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Bringing AN AMERICAN FAMILY to life (again) in HBO’s CINEMA VERITE

by Jim on April 22, 2011 · 0 comments

James Gandolfini, Diane Lane and Tim Robbins star in CINEMA VERITE on HBO this weekend

With reality television being such a staple of our viewing habits in the 21st Century, it’s hard to believe that on January 11th, 1973, PBS aired the first part of the documentary series An American Family, which turned cameras on the lives of a Santa Barbara family to offer up a realistic documentation of the life of an ordinary family in America. Nobody could have known that over 10 million viewers would tune in for the 12-part series, which showed everything from the marriage of the parents breaking apart to the very honest portrayal of homosexual son, Lance Loud.

The series was groundbreaking, not only as being the forerunner to reality television, but also in its depiction of how a gay man related to his family being shown on national television, which led to enormous criticism of PBS for its inclusion.

In short, An American Family and the Louds changed television forever.

This weekend, the movie Cinema Verite, a dramatic re-telling of the Loud’s experience being filmed for the 1973 documentary, airs on HBO starring Diane Lane and Tim Robbins as Pat and Bill Loud, Thomas Dekker as Lance and James Gandolfini as filmmaker Craig Gilbert, who some feel manipulated much of the drama captured in the series.

Jim Halterman: What were your initial thoughts once you went back and watched the original documentary knowing how big reality television is today?

Robert Pulcini: My first thought was I couldn’t believe how the attention span of America has waned because it’s very slow-moving in a way that I really appreciated. It’s very rewarding if you stick with it, but it’s amazing that 10 million viewers watched it and devoted themselves to it. It doesn’t get to the conflict of every scene and things unfold at a very leisurely pace. It just observes life as it is lived.

Shari Springer Berman: There’s practically a whole episode about Delilah [Loud’s] dance recital and, seriously, they just go with it but the more you give it time and the more you surrender to it, it’s incredibly rewarding. You really do feel the rhythms of this family and it’s interesting…CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE


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