No TCM Classic Film Festival this year, but it’ll be back

TV Pipeline

Michael J. Fox in “Back to the Future”

Q: I heard that this year’s Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival has been canceled. Is that true? — Brian Hart, via e-mail

A: Unfortunately, it is. As various events in the entertainment world were being postponed or canceled outright due to the coronavirus situation, TCM made the decision early in March not to proceed with its annual gathering of filmmakers and film fans for this year, which was to have taken place April 16-19 in Hollywood.

The move was announced to the public by principal channel host Ben Mankiewicz in a video, and he noted that the celebrity guests who had been invited this time have been asked back for next year’s edition. Scheduled highlights for this year included a 35th-anniversary showing of “Back to the Future” with stars Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson in attendance, and the presentation of the third annual Robert Osborne Award (named for the late host who was the face of TCM when it launched, and for many years afterward) to film historian Leonard Maltin.

Nathan Fillion and Gina Torres in “Firefly”

Q: Can you enlighten me on whatever happened to the series “Firefly”? Why did it end so abruptly? Or did it move to another network? — Rick Minor, Fruita, Colo.

A: Low ratings measured against the high production cost put the kibosh on creator-producer Josh Whedon’s sci-fi saga, which Fox pulled off the air before all of its episodes had been shown. However, the series had a strong afterlife on DVD and earned an Emmy Award for its visual effects, two factors that inspired the continuation of the story in the 2005 feature film “Serenity” (named for the show’s principal spacecraft).

The passionate fan base for “Firefly” also has helped keep it alive in other forms, including two comic-book series — and a video game that was to feature voices of original cast members reportedly remains in development. Many of those actors have remained visible in other projects after “Firefly,” such as Nathan Fillion (“Castle,” “The Rookie”), Gina Torres (“Suits,” “Pearson”), Alan Tudyk (“I, Robot,” Doom Patrol”), Morena Baccarin (“Gotham”) and Adam Baldwin (“Chuck,” “The Last Ship”).

Q: Can you tell me why Lasalle from “NCIS: New Orleans” was killed off? Did he want to leave, or did they force him to leave? Also, will “Call the Midwife” on PBS be returning in the near future? — Elma Spacht, Ripley, N.Y.

A: We’ll be brief about the first answer, since we tackled it at length here not that long ago. Lucas Black, who had played Lasalle from the start of that CBS series, explained in a video to fans that he wanted to step back career-wise to focus on other aspects of his life. However, some speculated that he left the show to rejoin the “Fast & Furious” movie franchise for its ninth chapter, which has had its release date moved to next April.

As for “Call the Midwife,” its ninth season (or ninth “series,” as it’s referred to in the show’s native England) started running at the end of March on PBS, and that show has been renewed for both 10th and 11th seasons by its BBC home network. Presumably, PBS also will show those in America — which has been the case since the program began — when they become ready.

Q: I came across repeats of Jill Hennessy in “Crossing Jordan” recently. What has she been doing lately? — Sean Miller, Fair Oaks, Calif.

A: Most recently, she co-starred in the Showtime drama “City on a Hill,” which has been renewed for a second season. She also had a regular role on Fox’s limited series “Shots Fired” and a recurring part on CBS’ now-ended “Madam Secretary,” and she has done guest shots on such other programs as “Bull,” “Yellowstone” and “The Blacklist.”

Hennessy also has been active in movies from time to time, and her latest effort in that arena cast her opposite Billy Crystal and Ben Schwartz in the comedy “Standing Up, Falling Down,” which has just been released on home video. Last year, she also was featured with Luke Hemsworth, Kurt Russell and Alexis Bledel in the crime drama “Crypto.”

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Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

jbobbin has 2549 posts and counting.See all posts by jbobbin

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