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Thoughts on a junket

Posted at 4:53 PM on May 4, 2006 by Euan Kerr

My head is still reeling from yesterday's visit by the "A Prairie Home Companion" movie cast. I am not sure if I have been quite so close to sensory overload.

I met a lot of new folk. There was the guy from the Dove Foundation which rates films for family friendliness. His preliminary review was that the film was probably going to get a 12 and over only recommendation.

And then I met the Drivetime Divas Lori and Julia from FM 107. (pictured here with Robert Altman.) Along with KS 95 producer Meredith we sat and chatted with the stars who came round for the radio roundtable.

Frankly it all got a little surreal.

It turned out that they wanted to know where everyone had eaten when they were in St Paul for the shoot, and where they'd been shopping. I kept throwing in the film hack questions. Keillor made fun of me because I asked about whether the use of the F. Scott Fitzgerald bust (which appears repeatedly in several different locations) was a metaphor for something. He told how he wrote the scene for Kevin Kline so he could play the piano and then rescue something from the theater which was about to be demolished. "I don't know what it means though," he said.

And we got to talk about death with Robert Altman.

It started when Lori asked him about the fact that "Magnolia" and "Boogie Nights" director Paul Thomas Anderson shadowed him through the entire PHC shoot.

"I'm 81, and I have a heart transplant for 11 years," Altman said. "So very few of my original parts are left. And I have to have somebody in case I croak. PTA was great. He validated me."

That's when the intrepid MPR reporter jumped in and said, "Not to be morbid about this..."

"Let's do!" said Altman.

"Well how does that play into this movie then?" I asked. "If the movie is about death...."

"And I'm booked," Altman interrupted. "Well, you saw the movie. And we certainly have the angel of death there. And she is touching everybody. And she was not a joke. Garrison did not write her as a cipher. It was very moving I thought."

Everyone in the room muttered that indeed Virginia Madsen is very beautiful as the Angel of Death, which then produced the question as to whether Mr Altman had any life advice to offer as a result of his long and successful career. (OK, it wasn't me who asked that one.)

"Life advice? Giggle and give in," he smiled. "Spend it."

May 2006
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