TCM Celebrates Motown’s 50th Anniversary With Marathon
TCM will celebrate Motown’s 50th anniversary with an all-night movie marathon on for Wednesday, April 14, beginning at 8 p.m. (ET).
TCM’s Motown celebration will include five films, beginning with the disco comedy Thank God It’s Friday (1978), which scored an Oscar for the Donna Summer hit “Last Dance.” Next up is the rousing documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown (2002); Lady Sings the Blues (1972), the biopic of Billie Holiday starring Motown superstar Diana Ross; and The Big Chill (1983) and Norman…Is that You? (1976), both featuring Motown soundtracks.
Below is a complete schedule of TCM’s celebration of Motown’s 50th anniversary (all times shown are Eastern):
Wednesday, April 14
8 p.m. Thank God It’s Friday (1978) – Taking a cue from the jukebox musicals of the past, this disco comedy from Motown Productions features an incredible array of Motown stars performing against the backdrop of an all-night discothèque. Donna Summer stars and provides the vocal stylings on the Oscar-winning song “Last Dance.” Other hits in the movie include “Dance All Night,” “Disco Queen” and the title song. Jeff Goldblum and Debra Winger both have small roles.
10 p.m. Standing in the Shadows of Motown (2002) – This exhilarating documentary looks at the Funk Brothers, a group of highly talented Detroit musicians who have backed up some of the greatest pop stars of all time. This award-winning film earned a GrammyÒ for its extraordinary soundtrack.
Midnight Lady Sings the Blues (1972) – Diana Ross earned an Oscar nomination for her superb performance as Billie Holiday in this biopic covering the jazz singer’s rise and fall, the latter fueled by drug addiction. Billy Dee Williams and Richard Pryor co-star. This was the first film produced under the Motown Productions banner.
2:30 a.m. The Big Chill (1983) – Lawrence Kasdan assembled an outstanding ensemble for this humorous character study of a group of former college friends gathering for a weekend. Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilly and JoBeth Williams star. The record-breaking soundtrack is packed with Motown classics, including “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and “My Girl.”
4:30 a.m. Norman…Is That You? (1976) – Redd Foxx stars in this comedy as a African-American father who goes through the roof when he finds out his son is gay and dating a white man. Pearl Bailey and Michael Warren co-star in this adaptation of a Broadway play. The Motown soundtrack features Smokey Robinson and Thelma Houston, among others.
More information on Motown:
Songwriter Berry Gordy Jr. founded Motown Records with a loan of $800 from his family. Through determination and support of the Motown family of artists, he forged new ground for minorities and made the “Motown Sound” a worldwide phenomenon adored by millions. As a result, Motown has not only been a major creative force in the music industry, but also a positive catalyst for change through its role in the racial integration of popular music.
With the formation of Motown, Gordy began bringing together an amazing galaxy of artists, including Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Jackson 5, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Mary Wells, Martha Reeves & the Vandellas and many more. The Motown Sound has since claimed nearly 200 #1 songs worldwide. Motown hits continue to appear in commercials, TV shows and movies and remain an influence on today’s biggest pop and R&B stars.
In 1968, Gordy formed Motown Productions, the film and television arm of his record company. After several televisions specials starring Smokey Robinson, The Temptations and Diana Ross, the company entered the film arena. The first movie produced for Motown Productions, 1972’s Lady Sings the Blues, earned five Oscar nominations, including a Best Actress nod for its star, Motown sensation Diana Ross. Since then, the company has produced such movies as Mahogany (1975), Thank God It’s Friday (1978), The Wiz (1979) and Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon (1985).
After selling Motown Records to Music Corporation of America in 1988, Gordy sold Motown Productions to Suzanne de Passe, who had been serving as the company’s executive in charge of production. Under the new name de Passe Entertainment, the company has enjoyed tremendous success with television productions like Lonesome Dove (1989), The Jacksons: An American Dream (1992) and The Temptations (1998).