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The Scott McGee Q&A thread

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Re: The Scott McGee Q&A thread

Postby Lzcutter » May 31st, 2014, 12:02 pm

Scott,

Thanks so much for the 411 on the SOTMs. I still very much like your idea of Kevin Costner doing one for Joel McCrea (or Randolph "cue chorus" Scott or Harry Carey, Sr, come to think of it).

And yeah, the 'telescope/eyepiece girl" promo just about burned down the old message boards after it aired. Kept Kyle and me on our toes, that one did!

How do you go about choosing the music for the year-end TCM Remembers? The songs are usually ones that aren't well known, it seems.

And because I loved the month so much (great comedy and most of all, my beloved City of Angels in the background), how did the Mack Sennett month come about and what were some of the obstacles you overcame doing the promo?
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Re: The Scott McGee Q&A thread

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » May 31st, 2014, 3:42 pm

Scott, any chance one of my guilty sci-fi pleasures, Mysterious Island, will ever be shown at the Turner Classic Film Festival? Ray Harryhausen was so integral to this personal favorite of mine.

And, I have to ask about the possibility of Joan Collins introducing The Opposite Sex. Could this wittle dream of mine ever become reality at the festival or even on the channel with Robert? :D
Collins had a great "Word of Mouth" segment aired during June Allyson's Star of the Month Celebration.

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Re: The Scott McGee Q&A thread

Postby moira finnie » May 31st, 2014, 5:00 pm

Hey, Scott--could you please talk a little about Essentials, Jr., which begins again this Sunday? Are there any movies that you would love to feature that are hard (for whatever reason) to get a hold of and show? What criteria do you use in selecting the films?

Looking over the schedule here, I was very pleased with the mix this year--everything from the cherished Harryhausen gem, Jason and the Argonauts (1963), the relatively obscure but charming A Kid for Two Farthings (1955), to a Hitchcock movie I vividly remember seeing as a kid-- Lifeboat (1944) and the treasured How Green Was My Valley (1941).

Thanks again!
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Re: The Scott McGee Q&A thread

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » May 31st, 2014, 9:27 pm

Moira, great question! Scott, any chance that TCM might screen The Canterville Ghost, 1944, on Essentials, Jr.? I remember thinking how spooky Charles Laughton was as Sir Simon, the ghost, and it's from an Oscar Wilde tale, I think. It has a great cast that includes Robert Young, Margaret O'Brien, Una O'Connor, Reginald Owen, and even Mike Mazurki.
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Re: The Scott McGee Q&A thread

Postby Scott McGee » June 1st, 2014, 5:05 am

Lzcutter wrote:Scott,

How do you go about choosing the music for the year-end TCM Remembers? The songs are usually ones that aren't well known, it seems.

And because I loved the month so much (great comedy and most of all, my beloved City of Angels in the background), how did the Mack Sennett month come about and what were some of the obstacles you overcame doing the promo?


We choose the music by simply listening to as much music as we can. Whomever is assigned the obit for that year often has many months in which to find something, via iTunes, their own collection, or perhaps something that was recommended to them by another producer. We try not to use something that is too "on the nose", as it were. The notable exception was 2003, when I used Sarah MacLachlan's "I Will Remember You". That was actually dictated to me by the creative director at the time. I wasn't keen on it, but it really worked. That was the year Kate Hepburn, Greg Peck and soooo many others passed. For 2011, I found this song in my iTunes from OK Sweetheart. I don't know where the song came from. But it was perfect; it wasn't sappy, it was about going home, invoked images of water, etc. It suggested some good visual motifs that we could work with. We also try to use wildly different styles. The deliberately paced song I used in 2008 by Joe Henry is way different than the song by M83 that my friend and colleague Christian Hammann used for her drive-in set 2012 masterwork. Andrew Alonso is doing this year's.

Mack Sennett: well there were a few obstacles. 1--there were so many TCM Premieres that month that by the time I went into production on the promo, the overwhelming majority of the films weren't available as in-house masters yet. There was very little that I could work with, as the titles had not been received by the distributors. They eventually were in time for air, but not in time for production of the promo. This happens a lot when we show stuff we've never aired before. What I ended up doing was using shorts that were available on DVD. I was very limited, but it worked out. 2--How to tackle a filmmaker's work without resorting to the cliche of rambunctious edit, clownish music, etc.? On my way to summer beach trip with my family, I hit upon the idea of constructing the promo as if it were a joke poorly, that the joke itself was funny, but the teller was tripping over it, telling it wrong. This not only would create a new way of telling about Mack Sennett, but it would shed light on him, that we may *think* we know why Mack Sennett funny, but we don't realize how much craftsmanship went into his comedy. 3--Once the concept was ready, it was all about making the voice-over talent sound like he's a comedian bombing on stage. I think it's one of my best works, honestly.

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Re: The Scott McGee Q&A thread

Postby Scott McGee » June 1st, 2014, 5:07 am

Sue Sue Applegate wrote:Scott, any chance one of my guilty sci-fi pleasures, Mysterious Island, will ever be shown at the Turner Classic Film Festival? Ray Harryhausen was so integral to this personal favorite of mine.

And, I have to ask about the possibility of Joan Collins introducing The Opposite Sex. Could this wittle dream of mine ever become reality at the festival or even on the channel with Robert? :D
Collins had a great "Word of Mouth" segment aired during June Allyson's Star of the Month Celebration.

Thank you for being one of our guests! I always enjoy seeing your smiling face and sunny attitude at the Turner Classic Film Festivals.


Mysterious Island and Joan Collins...stellar ideas. I'll jot them down in my running festival ideas book. Joan Collins would be great.

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Re: The Scott McGee Q&A thread

Postby Scott McGee » June 1st, 2014, 5:09 am

Sue Sue Applegate wrote:Moira, great question! Scott, any chance that TCM might screen The Canterville Ghost, 1944, on Essentials, Jr.? I remember thinking how spooky Charles Laughton was as Sir Simon, the ghost, and it's from an Oscar Wilde tale, I think. It has a great cast that includes Robert Young, Margaret O'Brien, Una O'Connor, Reginald Owen, and even Mike Mazurki.



Wow, you know, I've never considered The Canterville Ghost. Now that you've said, I can't figure out why I've never considered it...now I will!

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Re: The Scott McGee Q&A thread

Postby Scott McGee » June 1st, 2014, 5:25 am

moirafinnie wrote:Hey, Scott--could you please talk a little about Essentials, Jr., which begins again this Sunday? Are there any movies that you would love to feature that are hard (for whatever reason) to get a hold of and show? What criteria do you use in selecting the films?


In 2006, our general manager at the time, Tom Karsch, asked the TCM staff to come up with some ideas for the network. I pitched an idea called "Movie Camp". Loosely, it was a summertime event of classic movies for kids, that would be tied into other activities that would fit into that week's movie. For example, if we showed Mr Smith Goes to Washington, that week's activity could be to write your local, state or federal congressman. And the like. Well, those things didn't pan out for various reasons, and we went with the concept of a host talking to kids on a set. That's how "Funday Night at the Movies" came about with host Tom Kenny. The next year, we changed direction and title by aligning the idea more closely with our flagship success, The Essentials. So ever since, it's been Essentials, Jr., which I've written and produced every one to this day. Each host has been just wonderful...Tom, Abigail Breslin and Chris O'Donnell (you wouldn't know it, but that guy is seriously funny), John Lithgow (he's soooo tall), and finally, Bill Hader. Bill has been much more involved in picking the films, so whatever the lineup, it's usually an amalgamation of what I choose and what he chooses. Sometimes the films aren't available; it's taken us four years to get "Shane" on the schedule. I've always wanted a Mary Pickford title, a Shirley Temple. I'd love to do The Black Stallion and a newer classic like The Iron Giant. A Frankenstein/Bride of Frankenstein double feature would be fun too. The criteria is basically what would I show my own kids or my nieces and nephews. Many of the movies we've shown over the years went through a litmus test of, will my kids sit still for this. The whole premise of the series is to not show classic "kid movies" but to classic movies that will appeal to kids, thereby turning them into classic movie fans for life. That's how you and I got hooked, right? By showing them the right movies, by leading them to the water, as it were, then they can strike out on their own and see other stuff. I'd never schedule Citizen Kane or Gone with the Wind. Much too demanding for very different reasons. But then sometimes we have shown challenging stuff; John really wanted to show To Have and Have Not and Notorious one year. I'm still not sure those were the right choices, but we did the best we could with it. I'd be interested in hearing about anyone's experience watching those with their kids. As you may know, we don't measure our viewing audience with ratings, so I'd cherish any anecdotes about your or someone else's experience with this franchise.

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Re: The Scott McGee Q&A thread

Postby Lzcutter » June 1st, 2014, 12:51 pm

Scott,

Good morning! Hope you are enjoying your time in the "hot seat" with us!

At the Club TCM discussion about 20 Years of TCM On-Air at this year's film festival (thank you by the way for including that, I love the promos and interstitials sometimes more than the movies!- note I said sometimes), one of the most popular with the audience was the "Win Tony Curtis for a Day" promo.

Can you talk a bit about how that one came about and did Tony Curtis really spend a day with the winner?

The second one was the "Every Western but Shane" promo for the month long tribute to westerns and I was hoping you could shed some insight into the making of that promo and how the theme got its name.

Thanks1
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Re: The Scott McGee Q&A thread

Postby moira finnie » June 1st, 2014, 1:51 pm

Thanks for the detailed response about Essentials, Jr., Scott. I hope you don't mind, but I do have some suggestions for the series and some feedback, as you requested.

(I've included a whole list of all the films I could find that have appeared or will show on The Essentials, Jr. from 2010-2014 at the end of the post)

I can certainly understand your mixed feelings about such movies as To Have and Have Not as fare to make kids into lifelong classic movie buffs. I know kids are a lot more sophisticated than I ever was as a kid, but I don't think I really could have appreciated anything to do with Notorious (1947) until puberty hit.

Suggestions:

If you don't mind my saying so, I hope that another Shirley Temple movie, Wee Willie Winkie (1937), appears someday in the Essentials, Jr. lineup. In addition to a strong sense of place and a stellar supporting cast, the film is one of Shirley's movies that most appeals to boys as well as girls (I suppose that was the Fordian touch).

Westerns:
The Proud Rebel (1955), which can be difficult to watch at times when human beings behave less than nobly, but it is a well told story of strugging with a handicap and does have a decent (not perfect) resolution too.
Hondo (1953): John Wayne, a recalcitrant dog, an Apache warrior, a fatherless boy and his mother in a bleak, lonely setting. I think the kid (Lee Aaker) is the key to everything in this movie.
Stars in My Crown (1950): Joel McCrea, Dean Stockwell, Juano Hernandez and an interesting, dreamlike air in an episodic story dealing with what is truly valuable in life.

Comedies:
Murder, He Says (1945): Saw this first when I was about 6, and I was scared and also laughed harder than I ever had in my life. It would be great if kids could find out how funny Fred MacMurray was long before his flubberized and My Three Sons days --and the whole farcical tomfoolery with Peter Whitney as twins and Marjorie Main being Marjorie Main. It would also be nice if one of Fred's more sophisticated comedies, such as No Time for Love or The Egg and I, could be shown too.
The Horn Blows at Midnight (1945): As a fusspot angel on leave, Jack Benny was funny--even though he always claimed this movie was a bomb, it never flags and the supporting cast and special effects were marvelous stuff. While it is light stuff, it also could make kids and parents talk a bit about their perceptions of eternity.

English Gems:
Tiger Bay (1959): Hayley Mills came to Disney's attention via this taut story of a neglected girl in danger due to her involvement with fugitive Horst Bucholz and policeman John Mills.
Whistle Down the Wind (1961): Three kids in the country find a man hiding in the barn and conclude that he might be Jesus Christ, or "just a fella" as one boy wonders. Innocent, touching and the children as well as the adults give great performances under Bryan Forbes direction.
Dead of Night (1945): I know this one might be a bit dark, (yeah, and contemporary film for kids is so sunny??), but it is so compelling and satisfying, I think that kids would be drawn to the anthology structure and the remarkably well-told stories.


For those interested, here's a list of movies that I believe are part of The Essentials, Jr. this year:

2010

June 6 - Old Yeller (1958)
June 13 - Duck Soup (1933)
June 20 - To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
June 27 - The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953)
July 4 - Bye Bye Birdie (1963)
July 11 - Speedy (1928)
July 18 - Beauty and the Beast (1946)
July 25 - Buck Privates (1941)
Aug. 1 - The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939)
Aug. 8 - Road to Morocco (1942)
Aug. 15 - The Secret Garden (1949)
Aug. 22 Swiss Family Robinson (1960)
Aug. 29 Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)

2011

June 5 – The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
June 12 – The General (1927)
June 19 – Stagecoach (1939)
June 26 – Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
July 3 – King Kong (1933)
July 10 – Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
July 17 – Horse Feathers (1932)
July 24 – The Thing from Another World (1951)
July 31 – Road to Utopia (1946)
Aug. 7 – His Girl Friday (1940)
Aug. 14 – The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)
Aug. 21 – Gunga Din (1939)
Aug. 28 – My Man Godfrey (1936)

2012

June 3 – 12 Angry Men (1957)
June 10 – The Wizard of Oz (1939)
June 17 – Rio Bravo (1959)
June 24 – The Circus (1928)
July 1 – Lassie Come Home (1943)
July 8 – The Bank Dick (1940)
July 15 – The Thief of Bagdad (1940)
July 22 – The Great Escape (1963)
July 29 – The Band Wagon (1953)
Aug. 5 – The Invisible Man (1933)
Aug. 12 – 42nd Street (1933)
Aug. 19 – North by Northwest (1959)
Aug. 26 – Ball of Fire (1941)

2013

June 2 – The Court Jester (1956)
June 9 – The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)
June 16 – To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
June 23 – The Pirate (1948)
June 30 – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945)
July 7 – The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)
July 14 – The Magnificent Seven (1960)
July 21 – Mon Oncle (1958)
July 28 – Great Expectations (1946)
Aug. 4 – Ruggles of Red Gap (1935)
Aug. 11 – The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
Aug. 18 – The Great Race (1965)
Aug. 25 – It Happened One Night (1934)

2014

June 1 - Bringing Up Baby
June 8 - The Incredible Mr. Limpet
June 15 - The Yearling
June 22 - Godzilla
June 29 - A Kid ForTwo Farthings
July 6 - Jason and the Argonauts
July 13 - The Little Princess
July 20 - Silent Comedy Shorts
July 27 - Cat People & Curse of the Cat People (Double Feature)
Aug. 3 - How Green Was My Valley
Aug. 10 - To Be or Not To Be
Aug. 17 - Lifeboat
Aug. 24 - The Maltese Falcon
Aug. 31 - Shane
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Re: The Scott McGee Q&A thread

Postby Scott McGee » June 1st, 2014, 3:45 pm

moirafinnie wrote:Thanks for the detailed response about Essentials, Jr., Scott. I hope you don't mind, but I do have some suggestions for the series and some feedback, as you requested.

(I've included a whole list of all the films I could find that have appeared or will show on The Essentials, Jr. from 2010-2014 at the end of the post)

Suggestions:

If you don't mind my saying so, I hope that another Shirley Temple movie, Wee Willie Winkie (1937), appears someday in the Essentials, Jr. lineup. In addition to a strong sense of place and a stellar supporting cast, the film is one of Shirley's movies that most appeals to boys as well as girls (I suppose that was the Fordian touch).



Moira, love Wee Willie Winkie. We would have gone with that one had it been available. Alas...maybe next year. By the way, had I produced Shirley's Remembers spot, I probably would've used nothing but her rendition of Auld Lang Syne. Absolutely heartbreaking.

Here are the films from every year before 2010:

2007—Tom Kenny
The Wizard of Oz
Bringing Up Baby
Oliver
Treasure Island
Sounder
Shane
Little Women (1949)
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
The Pride of the Yankees
Singin' in the Rain
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein
The Adventures of Robin Hood

2008—Chris O’Donnell & Abigail Breslin
National Velvet
20 Million Miles to Earth
The Courtship of Eddie’s Father
Mutiny on the Bounty (’35)
Goodbye Mr. Chips (’39)
Meet Me in St. Louis
Sherlock Jr.
The Music Box
Roman Holiday
The Man Who Knew Too Much (’56)
On the Town
Yours, Mine and Ours
Captains Courageous

2009—John Lithgow
Yankee Doodle Dandy
To Have and Have Not
Father of the Bride
The Philadelphia Story
Mr. Hulot’s Holiday
The African Queen
An American in Paris
High Noon
Heaven Can Wait
Notorious
It Happened at the World’s Fair
Gaslight
You Can’t Take it With You

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Re: The Scott McGee Q&A thread

Postby Scott McGee » June 1st, 2014, 3:55 pm

Lzcutter wrote:Scott,

Good morning! Hope you are enjoying your time in the "hot seat" with us!

At the Club TCM discussion about 20 Years of TCM On-Air at this year's film festival (thank you by the way for including that, I love the promos and interstitials sometimes more than the movies!- note I said sometimes), one of the most popular with the audience was the "Win Tony Curtis for a Day" promo.

Can you talk a bit about how that one came about and did Tony Curtis really spend a day with the winner?

The second one was the "Every Western but Shane" promo for the month long tribute to westerns and I was hoping you could shed some insight into the making of that promo and how the theme got its name.

Thanks1


Lynn, I believe Tony actually did spend the day with the winner. That was actually before my time, so I can't say how it all came about. The guy you really should talk to is Tom Brown. He and TC were tight.

Every Great Western (except Shane) came about thusly: we had every great Western under a licensing window at the time, except Shane. We went back and forth on what to name the festival (my suggestion was The Wild West Picture Show), until our GM decided on EGW, Except Shane. We also went back and forth on whether or not to actually have the voice-over read "except Shane". Some version didn't say it, while others did. All versions visually emphasized it with a jump cut into it on the billboard.

The promo came about because we were very much about the "TCM City" at the time. So the thinking was, the spirit of adventure, heroism, danger, discovery, wildness, etc. that you find in the Westerns can still be found in the city. So via a time-consuming (and expensive) process called rotoscoping, we "cut" certain figures from certain films and "placed" them in the city.

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Re: The Scott McGee Q&A thread

Postby Scott McGee » June 1st, 2014, 3:57 pm

moirafinnie wrote:

Suggestions:

If you don't mind my saying so, I hope that another Shirley Temple movie, Wee Willie Winkie (1937), appears someday in the Essentials, Jr. lineup. In addition to a strong sense of place and a stellar supporting cast, the film is one of Shirley's movies that most appeals to boys as well as girls (I suppose that was the Fordian touch).

Westerns:
The Proud Rebel (1955), which can be difficult to watch at times when human beings behave less than nobly, but it is a well told story of strugging with a handicap and does have a decent (not perfect) resolution too.
Hondo (1953): John Wayne, a recalcitrant dog, an Apache warrior, a fatherless boy and his mother in a bleak, lonely setting. I think the kid (Lee Aaker) is the key to everything in this movie.
Stars in My Crown (1950): Joel McCrea, Dean Stockwell, Juano Hernandez and an interesting, dreamlike air in an episodic story dealing with what is truly valuable in life.

Comedies:
Murder, He Says (1945): Saw this first when I was about 6, and I was scared and also laughed harder than I ever had in my life. It would be great if kids could find out how funny Fred MacMurray was long before his flubberized and My Three Sons days --and the whole farcical tomfoolery with Peter Whitney as twins and Marjorie Main being Marjorie Main. It would also be nice if one of Fred's more sophisticated comedies, such as No Time for Love or The Egg and I, could be shown too.
The Horn Blows at Midnight (1945): As a fusspot angel on leave, Jack Benny was funny--even though he always claimed this movie was a bomb, it never flags and the supporting cast and special effects were marvelous stuff. While it is light stuff, it also could make kids and parents talk a bit about their perceptions of eternity.

English Gems:
Tiger Bay (1959): Hayley Mills came to Disney's attention via this taut story of a neglected girl in danger due to her involvement with fugitive Horst Bucholz and policeman John Mills.
Whistle Down the Wind (1961): Three kids in the country find a man hiding in the barn and conclude that he might be Jesus Christ, or "just a fella" as one boy wonders. Innocent, touching and the children as well as the adults give great performances under Bryan Forbes direction.
Dead of Night (1945): I know this one might be a bit dark, (yeah, and contemporary film for kids is so sunny??), but it is so compelling and satisfying, I think that kids would be drawn to the anthology structure and the remarkably well-told stories.




These are fantastic suggestions, by the way. I'm very grateful for them!

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Re: The Scott McGee Q&A thread

Postby Lzcutter » June 1st, 2014, 4:38 pm

Hey Scott,

We've had the new evening opening now for over five years I think.

I thought there might be a change to something new with the channel celebrating its anniversary this year.

Are there any plans to replace the Evening opening any time soon?
Lynn in Lake Balboa

"Film is history. With every foot of film lost, we lose a link to our culture, to the world around us, to each other and to ourselves."

"For me, John Wayne has only become more impressive over time." Marty Scorsese

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Re: The Scott McGee Q&A thread

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » June 1st, 2014, 5:41 pm

Great question about the evening opening, Lynn. Any chance we can make a sticky for the list of Essentials, Jr. films that Scott has provided us with here or on the TCM Message Boards?

Moira, I would love to see Wee Willie Winkie, too. :D You also had some great suggestions for Essentials, Jr..

Since we had a wonderful time with Scott Eyman and John Wayne's films during his Star of the Month Celebration, any chance that Friday Night Spotlight might could feature authors like Kendra Bean with some of her favorite Vivien Leigh films, Phillip Done with some of his favorite Ann Rutherford features, or Carl Rollyson discussing his favorite Dana Andrews' films since none of those actors are scheduled for a Star of the Month Celebration?

Scott, thank you for all your insightful responses. We are so happy you stopped by!

Sincerely,
Christy
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