Lake Wobegon, The Movie
Saturday, December 12, 1998
Listen


(GK: Garrison Keillor, SS: Sue Scott, TK: Tom Keith, TR: Tim Russell, AF: Al Franken)

GK: It's a great pleasure to have Al Franken on our show today. Al and I are both from Minnesota.

 

AF: Actually I'm from Minneapolis.

GK: I've admired Al's career ever since he started out years ago on "Saturday Night Live". Minnesota isn't known for comedy, so Al made all of us proud back in Minnesota. He's a funny, funny guy and of course his book "Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot" was a book that made millions of people happy.

AF: And of course I'm a huge admirer of your work too. Big fan. Admire all of those - those - that - that whole world that you create - that whole indefinable way that you have of being you - you know what I mean? You know what I mean? - that - that whole thing you have that when people read it or listen to it, they think to themselves, "That's him. That's him."

GK: I never had a chance to watch "Saturday Night Live" but I heard from so many people that it was good. Very funny. Back during its good years when Al was young.

AF: You never saw "Saturday Night Live"?

GK: I worked on Saturday night.

AF: You never saw the show?

GK: I had my own show to do. I was working.

AF: You were doing this show in the afternoon. My show was on at night.

GK: Where I come from, this is night.

AF: My show was on late. This show is on at six o'clock.

GK: We had clean up to do. I had to give people rides home after the show.

AF: So you've never seen my work before.

GK: I'm familiar with your work. I've heard a lot about it.

AF: Well, I'm familiar with your work too.

GK: I thought you were a huge fan of mine.

AF: I know people who are huge fans of yours. Obese people.

GK: You said you had all my tapes.

AF: I know people who have your tapes. Like massage therapists. Instead of solo flute and temple bells, there's you talking - I get up on the table - two minutes later, pfffft, I'm gone.

GK: I did see your Stuart Smalley movie. The one that tanked. I thought it was really funny. There were a lot of nice things in it. I couldn't figure out why it lost as much money as it did. I thought the reviewers who called it "a tedious exercise in self-indulgence" were way off the mark.

AF: Speaking of movies -

GK: Al and I have been working together on a movie and it's been great for me because the wonderful thing about Al, I think, is that unlike a lot of funny people, he really appreciates other funny people. When I come up with great stuff, Al is the first one to fall down on the ground and sort of writhe around choking and sobbing.

AF: Right. I try to.

GK: People have asked me for years, "Why don't you and Al Franken do a movie together?" and I had to tell them, "I don't know but I'm sure Al is terrifically busy and meanwhile I'm happy just doing radio." And then after Al's Stuart Smalley movie went in the toilet, Al's agent called me and said, "It would mean so much to Al if you'd give him a call. Write him a note. Send him a box of fruit from Zabar's. You don't have to take it yourself. They deliver. Just some oranges and apples and maybe some cheese." So I did. And he called me, he was grateful, and -

AF: What happened was, I got a call from a big Hollywood studio - and this studio head says to me, "Al, you're from Minnesota, do you know somebody named Keillor?" I said, "I'm familiar with his work, yes. I haven't read it, but I've heard about it." And the guy says, "Listen. We're making a movie he wrote and it's not happening, you know? it's a movie where nothing moves - can you come out and fix up the script" - so I went ...

GK: That was you?

AF: I flew out and the movie was based on a story of Garrison's that I love - the truckstop story, Florian and Myrtle - I'm crazy about that story. To me, that story is one of the classics of American literature. There isn't a year goes by without my reading that story out loud -

GK: So you were the one -

AF: It's a beautiful story about an old man who forgets his wife at a truckstop on the Inter- state - do we have the clip from the original version? can we roll that now? Those of you in the theater, watch the monitors - this is from the original version of "Truckstop" -

(MOVIE SEQ. VIOLIN UNDER ...)

SS (OLD WOMAN): I come out of the ladies biffy and I looked around and you was gone. No car. I thought, maybe he got done pumping gas and he went around back but I looked there and you weren't there either.

TR (OLD MAN): Well, I tell you what - I never knew you was in the ladies room, I thought you was in the back seat.

SS (OLD WOMAN): What would I be doing in the back seat?

TR (OLD MAN): I didn't look to find out.

SS (OLD WOMAN): I went into the ladies biffy when you were pumping the gas.

TR (OLD MAN): Well, you didn't say anything.

SS (OLD WOMAN): Well, when you're at a gas station and you're missing someone, wouldn't that be a good guess?

TR (OLD MAN): I didn't miss you. I thought you was there.

SS (OLD WOMAN): Well, why didn't you look to make sure?

TR (OLD MAN): I figured if you was going to go, you woulda said something. Not just walk off.

SS (OLD WOMAN): So I come out of the biffy and the car is gone. I couldn't believe it.

TR (OLD MAN): Well, it couldn't be helped.

SS (OLD WOMAN): How would you feel if I was to leave you sitting at a truckstop -
(END)

AF: You see what the problem was. It was one hundred and ten minutes of nattering like that.

GK: I thought you loved the story.

AF: I loved reading the story. I'm a fast reader.

GK: So you were the guy who butchered that story -

AF: The movie-going audience is basically 15-28 year olds, and those people do not pay eight dollars to see a movie about senility. Believe me. It's a turn-off.

GK: So Al the Butcher took my characters and turned them into young Californians.

AF: Named Jeff and Lindsay ... here's a clip from the rewrite ... see how much faster this moves ...

(MOVIE SEQ. ARCO BASS AND PIANO UNDER ...)

TR: Lindsay? where were you?

SS: I went to the ladies room to pee.

TR: We've got to get out of here.

SS: Okay.

TR: I mean - he's here.

SS: He is? (QUIET HORROR CHORD)

TR: I saw him.

SS: Where?

TR: In the restaurant. Drinking coffee.

SS: Are you sure?

TR: It was him. The missing ear and everything.

SS: The hitchhiker - why won't he leave us alone? Did he see you?

TR: I don't know. Maybe.

SS: Did he still have the -

TR: The plastic bag? Yes. (HORROR CHORD)

SS: Oh Jeffrey - hold me.

TR (BREAKING DOWN): I almost left without you.

SS: Oh God.

TR: I was so scared! You weren't there! I almost drove off!

SS: How far is it to the motel?

TR: An hour or so ...

SS: Let's go. I want to make love. Now. (END OF MOVIE SEQ)

AF: You see how much more economical, that is? You see how a few changes here and there - your version just didn't work. Mine works.

GK: It's not my story.

AF: Movie-making is a collaborative art.

GK: You destroyed the story I wrote.

AF: The story you wrote wasn't a story. It was more like an essay. Anyway, the guy from the studio called me the next day. He said, "Beautiful. You're a magician. You brought it to life. But I think you can do even better."

GK: You destroyed the story. The whole sensibility -

AF: He said, "Al, what this scene needs is you. Al Franken the actor. Write yourself into it." So I did. - I think you folks are going to like this. - Let's roll the clip of the second rewrite -

(MOVIE SEQ. ORGAN CHORD)

TR: Lindsay?

SS: I was in the ladies room, Jeffrey.

TR: Oh. I thought you were in the back seat. Who's this?

AF: I'm Frank Allen, Jeffrey. I'm with the FBI.

SS: Frank and I used to date. I haven't seen him in years.

AF: When I heard that the mob was after you and Lindsay, I got myself assigned to the case.

TR: So you're still carrying a torch for her.

AF: Yes. I am. I love her.

SS: I don't want to hurt you, Jeffrey, but -

TR: That's okay. I'll just go out to the car and drive away. Goodbye, Lindsay. Good luck, you two. (FOOTSTEPS FADING AWAY)

AF: Nice guy. He certainly took that well. (OFF, CAR DOOR OPEN)

SS: He's a great guy, Frank. The last thing I wanted was to see him hurt -

AF: See him hurt!!!! HEY, WAIT!!! GET OUT OF THAT CAR!!! DON'T TURN THAT KEY!!!! (HUGE EXPLOSION, GLASS BREAKAGE, JUNK FALLING. A HUBCAP SPINS.)

AF: Are you all right?

SS: The explosion blew all my clothes off. But I don't think I'm injured.

AF: You don't appear to be injured. No cuts or scrapes that I can see. Turn around. - You look fine. - Well ... nothing more to be done here, I'd say.

SS: Let's go, Frank. Let's make up for lost time.

AF: Sure. Why not?

(MUSIC UP)

GK: I hated it. It was terrible.

AF: It was the first Lake Wobegon story that really reached out to people and touched people.

GK: I don't know why we asked you on the show today.

AF: You asked me because you needed me. And I came on the show because I'm from Minnesota and I wanted to do what I could to help.

GK: Mr. Al Franken -

(c) 1998 by Garrison Keillor

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

Available now»

American Public Media © |   Terms and Conditions   |   Privacy Policy