Five things to watch for at Hollywood’s TCM Classic Film Festival

A boy on a bike with an alien in his basket, silhouetted against the moon in the 1982 movie "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial."
A scene from the 1982 movie “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” directed by Steven Spielberg.
(Universal Pictures/Photofest)
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One of L.A.’s signature movie-Mecca event returns April 21 as the TCM Classic Film Festival takes over multiple venues around Hollywood and Highland. Here are five things to watch for at the sprawling event.

Newer classics celebrating anniversaries — Late 20th century movies that have achieved classic status will be celebrated with major stars in attendance. On opening night (Thursday), Drew Barrymore, Henry Thomas and some up-and-comer named Steven Spielberg (and others) will fete the 40th anniversary of “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial,” the longtime No. 1 box-office champ. Saturday night‘s your chance to lower your degrees of Kevin Bacon to one with a 40th-anniversary reunion of the cast of “Diner,” including Bacon, Tim Daly, Steve Guttenberg and Paul Reiser. And closing night (Sunday), the 30th anniversary of “A League of Their Own” will be celebrated with stars including Lori Petty — and Maybelle Blair, a pitcher for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in 1948.

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Only-in-Hollywood Celebrity Moments — The great Lily Tomlin will join those immortalized in the forecourt of the TCL Chinese Theatre. Her hand and footprint ceremony will be Friday, April 22, at 10:30 a.m.


Major figures in film being honored — The festival will pay tribute to and host conversations with storied actors Bruce Dern (Fri., 3:30 p.m.) and Piper Laurie (Sun., 12:30 p.m.) , and Disney Legend and Black Filmmakers Hall of Famer Floyd Norman (Sat., 3 p.m.) . One of the great film journalists and historians, Leonard Maltin, will receive the Robert Osborne Award.

A man in a cowboy hat and boots in the 1956 movie "Giant," directed by George Stevens.
James Dean in the 1956 movie “Giant,” directed by George Stevens.
(Warner Bros./TCM)

Special presentations of beloved films — A new 4k restoration of James Dean’s final film, “Giant” (1956), premieres at the Chinese Theatre Saturday night. The epic western won an Oscar for director George Stevens (its only win in 10 nominations, including one for Dean) and held Warner Bros’ box-office record until “Superman” surpassed it in 1978. Spielberg and George Stevens Jr., will introduce the screening. Pam Grier will attend a screening of her iconic 1973 “Coffy” (Sun., 7:15 p.m.). “Cooley High” (1975) (Fri., 9:30 p.m.) will be introduced by director Michael Schultz and stars including Glynn Turman, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Garrett Morris and Steven Williams. John Waters’ “Polyester” (1981) will be presented in — you sniffed it out — Odor-rama (Sat., midnight). Mink Stole and Mario Cantone will be on hand, so you won’t go through it alone. Among the many, many luminaries presenting films: John Sayles, Jane Seymour, Allison Anders and others. In fact, most of the movies at the festival will have a little something extra — “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” will be shown poolside at the Roosevelt Hotel (Thu., 7:30 p.m.) with special guest — Topher Grace.

Fan service — There will be chances to mingle at the opening-night reception and closing-night party, as well as peeks behind the curtain of TCM itself. There’s a trivia quiz and a live read of “I Married a Monster from Outer Space” (Sun., 5 p.m.) with veteran comics such as Dana Gould, Charlene deGuzman, David Koechner and Laraine Newman.

The TCM Classic Film Festival

When: Thursday, April 21 - Sunday, April 24

Where: Multiple venues in Hollywood

Info: Schedule, tickets, festival passes and health and safety protocols are available at