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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

Dennis Miller & Friends on TCM

Comedian Dennis Miller will host a night of films on Turner Classic Movies, every Friday in November. In the standard style of TCM, Miller has selected a few of his good friends to serve as co-hosts to sit opposite him on the famed TCM stages. Martin Short, Rita Wilson, Dana Carvey and Jay Leno will each have their own night with Miller to introduce three of their favorite films to share with viewers and express what their picks mean to them.

TCM (Turner Classic Movies) has a great tradition of providing context before and after the night time films. Most of the time this responsibility falls to prime time host, Ben Mankiewicz. These moments are filled with behind the scenes information regarding the ins and outs of what was happening with the powers that be to create the resulting film. Once in a while, the network presents a Friday theme for the month. In the past there have been designers taking about the costumes of a film, veterans talking about military films, and even a series of Australian films curated by a native actor.

This November TCM puts a spin on this format by having noted comedian and commentator, Dennis Miller hold conversations with his famous friends to talk about the films that mean something special to each of them. Miller is a huge fan of classic films. I mean, really huge. When I met him on the TCMFF red carpet a few years back he was so excited to be there that he was nearly bursting with excitement. It was like the watching the biggest geek at Comic-Con visiting his mecca for the first time. His effusive admiration has such a strong presence that the television screen can barely contain him.

And this expression of fandom is extended to his friends. Martin Short, Rita Wilson, Dana Carvey and Jay Leno match Miller's enthusiasm, regaling the impact their favorite films have had upon them personally and how they have shaped the entertainers they have become. These conversations are as moving as they are entertaining, and provide fresh insight into the personalties of these famous individuals. And it's just plain fun to watch as they banter back and forth with Miller. Any true fan can relate to this, and will feel as if they are there in the room taking part in the conversation. So, I encourage you to tune and and take part as fellow classic film fans talk about what they love most about the movies of yesteryear.

The weekly series begins with Martin Short co-hosting with Miller. The beloved Canadian-American comedian has performed as actor, singer and writer in television, onstage and in the movies. He is celebrated for his TV work on Saturday Night Live, as well as for his roles in such films as Three Amigos (1986), Father of the Bride (1991) and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause. The films he's introducing include the Marx Brothers Duck Soup (1933), a comedy team classic, Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, and one of my all time favorites, Tootsie (1982), which seems to be a natural vehicle for Short had he only been around a decade earlier.

Then there's Rita Wilson, who, besides being a Hollywood native, is the wife of Tome Hanks. The actress/singer/songwriter/producer has appeared in such movies as Sleepless in Seattle, (1993) and It's Complicated (2009), as well as TV series including The Good Wife and Girls. Her particular visit reveals the deep friendship she has with Miller, and her deep adoration of old films. Her film choices include the Peter Sellers poignant drama Being There (1979), the Preston Sturges masterpiece, The Lady Eve (1941), and the Bette Davis romantic tear-jerker, Now, Voyager (1942).

Dana Carvey is another great comedian who is perhaps best-remembered as a cast members of Saturday Night Live. He earned five consecutive Emmy nominations during his time on the show from 1986 to 1993, finally taking home the award in 1993. He has also starred in a few classic comedies including Wayne's World (1992) Wayne's World 2 (1993), and the animated feature, The Secret Lives of Pets. The films he has chosen are the post apocalyptic Soylent Green (1973), the partially stop motion animated Jason and the Argonauts (1963), and the Beetles mock documentary, A Hard Day's Night (1964).

And lastly, Jay Leno sits in the seat opposite Miller. The New York native is best known for his tenure as the host of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. As a producer, writer and host, Leno has been nominated for 19 Primetime Emmy Awards over the years, two of which he won. After leaving the The Tonight Show, Leno went on to host Jay Leno's Garage from 2015-2019, a series where he shared his enthusiasm of motor vehicles. This time he waxes nostalgic about the movies that have shaped him. The films he's introducing are a Joel McCrea/Veronica Lake satire Sullivan's Travels (1942), the Andy Griffith powerhouse fueled A Face in the Crowd (1957), and the Best Picture of 1955, Marty.

Watching beloved films is an enjoyable pastime. Talking about those films makes the experience even more so, especially when your conversation is with a close friend who shares your enthusiasm. Tune in and watch these hold the conversations you wish you could be a part of. And in a way, you really are.


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