Off the Air

A collection of press clippings, special projects or appearances including Garrison Keillor.

GK Responds to Cinecast Posts

February 5, 2010

We're getting lots of reaction to the live "Prairie Home Companion" Cinecast to movie theaters last night. All the letter-writers compliment the TV camera work, the muted colors, the audio quality — bravos to all of that — and many of them comment on the warmth of the audience in their particular theater and how people clapped and laughed and sometimes talked back to the screen. Some people say they liked the performance. Thank you for that. Someone said it looked as if I was wearing makeup and was I and if so they were disappointed. (I was. Sorry.)

A few people were alarmed by the conversation ten minutes into the show between Erica Rhodes and me, in which she was presented as my replacement as host and we talked about what she'd do when she takes over the show. It's a tribute to Erica's acting ability that this bit seemed plausible, but — it was a joke, folks.

There were complaints — a viewer in Seattle was troubled discovering after she got to the theater that the show was not live but tape-delayed — it had been advertised as "live" and was not. This was the case all across the West — a 7 p.m. CST start in St. Paul meant a 5 p.m. start in Pacific time, which theaters felt was no good for people with 9-5 jobs, thus the delay. A complaint about a $22 ticket price, some complaints about theaters being sold-out and turning away patrons.

But Charlene Bell wrote from Pennsylvania: "I have listened to your show for the past 20+ years off and on; more on lately than off. I am a mother of 11 children and have forced my younguns to endure Guy Noir, Dusty; etc. Never saw even a picture of you or your show. Tonight was the happiest (and funniest) day of my year! (I would say life, but that was my wedding renewal). I took my sister who had absolutely no clue who or what Prairie Home was and we were laughing and crying, and talking to people we never met. No matter that we were the only African Americans in the entire theater, it never mattered. Thank you so much for the reminder of what is good plain fun and humor. God Bless."

The duets Heather Masse and I sang were "My Life" by Iris DeMent and "If You Were Mine" by Ann Reed. (Someone asked.)

As for me, I had a terrific time, though my solemn Sanctified Brethren face might not have told you that, and I'd be happy to do more of this, now that I know that people like to go to movie theaters and see this. But next time we'll sing some songs with the audience. I like the idea of people standing in multiplexes around the country and singing "America the Beautiful" and "My Girl" and "Ba-ba-ba-ba-barbara Ann."

At the post-show party at my house, Robin and Linda and Jearlyn and Heather and Carole the assistant director of the Cinecast and I stood around and sang "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" and "My Girl" and "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" and "Chapel of Love" and "Proud Mary" and some other songs, and that was the perfect end to a fine day of theater. Thanks for your comments.


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