For more than three decades, storyteller Garrison Keillor has been making audiences laugh, tap their feet and occasionally grab a hankie via his weekly public radio variety show, A Prairie Home Companion. In June of 2005 the show threw one of its good-natured jabs at famed director Robert Altman (Nashville, Short Cuts, Gosford Park) by airing a skit in which Altman was portrayed directing a film entitled People Standing Around Talking and Using Hand Gestures. A few weeks later, Altman began production to bring a fictional episode of A Prairie Home Companion to the big screen.
The film, slated to release June 9, features Altman's distinctive multi-character, naturalistic cinematic flavor and Keillor's wry and sometimes whimsical screenplay (and low-key performance as a radio announcer). The movie also boasts a stellar cast (including Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Kevin Kline, Tommy Lee Jones, Virginia Madsen, John C. Reilly, Woody Harrelson and rising starlet Lindsay Lohan), most of whom not only stand around talking and using hand gestures, but sing too.
Keillor has long held a special place in the hearts of many Christians for his humorous but ultimately affectionate and respectful treatment of religious people, especially the Norwegian Lutherans of his fictional Lake Wobegon. Christian Movies Today recently had a chance to sit down with Garrison and ask him about filmmaking, writing, and going to church. In all three areas, for Keillor the story is the thing.
How long have you been thinking about a Prairie Home Companion movie?
Garrison Keillor: I started thinking about it when Mr. Altman told me to start thinking about it. I had been working on another project, a screenplay about a small town in Minnesota, but then he wanted ...