Watch Warren Beatty Play Dick Tracy to Retain Rights in Surreal TCM Special

A source tells IndieWire Beatty approached TCM about creating the special, which has every appearance of being a way for the actor to retain the rights to the comic book character.
"Dick Tracy Special: Tracy Zooms In"
"Dick Tracy Special: Tracy Zooms In"
Turner Classic Movies

Anyone who went into this weekend wondering if Dick Tracy knows how to use Zoom now has a definitive answer.

Late Friday night, Turner Classic Movies aired a mysterious new program called “Dick Tracy Special: Tracy Zooms In,” which features Warren Beatty reprising his role as the iconic detective from his 1990 film of the same name. Donning the character’s signature yellow coat and hat, Tracy participates in a Zoom call with TCM hosts Ben Mankiewicz and Leonard Maltin to give an update on his life and express his displeasure with Beatty’s film. (In this universe, Beatty’s Dick Tracy is a real person who exists separately from the film “Dick Tracy” and merely looks identical to the actor who played him in the film, which “Dick” talked about in the first TCM special from 2010.)

The three men watch several clips from the film together before they decide to call Beatty to settle Tracy’s complaints once and for all. Beatty then joins the call as himself, where he eventually reconciles with Tracy and they agree to have a more collaborative relationship in the event Beatty makes a sequel.

While the special was listed on TCM’s schedule in advance, it received no social media promotion and came as a surprise to even the channel’s most hardcore fans. Many immediately began to speculate that the show was produced as a way for Beatty to retain the legal rights to the character. Beatty purchased the rights to make Dick Tracy movies from Tribune Media in 1985, but Tribune tried to take them back in 2002. That led to a lengthy series of lawsuits that led to Beatty starring in the first TCM special. Titled “Dick Tracy Special,” it featured Matlin interviewing Beatty’s Tracy in a “Larry King Live”-style setting. In 2011, a U.S. District Court ruled that by making the special, Beatty had done sufficient work with the character to prevent the rights from returning to their original owners.

Sources confirmed to IndieWire that Beatty approached TCM about making the second special, possibly due to the rights nearing expiration.

Beatty has always been open about his desire to make a sequel to “Dick Tracy” and was still claiming to be planning the film as recently as 2016. The 85-year-old actor’s only movie since 2001 was his 2016 Howard Hughes film “Rules Don’t Apply,” so fans probably shouldn’t hold their breath about “Dick Tracy 2.” But at least now, Beatty won’t have any legal roadblocks if he attempts to make the film.

Additional reporting by Christian Blauvelt.

You can watch “Dick Tracy Special: Tracy Zooms In” below.

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