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Q&A with B.J.

Written on Wednesday January 14, 2009

How has Movie Club maintained such popularity on OETA throughout the last 20 years?
B.J.: The longtime viewers of OETA have answered that question for us. And the number one reason, which I hear most often, is that it’s been a family tradition getting together on the weekend watching old movies on OETA. The most rewarding are the comments I hear from young adults, now with their own families, renewing that tradition with their own children. Isn’t that great?  

What do you do when you’re not hosting
Movie Club?
B.J.: Since 1959, I have been working full-time in both the broadcast and advertising fields. Currently, I work for the OETA Foundation's Underwriting Department.      

What are the most common questions viewers ask you?
B.J.: Folks always have fun with this one. Ninety-nine out of a 100 times when I run across OETA viewers they ask, with a smile and twinkle in their eye, ‘Hey, is that popcorn real?’ The answer I give is: ‘You bet it’s real … and really good.’ 

Who is the most memorable movie star you’ve met?
B.J.: Well, my favorite was Walter Pidgeon. Twice nominated for an Academy Award, he was best known for a string of eight MGM films during the 1940’s, co-starring with Greer Garson and many more: How Green Was My Valley, Mrs. Miniver and Madame Curie. I met this remarkable actor in Hollywood in 1975. Remembering that in a few early musical talkies he had made use of his baritone singing voice, I asked him (with tongue firmly planted in cheek!) if he was still singing professionally. Well, you would have thought I had asked him about all of his grandchildren from his engaging laugh and warm smile. ‘How’d you know that I used to sing?’ he asked. Talk about memorable! 

What’s your favorite bit of film trivia?
B.J.: My favorite occurred during the making of It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s about the scene where George Bailey winds up at Martini’s Bar finding himself at the lowest point of his life and prays to God for help. As the camera’s rolled, Jimmy Stewart actually began to feel the loneliness of people who had nowhere to turn and was himself overcome with emotion. Only one problem — the camera was set for a wide shot and not a close-up. Nothing more was said about it. That night and for many weeks after, director Frank Capra took each of the thousands of individual frames of film and enlarged them, one by one, until he had the close-up he wanted. So, next time you see that scene, it’s not the camera moving closer it’s the loving work of Frank Capra, working long hours so that we could enjoy a remarkable performance by Jimmy Stewart. 

What is your favorite film?
B.J.: The test that I apply to my personal favorite movies are those that I love to watch over and over again, like Casablanca, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Bishop’s Wife, 12 Angry Men, Star Wars, Singin’ in the Rain, Some Like It Hot, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Blazing Saddles, Dial M for Murder, Elmer Gantry, The Lady Vanishes, The Jolson Story and last, but not least, Last of the Dogmen. Now, ya better stop me or we’ll run out of space. 

Do any particular shows over the last 20 years stand out?
B.J.: You bet! One night, during the airing of John Ford’s classic, My Darling Clementine starring Henry Fonda, Victor Mature and Tim Holt, we had the pleasure of having Tim Holt’s family in-studio. After retiring from the screen, Tim Holt made his home in Oklahoma for more than 20 years. And speaking of the children of Hollywood legends, one night we aired a terrific film classic called Suez, which starred Tyrone Power and the lovely Loretta Young. Her son Christopher Lewis joined us in studio that night sharing wonderful stories about his Mom. Many of our viewers in Tulsa will remember Christopher Lewis for his many years on both Channel 8 and Channel 6.


After 20 years of hosting, what do you love most about Movie Club?
B.J.: Oh, this one’s easy. The privilege of sharing some of the most thought provoking and entertaining motion pictures ever produced in Hollywood and around the world. It continues to be the highest honor of my broadcast career.