Monday, September 20, 2021

TCM Backlot Is Closing

TCM Backlot, Turner Classic Movies' official fan club, is closing in October. According to TCM's announcement when it launched, TCM Backlot was meant to give fans "..unprecedented access to all things TCM including exclusive content, never-before-seen talent interviews, archival videos from the TCM vault, an exclusive TCM podcast, as well as opportunities to win visits to the TCM set, attend meet and greets with TCM hosts and the opportunity to influence programming through online votes."

Turner Classic Movies announced the launch of TCM Backlot on April 27 2016. Initially a subscription to the fan club cost $87 a year. It was in March 2018 that they introduced a monthly subscription of $7.97 a month. It was very early in the history of TCM Backlot that they introduced local chapters. Local chapters of TCM Backlot were officially sanctioned groups of TCM fans who would meet regularly to discuss movies, watch movies, and take part in other events. The TCM Backlot local chapter program proved popular and several major cities boasted local chapters. Sadly, the TCM Backlot local chapter program would be discontinued in September 2019, but many of the local chapters would continue as unofficial TCM fan clubs to this day.

TCM Backlot also had its own events. Many of these would take place at the TCM Classic Film Festival. Every year there would be TCM in Your Hometown contest, whereby Turner Classic Movies would come to the winner's hometown with a free screening of a classic movie. The winner of the 3rd TCM in Your Hometown contest was Lisa Buchhold, who sent in a pitch for St. Louis. On September 26, then, TCM hosted a free screening of Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) at the Tivoli Theatre in University City in St. Louis. There was a V.I.P. Meet & Greet with Ben Mankiewicz and Margaret O'Brien (who played Tootie in the movie) at the Moonrise Hotel. Before the movie there was a special introduction and Q&A with Margaret O'Brien. This was the one TCM Backlot event I got to attend and I enjoyed it immensely. Aside from meeting Ben Mankiewicz in person and Margaret O'Brien, I also got to meet many of my TCM pals for the first time.

Of course, at the TCM Classic Film Festival, the TCM Classic Cruise, and the various TCM Backlot events, there were also exclusive pins. TCM Backlot members would also receive early access to the TCM Boutique, the portion of the TCM Shop where one can get TCM Classic Film Festival merchandise.>br />
On the TCM Backlot web page there was exclusive access to articles, interviews, videos, and so on. There were several online votes in which members could vote for which star would get a day of programming. TCM Backlot members were also able to submit trivia questions for the various TCM Big Screen Classics.

Unfortunately, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic would take a toll on TCM Backlot. It was last year that TCM Backlot announced that it would not longer be accepting new memberships or renewals. At the time many TCM Backlot members assumed this would be temporary and they would eventually begin accepting new memberships again. Articles continued to be published on the website, votes continued to be held, and submissions for trivia questions continued as well. Still, in many ways the announcement that TCM Backlot would close in October came as no surprise to many.

Having joined TCM Backlot in 2018, I have to say that I am sad to see it go. I got a good deal of enjoyment out of TCM Backlot and, after all, it was through TCM Backlot that I not only got to see Meet Me in St. Louis on the big screen, but I got to meet Margaret O'Brien as well. I enjoyed reading the many articles and browsing the archive of old interviews, old promos, and old introductions in the video vault. I honestly wish TCM would reconsider and continue TCM Backlot. Eventually this pandemic will end and once that happens, TCM Backlot could return to its former glory. Regardless, I know I will miss TCM Backlot.

No comments: