Thursday, October 20, 2011

Some odd TCM programming choices

It was great to see TCM put the spotlight on a cinematographer (John Alton) last night. That's the sort of thing TCM has always done well. Tonight, TCM is moving the spotlight back to an actor, that being Zachary Scott. You'd probably remember him best as Monte Beragon, the second husband to Joan Crawford's Mildred Pierce. But that movie isn't airing tonight; TCM has (rightly, in my view) decided to focus on some of Scott's work that people aren't quite so likely to know. Flamingo Road, which I recommended back in August, is airing in the wee hours of the overnight.

But some of the programming decisions are a bit baffling. Yesterday morning and afternoon was spent showing 14 hours of... Elvis Presley. It's not his birthday (which comes in January), and he's been honored a couple of times in Summer Under the Stars on the anniversary of his death. So to honor Elvis again in October seems a bit strange.

Not that I'd come up with any better programming decisions if the fine people at TCM paid me to program their channel. Over at the TCM message boards they have a "programming challenge" three or four times a year (for fun only; the only "prize" is if the real TCM programmers like one of your ideas so much that they use it in a future schedule). Posters are given the challenge of coming up with a hypothetical one-week schedule for TCM, complete with Star of the Month, Essential, TCM Underground, and the rest of the regular programming. It would be easy enough just to come up with a bunch of birthday salutes, but that's boring. And even on top of that, there's the much bigger challenge of getting all of the movies to fit in the proper time slots such that prime time begins at 8:00 PM ET every evening. (Preferably, the mornings should begin at 6:00 AM, but TCM itself hasn't been following that requirement quite so rigorously of late.) I've entered a whole bunch of times, and it's a fun if difficult challenge. I think the only one of my programming ideas used by TCM was that I suggested Charles Laughton for Star of the Month and he eventually got used. That was probably coincidence, though.

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