After hosting a successful inaugural presentation of its popular classic film festival, Turner Classic Movies is gearing up for a new season of the network’s longest-running feature, “The Essentials.”
The network has announced that director Brad Bird will join TCM host Ben Mankiewicz starting May 2 with 20 new features to give fans a classic film education. Bird, the director of beloved animated features like “The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille,” and “The Iron Giant,” will discuss a bevy of films from 1952’s musical classic “Singin’ in the Rain” to Cary Grant’s 1939 film “Gunga Din.”
“I love jabbering about movies almost as much as I enjoy watching them,” said Bird in a statement. “Getting the opportunity to talk with him [Ben Mankiewicz] about indelible films on TCM was an absolute joy. My biggest challenge was figuring out which films to choose, because of each great film that I mentioned there were 10 I left out.”
Mankiewicz himself said, “Following the return of ‘The Essentials’ last season with Ava DuVernay, we feel so fortunate to be able to bring in another elite filmmaker this season as my co-host…He sees so many stories through the eyes of an animator, providing a rare perspective on movies we think we know well, like ‘Casablanca,’ ‘Dr. Strangelove, and ‘The Searchers.'”
The weekly series has been running on TCM since 2001, offering audiences a chance to watch some of the best movies ever made with a rotating host of directors and actors. Past hosts have included Drew Barrymore, Carrie Fisher, Rob Reiner, and film critic Molly Haskell.
The series took a break after its 2017 season in the wake of longtime host Robert Osborne’s death, returning in 2019 with acclaimed director DuVernay, who was the first person of color to host.
The goal of “The Essentials” has always been not only to give audiences a chance to take in movies considered as living up to the feature’s title, but to also provide necessary context and significance as to why they’ve cemented their place in Hollywood history. The series had a spinoff from 2007 to 2014 entitled “Essentials, Jr.,” aimed at classic features for children, hosted by Bill Hader in its last three seasons.
The new season of “The Essentials” airs on TCM every Saturday at 8 p.m. ET starting May 2.