Monday, April 22, 2024

Complaints that “Barbie” Marketing Infiltrates TCM: Long Planned Harry Belafonte Tribute Night Yanked with No Notice to Push Doll Movie


It’s not like David Zaslav hasn’t caused enough trouble at Turner Classic Movies. He was shredded in the press last month for firing all the top execs at the beloved movie channel and causing three famous directors (Spielberg, Scorsese, Anderson) to come after him.

Tonight, TCM viewers were aghast to learn that a long planned tribute to Harry Belafonte, set for this evening and announced in April, has been scotched. In its place, TCM host Ben Mankiewicz is interviewing “Barbie” director Greta Gerwig about movies that influenced “Barbie.”

The replacement movies are “The Philadelphia Story,” which was shown on TCM just recently, and “The Red Shoes.” (What they have to do with “Barbie” is beyond me.)

The Belafonte tribute was supposed to include remarks by Harry’s actress daughter, Shari, plus screenings of “Carmen Jones” and the rare “The World, the Flesh and the Devil.”

Fans are irate that the evening was scuttled for promoting Warner Bros. “Barbie” because the studio also owns TCM. Gerwig is lovely and her thoughts on film are not uninteresting. But the “Barbie” logo and a pink set and the blatant plug of a new movie vs. the tribute to a movie legend and civil rights hero is…gross and tasteless.

Plus, “Barbie” doesn’t need this attention. It’s making well over $100 million this weekend. The whole thing is unnecessary and crass.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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