You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Live!

Well-cast venture from Oscar-winning docu vet Bill Guttentag incorporates its lacerating commentary about reality TV and fame into a suspenseful fake-docu format.

With:
With: Eva Mendes, David Krumholtz, Rob Brown, Katie Cassidy, Jay Hernandez, Eric Lively, Monet Mazur, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Missi Pyle, Andre Braugher.

America’s ever-elastic appetite for assimilating what was once offensive, rendering it both acceptable and profitable, gets a mostly deft satirical workout in “Live!” Playing like “Man Bites Dog” meets “Network” retooled for the current media climate, well-cast venture from Oscar-winning docu vet Bill Guttentag incorporates its lacerating commentary about reality TV and fame into a suspenseful fake-docu format. Pic’s major commercial obstacle is that reality TV — particularly in places like Holland — is already so far beyond the pale, even the Grim Reaper himself wouldn’t shock as a special guest.

Sleek, driven, cynical Katy (Eva Mendes), the recently hired programming prexy at TV network ABN, turns an offhand remark by a staffer — “People would watch Russian roulette if given a chance” — into the template for a live TV show.

Unlikely program’s genesis is captured by 29-year-old, Yale-trained documentary filmmaker Rex (David Krumholtz) and his cameraman, whose footage serves as aud’s eyes and ears. Device is so matter-of-fact that any groans of “Oh, no, not another video-diary-within-a-movie!” are nipped in the bud.

Network lawyer Don (Andre Braugher) is certain the FCC will never allow the show — which calls for six contestants to hold a loaded gun to their heads and pull the trigger — to air live on national TV. (“People say they can’t believe how bad what’s on TV is,” says one character, adding, “They should see what’s not on TV.”)

Net’s West Coast honcho thinks the show, to be called “Live!” (rhymes with “jive”), will be professional suicide. And the New York brass think pesky Congressmen will pound the network’s reputation. But Katy’s a pragmatic pro who neutralizes the obstacles with implacable flair.

At first only suicidal losers apply, but, after solving the problem of luring attractive people with every reason not to blow their own heads off, casting sessions yield a fab cross-section of contestants. Faux-compassionate segs, establishing each potential suicide’s colorful backstory, are little gems. “Entertainment Tonight”-style coverage of the countdown to broadcast manages to parody what would have seemed beyond parody.

“Shameless” and “venal” don’t begin to cover the rationalizations at every level of the process, but this frequently funny send-up creates a seemingly plausible arena in which hard-working media execs and show contestants can take moral bankruptcy all the way to the bank.

Live!

Production: A Fortissimo Films presentation of a Mosaic Media Group production. (International sales: Fortissimo Films, Amsterdam.) Produced by Charles Roven, Alex Dartner, William Green. Executive producers, Eva Mendes, Randy Sosin, Dennis Gore, Alan Glazer. Directed, written by Bill Guttentag.

Crew: Camera (color), Stephen Kazmierski; editor, Jim Stewart; music, Phil Marshall; production designer, Robert De Vico; set decorator, Brad Douglas; costume designer, Dayna Pink; sound (Dolby), Scott Harber. Reviewed at Deauville Film Festival (competing), Sept 7, 2007. (Also in Tribeca Film Festival.) Running time: 96 MIN.

With: With: Eva Mendes, David Krumholtz, Rob Brown, Katie Cassidy, Jay Hernandez, Eric Lively, Monet Mazur, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Missi Pyle, Andre Braugher.

More Film

  • Virgina Leung - Block 2 Head

    Wong Kar-wai Hires Virginia Leung for Film Sales Role

    America’s ever-elastic appetite for assimilating what was once offensive, rendering it both acceptable and profitable, gets a mostly deft satirical workout in “Live!” Playing like “Man Bites Dog” meets “Network” retooled for the current media climate, well-cast venture from Oscar-winning docu vet Bill Guttentag incorporates its lacerating commentary about reality TV and fame into a […]

  • James Gunn

    Disney Stands Firm on James Gunn Not Returning to 'Guardians of the Galaxy' (EXCLUSIVE)

    America’s ever-elastic appetite for assimilating what was once offensive, rendering it both acceptable and profitable, gets a mostly deft satirical workout in “Live!” Playing like “Man Bites Dog” meets “Network” retooled for the current media climate, well-cast venture from Oscar-winning docu vet Bill Guttentag incorporates its lacerating commentary about reality TV and fame into a […]

  • Laurel Canyon Music Doc 'Echo the

    Laurel Canyon Music Doc 'Echo in the Canyon' to Open LA Film Festival

    America’s ever-elastic appetite for assimilating what was once offensive, rendering it both acceptable and profitable, gets a mostly deft satirical workout in “Live!” Playing like “Man Bites Dog” meets “Network” retooled for the current media climate, well-cast venture from Oscar-winning docu vet Bill Guttentag incorporates its lacerating commentary about reality TV and fame into a […]

  • Twilight House

    Bella Swan's House From 'Twilight' Is Up for Sale

    America’s ever-elastic appetite for assimilating what was once offensive, rendering it both acceptable and profitable, gets a mostly deft satirical workout in “Live!” Playing like “Man Bites Dog” meets “Network” retooled for the current media climate, well-cast venture from Oscar-winning docu vet Bill Guttentag incorporates its lacerating commentary about reality TV and fame into a […]

  • Seth Rogen, Charlize Theron

    Seth Rogen-Charlize Theron Comedy 'Flarsky' Moving to Summer (EXCLUSIVE)

    America’s ever-elastic appetite for assimilating what was once offensive, rendering it both acceptable and profitable, gets a mostly deft satirical workout in “Live!” Playing like “Man Bites Dog” meets “Network” retooled for the current media climate, well-cast venture from Oscar-winning docu vet Bill Guttentag incorporates its lacerating commentary about reality TV and fame into a […]

  • Justin Timberlake

    Justin Timberlake Signs With Janet Jackson's Publicist (EXCLUSIVE)

    America’s ever-elastic appetite for assimilating what was once offensive, rendering it both acceptable and profitable, gets a mostly deft satirical workout in “Live!” Playing like “Man Bites Dog” meets “Network” retooled for the current media climate, well-cast venture from Oscar-winning docu vet Bill Guttentag incorporates its lacerating commentary about reality TV and fame into a […]

  • Rose Byrne, Kylie Minogue

    'Juliet, Naked' Premiere: Rose Byrne Recalls Kylie Minogue Obsession

    America’s ever-elastic appetite for assimilating what was once offensive, rendering it both acceptable and profitable, gets a mostly deft satirical workout in “Live!” Playing like “Man Bites Dog” meets “Network” retooled for the current media climate, well-cast venture from Oscar-winning docu vet Bill Guttentag incorporates its lacerating commentary about reality TV and fame into a […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content