(San Francisco, CA) — In 1966, General Motors, the most powerful corporation in the world, sent private investigators to dig up dirt on an obscure 32-year-old public interest lawyer named Ralph Nader, who had written a book critical of one of their cars, the Corvair. The scandal that ensued after the smear campaign was revealed launched Ralph Nader into national prominence and established him as one of the most admired Americans and the leader of the modern Consumer Movement. A fascinating look at the life and times of Nader, and the evolution of his image from beloved populist hero to beleaguered political outsider, AN UNREASONABLE MAN will air nationally on the Emmy® Award-winning PBS series Independent Lens, hosted by Terrence Howard, on Tuesday, December 18, 2007, at 9pm (check local listings.)
Over the course of three decades, and without ever holding public office, Nader built a legislative record that is the rival of any contemporary president. Many things we take for granted—including seat belts, airbags, product labeling, no nukes, even the free ticket you get after being bumped from an overbooked flight—are largely due to the efforts of Ralph Nader and his citizen groups. Yet today, when most people hear Nader’s name, they think of the man who cost Al Gore the election. As a result, after sustaining his popularity and effectiveness over an unprecedented amount of time, he has become a pariah even among former friends and allies. How did this happen? Who has stuck by him and who has abandoned him? Has our democracy become a consumer fraud? After being so right for so many years, is it Nader or the system that has gone wrong? With the help of exciting graphics, rare archival footage and over 40 on-camera interviews conducted over two years with political insiders including Eric Alterman, Pat Buchanan, Todd Gitlin, William Grieder, James Ridgeway, and others, AN UNREASONABLE MAN traces the life and career of Ralph Nader, one of the most unique, important, and controversial political figures of the past half century.
To learn more about the film and the issues, visit the AN UNREASONABLE MAN companion website (pbs.org/independentlens/unreasonableman/) which features detailed information on the film, including an interview with the filmmaker and links and resources pertaining to the film’s subject matter. The site also features a Talkback section for viewers to share their ideas and opinions, preview clips of the film, and more.
AN UNREASONABLE MAN will be showcased in Independent Lens’s national Community Cinema program, the monthly screening series which brings together local public television stations and leading community organizations to hold monthly screenings in more than 45 markets across the country, connecting communities with organizations, information and the opportunity to get involved around the topics presented in the films. More than 400 events are planned for the coming season nationwide. For more, visit: pbs.org/independentlens/getinvolved/cinema /.
About the Filmmakers
Writer, Director, Executive Producer, Henriette Mantel is a writer, actress and stand-up comic. She has extensive experience in documentary and reality television as a writer/producer on such shows as the Emmy Award winning The Osbournes, and Michael Moore's The Awful Truth. She won her first Emmy for writing on Win Ben Stein's Money. Most recently she was a consultant for HBO's The Comeback and co-authored the book Speedbumps: Flooring It Through Hollywood with Teri Garr. As an actress, Henriette has appeared in many feature films and television comedies (including the role of Alice in the Brady Bunch movies.) In the late 1970s, before deciding to spend her life in smoky comedy clubs and cramped writers’ rooms, she spent two years in Washington, D.C., working with Ralph Nader at his Center for the Study of Responsive Law.
Writer, Director, Executive Producer, Steve Skrovan has worked as a stand-up comedian and TV comedy writer for 25 years. He has written for many shows, most notably, Seinfeld and Everybody Loves Raymond, where he was an executive producer. He graduated with a B.A. in English from Yale University in 1979. AN UNREASONABLE MAN is his first film.
About Independent Lens Independent Lens is an Emmy® Award-winning weekly series airing Tuesday nights at 10pm on PBS. The acclaimed anthology series features documentaries and a limited number of fiction films united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement and unflinching visions of their independent producers. Independent Lens features unforgettable stories about a unique individual, community or moment in history. Further information about the series is available at pbs.org/independentlens. The series producer is Lois Vossen.
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