TCM pulls back the curtain on director Steven Spielberg


So you think you know Steven Spielberg?

Turner Classic Movies on Monday will air a 90-minute documentary, “Spielberg on Spielberg,” in which the filmmaker discusses his career, starting from the time he sneaked away from a tour group as a teen to get a closer look at the Universal Studios lot. The result is a fascinating look at the director of some of Hollywood’s most iconic films.

A sampling of nuggets from “Spielberg on Spielberg”:

“Jaws” (1975): The seemingly brilliant decision to avoid showing the shark for much of the movie – which upped the fear factor considerably – came about not from artistic vision but because the production’s mechanical shark broke just before shooting started.

“Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977): While filming in Biloxi, Miss., Spielberg received a set visit from “Star Wars” creator George Lucas, who was so impressed with what he saw that he traded 2½ percent ownership in “Star Wars” for 2½ percent ownership in “Close Encounters.” Spielberg says he gets residual checks from “Star Wars” to this day.

“E.T” (1982): The concept for the film was dreamed up while Spielberg was filming the closing scenes for “Close Encounters.”

“Saving Private Ryan” (1998): Spielberg didn’t use storyboards to plot the shot sequence ahead of time for his World War II drama. Instead, he – in the words of Indiana Jones, another Spielberg creation – made it up as he went along.

“Spielberg on Spielberg” premieres Monday at 8 p.m. EDT on the TCM cable channel.