Docs on deck at TCM

Turner Classic commissions four docus

Turner Classic Movies has commissioned a two-hour docu special on the life and work of Marlon Brando as the highlight of an ambitious slate of projects for next year.

Brando program, produced by the Grief Co., is one of four new docus now in production at TCM. The three others are “Spielberg on Spielberg,” a 90-minute profile featuring an extensive interview with the director supplemented with clips of his movies; “Bienvenue au Cannes,” a docu that will recap the highs and lows of the Cannes Film Festival, which celebrates its 60th birthday in May; and “Val Lewton’s American Horror,” a 90-minute look at the work of the producer who turned out a number of low-budget, well-regarded horror films in the 1940s for RKO. Martin Scorsese, a big fan of Lewton’s, will direct “American Horror.”

“We’re trying to broaden our reach to serve many different audience segments,” said TCM exec veep-general manager Tom Karsch. The Cannes and Lewton docus will appeal to the more hardcore movie buff, Karsch said, and the Spielberg and Brando programs will corral both devotees and more casual viewers.

TCM has ordered the pilot of a potential series, “Idols” (tentative title), which encourages movie celebrities to conduct interviews with a star who’s had a major influence on them. Alec Baldwin talks to Gene Wilder in the pilot.

“Private Screenings,” TCM’s ongoing series of occasional specials, has landed Jane Fonda as interview subject for Robert Osborne, who hosts many of the net’s movies. TCM has scheduled the Fonda program for March.

When the weekly “Essentials” series kicks off its seventh season in March, author-actress Carrie Fisher will join Osborne to host a collection of classic movies that both will choose. And the “Guest Programmers” movie showcase has added Chevy Chase, Lorraine Bracco, Larry Miller, David Mamet and David Thomson, who’ll tape intros to some of their favorite movies.

Richard Schickel, author and Time magazine movie critic, will produce the Spielberg and Cannes Festival specials and also do an update of his 1973 docu about the director William Wellman.

Actors who have agreed to be interviewed for the Brando docu include Al Pacino, John Travolta, James Caan, Robert Duvall and Fonda.

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