‘Ratatouille’ director Brad Bird joins TCM’s ‘Essentials’

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Turner Classic Movies has enlisted “Ratatouille” and “The Iron Giant” director Brad Bird to program the latest 20-episode season of “The Essentials,” the channel said Wednesday.

Bird’s selections run the gamut of classic film offerings. There are musicals like “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Guys and Dolls” and “The Music Man,” Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger masterpieces “The Red Shoes” and “A Matter of Life and Death,” some Stanley Kubrick fare, including “2001: A Space Odyssey,” epics, comedies, westerns and a few film noirs too.

Bird will help TCM host Ben Mankiewicz introduce each film as well as offer commentary and reflections every Saturday starting on May 2 at 8 p.m. Eastern.

“His childlike enthusiasm for movies, animated and live action, is unparalleled and infectious,” Mankiewicz said. “He sees so many stories through the eyes of an animator, providing a rare perspective on movies we think we know well, like “Casablanca,” “Dr. Strangelove” and “The Searchers.”

For Bird, the most difficult thing was winnowing down a final list of 20 films.

“My biggest challenge was figuring out which films to choose, because for each great film that I mentioned there were 10 I left out,” Bird said.