On the Big Board
|Altman's swan song is a treasure. Reflective and thoughtful, it manages to somehow convey that mood in a raucous manner.
|This good, old-fashioned Altman film is a fitting way to go out.
|Fitting end to Altman's storied career is a warm, congenial outing that tells several great stories at once.
|It's odd to criticize a Robert Altman movie for feeling unfocused, but this might be the one. Still, even a mediocre Altman film is better than...a bad one.
More than 35 years ago, Garrison Keillor started working for Minnesota Public Radio on a program that ran from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. The show was called The Prairie Home Companion, named after the Prairie Home cemetery in Moorhead, Minnesota. Soon after doing an article on the Grand Ole Opry, Keillor developed an idea for a show with musical guests and imaginary advertisements. In 1974, the show had its first live broadcast at a small college auditorium in St. Paul. An audience of 12 showed up. Somehow, Keillor was able to overcome, going forward with 477 live shows in the program's first ten years.
In 1987, Keillor decided to close up shop, but that decision was short-lived. He returned two years later in New York, and 200 public radio stations began carrying his program, though not under its original name. In 1992, the show moved back to Minnesota, and revived the name The Prairie Home Companion shortly thereafter. Now, the show is heard by over 4 million listeners on 558 public radio stations. In addition, it's played abroad on America One and the Armed Forces Networks.
The inimitable director Robert Altman will try to capture the magic of the show on the big screen as he creates a theatrical imagining of what might happen onstage if the producers of the show suddenly decided to end the series. Keillor is handling the screenplay and will center on the strange mix of characters and their reaction to recording on the final day of the show. As is always the case with Altman projects, a large and talented ensemble cast has been assembled. In addition to Keillor, who will play himself, the cast includes Kevin Kline, Meryl Streep, Woody Harrelson, Lindsay Lohan, Tommy Lee Jones, John C. Reilly, Lily Tomlin and Virginia Madsen. It's certain to be highly anticipated by fans of Keillor and his show, in addition to those who have an affection for Altman's work. (Kim Hollis/BOP)