Craig Gilbert, portrayed here by Gandolfini, James, was the award-winning documentary filmmaker who created and produced the original "American Family" series on PBS. After the controversy about the iconic series, it proved to be his final film credit. See more »
The Louds' Mercedes has a California plate with the number style 1AAA000. These plates did not appear until 1980. See more »
Extremely slight--and variably performed--but still entertaining...
Modest, minor cable-made docudrama from directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini chronicles the would-be sturm and drang behind-the-scenes of PBS's "American Family", an eleven-hour series from 1971 which chronicled the lives of The Louds of Santa Barbara, CA. Justifiably famous as the first "reality TV" family, this bunch (mom, dad, and their amiable teenage kids) brought in big ratings for 'the education network', even though their lives were fairly typical and ordinary. Picked out of a society column by an ambitious producer, the Louds were followed around by a small camera-crew for some 78 days--to fill eleven hours of air-time--yet high drama was hard to come by (patriarch Bill Loud had the wandering eye; eldest son Lance Loud was a flamboyant singer who had already moved to New York City when production began; while spouse Pat Loud, strong and confident, was the glue who kept kids and husband together). There wasn't much happening behind--nor in front of!--the lens, except for some mild flirting between Pat and the crafty, cunning producer, and Pat's discovery that her husband had been carrying on affairs with a number of different women. The editors of the actual show had a tough time piecing together enough watchable product, while this rendering of events, penned by the estimable David Seltzer, suffers the same fate. The groovy production-design is spot-on, and Diane Lane has several strong moments portraying Pat...yet this American family simply wasn't cliffhanger material. It all seems much ado about nothing.
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