For the second time in three years, public radio icon Garrison Keillor is making the move to the big screen. This time, however, he'll have to make do without Lindsay Lohan.Unlike the 2006 Robert Altman "dramedy" "A Prairie Home Companion," which was written by Keillor and took humorous liberties with the long-running radio show, "Garrison Keillor: The Man on the Radio in the Red Shoes" is a documentary that followed Keillor and his cast - the real cast - from small town to small town for more than a year.
Four Corners Public Radio KSUT-FM, which airs "A Prairie Home Companion" at 4 p.m. every Saturday, will host a screening of the documentary at 6 p.m. Saturday in the theater of the Smiley Building. The film is scheduled to air on PBS' "American Masters" series in July, but director Peter Rosen, perhaps inspired by his subject, wanted to bring it to the people first and has been doing so for the last year.
A veteran filmmaker with more than 30 years and 100 documentaries to his credit, Rosen said he first met Keillor at Carnegie Hall in New York in 1990 and finally decided he warranted a departure from Rosen's typical fare of classical music studies.
"I'm not a fanatic fan like many of the millions, but I had a feeling he was an interesting character for a portrait the way he brings people together," Rosen said Wednesday from his Manhattan office. "Once we got his permission to do this, which is rare, we just followed him around and did a fly-on-the-wall thing with him at the center. We're just riding his coattails."
Keillor, who also produces the daily "Writers Almanac," is heard on more than 550 public radio stations nationwide and claims an audience of 4 million. His setting for APHC, the fictional Minnesota town of Lake Wobegon, is a very real place to many of his fans, and Rosen said he and his crew fell under the spell themselves for a weekend when they filmed an episode in Lanesboro, Minn., population 700.
"Even Keillor said this is as close to Lake Wobegon as we're ever going to see. On a documentary you hope for those kinds of days," he said.
The rabid fans also impressed Rosen with their fervor during production and even more so when he took the film on the road.
"People drive for hours, I mean hours, to get to his radio shows and now to these screenings," Rosen said. "It's a cross-section of America, and what I learned is that he lives the show - he's the last one to leave these venues, and he'll talk to every person and listen to every story."