this movie showcase, TCM invites a celebrity to exchange star status for a role as a devoted fan of classic film by picking a few favorite movies and sharing with viewers what he or she has come to love about each one. Upcoming stars featured on the showcase include Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins, comedian Richard Lewis, legendary comedian Bob Newhart, Oscar and Emmy-winning actress Cloris Leachman, comedian and commentator Dennis Miller, director John Landis and actor Tommy "Tiny" Lister.

THE ESSENTIALS - Hosted by Alec Baldwin and Robert Osborne-Saturday nights
Fresh off his Emmy® for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, Alec Baldwin (30 Rock) has signed to co-host TCM's signature movie showcase, THE ESSENTIALS. Beginning in March, Baldwin, who possesses a deep love and understanding of classic films, will join TCM host Robert Osborne in introducing "must see" movies each week, with an eye toward helping viewers better understand why these films are important and the impact they had on audiences and the culture at large.

THE ESSENTIALS JR. - Hosted by John Lithgow - June-August
Oscar nominee and Emmy winner John Lithgow joins TCM for the network's third installment of THE ESSENTIALS JR. This summertime showcase presents classic "must see" classic movies for the entire family. It's a perfect opportunity for parents and grandparents to introduce their children to the movies they loved when they were young.

TCM Spotlights:
TCM will pay tribute to the legendary Korda brothers: director and producer Alexander Korda, director Zoltán Korda and art director Vincent Korda. Working together and separately, the trio helped create some of the most sumptuous motion pictures ever, including The Four Feathers (1939), The Thief of Bagdad (1940), Jungle Book (1942) and Sahara (1943).

Ronald Reagan - Wednesdays in March
TCM will pay tribute to one of the most popular actors of the 1940s and ‘50s and one of the most beloved politicians of the modern era: Ronald Reagan. Daughter Patti Davis will join host Robert Osborne for the month-long festival. She will provide personal insights and memories of Reagan during introductions to the tribute's 31 films. TCM's STAR OF THE MONTH: Ronald Reagan festival will air Wednesdays in March, beginning each night at 8 p.m. (ET). Among the films set to be featured in the collection are such enduring classics as Knute Rockne, All American (1940 - March 18 at 8 p.m.) and King's Row (1942 - March 18 at 10 p.m.); memorable Westerns like The Santa Fe Trail (1940 - March 25 at 8 p.m.); exciting war movies like Hellcats of the Navy (1957 - March 25 at 11:15 p.m.); passionate romances like Dark Victory (1939 - March 19 at 6 a.m.); and four entries in his series of Lt. "Brass" Bancroft movies from 1939 and 1940.

BRITISH INVASION - Friday, April 3, beginning at 8 p.m. (ET)
Music wasn't the only form of entertainment invading America from across the pond in the 1960s. British New Wave cinema landed on these shores as well. TCM will celebrate the era with such films as John Schlesinger's Billy Liar (1969), starring Tom Courtenay and Julie Christie; Karel Reisz's Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1961), with Albert Finney; and Lindsay Anderson's This Sporting Life (1963), starring Richard Harris and Rachel Roberts.