An American Family
Even though she plays one of the first big reality stars in her new HBO movie, 'Cinema Verite.' Diane Lane is not a big fan of reality TV.
"I've seen probably one episode of maybe five different shows, and that's about it," she told me last week. "I don't even watch 'American Idol' or 'Dancing With the Stars.' I just... I'm not American... I don't know what my problem is."
In 'Verite,' Lane plays Pat Loud, whose family was depicted in the landmark 1973 PBS documentary 'An American Family' The movie is told from Pat's perspective, how she deals with her philandering husband Bill (Tim Robbins) while not-so-subtly being influenced by the miniseries' producer Craig Gilbert (James Gandolfini). Meanwhile, the seemingly All-American family from Santa Barbara has to deal with their son Lance (Thomas Dekker) coming out of the closet and living the bohemian's life in New York.
Lane and I spoke last week about the movie, which premieres Saturday April 23 at 9PM ET, what Pat Loud's impression of it was (the family was not involved in the production) and if she related some of what the Loud kids went through to her rise to fame as a teenager.
'Sopranos' Emmy winner Gandolfini is joining Tim Robbins and Diane Lane in the HBO Films flick 'Cinema Verite,' a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the seminal 1973 PBS series 'An American Family.'
'Family,' considered one of the earliest reality shows, was a 12-episode series that followed the Loud family, a California clan where mom Pat and dad Bill were splitting up and oldest son Lance was one of the first openly gay "characters" on TV.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Lane has agreed to star in the upcoming original film 'Cinema Verite.' The role marks Lane's first television work in eight years and her first appearance on HBO since 'Descending Angel' two decades ago. She previously earned an Emmy nomination for the miniseries 'Lonesome Dove.'
In short, this is to be a scripted movie about a documentary behind the filming of a documentary. With such convolution, it's sure to cause some sort of rupture in the space-time continuum. Doc Brown is probably having a conniption as this is being written.
It does sounds like a pretty good movie, though. In 30 years or so, we'll be seeing television movies about the backstage antics in shows like 'Keeping Up with the Kardashians' or 'The Simple Life.' It's likely that whomever they cast as Paris Hilton will be more convincing in the role than Paris Hilton.
Love it, hate it, or feel indifferent about it, reality television is a staple of American television. It has been since The Real World and Road Rules premiered on MTV back in the 1990s, which started a chain reaction in the broadcast world. Eventually, the network and cable landscapes would be full of shows like Survivor, American Idol, Trading Spaces, and Big Brother. Since then, a season hasn't gone by without a show that emulated those shows, or any of the hundreds of other reality shows that were spurred by these originators.
So, what happened? How could we television viewers have lived with scripted fare for decades without a whiff of "reality" except for what was shown on the network news each night? Well, technically we didn't. Reality programming was there, except it wasn't called "reality programming" at the time. In addition, it was placed amidst a slew of scripted programming so it was considered a rarity. Nevertheless, these show were there and they were the impetus for some of the reality shows that we see today.
So where did reality programming begin? Actually, it didn't begin on television at all, but on the radio.
Family and the workplace -- two constants in everyday American society. They are the places where we spend most of our lives. Sometimes we spend more time at one over complaints of the other. Other times, we barely want to spend time at either location.
Because these are so important to many people across this country, it made sense that television would delve into both of these environments during the Reality Revolution. However, since a 60-minute show about a senior technical analyst sitting in his four square-foot cube was not likely to draw in the audience, the reality shows that were created focused on those families and workplaces that were a tad more unique. Thusly, shows were created around well-to-do families, celebrity families, or families with multiple children, while workplace shows dealt in tattoos, motorcycles, hair styling, and house-flipping.
Coming in later than the game operas and relationship shows, these family and workplace programs ushered in a new phase of the Reality Revolution and set the stage for the future of reality programming.
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