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Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (2010)

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A documentary on the life and career of Joan Rivers, made as the comedienne turns 75 years old.


Ricki Stern, Anne Sundberg (co-director) (as Annie Sundberg)


Ricki Stern
5 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Joan Rivers ... Herself
Jocelyn Pickett Jocelyn Pickett ... Herself
Bill Sammeth ... Himself (as Billy Sammeth)
Larry A. Thompson ... Himself
Graham Reed ... Himself
Kevin Brennan Kevin Brennan ... Himself, Joan Rivers' housekeeper
Debbie Brennan Debbie Brennan ... Herself
Analie Berthel Analie Berthel ... Herself
Sean Foley Sean Foley ... Himself
Emily Kosloski ... Herself
Mark Anderson Phillips Mark Anderson Phillips ... Himself (as Mark Phillips)
Denis Markell Denis Markell ... Himself
Gilda Frost Gilda Frost ... Herself
David Dangle David Dangle ... Himself
Kathy Griffin ... Herself


This documentary follows one year in the life of Joan Rivers, who sees herself first and foremost as an actress, with her life as a comedienne/writer just an extension of being an actress. Now at age 75, Rivers has faced her ups and downs in her forty plus year career, the year leading up to filming being a down compared to what she would have wanted, which is a calendar full of engagements with several engagements each day. That want is in part to support her opulent personal lifestyle, but is more a need to bolster her own sense of self-worth as a basically insecure person who is probably best known now for her overuse of cosmetic surgery rather than her professional work. She feels that Kathy Griffin, who she admires, is now getting all the engagements she would have gotten in her prime. During this year, Rivers is seen going from engagement to engagement, some big - such as a Kennedy Center Honors for George Carlin, a double bill with Don Rickles in New York, and her own celebrity... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and sexual humor | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

2 July 2010 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

O Trabalho de Joan Rivers See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$164,351, 13 June 2010, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$2,927,972, 12 September 2010
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Break Thru Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | DTS



Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Featured in 20/20: Joan Rivers: Living for the Laughs (2014) See more »

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User Reviews

An overlooked gem
13 February 2011 | by Jim GilliganSee all my reviews

"A Piece of Work" is a very apt subtitle for this film, since it sums up rather succinctly the driving force behind Joan Rivers' career—she is a woman constantly on the lookout for her next piece of work. Perpetually aware of just how difficult it is to hit a moving target, Rivers never seems to slow down. At the age of 75, she keep herself busier than many working actors/comedians 1/3 her age. Ricki Stern's film chronicles Rivers' career, from her beginnings on "The Tonight Show" through her stint as permanent guest host, her devastating decision to leave that show for her own talk show (a decision that created a rift between Rivers and Johnny Carson that never healed), her husband's suicide, and her struggle to recover from it both personally and professionally. Rivers' daughter Melissa is of course a big part of this film, and her presence creates perhaps an unintentional stark contrast to Rivers herself. Joan is the consummate hard-working, smart, talented, honest professional entertainer, while her daughter, who claims to have chosen a career in show business, actually possesses little or no talent and has forged a "career" in entertainment simply by virtue of her status as Joan's daughter. If Melissa Rivers were not Joan's daughter, I doubt she would be able to find any work at all in the entertainment industry. Be that as it may, "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work" is a penetrating and entertaining documentary about the life and career of one of the funniest—if not THE funniest—women in the business.

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