Wednesday, November 22, 2006

One good meal leads to another: Dinner for Five

I was thinking about American Thanksgiving this morning, and somehow my mind was drawn to another eclectic seating of disparate guests for a fancy dinner.

It seems I suddenly remembered Jon Favreau's Dinner for Five program, and it seemed strangly appropriate all of a sudden. In this age of prepackaged celebrity junket talk show interviews and publicists trying to control everything that concerns their clients, it is refreshing to see Jon Favreau and four celebrities sitting down to a meal at a nice restaurant(with wine of course) and just conversing about the industry, letting anecdotes bubble up that you would never hear on a regular talk show because they don't have a punchline or the required comedic payoff for that kind of format, but which work perfectly around a table with their peers.

And because the gathered celebrities are generally different types of performers, you sometimes get to see some odd parallels that you wouldn't otherwise be witness to. I can't imagine any other talk show that would put Larry Miller, Peter Bogdanovich, Penelope Ann Miller and Liev Schreiber around the same table and just let them talk it out. I think the closest thing that came to that was Politically Incorrect, but because of the live audience and the fact that issues were artificially introduced by the host, there was still that air of insincerity with Maher's show. There was always a sense of reality when you watched Dinner for Five, like you were getting to observe some rare moments from celebrities with their guard down.

I remember one episode in particular, where Jon Favreau brought together Burt Reynolds, Charles Durning, Dom Deluise and Charles Nelson Reilly and because the four of them know each other so well, it was like watching a well-oiled conversational machine work, and since they are all such veterans of the industry, they all had a lot of insights about Hollywood.

And how could I not love a show that was co-executive produced by little Ralphie from A Christmas Story AKA Peter Billingsley. I am glad to see he is still kicking around behind the camera.

I think the success of this show allowed for the equally intriguing Iconoclasts to be produced, as the specialty cable networks saw that taking the celebrity interview and turning it on its ear could lead to some great television.

I hope that the remaining 3 seasons of Dinner for Five are released on DVD soon, and that Jon Favreau has many more meals on camera in the future.


Mr. Fabulous said...

I loved that show. I wish I had seen the episode you referenced.

MC said...

Perhaps it will be released on DVD... eventually... or IFC will start showing the program again.