On the Red Carpet at TCMFF 2016
June 2, 2016
As I've mentioned previously, I had the splendid opportunity to interview stars on the red carpet at TCMFF this year. Though I initially turned the chance down, I decided it would be a good idea to hop on board when the occasion came around again.
And while I'm naturally nervous interviewing people, I'm glad I did it. One thing though: If I'm able to cover the carpet again next year, I'll definitely be better prepared. I've only been on one red carpet (as a guest, not a journalist) and near numerous others, but for some reason I completely forgot/didn't think that I'd be speaking to people, as a TCM Social Producer and owner of a blog on classic films! Thus, while my fellow Social Producers and bloggers were armed with cameras, mics, questions and research, I had...my iPhone and those info sheets they give out. Oh, and the internet. IMDb was my best friend that evening.
That's me! (Picture also by me)
With the 30 or so minutes we had to prep before the stars strolled out, I did some quick research and formulated questions in my head for people I wanted to speak to. A few other bloggers and Social Producers nearby asked attendees the same types of questions relating to this year's theme and what defines a classic movie - which are both excellent, dynamic queries that will/did solicit meaningful and diverse answers - so as to not repeat any replies, I chose to discuss individual films and personal experiences instead.
Before the carpet madness began...looks so peaceful, doesn't it? (Picture by Kim Luperi)
It was all fine and dandy when I had a few lines ready in my head, but when a mass of people - stars, publicists, staff members - started to converge near the end of the carpet where we were situated, things got a bit hectic; with that, I missed one or two people I wanted to speak to, and some of my questions were purely off the cuff. In the end, I think I could have done a better job, but luckily, this was the TCMFF red carpet, probably much less chaotic, stressful and forgiving than, say, the Oscars or Golden Globes. Plus, there didn't really seem to be any egos or difficult stars; everyone who stopped by to chat with me was pleasant, in high spirits and genuinely excited and happy to be there. Thank goodness for that - the overall cordial atmosphere and genial attitude of those on the carpet certainly helped calm my nerves and inspired me to step up and chat with some attendees I may not have approached otherwise.
Below are some highlights from the festival staff and guests I had the pleasure of speaking to on the carpet:
Turner's Coleman Breland and TCM's Jennifer Dorian on the carpet. (Picture by Kim Luperi)
Coleman Breland, Head of Turner Network Sales, and Jennifer Dorian, General Manager, TCM
My question: I was actually going to ask how Breland and Dorian envisioned the festival growing over the next few years, but the duo had just been questioned about the films that move them, and they turned the subject around on me.
On the spot, I had a little trouble coming up with my favorite inspirational film, as Breland posed the question. My favorite movies instantly popped into my mind, but I didn't think The Innocents (1961) and Gun Crazy (1950) really fit that motivating mold, so I blurted out The More the Merrier (1943), one of my favorites that was actually playing the fest this year, because it's a comedy I can watch over and over again (another point Breland also brought up) that never fails to make me smile. Not really "inspirational" but memorable for sure!
One side note: Breland and Dorian wanted to talk with all the TCMFF Social Producers on the carpet, and Marya from TCM Social made sure that happened, which was great. Dorian also stopped by our Social Producer meeting earlier that morning to introduce herself and share how happy TCM was to have the Social Producers back. She then made it a point to speak to each of us and write our Twitter handles down so she could follow all of us during the fest. She seemed a very genial and lovely lady.
Leonard Maltin. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Turner)
Leonard Maltin, film critic and historian
My question: Is there one film you've always wanted to see or review for any of your movie guides but haven't been able to for any reason?
Yes, and the movie he was thinking of was actually screening at TCMFF this year! Maltin was "always fascinated by the idea of Smell-O-Vision" and thus had wanted to watch 1960's Scent of Mystery (aka Holiday in Spain) for years. He finally got his chance when the film was released on Blu-ray in 2015.
Ann Robinson. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Turner)
Ann Robinson, actress
My question: What are some of your favorite memories from filming The War of the Worlds (1953)?
Working with people she admired from her childhood was a treat for Robinson, particularly meeting legendary producer/director George Pal, as she grew up with the Puppetoons as a young girl. When you're "under contract to Paramount Studios, and then somebody likes you well enough to put you in a George Pal movie," that's "quite a privilege," she affirmed. Acting alongside Les Tremayne, a famous radio star she listened to growing up, was another pleasure: "Just meeting these people was a thrill for me."
I also made the faux pas of asking her what it was like shooting the movie in 3D...which it wasn't (I guess 1954's sci-fi Gog, filmed in 3D, was on my mind). Sweetly, she corrected me and added that George Pal actually wanted to shoot the ending in 3D. He envisioned the audience putting on their 3D glasses for the big bomb scene and everything, but the studio was opposed to the idea.
Thank you to Christy for snapping this photo of me interviewing Ted Donaldson.
Ted Donaldson, actor
My question: What was it like working with Elia Kazan on A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945), which was the first movie Kazan ever directed?
Warm and engaging, Donaldson joked: "How long do you have?" He dove right in, declaring that A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was the perfect script for Kazan, because it read like a realistic family drama that the director would have easily staged had it been presented to him as a play. Though Kazan found great success on Broadway, apparently the director never felt a strong personal relationship to any of those plays, but he certainly did with A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The bond Kazan shared with the material (being an immigrant himself, for starters), coupled with the fact that "he had even then a genius with actors," made A Tree Grows in Brooklyn "unlike anything that he really did afterwards," Donaldson declared.
To rehearse, Kazan assembled the actors around a large table and dissected and discussed the script together, encouraging the actors to get up and move around if they felt like doing so. Donaldson also remembered rehearsing in realistic locations so the actors could get a better sense of the story; for instance, one of the first scenes in the kitchen did not take place on a soundstage on ground level, but rather on the second floor of the structure. Actors had to climb the back steps to enter, because their characters lived like that. "So that does something to you right away," Donaldson remarked.
When viewing the film decades later, Donaldson remembers exclaiming out loud about 30 seconds into the opening scene: "By God, we lived there!...We knew how the chair felt, we knew how our feet felt...we knew how the counter by the sink felt. It was quite extraordinary, and I give all credit for that to Kazan and that preparation."
Sister Rose Pacatte. (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for Turner)
Sister Rose Pacatte, member of The Daughters of St Paul, film critic, author, and host of TCM's 27-film program "Condemned"
My question: Is there one film the Legion of Decency condemned that you were shocked by the most?
Yes, The Miracle. (Later, I found out this movie was originally a segment in 1948's L'Amore. It seems The Miracle screened independently of that anthology in the US as a short and also was placed in another anthology in 1950 called The Ways of Love for international distribution.) "That should never have been condemned. It was a movie about a woman, Anna Magnani, who deserved our compassion, not our condemnation, and they missed that completely. They were just looking at 'Oh, they think she's the Blessed Virgin and this guy takes advantage of her,' but she's a woman who is mentally unwell, and she has such a pure spirit," Sister Rose asserted.
Luckily for film history, Archbishop Francis Cardinal Spellman of New York and the New York Board of Censors pushed so hard against this picture that the distributor went to court over it. The case climbed all the way up to the Supreme Court, and that body granted the medium First Amendment rights which had been stripped in 1915 when cinema was classified as a commercial product. Popularly, this ruling is known as the "Miracle Decision." "So there's some significant historical information packed around these films that the Legion of Decency saw fit to condemn," she explained.
Fellow TCMFF Social Producer Nora interviewing Roger Corman. (Picture by Kim Luperi)
Roger Corman, director, producer and actor
My question: Is there one movie that you are particularly moved by?
"Battleship Potemkin (1925), Eisenstein's great film. It was a very emotional film, technically with both the use of the camera and the cutting technique. It set a pattern that is still a part of motion pictures," Corman shared.
Thank you to Raquel for capturing this photo of me interviewing Gina Lollobrigida!
Gina Lollobrigida, actress, photojournalist, sculptor
My question: You worked in Italy before coming to Hollywood; what was the major difference between the industry there and here?
The main point she highlighted was the language. Lollobrigida obviously found acting in Italian easier to tackle, because it was her native tongue. When she signed to a production that required her to speak in other languages, like English or French, Lollobrigida had to know her lines "so well that I could act without thinking of the words," which made it a more complicated experience. When shooting in a foreign dialect, she also required more time to memorize the dialogue and then discard what she learned, because "when you act, you have to forget about remembering lines," she advised.
My question #2: What was your most memorable role?
Imperial Venus (1962). The French picture featured “the most wonderful woman character I played,” Lollobrigida declared. She added that she was lucky to undertake so many different female roles over the course of her career, and in her mind she tackled them so successfully because, “I didn’t like to play the character; I had to be the character instead of just thinking of the lines. It is complicated, but I think I did the best I could!”
I hope you enjoyed my TCMFF red carpet coverage. With any luck, I'll be back for round two next year, hopefully more confident and certainly more prepared.