Wednesday, March 08, 2017

You Either Loved Him - Or You Never Saw Him

Robert Osborne was both very well known, and flew under the radar. It depends on your love of old movies.

He was the host of TCM - Turner Classic Movies. For years.

For those youngsters in the audience, it helps to understand what a big deal TCM was. Now it is a well set brand.  That was not the case originally.

** Sit back while I tell you a story - A Story of Theft and Love - A Story of Heartbreak and Redemption - A Story of and from Hollywood ***

MGM - Metro Goldwyn Mayer - was the beloved studio of Hollywood.

It WAS the studio system for years and years.

MGM dominated the film industry (and the LA suburb of Culver City) in ways that haven't been replicated. In fact, for a short period in the 1930s, Culver City was going to rename itself "Hollywood" (since "Hollywood" isn't a city, but a district in LA - and really, more an idea than anything eles).

In any case. Over the years, MGM fell on hard times.  First they sold the backlot (watch "That's Entertainment" for that story). Years later, still not recovering, MGM sold its most important parts off.  The Studio Complex was sold to Sony (via Turner). And it's vast film library was sold to Ted Turner.

If you aren't from LA, you cannot really understand the vitriol that awaited Ted Turner, who stole our history and took it to Atlanta. Sure that seems like hyperbole now, but back in 1986 - that man was hated. As a matter of fact, when Jane Fonda married him in 1991, Hollywood pretty much shunned her for years because of it.

Anyway, when Ted Turner put the collection on cable and started Turner Classic Movies - there was some resistance. Even from film lovers like me. They were classic movies, yes. But they sure as shit weren't TURNER classic movies.

That annoying Turner logo bump at the beginning of every film was a travesty, even if it was followed by the MGM lion.

So, how to convince us Hollywood lovers to give it a chance? Robert Osborne.

Here was a man that loved movies as much as we did. Here was a man with knowledge and stories and a true affintiy to film and film lovers.

Here was the man that turned TURNER Classic Movies in TCM and hooked us all back in.

MGM's reputation was saved in what we all know was a cynical marketing move, but Robert Osborne's love of the movies helped us to get past that. To forgive Ted Turner and to enjoy TCM.

I loved Robert Osborne's stories. I loved his interaction with other people - old and young - that loved movies as much as I did.

It is like loosing that great old friend you watched movies with.

Rest In Peace Mr. Osborne. Thank you for all you shared.

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