Tanner On Tanner Robert Altman

The layers of reality, fiction and grey areas between real life and the so-called news continue to be subjects that fascinate director Robert Altman and political satirist Garry Trudeau, who this year created a follow-up series, Tanner On Tanner, to their 1988 election mockumentary Tanner '88. The original series followed the fake presidential campaign of Jack Tanner (Michael Murphy), as shot doc-style amongst real people, creating a type of hidden camera fake reality TV show well ahead of its time. In that film was a pre-Sex and the City Cynthia Nixon playing Tanner's naïve but good-intentioned high school age daughter Alex. For Tanner On Tanner, Alex has become a documentary filmmaker and is trying to complete her chronicle of dad's not very historic run at the presidency. What she really needs to do, however, is come up from under her daddy issue umbrella and see the world. What co-creators Altman and Trudeau see, however, is a much different political machine than 16 years previous; even their mock candidate's moment in the sun has passed. For those interested in the machinations of on-the-fly filmmaking combined with American politics, Tanner On Tanner is fascinating: while Alex is fighting herself and missing filming opportunities, she repeatedly runs into another Alex, Alexander Kerry (son of John), who is making her own doc about her own candidate dad (but for real). A chunk of the show's climax is filmed at the 2003 Democratic convention, which certainly adds another layer of verité. But because these two creators are operating so much on political currency, if you're interested in Tanner On Tanner, see it now. As the recently reissued Tanner '88 proved, the impact of key cameos is lost if the person's political identity has been washed out to sea by the waves of history, whether they're fictional or not. Plus: behind the scenes footage, cast and creator interviews. (Sundance/Showtime/VSC)