Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Radio in the Movies #5 - "A Prairie Home Companion"

"A Prairie Home Companion" is a backstage look at the last performance of a long-running radio variety show. It stars Garrison Keillor as himself along with a large ensemble cast including Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Kevin Kline, Woody Harrelson, John C. Reilly, Lindsay Lohan, Virginia Madsen and Tommy Lee Jones. The fictional APHC has run on WLT radio (With Lettuce and Tomato) for 30 years but an oily businessman (Jones) has bought the theatre with plans on shutting down the show. The security guard (Kline) narrates the story and becomes attracted to a mysterious woman in a white trench coat (Madsen.) There’s also music—lots and lots of music--all of it fitting into the standard APHC repertoire of folk, bluegrass, standards, country and gospel. Harrelson and Reilly play singing cowboys Dusty and Lefty while Streep and Tomlin play the duo the Johnson Sisters. All the actors sang their own songs and played their own instruments. I’m not a huge fan of this type of music but the characters and Keillor’s charm and impeccable voice made it worth watching….once. This was the last film directed by Robert Altman who died about 5 months after it was released.

-->The actual A Prairie Home Companion radio show first aired on Minnesota Public Radio in 1974. It still broadcasts live Saturday nights from the Fitzgerald Theatre in St. Paul on almost 600 public radio stations.
KSJN is the flagship station of Minnesota Public Radio's classical music network. Before 1991, 99.5 FM was best known in Minneapolis for being the home of WLOL, a top-rated CHR station. KSJN's previous home on the dial was at 91.1 FM.

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