Please check out my podcast preview of HBO's "Cinema Verite," a wise and winning dramatization of the backstage story of the making of public television's "An American Family." It premieres at 9 p.m. Saturday, but there are many replays in coming days and weeks on America's finest TV channel.
I am old enough to have seen and been blown away by "An American Family" when it debuted in 1973. I have since had the priviledge of interviewing Alan and Susan Raymond the Oscar-winning husband and wife team who shot the film and recorded the audio for "An American Family."
The young couple was then working for Craig Gilbert who created and produced "An American Family," and, man oh man, is he played deliciously by James Gandolfini in "Cinema Verite." I do have problems with docudramas that mix fact and fiction as this one does. But if Gilbert behaved as this film says he did, I am glad someone is trying to set the record the straight.
A dramatization about a documentary that is now seen as the medium's first reality TV show is a concept worth thinking about -- and about and about some more. "An American Family" was a 12-part PBS series that went inside the life of the Louds, who were billed as an All American family from California. Viewers watched the family come unglued right before their eyes with the parents, Bill and Pat Loud, getting divorced.
Yes, shocking as it might seem to those who think knowing history is a waste of time, before the Gosselins, there were the Louds.
Here's the link to my podcast that aired this week on WYPR-FM, Baltimore's NPR affiliate, in a content sharing agreement with the Sun. Check it and don't miss "Cinema Verite." This is one of those productions that reminds you what a special place HBO holds in our culture as TV that makes you think.
(Pictured: Gandolfini as Gilbert. Diane Lane and Tim Robbins and Pat and Bill Loud.)
Please stop back after you have seen the movie and share your thoughts.