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Big Brother is watching Matthew McConaughey and Jenna Elfman

'Ed TV': Being watched, on purpose

Web posted on: Tuesday, June 23, 1998 3:27:26 PM

HOLLYWOOD (CNN) -- You've seen the news reports. Cameras are everywhere, from the ATM machine to your place of work. You are being watched.

And for even more proof that Big Brother is in your face, just look to Hollywood. "The Truman Show" capitalizes on the deep fear of at least a few humans who believe that, indeed, someone is watching over us, without our knowledge.

But what if you, an easy-going person, were the antithesis of Truman Burbank? What if you, unlike the Jim Carrey character, wanted to be watched? What if you agreed to let cameras follow you around, taping your every move, transmitting your life to television viewers?

That's the premise of "Ed TV," a Ron Howard film currently in production in which a video store employee allows a local cable channel to follow his every move for 24 hours. It stars Matthew McConaughey as Ed, the cable channel's subject, as well as Jenna Elfman, Ellen DeGeneres, and Woody Harrelson.

in "Ed TV," a video store employee allows a local cable channel to follow him around for a day

'The impact of celebrity'

The movie is aiming for a March 1999 release, but because of the "Truman" comparison, it's receiving a good deal of attention now.

Howard says the "Truman" and "Ed" films offer different perspectives on a common subject.

"We look at some similar areas in such a completely different way," Howard says. "We're a comedy, we're very contemporary. We're very much about the impact of celebrity and fame on an individual in today's world."

Cameras, everywhere

McConaughey says researching for the role was easy for him. Since skyrocketing to popularity with movies like "A Time to Kill" and "Contact," he has been living in the fishbowl of fame.

"I went back and looked in my diary for certain reactions, what was the first time you noticed that you're not anonymous," he says.

It was also interesting for McConaughey to deal with so many cameras on the set -- one filming the action, and several others that are part of the action.

"The first day we were shooting, you've got that 35 millimeter camera and then I've got two or three other video cameras and I can look into those cameras, but I can't look into the 35 millimeter, obviously," McConaughey recalls. "Well, the first day of shooting, I'm sitting there, talking to one camera and then I'm looking in all the cameras. Ron had to come up and say, 'Don't look at this one.'"

Fame ain't what it used to be

Lowell Ganz, one of the writers of "Ed TV," says the movie has a message about how we judge celebrities.

"One of the characters actually says in the movie, that in America, people used to become famous because they were special, and now it seems to be that they're considered special just because they're famous," Ganz says.

"Ed TV" takes the fear of Big Brother, and turns it into an enterprising venture.

Correspondent Ron Tank contributed to this report.

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