Tonight being the first Saturday after the end of 31 Days of Oscar, it means that it should be the first week of a new season of TCM's Essentials. I was under the impression that Sally Field was going to be returning for another season of presenting the movies with Robert Osborne, but did a bit of googling just to make certain. I was surprised, however, when I went to the TCM page for the Essentials, to get this message:
Due to a production delay, The Essentials with Robert Osborne and co-host Sally Field has been delayed. In the meantime, Ben Mankiewicz will be stepping in every Saturday night in March introducing the classic movies you love, along with the ones you will hopefully come to love.
One of the posters at the TCM boards who apparently follows these things more closely than I do gives the following explanation. Apparently, Fields and Osborne were supposed to record the segments over about a week or so in January. By my understanding, it should take them a good four or five days to do it since they have whatever pre-show preparations they do; I don't know if either of them changes outfits in between each movie they do a wraparound for. Viewers who are more eagle-eyed would spot this. I'd guess scheduling an hour for each movie would be reasonable, and in order not to send the crew into overtime, they, like game shows, would probably tape three or four in one shot before breaking for lunch/dinner and then returning afterwards to do another three or four. With 30 movies, that comes out to four or five days' worth of shooting. I would also think the regular prime time intros go more quickly since the scripts are already prepared, and they're reading off of teleprompters. An hour for one night's lineup sounds reasonable to me.
Anyhow, when the January tape dates came along, Osborne was sick with the flu. The guy is turning 84 in a few months; cut him some slack. So they couldn't tape then, and afterwards, Field couldn't make it because she had other projects on her schedule. So they weren't able to get the production done before March, and here we are. From the TCM boards, it sounds as if the movies on the schedule for Saturday nights this month are going to be a part of the Essentials; after all TCM came up with the schedules before the delay in producing the Essentials wraparounds. But Ben Mankiewicz is going to be presenting them this month, with wraparounds for them being done whenever Osborne and Field are able to sit down and do them.