Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Whither the Guest Programmer?

So I was looking through the weekly online schedules over at TCM yesterday, since those have the theme for the prime-time lineup listed if you can't tell from the monthly schedule. As I was looking through the schedules, I noticed that I couldn't find when July's Guest Programmer would be. And on TCM's main site, there's usually a section with links to several articles about upcoming nights of prime-time programming: the Spotlight, Star of the Month, and some random interesting evenings. But there wasn't one for the Guest Programmer.

So I asked over at the TCM boards, and somebody there apparently figured out that there isn't one this month, and there isn't one on the schedule for September either. (There was never going to be one for August since that's Summer Under the Stars.) It make me wonder whether they're just going to get rid of the Guest Programmer entirely.

There are all sorts of good reasons why a Guest Programmer night might not come off. As we saw with the final season of Robert Osborne hosting the Essentials that never was, it can be tough to coordinate schedules with a guest should something go wrong. And TCM has to schedule the guests relatively far in advance.

I also wonder how much of it has to do with money. I would assume that the guests get paid union (AFTRA, I think) scale at least plus expenses since I think the pieces were taped in Atlanta. And with the new Essentials having another host and a guest, there's a portion of the budget gone. I note that the summer Essentials Jr., or whatever it was that it became in that last season, hasn't been on the summer schedule for a couple years now. But Ben Mankiewicz is hosting this month's Spotlight along with the director of that documentary, and supposedly tonight's lineup of Shakespeare adaptations is being used to promote a TNT series with one of the series' producers, TNT being part of the same corporate family as TCM.

I'm surprised I didn't get any responses from people saying they were glad the Guest Programmers are gone because none of them are adventurous and just pick the same stuff all the time. At any rate I'd miss the Guest Programmer. Not that I always watched it, but I thought it was a nice way to try to get people who might not necessarily be intrested in old movies to find out they're not so intimidating, what with the black and white and all that.

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