In corporate America (and show-biz–which I guess belongs to the former and thus is the same thing) you can’t stuff the Genji back in the bottle. When a studio hints that a project might go into turnaround, that project is 99/44/100% dead. When the very whisper was made of TCM possibly being ‘scaled back’ (and then a huge amount of the workforce was gutted) the writing was on the wall; TCM, as we know it, will be gone soon. Perhaps it might survive in some limited streaming sort of way but who cares? The point of TCM wasn’t planning on what to watch; it was to add a warm and fuzzy wallpaper to your environment. And if something came on that was of interest there it was–no ordering, downloading, streaming etc. For me TCM was not ‘destination’ watching. It was a constant and therefore constantly reliable accompaniment to the days/evenings/dawns of life.
And thus we come to American Movie Classics and Bob Dorian. Well before the emergence of Robert Osborne and TCM, AMC played commercial-free old movies. The nominal hosts providing introductions and neatly packaged factoids were Bob Dorian and Nick Clooney. (It’s rather amusing how little difference there is between these two and Ben Mankiewicz and Eddie Muller. The main difference I see is in the hand gestures; Dorian keeps his hands folded while the TCM hosts appear to be rather strictly directed to keep them open and use them to gesticulate and emphasize whatever it is they’re saying.) AMC served much the same purpose as TCM but perhaps with a bit more necessity, since it wasn’t yet as easy in that pre-internet era to watch any movie you wanted at any moment of the day as it is now. The walls began to crumble with the introduction of limited advertising in the late 90s and by 2002 the whole thing collapsed. (Read it about it in this Wiki article if you dare). I remember my reaction upon hearing that AMC was going to be ‘re-booted’ to include commercials and original programming. I was absolutely convinced an uprising would occur that would prove to the powers in charge the vast disconnect between them and their audience. And of course I was incredibly wrong. AMC quietly vanished, fortunately leaving TCM in its wake. TCM too will vanish leaving aforementioned streaming options in its wake. There are things I’ve come to dislike about TCM but that’s for another time. I’m sorry to see it go just as I’d be sorry to see a local library or museum disappear; its availability and reliability are what distinguishes it from so many other things that surround us–or rather, don’t surround us but rely on us to click them into existence. Above is a typical Bob Dorian intro to ‘Imitation Of Life’ from sometime in the early 90s. Dorian died in 2019 and his obit makes for interesting reading.