The Mockumentary That Should Have Won an Oscar:”For Your Consideration” (2006)

Improvisation has always been an essential tool for an actor whether you are in a comedy or a drama. Known for films that only have an outline instead of a set script, Christopher Guest has helped revolutionize the movie-going experience with the “mockumentary” film. Movies like Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, and Waiting for Guffman, all use a core group of actors known for their improvisational skills. Actors like Bob Balaban, Michael McKean,  Harry Shearer, Eugene Levy, Parker Posey, Jane Lynch, Jennifer Coolidge, Fred Willard,  and even Christopher Guest himself, all have  made regular appearances in these films. Their improvisations skills have been put to use in both comedic and dramatic films. One of the most interesting films of Christopher Guest’s is For Your Consideration. Ironically, there was Oscar buzz for Catherine O’Hara’s performance in which she plays an actress vying for an statue of her own. Honestly, I think this movie SHOULD have gotten an Oscar for O’Hara and the movie itself. Catherine O’Hara’s abilities as an actor of both dramatic and comedic caliber are so high that even the apparent face-lift that her character, Marilyn Hack, has, was not done with use of makeup or special effects. As an actor, she had the ability to use her physicality and enhance the performance in an honest way.  Take a look at the clip:

Put this DVD in your queue and watch the pure genius of the cast as they improvise their way through one of the funniest films to parody the film industry. There is more truth to this comedy about drama than in actual documentaries about the industry. I would love to be in a movie like the ones that Christopher Guest produces and directs. I think they are intelligent, funny and pure entertainment. I love seeing skilled actors at work.

Faerie Tale Theatre: A Closer Look

Christopher Reeve and Bernadette Peters in the "Sleeping Beauty" episode as the Prince and Princess.
Christopher Reeve and Bernadette Peters in the “Sleeping Beauty” episode as the Prince and Sleeping Beauty.

During the filming of Popeye with Robin Williams, Shelley Duvall was inspired to start a children’s television series in the vain of the classic television show Shirley Temple’s Storybook where fairy tales were at the forefront. The production values and the guest-stars were top notch, and in 1982, Faerie Tale Theatre hit the airwaves. With witty dialogue and cultural references that are relevant even today, it’s amazing how popular this show still is. It’s not just a kid’s show either. Like Shelley Duvall said in her intros, it was meant for children of all ages. What’s more impressive, is the sheer amount of all-star guest appearances that graced the screen. Shelley Duvall and her show had a certain appeal that made actors WANT to be on her show. Past, present, and future Oscar-winning actors like Tatum O’Neal, Susan Sarandon, Robin Williams, Alan Arkin, Anjelica Houston and Helen Mirren all appeared on the show. Numerous character actors, still working today, such as Conchata Ferrel, Christopher Lee, Harry Dean Stanton, Doris Roberts, and John Lithgow, just to name a few, had screen time. The list goes on and on. You can view lists of episodes with guest stars here. What I find fascinating, is these actors, who were and are well-respected, did a so-called “kids” show and gave full-out, amazing performances. It didn’t matter if the audience was all-children, or adults. Faerie Tale Theatre was a show where the quality of the episodes and the quantity of the guest stars were equally matched, and brilliant. Inspiration from illustrations done by famous artists like Norman Rockwell, Gustav Klimt, and Arthur Rackham helped make the back drops and sets unique to each individual fairy tale. In fact, I doubt that in this day and age, a show like this, of this caliber, would even make it onto the airwaves. The acting was superb and it shows. It probably harkens back to the theatrical training of many of the stars of the show. Christopher Reeve was Julliard trained, Bernadette Peters was a Broadway vet,  and Vanessa Redgrave comes from theatrical family for example.

Below is the beginning of Goldilocks and the Three Bears starring Oscar-winner, Tatum O’Neal, Emmy-winner, John Lithgow, and Grammy-winner, Carol King. It’s one of my favorite episodes, and it’s timeless in terms of production values and episode quality.  The full series is available on YouTube for free and worth watching.

Cheesy Made-For-Television Movie Actor: Kellie Martin

Tori Spelling and Kellie Martin in “Death of a Cheerleader” (1994)

I have a confession. One of my career goals is to be in a made-for-television movie. Preferably on the Lifetime “Television for Women” Network. I’m already able to cross the cheesy re-enactment series off my list, but the made-for-television movie has been hard to come by for me. What I wouldn’t give to cry uncontrollably in the bathroom with a bottle of fake pills and smash a mirror. Or cut & dye my hair and smash a mirror. Those are the cheesy moments I live for as an audience member and what I want to experience as an actor, at least once.

Several actors I have previous blogged about have been in made-for-television movies, movies-of-the-week, or “Cheesy Lifetime Movies.” Kirsten Dunst, mentioned in my previous post, appeared as a teen mom before it became “cool” to play one, in the movie Fifteen and Pregnant. Two-time Oscar winner, Hilary Swank, starred as a violent teen in Terror in the Family in 1996. Teen stars from TV seem to gravitate towards doing  the made-for-tv movie( maybe because they feel at home on television): Melissa Joan Hart, Candace Cameron Bure, and Nancy McKeon all became well-known for doing several movies for television.

In my opinion, one reigns supreme, with so many TV movies to her credit, I stopped counting when I hit 20.: Kellie Martin.  She has 63 television credits, most of which are TV movies. I remember seeing her in the 90s, in movies like Death of a Cheerleader and The Face on the Milk Carton. A lot of the movies were “based on a true story” or “inspired by actual events.” She’s played a killer, a mental disturbed teen, a young abused mother–pretty much every character description under the sun. Here are some samples of her work:

And just for fun, here’s the trailer for future Oscar-winner, Hilary Swank’s TV movie, Terror in the Family:

It just goes to show ya kids, don’t knock a TV movie, there might be a future Oscar-winning in it.