Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Join me on TCM

I will be hosting the "Friday Night Spotlight" on Turner Classic Movies the entire month of January.  Yes, I can't believe it either.  It will be a Neil Simon Film Festival, showing seventeen of Neil's films.  Needless to say, I couldn't be more thrilled or honored.  As many of you know, Neil Simon is an idol of mine.  I've written about him numerous times in this blog.  So I get to be "Robert Osborne"for a month.  How cool is that? 



I recently went to Atlanta to tape my segments.  More on that as we get closer.   Again, thanks to TCM for entrusting me with their Neil Simon salute.   If I can't be him, at least I can introduce his films.  I hope you'll join me.  And even if you skip my intros and outros, watch these movies.  There are some real gems. 

Here's the schedule. 

January 2

8:00 PM

Odd Couple, The (1968)

10:00 PM

Out-of-Towners, The (1970)

12:00 AM

Come Blow Your Horn (1963)



January 9

8:00 PM

Murder by Death (1976)

9:45 PM

Cheap Detective, The (1978)

11:30 PM

Plaza Suite (1971)

1:30 AM

California Suite (1978)



January 16


8:00 PM

Goodbye Girl, The (1977)

10:00 PM

Chapter Two (1979)

12:15 AM

Only When I Laugh (1981)



January 23

8:00 PM

Lost in Yonkers (1993)

10:00 PM

Biloxi Blues (1988)

12:00 AM

Seems Like Old Times (1980)

2:00 AM

Sunshine Boys, The (1975)



January 30

8:00 PM

Heartbreak Kid, The (1972)

10:00 PM

Prisoner of Second Avenue, The (1974)

12:00 AM

Sweet Charity (1969)

55 comments:

MikeK.Pa. said...

A big regret is Jack Benny dying before he could appear in "The Sunshine Boys." Would have been a treat to see him back in movies going toe-to-toe with his old pal George Burns. Benny is a favorite of mine as much for his respect of writers as for his uncanny timing, which Johnny Carson readily admitted he stole.

Look forward to seeing the intros. You can't be any worse than Ben Mankiewicz. TCM will never be able to replace Robert Osborne whenever he steps down. His affection for film and its stars is unparalleled and infectious.

Hamid said...

I'm ashamed to say the only one of those I've seen is Murder by Death, which I love, so I've got a lot of catching up to do. But I did see The Prisoner of Second Avenue on stage when Jeff Goldblum came to London a few years ago to do the play with Mercedes Ruehl.

Murder by Death is endlessly quotable. Just a couple:

Sam Diamond: Locked, from the inside. That can only mean one thing. And I don't know what it is.


Sidney Wang: Conversation like television set on honeymoon: unnecessary.

Oh, just one more:

Sam Diamond: Shut up, all of ya's. Nobody move!

Dick Charleston: What is it?

Sam Diamond: I have to go to the can again. I don't wanna miss nothin.'

Charles H. Bryan said...

While the whole list is pretty yummy, that January 30 lineup is particularly tasty. (Ha! I haven't used tasty as a non-food adjective in years; maybe I'm just not as stoned these days.) It's easy to forget, as time rolls on, just how many fine films and plays Neil Simon wrote.

Congratulations to you, Ken, on this work. It's a compliment to you, and I can't imagine that they wouldn't have you back for more.

Lex Avline said...

That is so cool!!!

Jan said...

I just set a calendar alert.

benson said...

And yet another line on that amazing resume of yours. Congratulations, Ken.

rockgolf said...

Well, there go my Friday nights for a month.

The Curmudgeon said...

Gosh, I wish I could stay awake on Friday nights -- but this is incredibly cool -- so I'm really going to try.

Nick Alexander said...

Am a big fan of "The Odd Couple," "Prisoner of 2nd Avenue," "Seems Like Old Times" and "Murder by Death." Can't wait to see "Heartbreak Kid."

Anonymous said...

Congrats! I'll TiVo Friday Nights on TCM just to see your intros.

As someone who won't have time to watch all the movies, could you recommend 2-3-4 as MUST-SEE TV?

Thanks!

Stuart

Barry Traylor said...

Thanks for the heads up. I will be looking forward to this.

fred said...

Really Groovy Ken!

Can't wait to see "The Sunshine Boys" again!

Anonymous said...

One of my favorites - Barefoot in the Park - is missing! I'll have to suffer through I guess! LOL

@brandibelle73 (Twitter)

Gary West said...

Love it! Great news! So, THAT's where they do these - I thought it was NYC. "Out of Towners" - Jack Lemmon at his best.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great tribute, look forward to it.

But no "After the Fox"? I LOVE that movie and often recommend it to people, and would be interested in Neil Simon's experience on it.

Victor Mature does a great self-parody, and Akim Tamiroff unforgettable even in a small role.

I'd love to see an Akim Tamiroff fest on TCM sometime!

Jeff Badge said...

Mr. Levine, you might be interested in this long interview with Norman Lear by Marc Maron on his WTF podcast: http://www.wtfpod.com/podcast/episodes/episode_555_-_norman_lear

LouOCNY said...

VERY awesome Ken! Shades of you hosting the 'Levine and Isaacs Festival' back in Baltimore...


Next time you can do a Natalie Wood tribute!

Only question is how they chose YOU to do it - someone at TCM must be a reader here!

Wayne said...

Congrats.

TCM is my favorite channel.

From the photo, I'm glad you're dressed better than Ben Mankiewicz.

Anonymous said...

MIkeK.Pa - "The Sunshine Boys" was never going to be Jack Benny and George Burns. George Burns replaced Jack Benny when he died (or was too sick to film the role). Burns was retired by this time and the movie kickstarted the rest of his career.

Dixon Steele said...

Really love that you're doing this, as I am a huge Simon fan and feels his films have never gotten their due.

MURDER BY DEATH is a minor masterpiece with an unforgettable cast.

Steve Dilbeck said...

This is so great for you. What a wonderful opportunity. Hope it leads to more. Congrats.

Ficta said...

Looking forward to it. I think Simon is wildly underrated these days. Newspaper reviewers used to call Alan Ayckbourn the "English Neil Simon", now they call him the "English Chekov", I think that's less accurate, but a comparison to Simon is not what it once was.

Too bad no Barefoot in the Park. That's one of the few movies that will reliably ensnare me if I flip past it while channel surfing. I just feel compelled to watch it again.

Randy said...

You are TCM's Playmate of the Month! Damned exciting! When I grow up I want to be you.

Yes I know your response: "You can't do both!"

Break an leg and an iconoscope.

Scooter Schechtman said...

I was previewing TCM's January schedule and noticed it's "Underground" series will now consist of fucking 1980s movies. Tell your Atlanta friends at the TCM office that they've made a powerful, aggressively flatulent enemy.

Anthony Hoffman said...

Thanks for the heads up. My family will definitely be watching a few of these. To demonstrate how universally great Neil Simon's writing is I'd like to share the following:

I watched The Odd Couple with my three daughters (7, 8 and 10) the other week and they loved it. They didn't walk silently out of the room (like if a baseball game is on). They didn't ask me to check if an animal show was on (like if I'm watching ESPN). They didn't even ask to play on their ipads (like everything else I watch). They sat quietly for 90+ minutes and laughed at the movie.

Ron Fassler said...

To MikeK.pa... if Benny had lived you would still have not gotten your wish. Matthau was cast as Willie Clark first and when Benny died, Burns was the replacement as Al Lewis. Interesting fact: It was the first time in his career that George Burns had played anyone other than the name of George Burns. And he was seventy-nine years old.

McAlvie said...

What an honor! Guest hosting alone would rate high anyway, but you get Neil Simon movies, too! How will you ever top this?

Scotty S. said...

These have lately been my favorite TCM features. The thing about each and every host they've had on Fridays is that their love and respect for whatever genre or artist they're presenting is obvious. Some have been more camera shy than others, but it truly doesn't matter when you learn (just imagine!) more about the greats of film. Good on ya', Ken! You seem to be on quite a roll...

Dan Ball said...

That's fantastic, Ken! But what's a Neil Simon? Is he the guy that did "Cracklin' Rosie" and "Sweet Caroline"?

I kid! I actually own BILOXI BLUES. For some reason, Matthew Broderick as a GI and Christopher "Captain Hook" Walken as his DI was pretty fantastic. It was like NO TIME FOR SERGEANTS meets FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF.

My folks watched MURDER BY DEATH religiously when I was a kid. I watched it again a few months ago and it was a riot. Also caught the end of THE CHEAP DETECTIVE not long ago too. Same, great riot. GOODBYE GIRL was good, but I was more drawn to it because it was made the same year Dreyfuss made CLOSE ENCOUNTERS.

I don't know that I've actually studied Simon enough to know any good Simon-isms, but what I think I like about him is that he can do great, quick-fire jokes within an even funnier macrocosm. Everything in between those two is funny too...but not in a hyper, overactive way. He's graceful about it and it's perfect that way. It's like going to a classical concert with him, as opposed to a rock concert with everyone else.

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

...always do the things you love and life will be beautiful, usually.

:)

Can't wait to see it!

VincentS said...

Wow! Congratulations, Ken. Can't wait. Damn! Why did they have to put THE SUNSHINE BOYS on at 2am?

MikeK.Pa. said...


"Ron Fassler said...
To MikeK.pa... if Benny had lived you would still have not gotten your wish. Matthau was cast as Willie Clark first and when Benny died, Burns was the replacement as Al Lewis."

Thanks. I stand corrected (see makeup footage test below), but think Burns and Benny would have been funnier. Matthau seemed to play Oscar Madison whether it was The Odd Couple, The Sunshine Boys, Grumpy Old Men or Mr. Wilson in the Dennis the Menace movie. I actually enjoyed Matthau more in his dramatic roles in Charade and Fail Safe.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3O2LtT9R-Xw

Norm said...

Please consider posting intro segments to YOUTUBE for those of us that don't get TCM.

John Mansfield said...

How did After the Fox miss the cut?

gottacook said...

I'm very glad not to see certain movies here, such as Last of the Red Hot Lovers - for reasons lost to history, I saw that in the theater as a 16-year-old, by myself, and still recall how loathsome it was.

If the intro segments are TCM property and not yours to post, perhaps you could at least post the intro scripts here? Those are your own, I would assume. We don't have cable, and I won't be staying in any hotels in January (and the last hotel I stayed in didn't even offer TCM).

Dan Wolfe said...

I have an 8 terabyte DVR. This will be an unusually good use of the disk space. :)

Beth Ciotta said...

This is fabulous, Ken. I'm so there. Congrats and enjoy!

Sean Farren said...

Amazing how many of those I absolutely love. When we first got HBO, I must have watched Murder by Death hundreds of times and it has my favorite line of all time--"I don't think we have any Nespa, sir. Just Hershey's." Seems Like Old Times and Goodbye Girl I will also watch anytime they're on. Look forward to watching you host!

RCP said...

A great lineup, and I'm looking forward to watching you on the great TCM.

Canda said...

What about the one movie Neil Simon wrote, completely different in humor than the others - "After the Fox"?

Peter Sellers plays an international thief who convinces a movie star (played by Victor Mature) that he is a famous Italian Director named Federico Fabrizzi, and wants him to star in his film. It's a cover for Sellers and his gang to get a whole Italian village to help them unload stolen gold from a ship, which he tells them is part of the movie. When the ship is delayed, he has to "fake" making a film until it arrives. It's way over the top, broad, and Sellers is magnificent.

Canda said...

I hate to tell MikeK.Pa, but Jack Benny was replaced by George Burns in "The Sunshine Boys". Walter Matthau was always cast as the other character. It would have been great if it could have been Benny and Burns.

john son said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Loosehead said...

Congratulations Ken. This must be a big thrill for you, and another string to your bow (or as my grandmother used to say, another wrinkle in your arse).

Loosehead said...

And now I remember why I posted! Will you be writing your own intros, or saying someone else's words?

Ken Levine said...

My own intros.

And there wasn't room for AFTER THE FOX although it was seriously considered. I love that movie.

BAREFOOT IN THE PARK is being shown in conjunction with a Robert Redford salute. So check your listings because TCM is showing it. I'm sure they'll show AFTER THE FOX soon as well.

VP81955 said...

And I believe no one has yet pointed out that since January is a month with five Fridays, we get 25% more Ken intros than we might have otherwise. (Someone at Turner must have loved "A or B?") Congratulations.

Richard Y said...

Ken, Congratulations on a great gig. Hopefully lead to more.

Glenn said...

Any chance of SCTV’s “Neil Simon’s Nutcracker Suite” being shown on TCM in January? Andrea Martin is a great Marsha Mason as was Dave Thomas’s Neil Simon makeup. This is great news, Ken, looking forward to TCM getting even better in 2015!

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Fantastic Ken.
Neil Simon is my favorite and is part of my Mel Brooks/Woody Allen trilogy of screen writers from the 60s/70s/80s that made nebbish kids from Brooklyn not as bad as they used to be.

Roger Owen Green said...

Seen fewer than half, but may watch all just for the intros.

Albert Giesbrecht said...

Finally some decent movies on TV! I'm not knocking TCM; It's just with 99 channels at my disposal, I am reduced to watching the Trailer Park Boys on an obscure Canadian movie channel at 4 in the morning.

Albert Giesbrecht said...
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Albert Giesbrecht said...
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Johnny Walker said...

Congrats, Ken! That's a real honour!

Steve said...

This is great, Ken! Frankly, they should give you a regular gig doing this.