Robert and Drew

When Turner Classic Movies started its Saturday-night feature showcasing the all-time classic movies, “The Essentials,” it was hosted by directors – Sydney Pollack, Rob Reiner, Peter Bogdanovich. But then they decided on a two-host format including Robert Osborne, the face of TCM and the host of all of its other prime-time movies. Robert was first paired with film critic Molly Haskell – knowledgeable, and a great writer, but with the TV personality of corrugated cardboard (Bogdanovich was nearly as bad, it must be said). Then, he was paired with actress/writer Carrie Fisher and then actress Rose McGowan. I loved the rapport between Osborne and Carrie Fisher.

But for the past two or three years, Robert’s co-host has been Alec Baldwin, and it’s been a lot of fun, especially when they (politely) disagree on whether or why a certain movie is “an essential.”’

For the past couple of months the Saturday night episodes (which were taped well in advance, and some of which have been rerun) have been our only chance to see the vacationing Osborne.

Well, it was announced last week that the new season of “The Essentials,” premiering in March, will be hosted by Robert Osborne and Drew Barrymore. While I hate to see Alec Baldwin go, this could be fun. They’ll do “Dinner at Eight,” from 1933, with Drew’s grandfather John Barrymore and his brother Lionel Barrymore, and while they won’t be doing “E.T.”, they will do “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” which is sure to bring out some stories about working with Steven Spielberg. Barrymore has experience producing and directing as well as acting, and I imagine she’ll bring some terrific insight.

Wilder than expected

I have a banquet to cover tomorrow night, but I will have to set my VCR. Turner Classic Movies is starting a new interview series, “Role Model,” in which one successful actor interviews another whom he/she admires. Tomorrow, Alec Baldwin will interview Gene Wilder, followed by un-cut, commercial-free airings of “The Producers” and “Blazing Saddles.”

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