zap photo robert and drew gallery 420 Drew Barrymore on co hosting TCM's 'Essentials': 'I just wanted to make it happen'Drew Barrymore knows what’s essential in movie-making as an actress and a producer … and also as a member of one of Hollywood’s most famous families,

The former child star is about to prove it: An admitted Turner Classic Movies devotee, she succeeds Alec Baldwin as co-host of its weekly series “The Essentials” starting Saturday (March 3). She’ll join principal channel host Robert Osborne to present and analyze legendary films, beginning with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis as musicians running from the mob in director Billy Wilder‘s 1959 comedy “Some Like It Hot.”

“It’s as simple as my having been fortunate enough to get the request,” Barrymore tells Zap2it of being invited by Osborne himself, “and I just wanted to make it happen. In a crazy life and a crazy schedule, these are the kinds of things you make time for.”

Because of her other obligations, Barrymore’s “Essentials” segments were done last fall, the first assignment for which Osborne returned from his 2011 leave from TCM. “It’s more than a three-day commitment of shooting,” notes Barrymore, who’s starring in “Big Miracle” currently. “I wanted to go over every movie. Robert picked half of them and I picked half, and I started with a list of 200.

“His list was also very large, and it’s a really in-depth process, but this is what I like to do anyway in life. To do it in a forum where I get to talk about films I love, with someone I admire — on a channel that’s on in my house literally 24/7 — I was like, ‘I have to do this.'”

One “Essentials” attraction Barrymore can’t deny a special fondness for is “Dinner at Eight” (May 26), the 1933 comedy that features her grandfather John and great-uncle Lionel. Interestingly, it was Osborne who chose that title, Barrymore reports.

“There are some other films of my family’s that I’m just wacky for, but I do like that one because it has both Lionel and John. And I love Jean Harlow, so it was wonderful to go back and watch it. I hadn’t seen it since I was a kid.”

That would have been around the time Barrymore first charmed audiences as little sister Gertie in the Steven Splelberg-directed “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.” His “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” is another of the new season’s “Essentials” (April 21), as are “The Goodbye Girl” (March 24), “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” (June 2), “Kramer vs. Kramer” (June 16) and “Captains Courageous” (Aug. 18) … all with young actors in pivotal roles.

“I think all of their performances are some of the most mature child performances,” Barrymore says from experience, “some of the most un-whiny, un-screamy, wonderfully precocious performances I’ve ever seen. Having been a kid who acted myself, I loved it when I saw kids who could hold themselves like adults, rather than just stomping around. They just had this great ability to be natural.”

Posted by:Jay Bobbin