In a Hail Mary move for corporate preservation, the San Francisco based Northwest Broadcasting Corporation launches True TV, a new network which will broadcast the life of an Average Joe or Jane, 24/7 live and thus unedited, the subject chosen signed initially for one month. The project is conceived and led by one of the producers, Cynthia, but her boss, NWBC president Whitaker, will take the credit if it succeeds, and let her sink as the captain of the ship if it fails. The network is rebranded EdTV when Cynthia believes she's found her subject, Ed Pekurny, a native Texas hayseed, who fits the two main criteria that she is looking for in the person: he is easy on the eyes, and he has what seems to be a potential trainwreck of a life in that he he is thirty-one years old, spends most of his time hanging out at the bar, and has no ambition beyond his longtime dead end job as a clerk in a video store. Ed did not actively campaign for the job - his blowhard of a brother Ray was the one ...Written by
There are two tributes to Don Knotts in the film. The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966) and The Incredible Mr. Limpett (1964) are shown on the video store counter. An advertisement for "Fife" is shown on the screen. Don Knotts played Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show (1960), also starring Ron Howard. See more »
When Ed and his family are discussing whether or not to do the show, the cap on the 2 liter bottle of Mountain Dew appears and disappears between shots. See more »
Of course I stopped payment on the plugs, you gave me DOLL'S hair!
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EDtv will inevitably be compared to Peter Weir's The Truman Show but really they haven't much in common. The Truman Show took itself far too seriously. EDtv is a fairly black comedy, a satire on modern TV culture.
The producers of a failing TV network decide to take a punt and try a new format - a real TV doco on an ordinary life.
They audition and choose Ed (Mathew McConaghey), a rangy, slobbish video store worker who's been once or twice bitten in love; the sort of fellow who goes out with a beer mug tied around his neck.
Ed takes on the challenge partly because he's pretty broke and partly because he's bored, urged on by his little hoper, small brained, big muscled brother Ray played by Woody Harrelson. A few days into the shoot Ray throws over his girlfriend Shari (Jenna Elfman) and Ed wins her as his new lover. Ratings soar!
The talent of the cast (not to mention it's director Ron Howard) lends a great deal of life to Edtv. It's often genuinely funny. McConaughey uses that winning smile to perfection, even as he has an early morning, half asleep fiddle with his genitals. McConaughey is a major reason why EDtv works as well as it does.
Woody Harrelson is a genuinely talented actor and can play a spoilt, selfish meat headed brother perfectly. Some of the best lines have been left to Al the boy's father played by Martin Landau as well as to Ellen DeGeneres as the show's producer.
But it's the character of Ed and his family who really set the neurones firing. Unlike many American films these heroes are ordinary middle Americans, probably about as close as a mainstream American film could get to an English, Ken Loach/Mike Leach, style of middle/working class family. There aren't any chandeliers in Edtv.
It's not often that these sorts of characters are treated warmly in these sorts of films and then we must ask how our own families would fare under this sort of warts and all scrutiny- probably about as well as Ed's.
And it's also interesting to wonder how much the average Aussie would consider EDtv to be a satire given the popularity of Rikki Lake and her ilk, not to mention the Funniest Home Video types of programs. Is real life TV (is there such a thing) already even more outrageous than EDtv? Is EDtv outrageous enough to be satire?
There are some dull minutes in EDtv (mostly to do with Elizabeth Hurley's appearance as a sex pot) but EDtv proves again that Hollywood isn't nearly as dumb as it makes out to be.
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