I am looking forward to seeing a documentary Rob Reiner has made about Albert Brooks, who has been one of his closest friends for sixty years. It will begin airing on HBO (and streaming on Max) on November 11th.
I’ve been a fan of Albert’s since the first time I saw him in the 1970s on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show,” doing something completely fresh and original — although I can’t tell you exactly what it was because I’ve seen so many clips of him in that guest seat. But whatever it was, I found it hysterical. Each appearance he made was unlike what I’d seen any other comedian do.
The same applied when he started doing short films for the first season of “NBC’s Saturday Night” (as “SNL” was then known). But my fandom really kicked into high gear when Albert started writing and directing big screen movies, beginning with “Real Life,” then “Modern Romance” (which remains my favorite, and from which I can still quote the entirety of pretty much any scene), followed by “Lost In America” and “Defending Your Life.”
He made three more — “Mother,” “The Muse,” and “Looking For Comedy In The Muslim World” — but they weren’t up to the high standard of their predecessors. He had already acted in other people’s movie, like Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver” and Howard Zieff’s “Private Benjamin” (in which he died on top of Goldie Hawn while making love to her on their wedding night).
Since then, he’s continued to work in other people’s movies, like James L. Brooks’ brilliant “Broadcast News” (for which he received an Oscar nomination), Steven Soderbergh’s “Out Of Sight,” John Landis’ opening sequence in “The Twilight Zone” movie, and Pixar’s mega-hit, “Finding Nemo” and its sequel, “Finding Dory.”
From this trailer, it looks like Reiner got a bunch of Albert’s friends and admirers to praise him for a couple of hours. But I hope it will also offer some insight into why and how he made some of those projects, how he influenced others who followed, and how he had the guts to do those Carson guest spots with routines he had never performed for anyone anywhere.
In other words, I hope to hear some stories from and about him that I don’t already know.