Diane Keaton Wins the Boys Over

Published November 10, 2010

FILM STILL COURTESY OF PARAMOUNT PICTURES

 

 

Tonight, Diane Keaton opens a new comedy, Morning Glory, co-starring Harrison Ford and Rachel McAdams. As anchors of a morning TV show, Keaton plays the witty sparring partner to Ford’s cantankerous newsman. We asked Keaton, who has forged a brilliant career playing opposite such curmudgeons as Ford, Jack Nicholson and Woody Allen, how she brings out the best in misanthropes. She let out a whooping laugh, then leaned in with a sly, conspiratorial smile and said, “because I love them so much.  They’re very attractive, don’t you think?”

According to producer Bryan Burk, after uber-producer J.J. Abrams saw The Devil Wears Prada, he reached out to its screenwriter, Aline Brosh McKenna.  Over lunch, Abrams told McKenna that she should contact him with her next idea.  She did—McKenna wanted to write a film about a morning show. With Abrams on board, Roger Michell (Notting Hill) signed on to direct.

McKenna skewers the absurd amalgams of morning TV with the same humor she wielded on fashionistas in The Devil Wears Prada.  She and Michell have said that Morning Glory is not a satire, but rather a realistic depiction of morning shows and the workaholics who awaken at 3:00 a.m. to produce them. Rather than building a TV set on a soundstage, the film’s interiors were shot in a former news studio in Harlem. The exteriors were largely filmed around Bryant Park, with the Grace Building standing in as the fictional IBS network headquarters.

As the new executive producer of the nation’s lowest-rated morning show, McAdams brings in Ford, a veteran news anchor who considers himself a cross between Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, but whose contract forces him to take whatever job the network thrusts upon him.  His overt disdain for the “fluff” of morning shows, with their entertainment-as-news and cooking/fashion/pets segments, is exacerbated by former beauty queen Keaton’s good-sport, game-for-anything enthusiasm.

Keaton sucks face with a horny toad (literally), raps with 50 Cent (even more literally) and hurls herself into a sumo wrestling match after uttering the line (which Keaton ad-libbed) “put me in, coach” to McAdams, who is desperate to improve ratings as cancellation looms.  Meanwhile, Ford glowers and grouses with his  series news buddies, played in cameo by Chris Matthews, Bob Schieffer and Morley Safer, as they knock back rounds at Elaine’s.

About rapping with 50 Cent, Keaton said, “Don’t you think I have a future?  Come on, my moves were every bit as good as his! It was so much fun, music is fun.  I wanted to be a singer, in case you want the story of my life.  That was my favorite thing to do.  And suck the frog.”

McAdams also portrayed Keaton’s acerbic daughter in The Family Stone.  How did it feel to go from playing McAdams’ mother to her employee?  “Let me tell you, it was great because it’s a leveling experience.  It teaches humility!” she said, gesturing in her black fingerless gloves.