Ben's Top Pick for March
TCM Spotlight: Journalism in the Movies - Thursdays in March
My television career began as a reporter at WCSC, Live 5 News in Charleston, S.C. From there, I spent three years as a news reporter and anchor at a rather revolutionary TV station in Miami, WAMI. No one watched, but it was revolutionary. Before those jobs, I earned a master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. And this summer, I'll complete my 16th year as a host for Turner Classic Movies. So, the entirety of my professional life has been spent into two endeavors: journalism and movies.
There's a strong connection between the two--at their core, meaningful journalism and great movies both seek truth. For reporters and their editors, the job is clear: expose the truth. Don't merely tell me two sides of a story, tell me the true story. For directors, actors, writers and the artists who make great movies, their goal is more nuanced. Still, great art reveals fundamental truths about humanity, about the world, about how we connect with each other.
Over four Thursday nights in March, we'll be presenting 12 journalism movies--from the best known, All the President's Men, to a newspaper noir detailing the underhanded and exploitative waves of a crude tabloid, Scandal Sheet, to a shockingly prescient and damning drama about the runaway power of television news, Network.
And two of the most prominent journalists of their era will join me to help introduce these movies: Anderson Cooper, who hosts Anderson Cooper 360 weeknights at 8pm on CNN and serves as a correspondent for 60 Minutes on CBS; and Carl Bernstein, an author, a CNN political commentator and, most famously, one of the two men, along with Bob Woodward, who led The Washington Post's Watergate coverage, which led directly to the resignation of President Nixon, the story told in All the President's Men.
There's not a weak link in our Journalism in the Movies lineup. The rest of the movies include Citizen Kane, All the King's Men, Ace in the Hole, Sweet Smell of Success, Story of G.I. Joe, The Year of Living Dangerously, The Quiet American and The China Syndrome. We even have a comedy, His Girl Friday.
Cooper and Bernstein each took two nights of programming, not only offering their unique perspectives on each movie, but sharing their own stories of working in a business where getting to the truth is regularly obstructed by those in political or corporate power.
I know Carl Bernstein a little, though he's been a friend to my family for decades: first to my father and then to my brother Josh, who started in journalism at ABC as a producer before having his on-air career shepherded by Bernstein (it worked - for more than 20 years, Josh has been a correspondent for Dateline NBC). Furthermore, Bernstein was one of our opening night guests at the 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival, where we screened All the President's Men, with Dustin Hoffman as a young The Washington Post reporter named Carl Bernstein.
I'd never met Anderson Cooper before he welcomed us to his studio to shoot our introductions. I was impressed quickly both by the breadth of his knowledge and his commitment. Not only did Cooper know the movies, he wove his own history into the narrative effectively. After college, Cooper traveled to Myanmar on his own with little else but a camera and a forged press pass. He went to interview students fighting the Burmese government. To say he risked his life to cover a story few American outlets were following is an understatement.
In addition, Cooper told great stories about his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, and the succession of stars who dropped by their Manhattan apartment as he was growing up.
So, check out our Spotlight on Journalism in the Movies every Thursday night in March, and get a bit closer to the truth in the process.
by Ben Mankiewicz