Tuesday, April 2, 2013

TCM Guest Programmer Pitch

NBA star Reggie Miller is Robert Osborne's Guest Programmer at 8pm ET tonight on Turner Classic Movies.  I love those nights when a celebrity guest is invited to pick 3 or 4 favorite films and discuss them with Mr. Osborne as his special co-host.  A few years ago, TCM's Darcy Hettrich contacted me to help book Whoopi Goldberg for one of those nights.  At the time, I sat next to Whoopi early weekday mornings as a member of her syndicated radio show team in New York City.  A hardcore classic film fan, she was thrilled to get the TCM invitation.

Here's my pitch for a Guest Programmer.

Look at these Oscar-winning films that have one major offscreen talent in common:

I Want To Live! Susan Hayward won Best Actress of 1958 as real-life death row convict, Barbara Graham...
...Billy Wilder's The Fortune Cookie.  Walter Matthau, Best Supporting Actor as the most "shyster" shyster lawyer in a Hollywood movie...
...Norman Jewison's In the Heat of the Night.  Best Actor, Rod Steiger and Best Picture of 1967...
..Sydney Pollack's They Shoot Horses, Don't They?  Best Supporting Actor, Gig Young...
...Coming Home.  Best Picture of 1978...
...with Best Actor, Jon Voight, and Best Actress, Jane Fonda....
...the original The Thomas Crown Affair, Oscar-winner for Best Song ("The Windmills of Your Mind") and a hit film bringing Steve McQueen....
....and Faye Dunaway together....

...the comedy, Tootsie, got Jessica Lange the Best Supporting Actress of 1982 Oscar...
... and the drama, Blue Sky, got her the Oscar for Best Actress of 1994.

All those movies had casting by Lynn Stalmaster.  In the field of casting, he is definitely a superstar with a talent for putting actors in projects that got a number of them some Hollywood gold and brought Oscar nominations to several others.
He did casting work on films that didn't win Oscars but still became part of our pop culture. Hal Ashby's Harold and Maude, starring Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort, was a huge counter-culture hit with young moviegoers in 1971.  Veteran actress and screenwriter Ruth Gordon finally became a movie star when she was in her 70s.  A warm and wise comedy, Harold and Maude was a little movie that deserved to be the big hit it was.
Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest became legend in the category of "camp classics" with her somewhat Kabuki-style acting choices in this biopic.

In the category of fabulous flops, John Travolta got national attention with his futuristic sci-fi goofiness in Battlefield Earth co-starring Forrest Whitaker.  Somehow they both managed to get matching weaves in a galaxy far, far away.  Look at their hair.
I saw Battlefield Earth because I had to review it in 2000.  I still want to know why Travolta's outer space "package" was bigger than Brother Whitaker's.  Did John have that man-bulge written into his contract?

Trust me ... those are just some of the Lynn Stalmaster film credits.  Others bearing his name are Bound for Glory, The Last Detail, Superman (1979), Fiddler on the Roof, Sleeper, Being There, Deliverance, The Rose, The  Right Stuff and The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming.  For television, he was just as influential and gifted in his casting.  He worked on classic TV shows such as Gunsmoke, The Untouchables, Hogan's Heroes, My Favorite Martian and Welcome Back, Kotter.  He put Stockard Channing in one of the best made-for-TV movies of the 1970s -- a black comedy murder mystery called The Girl Most Likely To...  He did casting for the groundbreaking TV mini-series adaptation Alex Haley's Roots.

Mr. Stalmaster is in his 80s.  I feel he'd be a terrific person to put on with Robert Osborne one night as  Guest Programmer.  I'd like to know how he became passionate to be a casting director, what sort of talent and training it takes to be one and how some stars got the parts they did.  Gig Young starred opposite Doris Day several times as the breezy guy who courted her but lost her to characters played by Frank Sinatra, Clark Gable or Cary Grant.  How did he get his seedy character role in the Depression Era film, They Shoot Horses, Don't They?  How did Stalmaster get Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon together for Billy Wilder?  Is it true that Faye Dunaway replaced Anne Bancroft in Mommie Dearest?  That's what I heard.  And what was the deal with Travolta's space crotch in Battlefield Earth?

When I was a kid, I constantly saw Lynn Stalmaster's name in the opening credits of TV shows, made-for-TV movies and major motion pictures.  I bet he's got some great stories to tell and keen observations to make on today's movie business.

Tonight, Reggie Miller selects one Hitchcock classic and three box office champions from 1967.  First up is Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train (1951) followed by Cool Hand Luke, The Graduate and Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?

1 comment:

  1. A Fan's Cut


    This is my blog on how Great Films Could Have Been Made Differently.

    if you have time then please take a look.

    I'm also looking to collaborate with a screenwriter.

    Comments are welcome

    Sorry for disturbing,thanks.


Before Astaire Danced on the Ceiling

 In the late 1980s, I was a veejay and talk show host seen daily on the VH1 music channel. Those were three of the happiest, most fulfilling...