Robert Osbourne was the heart and soul of Turner Classic Movies, so it was no surprise that the festival was dedicated in his honor. Osbourne, who passed away a month ago, hosted many of the shows seen on the Turner Classic Movie Channel along his colleague Ben Mankiewicz. It goes without saying that his presence was sorely missed, but Mankiewicz with much grace, elegance and respect picked up the torch to host the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood.
A 50th anniversary screening of the classic “In The Heat of the Night” kicked off the festivities with glitz and glamour at the TCL Chinese Theatre with red carpet appearances by some of the film’s stars like Lee Grant and other celebrities like Dana Delaney, Ileana Douglas, Ruta Lee, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Beau Bridges, Leonard Maltin, Diane Baker, Todd Fisher, TCM Saturday movie host, Tiffany Vazquez and TCM Classic Movies Host Ben Mankiewicz.
Prior to the screening, Mankiewicz conducted a Q&A with Grant , director Norman Jewish and Producer Walter Mirisch. Mirisch revealed that he and the Oscar winner Sidney Poitier have been friends for 70 years and meet every week to have lunch. As a native of Missouri, I was privy to a little known fact that the film was shot in Sparta, Illinois. Why? Due to the racial climate of the time, Poitier was adamant about not shooting “south of the Mason Dixon line”. Jewison and Irish wholeheartedly agreed and made sure that Poitier was extremely involved throughout the creative process of the film. A process that most actors of color did not have an opportunity to experience in America of the 1960’s.