Turner Classic Movies

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Turner Classic Movies
Turner Classic Movies logo
Launched April 14, 1994 (1994-04-14)
Owned by Turner Broadcasting System
(Time Warner)
GEM (Australia)
Picture format 1080i (HDTV)
480i (SDTV)
Country United States
Language English (imported feature films are broadcast in their native languages, provided with English subtitling)
Broadcast area Nationwide (also available in Canada with substitutions; international versions in Spain, Asia, Latin America, U.K. and Ireland)
Headquarters Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Sister channel(s) TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, CNN, HLN, TruTV (United States)
TCM 2 (UK & Ireland)
Website www.tcm.com
Availability
Satellite
DirecTV Channel 256 (HD/SD)
Channel 1256 (VOD)
Dish Network Channel 132 (HD/SD)
DSTV Channel 137
Shaw Direct (Canada) Channel 178 / 539 (SD)
Channel 138 / 638 (HD)
Tata Sky (India) Channel 357
n (Poland) Channel 44
Cable
Available on most American and Canadian cable providers Check local listings for channels
UPC (Poland) Channel 487
Verizon FiOS Channel 230 (SD only)
IPTV
AT&T U-verse Channel 1790 (HD)
Channel 790 (SD)
Bell Fibe TV (Canada) Channel 292
Streaming media
www.tcm.com/watchtcm/livestream

Turner Classic Movies (commonly abbreviated as TCM) is an American movie-oriented basic cable and satellite television channel that is owned by the Turner Broadcasting System, a subsidiary of Time Warner. TCM is headquartered at the Techwood Campus in Atlanta, Georgia's Midtown business district.

Historically, the channel's programming consisted mainly of featured classic theatrically released feature films from the Turner Entertainment film library – which comprises films from Warner Bros. Pictures (covering films released before 1950) and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (covering films released before May 1986). However, TCM now has licensing deals with other Hollywood studios as well as its Time Warner sibling Warner Bros. (which now controls the Turner Entertainment library and its own later films), and occasionally shows theatrical films made after the classic era.

History[edit]

Origins[edit]

In 1986, eight years before the launch of Turner Classic Movies, Ted Turner acquired Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for $1.5 billion. Concerns over Turner Entertainment's corporate debt load resulted in Turner selling the studio that October back to Kirk Kerkorian, from whom Turner had purchased the studio less than a year before.[1] As part of the deal, Turner Entertainment retained ownership of MGM's library of films released up to 1986.

The film library of Turner Entertainment would serve as the base form of programming for TCM upon the channel's launch. Before the creation of Turner Classic Movies, films from Turner's library of movies were broadcast on the commercial Turner Broadcasting System's TNT, along with colorized versions of black-and-white classics such as The Maltese Falcon.

Launch and contributions[edit]

Turner Classic Movies debuted on April 14, 1994 with Ted Turner launching the channel at a ceremony in New York City's Times Square district.[2][3] The date was chosen for its significance as "the exact centennial anniversary of the first public movie showing in New York City." The first movie broadcast on TCM was the 1939 film Gone with the Wind, the same film that served as the debut broadcast of its sister channel TNT six years before in October 1988.

At the time of its launch, TCM was available to approximately one million cable television subscribers.[4] The channel originally served as a competitor to AMC – which at the time was known as "American Movie Classics" and maintained a virtually identical format to TCM as both channels largely focused on films released prior to 1970 and aired them in an uncut, uncolorized and commercial-free format – AMC had broadened its film content to feature colorized and more recent films by 2002 and abandoned its commercial-free format, leaving TCM as the only movie-oriented cable channel to devote its programming entirely to classic films without commercial interruption.

In 1996, Turner Broadcasting System merged with Time Warner, which not only put Turner Classic Movies and Warner Bros. Entertainment under the same corporate umbrella, but also gave TCM access to the library of Warner Bros. films released after 1949 (which itself includes other acquired entities such as the Lorimar, Saul Zaentz and National General Pictures libraries); incidentally, TCM had already been running select Warner Bros. film titles through a licensing agreement with the studio that was signed prior to the launch of the channel.[5]

In 2000, TCM started the annual Young Composers Film Competition, inviting aspiring composers to participate in a judged competition that offers the opportunity to score a restored, feature-length silent film as a grand prize, mentored by a well-known composer, with the new work subsequently premiering on the TCM channel. As of 2006, films which have been rescored include the 1921 Rudolph Valentino film Camille, two Lon Chaney films: 1921's The Ace of Hearts and 1928's Laugh, Clown, Laugh and Greta Garbo's 1926 film The Temptress.

In 2008, TCM was given a Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting.[6] In April 2010, Turner Classic Movies held the first TCM Classic Film Festival (which has since become an annual event) at the Grauman's Chinese Theater and the Grauman's Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. Hosted by Robert Osborne, the four-day long annual festival celebrated Hollywood and its movies, and featured celebrity appearances, special events and screenings of around 50 classic movies including several newly restored by the Film Foundation, an organization devoted to preserving Hollywood's classic film legacy.[7]

Programming[edit]

Turner Classic Movies essentially operates as a commercial-free service, with the only advertisements on the channel being shown between features – which advertise TCM products, channel promotions for special programs and the original trailers for films that are scheduled to be broadcast on the channel (particularly films that will air during the primetime hours), and featurettes about classic film actors and actresses. TCM's film content has remained mostly uncut and uncolorized (depending upon the original content of movies, particularly movies rated by the Motion Picture Association of America after 1968). Because of this, TCM is formatted similarly to a premium channel with certain films – particularly those made from the 1960s onward – sometimes featuring nudity, sexual content, violence and/or strong profanity; the channel also features rating bumpers prior to the start of a program (most programs on TCM, especially films, are rated for content using the TV Parental Guidelines, in lieu of the MPAA's rating system).

As a result of its devoted format to classic feature films, viewers that are interested in tracing the career development of actresses like Barbara Stanwyck or Greta Garbo or actors like Cary Grant or Humphrey Bogart have the unique opportunity to see most of the films that were made during their careers, from beginning to end. Turner Classic Movies presents many of its features in their original aspect ratio (widescreen or full screen) whenever possible – widescreen films broadcast on TCM are letterboxed on the channel's standard definition feed. TCM also regularly presents widescreen presentations of films not available in the format on any home video release.

Occasionally, the channel shows restored versions of films, particularly old silent films with newly commissioned musical soundtracks. Turner Classic Movies is also a major backer of the Descriptive Video Service (created by Boston PBS station WGBH-TV), with many of the films aired on the network offering visual description for the blind and visually impaired, which is accessible through the second audio program option through a television, or cable or satellite receiver.

TCM's programming season runs from February until the following March of each year when a retrospective of Oscar-winning and Oscar-nominated movies is shown, called 31 Days of Oscar. Gaps between features are filled with theatrically released movie trailers and classic short subjects – from series such as The Passing Parade, Crime Does Not Pay, Pete Smith Specialties and Robert Benchley – under the banner name TCM Extras (formerly One Reel Wonders). In 2007, some of the short films featured on TCM began appearing on TCM's website. In part to allow these interstitials, Turner Classic Movies schedules its feature films either at the top of the hour or at :15, :30 or :45 minutes past the hour, instead of in timeslots of varying five-minute increments.

Movie library[edit]

TCM's library of films spans several decades of cinema and includes thousands of film titles. Besides its deals to broadcast film releases from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, United Artists[8] and Warner Bros. Entertainment, Turner Classic Movies also maintains movie licensing rights agreements with Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures,[9] 20th Century Fox,[10] Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (primarily film content from Walt Disney Productions), Sony Pictures Entertainment (primarily film content from Columbia Pictures), StudioCanal and Janus Films.

Most Paramount releases made prior to 1950 are owned by EMKA, Ltd./NBCUniversal Television Distribution, while Paramount (currently owned by Viacom) holds on to most of its post-1949 releases, which are handled for television by Trifecta Entertainment & Media. Columbia's film output is owned by Sony (through Sony Pictures Television); 20th Century Fox's film library are handled for television by its 21st Century Fox subsidiary 20th Television, and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (owned by The Walt Disney Company) has their library film output handled for television by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. Classic films released by 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios, Columbia Pictures and Toho are licensed individually for broadcast on Turner Classic Movies.

Although the majority of movies shown on TCM are releases from the 1930s through the 1960s, some are more contemporary – Turner Classic Movies sometimes airs films from the 1970s, and may occasionally broadcast movies released during the 1980s, 1990s and the early 2000s on certain occasions.

Hosted and special programming[edit]

Regular features[edit]

Most feature movies shown during the prime time and early overnight hours (8 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Eastern Time) are presented by film historian Robert Osborne (who has been with the network since its 1994 launch, except for a five-month medical leave from July to December 2011, when guest hosts presented each night's films)[11] on Sunday through Thursday evenings – with Osborne only presenting primetime films on Sundays – and Ben Mankiewicz (who also hosts weekend afternoon films and previously hosted TCM's Saturday morning classic animation series Cartoon Alley from 2004 and 2007) on Friday through Sunday evenings – with Mankiewicz presenting only late evening films on Saturdays, and the "Silent Sunday Nights" and "TCM Imports" blocks on Sundays.

TCM regularly airs a "Star of the Month" throughout the year on Wednesdays starting at 8 p.m. ET, in which most, if not all, feature films from a classic film star are shown during that night's schedule. The channel also marks the occurrence of a film actor's birthday (either antemortem or posthumously) or recent death with day- or evening-long festivals showcasting several of that artist's best, earliest or least-known pictures. TCM also features a monthly program block called the "TCM Guest Programmer", in which Osborne is joined by celebrity guests responsible for choosing that evening's films (examples of such programmers during 2012 include Jules Feiffer, Anthony Bourdain, Debra Winger, Ellen Barkin, Spike Lee, Regis Philbin and Jim Lehrer);[12] an offshoot of this block featuring Turner Classic Movies employees aired during February 2011.

Turner Classic Movies also airs regularly scheduled weekly film blocks, which are periodically preempted for special themed month-long or seasonal scheduling events, such as the "31 Days of Oscar" film series in the month preceding the Academy Awards and the month-long "Summer Under the Stars" in August; all featured programming has their own distinctive feature presentation bumper for the particular scheduled presentation. The Essentials, currently hosted by Osborne and Drew Barrymore as of 2014, is a weekly film showcase airing on Saturday evenings (with a replay on the following Sunday at 6 p.m. ET), which spotlights a different movie and contains a special introduction and post-movie discussion.

The channel also broadcasts two movie blocks during the late evening hours each Sunday: "Silent Sunday Nights", which features silent films from the United States and abroad, usually in the latest restored version and often with new musical scores; and "TCM Imports" (which previously ran on Saturdays until the early 2000s[specify]), a weekly presentation that features foreign films. TCM Underground – which debuted in October 2006 – is a Friday late night block which focuses on cult films, the block was originally hosted by rocker/filmmaker Rob Zombie until December 2006 (though as of 2014, it is the only regular film presentation block on the channel that does not have a host).

Seasonal blocks[edit]

Each August, Turner Classic Movies suspends its regular schedule for a special month of film marathons called "Summer Under the Stars", which features entire daily schedules devoted to the work of a particular actor, with movies and specials that pertain to the star of the day. In the summer of 2007, the channel debuted "Funday Night at the Movies", a block hosted by actor Tom Kenny (best known as the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants). This summer block features classic feature films (such as The Wizard of Oz, Sounder, Bringing Up Baby, Singin' in the Rain, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Adventures of Robin Hood and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea) aimed at introducing these movies to new generations of children and their families.

"Funday Night at the Movies" was replaced in 2008 by "Essentials Jr.", a youth-oriented version of its weekly series The Essentials (originally hosted by actors Abigail Breslin and Chris O'Donnell, then by John Lithgow from 2009 to 2011, and then by Bill Hader starting with the 2011 season), which included such family-themed films as National Velvet, Captains Courageous and Yours, Mine and Ours, as well as more eclectic selections as Sherlock, Jr., The Music Box, Harvey, Mutiny on the Bounty and The Man Who Knew Too Much.

Documentaries[edit]

In addition to films, Turner Classic Movies also airs original content, mostly documentary films about classic movie personalities, the world of filmmaking and particularly notable films. An occasional month-long series, Race and Hollywood, showcases films by and about people of non-white races, featuring discussions of how these pictures influenced white people's image of said races, as well as how people of those races viewed themselves. Previous installments have included "Asian Images on Film" in 2008,[13] "Native American Images on Film" in 2010,[14] "Black Images on Film" in 2006[15] "Latino Images on Film" in 2009[16] and "Arab Images on Film" in 2011.[17] The channel aired the film series Screened Out exploring gay images on film in 2007 and "Religion on Film" in 2005. In 2011, TCM debuted a new television series entitled AFI's Master Class: The Art of Collaboration.[18][19]

TCM Remembers[edit]

In December 1998, TCM debuted "TCM Remembers", which is a tribute to recently deceased notable film personalities (including actors, producers, composers, directors, writers and cinematographers) airing occasionally during promotional breaks between films. The segments appear in two forms: individual tributes and a longer end-of-year compilation. Following the recent death of an especially famous film personality (usually an actor, producer or director), the segment will feature a montage of select shots of the deceased's work. During the second half of each December, a longer, more inclusive "TCM Remembers" interstitial is run honoring most or all of the noted film personalities who died during the past year. Since 2001, the soundtracks for these clipreels have been introspective melodies by indie artists such as Badly Drawn Boy (2007) or Steve Earle (2009).[20]

TCM HD[edit]

Turner Classic Movies operates a high definition simulcast feed with programs broadcast in HD upconverted to the 1080i resolution format; the HD feed of the channel launched in June 2009. Initial programming was not available in native high definition and was instead upconverted from standard definition, but benefited from the greater bandwidth allocated to the channel.

Merchandising[edit]

TCM Vault Collection[edit]

The TCM Vault Collection consists of several different DVD collections of rare classic films that have been licensed, remastered and released by Turner Classic Movies (through corporate sister Warner Home Video). These boxed set releases are of films by notable actors, directors or studios that were previously unreleased on DVD or VHS. The sets often include bonus discs including documentaries and shorts from the TCM library. The initial batch of DVDs are printed in limited quantities and subsequent batches are made-on-demand (MOD).

International versions[edit]

Turner Classic Movies is available in many other countries around the world. In Canada, TCM debuted in 2005 on the Shaw Cable and satellite provider Shaw Direct. Rogers Cable started offering TCM in December 2006 as a free preview channel for all digital customers, and added to the analogue package in February 2007. While the schedule for the Canadian feed is generally the same as the U.S. channel, some films are replaced for broadcast into Canada due to rights issues and other reasons. Other versions of TCM are available in Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, Asia, Latin America, Scandinavia, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Poland. The UK version operates two channels, including a spinoff called TCM 2.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fabrikant, Geraldine. "Turner to Sell MGM Assets." The New York Times. June 7, 1986.
  2. ^ Mitchell, Kim; Rod Granger. "Turner launches TCM", Multichannel News, April 18, 1994. Retrieved February 28, 2011 from HighBeam Research.
  3. ^ Lon Grahnke. "Classic Films Find New Cable Outlet In Turner Empire", Chicago Sun-Times, April 10, 1994. Retrieved February 28, 2011 from HighBeam Research.
  4. ^ Brown, Rich. "Few tickets for Turner Classic Movies", Broadcasting & Cable, April 18, 1994. Retrieved February 28, 2011 from HighBeam Research.
  5. ^ "Turner picks up Warner films", Broadcasting & Cable, December 6, 1993. Retrieved February 28, 2011 from HighBeam Research:
  6. ^ "Winners - 2000's". Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. 2008. Retrieved 2012-03-16. 
  7. ^ Lumenick, Lou (November 5, 2009). "New TCM Film Festival goes head-to-head with Tribeca". New York Post. Retrieved 2012-03-16. 
  8. ^ Katz, Richard. "TCM purchases large MGM/UA film package", Multichannel News, November 21, 1994. Retrieved February 28, 2011 from HighBeam Research.
  9. ^ Brown, Rich. "Turner signs Paramount titles for $30M: new classic movie channel seeks additional packages to supplement MGM/RKO library", Broadcasting & Cable, August 16, 1993. Retrieved February 28, 2011 from HighBeam Research.
  10. ^ Dempsey, John. "TCM lands passel of pix from Fox", Daily Variety, August 13, 2004. Retrieved February 28, 2011 from HighBeam Research.
  11. ^ Lumenick, Lou (July 11, 2011). "Robert Osborne taking leave from TCM". The New York Post. 
  12. ^ Bibel, Sara (February 22, 2012). "TCM Announces Guest Programmers for 2012, Including Jules Feiffer, Anthony Bourdain, Debra Winger, Ellen Barkin, Spike Lee, Regis Philbin and Jim Lehrer". Press release. Retrieved 2012-03-16. 
  13. ^ Asian Images on Film, article on TCM website.
  14. ^ Native American Images on Film, article on TCM website.
  15. ^ Black Images On Film, article on TCM website.
  16. ^ Latino Images on Film, Hispanic actors talk about casting.
  17. ^ Arab Images on Film, article on TCM website.
  18. ^ David Hinckley (2011-11-14). "Steven Spielberg and John Williams tell stories by the score about ‘Jaws’ & ‘E.T.’ in ‘AFI Master Class’". Daily News. 
  19. ^ J.C. Maçek III (2013-01-14). "'AFI Master Class': Zemeckis and Burgess Break It Down". PopMatters. 
  20. ^ TCM Remembers 2009 at the TCM Website.

External links[edit]