Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Richard Linklater Frontrunner To Direct 'The Rosie Project' Starring Jennifer Lawrence Richard Linklater Frontrunner To Direct 'The Rosie Project' Starring Jennifer Lawrence The 10 Best And 5 Worst Tom Cruise Performances The 10 Best And 5 Worst Tom Cruise Performances Just For Laughs: 'The Big Lebowski' Live Read With Michael Fassbender & Jennifer Lawrence Just For Laughs: 'The Big Lebowski' Live Read With Michael Fassbender & Jennifer Lawrence Union Rep Says Safety Was A Concern On 'The Revenant' Shoot Union Rep Says Safety Was A Concern On 'The Revenant' Shoot All The Songs In 'Paper Towns' Including Bon Iver, Wilco, Vampire Weekend, Bob Dylan, And More All The Songs In 'Paper Towns' Including Bon Iver, Wilco, Vampire Weekend, Bob Dylan, And More "A Living Hell": 'The Revenant' Is Reportedly $35 Million Over Budget, A Producer Exited The Movie, And More "A Living Hell": 'The Revenant' Is Reportedly $35 Million Over Budget, A Producer Exited The Movie, And More 'Top Of The Lake' Season 2 Starts Shooting This Year, Elisabeth Moss Returns 'Top Of The Lake' Season 2 Starts Shooting This Year, Elisabeth Moss Returns Watch: Trailer For Bret Easton Ellis’ Penned Teen Horror ‘The Curse of Downers Grove’ With Bella Heathcote Watch: Trailer For Bret Easton Ellis’ Penned Teen Horror ‘The Curse of Downers Grove’ With Bella Heathcote Watch: Video Essay Counts Down The 10 Most Beautiful Movies Of All Time Watch: Video Essay Counts Down The 10 Most Beautiful Movies Of All Time Watch: Bond Is Back In New Trailer For 'Spectre' With Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, And More Watch: Bond Is Back In New Trailer For 'Spectre' With Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, And More Alejandro González Iñárritu Still Has To Shoot The Finale Of 'The Revenant' Alejandro González Iñárritu Still Has To Shoot The Finale Of 'The Revenant' The 20 Best Films Of 2015 So Far The 20 Best Films Of 2015 So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season Stephen King Says Wendy In Kubrick's 'The Shining' Is "One Of The Most Misogynistic Characters Ever Put On Film" Stephen King Says Wendy In Kubrick's 'The Shining' Is "One Of The Most Misogynistic Characters Ever Put On Film" All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More "It Was A Clusterfuck From Day One": 5 Things About Neill Blomkamp's Failed 'Halo' Movie "It Was A Clusterfuck From Day One": 5 Things About Neill Blomkamp's Failed 'Halo' Movie Martin Scorsese Names His 11 Scariest Horror Movies of All Time Martin Scorsese Names His 11 Scariest Horror Movies of All Time

Diane Lane Talks 'Cinema Verite' And The Changing Values Of Reality TV

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist April 20, 2011 at 3:19AM

EXCLUSIVE: It has often been said that audiences like to see versions of themselves reflected back when choosing something to watch, so the pervasiveness and popularity of reality TV isn't all that surprising. Take a flip through your channels and you'll see something that speaks to you with reality shows now based on almost any niche you can think: losing weight, philanthropy, hoarding, coupon cutting, tracing your family tree, getting a job, making cupcakes, running a restaurant, running a pawn shop, living as little people, bounty hunting, being a rich housewife...it's endless. In fact it's hard to remember a time when there wasn't a constant navel gazing on the behalf of television programs or even when it was considered controversial or revolutionary. But back in the early 1970s PBS broke ground with "An American Family," a 12-part reality series centered around the daily life of the Loud family -- a so-called "typical" American middle-class household, but each member had their own secrets. The show drew 10 million viewers and just as much notoriety but people couldn't stop tuning in. The Louds were first reality TV family and their lives were profoundly and forever changed by the experience.
0


EXCLUSIVE: It has often been said that audiences like to see versions of themselves reflected back when choosing something to watch, so the pervasiveness and popularity of reality TV isn't all that surprising. Take a flip through your channels and you'll see something that speaks to you with reality shows now based on almost any niche you can think: losing weight, philanthropy, hoarding, coupon cutting, tracing your family tree, getting a job, making cupcakes, running a restaurant, running a pawn shop, living as little people, bounty hunting, being a rich housewife...it's endless. In fact it's hard to remember a time when there wasn't a constant navel gazing on the behalf of television programs or even when it was considered controversial or revolutionary. But back in the early 1970s PBS broke ground with "An American Family," a 12-part reality series centered around the daily life of the Loud family -- a so-called "typical" American middle-class household, but each member had their own secrets. The show drew 10 million viewers and just as much notoriety but people couldn't stop tuning in. The Louds were first reality TV family and their lives were profoundly and forever changed by the experience.

It's a fascinating story, and one largely forgotten by the audience that today laps up the seemingly infinite hours of reality programming out there. But leave it to Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, the directing team behind "American Splendor," to get to the meat of the story of what happened in front of and behind the camera. Starring Diane Lane, Tim Robbins and James Gandolfini, "Cinema Verite" is a solid based-on-true-life story that has the kind of details you couldn't just make up, making for a fascinating look in an important part of television history. We recently chatted with Diane Lane about the film and how reality TV has changed in the decades since "An American Family" aired.


To help prepare to play family matriarch Pat Loud, who perhaps more than anyone else profiled had her life the most significantly changed by "An American Family," Lane watched the PBS series "incessantly" and she quickly zeroed in on what the monumental find of that documentary was. "I realized that there were twelve hours of aired footage, but there was three hundred filmed -- or something in the neighborhood of that -- and this was incredibly edited, by necessity, and invariably with an agenda," she said. "I think really the biggest discovery here is that the appetite is for the weakest link, the Achilles heel, the controversy, the potential for disagreements parentally or interpersonally -- that's the appetite that was the discovery in the marketplace."

However, most bracing for Lane was just how much of a blank slate the Loud family were before going in front of camera. Where now, programs like "Jersey Shore" are practically scripted or least staged to such a degree to get the footage the producers want, "An American Family" was guerrilla by comparison.

"I really enjoyed the lack of guile that there appeared to be. There's no real innocents putting themselves in front of the camera today. People are savvy about what to expect. They know they're coming up against an angry mob basically who can't wait to watch them suffer so I think that there's something to be said for [that]," Lane said. "What I found very endearing was, it was a different time and people didn't wear their hearts on their sleeves yet. They weren't quite aware that they should be afraid of being boring. You could see everything just under the surface. Their discomfort with the camera there, their wish for better communication, their sense of disappointment at a moment not going the way they wished it had. These are human traits that you don't even need to speak the language to have them be conveyed because it's in the timbre of the voice or in the body language or you can see it in the tiny muscles of the face. It's incredible because it was a much more subtle range of expression, but people were dialed in to this subtlety."

And while Lane didn't meet the real Pat Loud until the film was in the can, she's very aware of the responsibility on the shoulders of herself, the cast and the filmmakers to do a bit of justice to the Loud family who have spent a lot of time since "An American Family" aired trying to counter the very skewed perception of their family.

"It's a very tricky peace to make. And I think that we actually managed -- hopefully -- to add a grain of sand to the other side of the scale...to balance out their experience," Lane told us. "I think that they feel, hopefully, a tad vindicated because comparative to today's standards, truly they were unwitting and guileless and refreshingly candid and I find them incredibly endearing. They did take on a mythical proportion for us because we were representing their plight but at the same time meeting them was incredibly rewarding. And I did have all these maternal feelings for [the Loud family members] that were a bit older than me that which is odd [laughs]. That's the way it goes. I studied them so much and felt so protective of my children."

It's truly an intriguing tale, a story of fractured family that unfolded both in front and behind the cameras, and continued for years after it aired. You can check out "Cinema Verite" when it debuts on HBO on April 23rd. The trailer is below.

This article is related to: Films, Actresses, Cinema Verite


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates