TCM Classic Film Festival
by Elisa Leonelli, April 10, 2017

In the Heat of the Night 1967. Sydney Poitier, Rod Steiger

The TCM Classic Film Festival, launched in 2010, was held for the eighth year in Hollywood from Thursday to Sunday April 6 to 9, 2017. Crowds of movie lovers of all ages lined up to watch their favorites films on the big screen at the Chinese, Egyptian and Arclight theaters, they gathered for social events at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.
Live appearances by movie stars and film directors peppered the program and delighted the fans.  Sydney Poitier, Lee Grant and director Norman Jewison attended the opening night 50th anniversary screening of In the Heat of the Night.
Mel Brooks had everyone laughing when introducing the 40th anniversary screening of High Anxiety.  The theme of this year’s festival was “Make ‘Em Laugh: Comedy in the Movies.”
Michael Douglas sat for a live interview with TCM host Ben Mankiewicz at the Ricardo Montalbán theatre (opened January 19, 1927 as a venue for stage plays, converted to a movie theatre in 1931). He said about the festival: “I imagine the audience is growing, because I find that there’s a bunch of kids who like old films, so it gives you continuity from one generation to the other.” Douglas also introduced a screening of The China Syndrome (1979) by James Bridges where he costarred with Jane Fonda and Jack Lemmon.
Father and son Carl Reiner and Rob Reiner were honored with a Hand and Footprint ceremony in front of the historic Chinese Theater, opened May 18, 1927 with a premiere of Cecil B. DeMille’s The King of Kings.
More 50th anniversary screenings were The Graduate by Mike Nichols starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft, Bonnie and Clyde by Arthur Penn with Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, Barefoot in the Park from the play by Neil Simon with Robert Redford and Jane Fonda.
Other screenings honored actors and filmmakers who passed way in 2016: Gene Wilder with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) from the 1964 children novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Debbie Reynolds with Singin’ in the Rain (1952) co-starring Gene Kelly. Carrie Fisher with Postcards from the Edge (1990) directed by Mike Nichols, starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine. She wrote the screenplay from her 1987 semi-autobiographical novel.

The Man Who Knew Too Much 1934. Peter Lorre

For the first time at the TCM festival screenings of rare nitrate prints took place at the Egyptian theater, built by Sid Grauman and opened October 18, 1922 with a premiere of the silent Robin Hood starring Douglas Fairbanks.  The venue was restored in 1998 by the American Cinematheque, and was renovated this year with a $500,000 grant from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. The HFPA also partnered with Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation contributing $350,000 to retrofit the nitrate projection booth.  Scorsese introduced a screening of Alfred Hitchock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) starring Peter Lorre (in Black & White). He said: “Retrofitting a theater to make it capable and safe to project nitrate is an enormous undertaking, so these films are rarely seen.” Cellulose nitrate was the highly flammable film stock used until 1952, when it was replaced by the more stable acetate. The other three film presented on nitrate prints were in Black & White Laura (1944) directed by Otto Preminger starring Gene Tierny and Dan Andrews, and in color Black Narcissus (1947) with Deborah Kerr and Jean Simmons and Lady in the Dark (1944) directed by Mitchell Leisen from the 1941 Broadway musical by Kurt Weil and Ira Gershwin starring Ginger Rogers and Ray Milland.

Casablanca 1942 Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman

Read article about the screening of Casablanca (1942) directed by Michael Curtiz starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, in a shimmering B&W nitrate print at the Egyptian. This movie was also presented at TCM Classic Film Festival on its 75th anniversary (but not on nitrate).

This edition of the TCM festival was dedicated to Robert Osborne, TCM host from its inception in 1994,  who passed away on March 6, 2017 at age 84.  A journalist, he wrote his “Rambling Reporter” column for the Hollywood Reporter from 1982-2009.



Laverne Cox, sweet and outspoken
by Elisa Leonelli, October 16, 2016

Elisa Leonelli, Laverne Cox (c) HFPA

Laverne Cox stars in the Fox TV remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again (airing October 20). She plays the role of mad scientist Dr. Frank-N-Furter made famous by Tim Curry in the 1975 movie, that has become a cult classic, playing for 40 years in theater midnight screenings, with an audience of fans that dress up as the characters, perform and talk back to the screen. Cox displays the full range of her talents, not only acting but also dancing and singing, in this camp musical that requires her to wear colorful costumes, even more outlandish than in the original.

Interviewed HFPA journalists (October 13, 2016), Laverne Cox explains how she studied dance and voice in college (her idol was opera singer Leontyne Price), that she has a full octave range, and for this role employs both upper and lower registers, her high head soprano falsetto and her low chest baritone voice.  Her musical performance was influenced by Little Richard and Chuck Berry, Grace Jones and Tina Turner, also by David Bowie.  Director Kenny Ortega, who is a choreographer, encouraged her to put a lot move movement in her dancing.
The mad doctor arrives on screen singing, “I’m a sweet transvestite from Transexual Transylvania,” which we discover means she’s an alien from a planet called Transexual in the galaxy of Transylvania, and she later sings “Don’t Dream It. Be It!”  Cox says that this song became her “personal mantra” when she first saw the movie in college and identified with the androgynous Tim Curry, while she was wearing girl clothes and “existed in a gender non-conforming space,” before her medical transition to a woman. “My hope is that our version of this film will open up this idea of possibilities for a new generation, that they can their best selves and who they are.”

Laverne Cox has been the face of the transgender community since Time magazine put her photo on the June 9, 2014 cover, with this byline: “The Transgender Tipping Point: America’s next civil rights frontier,” after she had been honored at the GLAAD Media Awards on April 12, 2014.  On June 11, 2015, Entertainment Weekly featured her on the cover dressed up as the Statue of Liberty, under the headline “America’s Transformation.”

Variety chose a photo of Laverne Cox in a power pantsuit for their May 5, 2015 cover titled “Hollywood Trans Formation.”  On October 11, 2016, she is wearing a lavender dress in a one of the 5 Variety covers honoring the Power of Women, alongside Miley Cyrus, Ava DuVernay, Scarlett Johansson and Helen Mirren.

In her most acclaimed supporting TV role to date, transgender Sophia in Orange is the New Black, Cox has a small arc in Season 4 where she is put in solitary confinement, “for her own protection” after being attacked in Season 3, and attempts suicide.  This storyline reflects the real life predicament of Chelsea Manning, the former Army Intelligence analyst and WikiLeaks whistle-blower, who in August 2013 was sentenced to a 35-year term, that she is serving in male a military prison despite being recognized as a transgender woman. After a hunger strike and a suicide attempt, Manning was sentenced to 14-days in solitary confinement, but she will finally be allowed to proceed with gender-reassignment surgery.
Cox also played a supporting role as a tattoo artist friend of Lily Tomlin in the 2015 movie Grandma.
Laverne Cox is gratified that in the upcoming CBS drama Doubt (airing January 2017) she plays a leading role as a “buttoned-up Yale-educated brilliant lawyer,” who does pro bono work at a legal defense firm “fighting for the rights of other people, to make sure that justice is served.”  She is also “pursued by this very handsome man, which feels revolutionary, because there’s not enough representation of trans women dating straight-identified men on television.”
Cox is the spokesperson for NCAVP (National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs) that “has tracked hate and violence against the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) community for over two decades.”  She says that, although transgender people have enjoyed “unprecedented visibility in the media” over the past couple of years, the “violence and discrimination against trans folks” has also increased, and in particular, “if you are a black or Latina trans person who is working-class, your life is still very difficult, and it’s not assured that you will even survive.”
Amazon Studios at CinemaCon
by Elisa Leonelli – April 15, 2016

Jesse Eisenberg

It may seem strange that giant online retailer Amazon would make a presentation at CinemaCon, the annual convention of Theater Owners (NATO) at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas April 11-14, where the major Hollywood studios screen trailers and footage of their upcoming releases for their exhibition partners. However, as executives Roy Price and Bob Berney explained at yesterday’s luncheon, Amazon Studios is now involved in movie productions and acquisitions and committed to showing their products in movie theaters. Five of their films are included in the Cannes Film Festival line-up just announced, with Woody Allen’s Café Society as the opening night film on May 11.
Amazon had already seduced the legendary filmmaker with an offer that, as Woody Allen said to HFPA, “was too good to resist”, direct a 6-half hour TV series, shoot it anywhere about any subject, “I could create anything I wanted, and just deliver the finished product, for a very respectable salary.” On April 7 HFPA journalists were invited to visit the Manhattan set of Crisis in Six Scenes, which takes place during the turbulent time of anti-war demonstrations in the late 1960s. So it came as no surprise that on February 18 Amazon acquired North American distribution rights to Woody Allen’s new movie, by offering such a high figure, close to $20 million, that traditional distributor Sony Classics could not match it. Café Society stars Jesse Eisenberg, who received the Male Star of the Year award at CinemaCon last night, and is described by Italian cinematographer Vittorio Storaro as the story of “One member of a Jewish family that lives in the Bronx, New York, who goes to Los Angeles to be a film agent in Hollywood in 1935-1940.”
Amazon’s first feature film production, Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq, opened theatrically last December 4, before becoming available on Amazon Prime on February 4, 2016 (prior to its European premiere at the Berlin Film Festival on February 16), thus preserving the all-important “window” that theaters need in order to make a profit. Last year Netflix infuriated theater owners when they released their production, Beast of No Nation by Cary Cary Fukunaga starring Idris Elba (that had premiered at the Venice Film Festival), simultaneously in theaters and online on October 16. When Netflix at the Sundance Film Festival offered $20 million to distribute Birth of A Nation, the filmmaker Nate Parker elected to go with the lower offer of $17.5 million from Fox Searchlight.
The first 2016 film produced by Amazon, Elvis & Nixon, opens in theaters today, April 15. It’s a funny and clever story about the merging of entertainment and politics directed by Liza Johnson, inspired by the unlikely meeting of Elvis Presley (Michael Shannon) with President Richard Nixon (Kevin Spacey) at the White House in 1970. An Amazon acquisition at Sundance, Love and Friendship, directed by Whit Stillman from a Jane Austen novella, starring Kate Beckinsale, will be the opening night film of the 59th San Francisco Film festival on April 21. On November 18 Amazon will release in US theaters via Roadside Attractions another Sundance acquisition, Manchester by the Sea directed by Kenneth Lonergan; an emotional scene between Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams was shown at CinemaCon. In Cannes Jim Jarmush will present two Amazon produced films, Paterson with Adam Driver, and Gimme Danger, a documentary about Iggy Pop

Elle Fanning

Another Amazon film in the Cannes competition is The Neon Demon by Nicolas Winding Refn, who had won best director at Cannes in 2011 for Drive. The Danish filmmaker spoke at CinemaCon via Skype from Copenhagen, while film star Elle Fanning appeared live on stage. Refn said that filmmaking was like painting on a cinematic canvas, that cinemas will never disappear, because people like experiencing films together.
Amazon Studios executives know that filmmakers want to see their movies shown in theaters, and their goal is to support their creative talent by producing films that will become part of the Zeitgeist, like their TV shows Transparent and Mozart in the Jungle did, winning Golden Globes from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, for Best Comedy series and Best Actor for their stars Jeffrey Tambor and Gael Garcia Bernal. Netflix had done that first, outbidding HBO in 2011, by offering filmmaker David Fincher $100,000 million for a complete 26-episode drama series, House of Cards, a political drama set in Washington starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.
At CinemaCon the main theme repeated several times by studio executives was: We are committed to preserve the big-screen movie theatre experience, that you cannot replicate on the small screens of your iPhone or iPad, or on your home screens via streaming. Sony studio chief Tom Rothman, on stage with stars Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, after the trailer for Passengers, the science fiction thriller by Marten Tinldum (Imitation Game) proclaimed, ““Let’s see Netflix do that!”
Well, now Amazon, and Netflix, have demonstrated that they are new players in film production, alongside the long-established Hollywood studios, Disney, Universal, Sony, Warner Bros, Twentieth Century Fox, and they are focused on supporting independent filmmakers and art films; which is good news for film lovers, since the big studios prefer to finance big-budget superheroes movies like Batman v Superman (Warner Bros) or Captain America: Civil War (Disney).


CinemaCon, Las Vegas
by Elisa Leonelli, April 12, 2016

Jeremy Renner, Amy Adams

This year, as for the previous 20 years, a sizable contingent of HFPA journalists is attending CinemaCon, the annual convention of Theater Owners (NATO), at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas from April 11 to 14.  This Hollywood Foreign Press tradition started in 1996, when the event was called ShoWest, and was held at the Bally and Paris hotels. In 2011 NATO took over the management, and the venue was changed to the much improved location.  The screenings and live presentations now take place in the Colosseum, outfitted with a huge 70 foot screen, state of the art projection and sound system by Dolby. The Conference Center houses the Trade show and other events in its large ballrooms.
In 2016 all the major Hollywood studios are scheduled to present trailers of their upcoming films: Paramount, Warner Bros, Sony, Disney, Universal, 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, and newcomer STX.  As always, they fly in movie stars to generate excitement, after the boring speeches of the executives.  On opening night, Paramount had Jeremy Renner and Amy Adam live on stage to promote Arrival by Denis Villeneuve. Tuesday Amy Adams was there again, this time with Ben Affleck, as Lois Lane and Bruce Wayne in Warner Bros’ Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice by Zack Snyder (who had directed Man of Steel with Henry Cavill, 2003)  WB is planning 10 movies featuring DC Comics superheroes, with the much anticipated Wonder Woman coming in 2017, starring Gal Gadot, directed by Patty Jenkins (Monster, 2003).
Other stars record special video salutes, like Tom Cruise, who announced the next Mission Impossible MI: 6 in 2017, directed by Christopher McQuarrie, and the 2016 sequel Jack Reacher: Never Go Back by Edward Zwick, who had directed Cruise in The Last Samurai (2003).  J. J. Abrams received an award as ‘Showman of the Year’ after directing the highest grossing movie of all time, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a Disney movie. On Wednesday Disney will show an entire movie, Captain America: Civil War, featuring the Avengers: Iron Man, War Machine, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Hakweye, Vision, Falcon, and other Marvel superheroes: Ant-Man, Spiderman and Black Panther.  To find out if any of these stars will appear live in Las Vegas, we’ll have to wait until tomorrow.  Wednesday Warren Beatty is scheduled to present the “Legend of Cinema’ award to producer Arnold Milchan.
But the sweetest moment for movie buffs came at the very beginning of the presentation on Monday night, while watching a reel of scenes from movies shot at Caesar’s Palace, from The Gambler (1974) by Karel Reisz with James Caan, to Electric Horseman (1979) by Sydney Pollack with Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, to Rain Man (1988) by Barry Levinson with Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise.  To see the much younger faces of those movie stars was a delightful trip down memory lane.


The Henrietta mystery solved
by Elisa Leonelli, HFPA Archives, August 25, 2015

1953 John Wayne, Susan Hayworth

1952 Alan Ladd, Esther Williams

There has been some confusion about the Henrietta Awards, at times co-mingled with the Golden Globes, so we did archival research in the early history of the HFPA, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, to solve the mystery.

In 1950 a group of journalists split from the HFCA, Hollywood Foreign Correspondent Association, founded in 1943, to form the FPAH, Foreign Press Association of Hollywood.  They sponsored their first World Film Favorite Festival, held in Palm Springs on January 27, 1951, and handed out awards in various categories, that they called Henriettas, after the name of their President, Henry Gris.  The trophy was an angel above a globe raised on 4 tall pillars. By the time of their second award show, held January 26, 1952 at the Del Mar Club in Santa Monica, a new statuette had been designed, a tall naked woman holding a flower.


1952 Marilyn Monroe

Alan Ladd and Esther Williams, the two World Favorite winners, determined by a world-wide poll of 900 newspapers, magazines and radio stations, were handed golden Henriettas by the previous year’s winners, Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman.  Six newcomers received silver Henriettas for “Best Young Box Office Personality”.  One was Marilyn Monroe, the other 5 were: Leslie Caron, Tony Curtis, John Derek, Mitzi Gaynor, Patrice Wymore. At the third World Film Favorite Festival, held February 14, 1953 at the Del Mar Club in Santa Monica, the golden Henrietta winners were John Wayne and Susan Hayward.

In the meantime, the HFCA continued to hold their Golden Globe Awards, celebrating their 10th anniversary in 1953. By 1954 the 2 groups had bridged their differences and held a joint ceremony, January 22, 1954 at Del Mar Club in Santa Monica. In 1955 they merged under the name HFPA. The Henrietta trophy was discarded, but a special award called World Film Favorite, determined according to the result of a world wide survey by the Reuters News Bureau, was given until 1980. The trophy was a Golden Globe surmounted by an angel.


HFPA started as HFCA
by Elisa Leonelli, November 9, 2015

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) was founded in 1943 with the name of Hollywood Foreign Correspondents Association (HFCA), by a group of journalists who joined together in order to formalize their relationship with the studios and facilitate their work of interviewing movie stars and film directors for publications around the world. Their motto, as stated in the 10th anniversary Souvenir booklet published in 1953, was “Unity Without Discrimination of Religion or Race.”

The HFCA established the Golden Globe Awards, held for the first time on February 11, 1944, as an informal luncheon at 20th Century Fox Studios. That year the winners received a scroll, as they did in 1945 at ceremonies held at the Beverly Hills Hotel on April 16. In 1946 a shiny globe on a cylindrical pedestal, to represent the world, was first awarded on March 30, at the Hollywood Knickerbockers Club.
In 1947, 1948, 1949 the Golden Globe Awards were held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, in 1950 at the Ambassador Hotel. In 1951 Ciro, a nightclub on the Sunset Strip, became the location for the Golden Globes and the monthly luncheon meetings that had been a HFCA tradition from the beginning.

In 1952 the HFCA created a special award, “for extraordinary achievement in the Motion Picture Industry,” named after its first recipient, Cecil B. DeMille. The trophy (a globe surmounted by a man holding up a laurel wreath) was presented to DeMille at the 9th annual Golden Globe dinner, held on February 21 at Ciro’s.

In the summer of 1950 a group of “working newspapermen and women” withdrew from the HFCA, as their 1953 Membership Directory states, because they felt that a majority of the membership consisted of non-professional journalists, and they formed the Foreign Press Association of Hollywood (FPAH). They held weekend galas called World Film Favorite Festival in 1951, 1952 and 1953, handed out Henrietta awards.

In 1954 the two organizations agreed to sponsor a joint awards banquet, as International Press of Hollywood, on January 22, at the Club Del Mar in Santa Monica, as they did in 1955, on February 14 at the Cocoanut Grove in the Ambassador Hotel. On October 19, 1955 HFPA and FPAH officially merged under the current name of Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA).

Rosalind Russell (Best Actress for “Mourning Becomes Electra”) and Walt Disney (Special Award for ‘Bambi”), with HFCA President Fredrick Porges, at the 5th Annual Golden Globe Awards, held March 10, 1948 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

Los Angeles Herald Examiner Collection/Los Angeles Public Library


The 1952 Golden Globes
by Elisa Leonelli, HFPA Archivist. November 30, 2015

1952 Golden Globes. Cecil B De Mille

In the early years the Golden Globe awards were a less formal affair than they are today, when they are celebrated in the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel since 1974. In 1947, 1948 and 1949 they were held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, in 1951 and 1952 at Ciro’s, a popular nightclub at 8433 Sunset Blvd on the Strip.

The HFPA (Hollywood Foreign Press Association) recently acquired for its Archives a collection of historical photographs that Jim Buhr took for the HFCA, documenting the 1952 Golden Globes, on February 21, and several press luncheons, that also took place at Ciro’s in 1952, where HFCA members interviewed movie stars like Barbara Stanwyck and Tony Curtis, or presented the Cine-Revue Awards to outstanding personalities in the motion picture industry, like Doris Day. One of these events was organized by the AAUN (American Association of the United Nations) on June 12, 1952, to honor the HFCA (Hollywood Foreign Correspondents Association) and their President Dianne Carrere; among the celebrities in attendance were Van Heflin and Ida Lupino.

In 1952 a special award was instituted and named after Cecil B. DeMille, “for extraordinary achievements in the Motion Picture Industry,” with the director himself as its first recipient. Dick Powell served as Master of Ceremonies, Corinne Calvert was Miss Golden Globe, Ronald Reagan, then President of the Screen Actors Guild, delivered the presentation speech. In a thank you letter after the event, DeMille wrote, “The spirit of good will and good humor which was shown throughout the evening speaks well for the warm international relationship enjoyed in our industry.”

Best Actor in a drama was Frederich March for Death of a Salesman, Best Actress Jane Wyman for The Blue Veil. Danny Kaye and June Allyson won as Best Actor and Actress in a comedy or musical.

1952 was also the year when the Golden Globe trophy changed shape, from a mirrored globe representing the world on a cylindrical pedestal, to a redesigned globe encircled by a film strip, mounted on a column of white Italian marble.

1952 GG Jane Wyman, Gilbert Roland


The 1954 International Press of Hollywood Awards
by Elisa Leonelli, HFPA Archivist, December 4, 2015

The 1954 awards were held jointly by the HFCA (Hollywood Foreign Correspondents Association) and the FPAH (Foreign Press Association of Hollywood), the two organizations that would merge in 1955 to form the HFPA (Hollywood Foreign Press Association).  The invitation came from The International Press of Hollywood for the Presentation of the Golden Globe and World Film Favorites of 1953, on Friday January 22, 1954 at Club Del Mar, 1910 Ocean Front, Santa Monica.
Spencer Tracy won a Golden Globe as Best Actor drama for The Actress, Audrey Hepburn Best Actress for Roman Holiday, David Niven Best Actor comedy for The Moon is Blue, Grace Kelly Best Supporting Actress for Mogambo, Frank Sinatra Supporting Actor for From Here to Eternity.

We discovered a short B&W film of the 1954 ceremonies, where Rock Hudson accepts an award from Jean Simmons, on behalf of A Queen is Crowned, as Best Documentary of Historic Achievement.

1954 GG Jean Simmons, Rock Hudson

Special awards with different names and motivations were common in the early years of the Golden Globes. New Star of the Year, discontinued after 1983, was called International Star of Tomorrow in 1954.  The name more frequently used for this award was Most Promising Newcomer, but it had other variations, like Best Acting Debut in a Motion Picture, Most Outstanding Future Star, Newcomer Most Likely to Achieve International Recognition, etc.

In 1957 Ronald Reagan received the Hollywood Citizenship Award, for “most exemplary conduct and contributions to better citizenship.” In 1958 Jean Simmons won an award as Most Versatile Actress, Shirley MacLaine was the recipient of the same award in 1959.  In 1960 Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons won a Journalistic award. In 1962
that award, “for outstanding service in the Hollywood field,” was given to Army Archerd of Daily Variety, and Mike Connolly of the Hollywood Reporter.

The Cecil B DeMille recipient in 1954 was producer Darryl Zanuck. 1953 winner Walt Disney hands him the special trophy, a globe surmounted by a male figure holding a laurel wreath in one outstretched hand. On the table are more trophies for special awards, a globe surmounted by a female figure holding up a wreath with both hands, replacing the Henriettas, a tall statuette a naked woman holding a flower, which had been handed out by the FHCA at their World Film Favorite Festivals in 1952 and 1953.

Walt Disney presents Cecil B DeMille award to Darryl Zanuck
Los Angeles Herald Examiner Collection/Los Angeles Public Library