Despite the lack of Academy recognition, it’s an indisputable fact that Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the greatest working filmmakers of our time who has put out some of the best films of the past two decades. I mean,just think about the fact that Boogie Nights was released when Anderson was only 27—the man is a genius. No one gets better performances out of their actors—just watch this scene of Julianne Moore from Magnolia on repeat for a master class in character. But anyhow, this morning PTA decided to grace us with a video under his YouTube channel Al Rose Productions. Unrelated to The Master, the video turned out to be a long-lost pilot episode for something called ”The Jon Brion Show.” No further information necessary, I’m sold.
But okay, apparently back in in 1999/2000 Jon Brion shot a television pilot with VH1—”a variety show that would be feature music and comedy of the various performers around LA club Largo at the time (Aimee Mann, Fiona Apple, etc),”—but it was turned down. So, being the master that he is, Anderson took matters into his own hands and went on to shoot his own version “The Jon Brion Show” with three test episodes. The gift that Anderson bestowed upon us this morning features performances form Elliot Smith, Brad Mehldau, and Brion himself. Cigarettes & Red Vines spoke to Anderson a while back about the pilot:
OK. What about The Jon Brion Variety Show? I heard that he originally shot a pilot for VH1 & they didn’t like it. So you went back & directed a few episodes with Jon, Aimee, Fiona, etc.? Yeah. Jon tried to do a thing with VH1, but I never even saw what they did. He didn’t like it. I said there’s a way we can do something & we should experiment. So, we just basically shot tests for about three episodes. I paid for it myself & we just did it.
At Largo? No. At this recording studio called Ocean Way. I rented it, got a few cameras & threw up a couple of lights. No big deal. I had Fiona sing. I had Jon sing. Elliott Smith came by. Bette Midler happened to be recording at the studio next door & was like “I want to sing!” It was insane! Next thing I know, Bette Midler is doing ‘50′s cover tunes. We’re like, “Wow”! So this was all just a test to see the possibility for a music venue or a way to capture what Jon does. I’m still convinced there’s a way to do it. I don’t exactly know how right now. The test showed me all these good things & some bad things.
So, you haven’t presented this to a cable channel or music video channel to air? No. We’ll sort of revisit it & it will be this ever burning thing. It’s been my own personal pet thing. Once we figure how we want to do it, then we’ll figure out where we want to do it & what sort of venue is best.