by Eugene Hernandez
Documentary filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky return to Network
television tonight with the debut of a new documentary special, "Where It's
At: The Rolling Stone State of the Union." The ABC-TV show, featuring
appearances by rock-stars and American youth, celebrates the 30th
Anniversary of Rolling Stone Magazine.
Discussing the program with indieWIRE, Berlinger and Sinofsky reflected
positively on the experience, saying that it was much better than their
previous work with the Network's news division show, "Turning Point." In
this case, Rolling Stone made a deal with ABC, and brought the filmmakers
in after an open call for program ideas from ten documentarians. According
to Berlinger, their idea to interview both celebrities and average citizens
on an equal level was a primary reason that they were chosen to produce
the special. "I think we were the only ones," Sinofsky explained, "when we
were asked to submit ideas, to say lets include real people." Additionally,
the filmmakers proposed a program that would not incorporate retrospective
clips, but instead maintain a present day focus.
The program features appearances and performances by Jewel, Beck, Bruce
Springsteen, Fiona Apple, Sean "Puffy" Combs, and Salt-n-Pepa, with
additional celebrity appearances by the Beastie Boys, Marilyn Manson, Walter
Cronkite, Johnny Depp, Michael Douglas, Keith Richards and Tom Wolfe. Alongside
the famous, are an array of young Americans, including U.S. Navy midshipmen,
members of the unique "Guts" church in Oklahoma, University of Texas students,
residents of the Zendik Farm commune, and snowbard graphic designers. "We
wanted a range of people," Berlinger said, "This is not the definitive view of
America -- its a sampling." All of the subjects discussed a variety of issues
facing contemporary society, for the show, segments were categorized under
a vareity of headings, including: "Identity", "Spirituality", "Sex & Love",
"Values", "Fame",and "Hope." Sinfosky added that they chose to film
"a whole concerto" rather than "one note."
Of all the interviews conducted for the two-hour program, Sinofsky and
Berlinger singled out musician Marilyn Manson as one of the most interesting.
"Marilyn to me was the biggest treat," Berlinger confessed, "Bruce and I were
expecting the worst," he added that Manson was "the most hospitable artist of
the bunch." Agreeing with Berlinger, Sinofsky concurred, adding, "Manson was
the coolest...(he) turned out to be interesting and thought provoking." The finished program includes telling perspectives from the controversial artist, as well as a
peek at his home (including a peak at his lunch box collection). For all of the interviews, in keeping with their filmmaking style, Berlinger and Sinofsky
spent time with the subjects, talking and trying to get to know them better so
that the individuals felt more comfortable in front of the camera.
As for upcoming projects, Sinofsky and Berlinger confirmed that they are in
production on a 90 minute follow-up to their acclaimed documentary
"Paradise Lost." The film, entitled "Paradise Lost Revisited", is again being
produced for HBO. The filmmakers are also producing television commercials and developing individual projects.
["Where It's At: The Rolling Stone State of the Union" airs tonight on ABC-TV at