Errol Morris’ First Person to Premiere on Independent Film Channel

Second Season of Master Documentarian’s Critically Acclaimed Series Moves to IFC Tuesdays at 8:00PM/ET Beginning August 7

The second season of Errol Morris’ First Person, the weekly television program from celebrated documentary filmmaker Errol Morris (Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr., The Thin Blue Line), premieres on The Independent Film Channel (IFC) on Tuesday, August 7 at 8:00PM/ET with eight new episodes to air through October. Errol Morris’ First Person originally premiered in March 2000 on IFC’s sister network, Bravo.

Why should you watch First Person? In fact, why should anyone watch First Person?
Does America really need yet another reality-based program? Haven’t we all had just about enough? What next? Another biography of Charles Nelson Reilly? Another sad litany of good Rottweilers gone bad? Another collection of seemingly normal Americans wading through a desolate, festering swamp in pursuit of some senseless goal? Can we claim to be doing something more than just adding a new desert to the wasteland of television? We’re not sure.

“Okay, I admit it, we are so desperate to have our own Richard Hatch that we decided to give Errol free rein to make this show,” says Jonathan Sehring, President of IFC Entertainment. “You will see no attempt at balanced programming. Objectivity has been thrown wholesale right out the window.”

Okay, then. Should you watch First Person because Time Magazine called it one of the ten best shows of the year 2000? What do they know? After all, that list also included Tom Green’s testicular cancer special (by the way, we also liked that show).

Should you watch First Person because Errol Morris has been called the godfather of reality television? Does he know something we don’t know? “I, myself, do not claim to have done anything of the sort,” says Morris, “even though all these shows came out after The Thin Blue Line . . . Unsolved Mysteries, America’s Most Wanted, and God knows what else. But please don’t watch it because you expect me to do more of the same. Others have done it much better than I ever did in the past.”

And who has ever heard of direct eye contact on television — someone staring directly at you, talking directly to you, not through some Connie Chung-like intermediary?

First Person makes use of Morris’ patented interviewing machine, the Megatron. The Megatron, an elaboration of Morris’ previous device the Interrotron, uses twenty cameras on stalks in an Argus-like scrutiny of the world. This setup offers shots at multiple angles and enables the interviewer and the subject to make eye contact using a cross-connected system of two-way mirrors. And yes, we would like you to pinch yourself, we would like you to wonder, we would like you to ask yourself: “What is going on here? What is this? Is this science fact or fiction?”

You be the judge.

The First Person 2001 line up (subject to change):

Josh Harris Tuesday, August 7 at 8:00PM/ET
The 3rd millennium has been ushered into existence. No apocalypse. No Four Horsemen. No end of the world. No nothing. Nevertheless, Josh Harris, Internet entrepreneur and aspiring artist has decided that the 2nd coming is at hand. And “the new Messiah” is none other than Gilligan, that’s right, the Gilligan, from Gilligan’s Island. No, not Bob Denver, the actor playing Gilligan. He is but an avatar or the messianic life force, which is Gilligan himself. For Harris, life is a sad tug-of-war between those who control reality and those controlled by it. The weapon is media. And Harris, in an all-out onslaught on the world, has decided to make his own torpid existence into a new religion by asking a question that has never been asked before and has yet to be answered: is Gilligan really God — or in Josh’s lingo, Messiah 2.0?

Chris Langan Tuesday, August 14 at 8:00PM/ET
There’s Mensa. There’s the Triple Nines. There’s the One-in-a-Thousand Society. But the members of these societies are dummies compared to those rare individuals with IQs so high that new tests must be devised in order to measure them. Chris Langan, body-builder and nightclub bouncer, has the highest recorded IQ in history. By his own account, somewhere in the 190-210 range. Filled with rage and the conviction that he alone has discovered the Truth about the universe, that he alone has seen the mind of God, Langan sets out his vision of a world ruled in part by the ultra-high IQ elite but principally by himself.

Murray Richman Tuesday, August 21 at 8:00PM/ET
Human beings are a violent species. Murder. Torture. Mutilation. Murray Richman specializes in the dark and grisly. Guilty of a heinous crime? “Don’t Worry” Murray, legal counsel to gangsters and gangstas, arsonists and racketeers, will fix you up. And chances are you’ll beat the rap. Murray got a jury to believe that a murder victim had accidentally fallen seven times onto a knife. Oddly cynical for an idealist, oddly idealistic for a cynic, Murray offers up his vision of Truth, Justice, and the American Way. Is he Liberty’s last champion or just another wiseguy?

Rick Rosner Tuesday, August 28 at 8:00PM/ET
What do you do when things don’t quite go your way? Give up? Move on? Try something new? Not if you’re Rick Rosner. Obsessed with “getting it right,” Rick went back to high school. Not once, not twice, not three times. Four separate times. In fact, he kept going back until he was 34 years old using a combination of fraudulent IDs, wigs, and prosthetics. You might consider him an expert, not on make-overs, but on do-overs. Now a bouncer, a nude model, and a cosmologist, Rick has taken that same commitment to repetition to the television program, Who Wants To Be a Millionaire. You see, Rick was on the show, and he lost to a bad question. With his record-breaking IQ, he didn’t take it too well. After two years of exhaustive statistical analysis, looking at every question in every version of the game, he has ruined his very own life. Now on the edge of sanity, he is advancing a theory of cosmology in which the universe is seen as trillions of years old. “Why so old?” you might ask. To give it the opportunity to endlessly copy itself.

Denny Fitch Tuesday, September 4 at 8:00PM/ET
The plane was out of control. The flight control systems were inoperable, severed by shards of the Number Two engine. There were 296 S.O.B.’s, souls on board. A flying bomb filled with tens of thousands of pounds of explosive aircraft fuel. No one knew what to do. Not the pilot, not airline maintenance, not the manufacturer, not the aircraft designers, absolutely no one. Check pilot Denny Fitch, a passenger in first class, went forward to the cockpit, where he managed to control the plane using only the thrusters. The crash landing was a miracle. In subsequent simulations, no pilot could pull it off. Why was Denny Fitch on that plane? How did he manage to land it at all? 186 people lived, but 111 people died. Of course, everyone would have been dead if not for Fitch. Will the memory of the 111 ever leave Fitch in peace? Even though he did the impossible, will he always be haunted by the belief that he might have done the impossible better? The dream of a perfect landing…

Charley Hill Tuesday, September 11 at 8:00PM/ET
When Munch’s The Scream was stolen, Oslo police called Charley Hill. When Vermeer’s Lady Writing a Letter With Her Maid was stolen, Irish police called Charley Hill. Vietnam vet, former beat cop, former head of Scotland Yard’s Art and Antiquities Department, Charley Hill was at the center of the biggest undercover art theft recovery operations in history. His greatest asset? He remains unflappable in the midst of incalculable danger. Nothing phases him except for the fear that someday, through some unhappy accident, he will be killed by friendly fire.

Michael Stone Tuesday, September 18 at 8:00PM/ET
Michael Stone thinks he has figured out the human psyche. Classify the negative traits. Draw up lists, charts, Venn diagrams. Fill books with them. Take those books, compare them with other books, use them as “diagnostic tools.” Metaphors abound: the Radial Tire Model, the Wiggins Circumplex Model, anxiety clusters, the lost continent of incest. What makes a serial killer? Why are certain people prone to fits of rage? Take a candidate, run him through the proscribed formulas, and you end up with a precise and definitive answer. Psychopath, sociopath, pathological narcissist. Stone has built an endlessly self-reflexive world out of nomenclature. In the quest to classify others, has he merely gotten lost in himself?

Tanya Corrin Tuesday, October 2 at 8:00PM/ET
Who is Tanya Corrin? Faust? Mephistopheles? Or just some sweet young thing trapped in the maw of a digital monster? She loved Josh Harris. Or at least she thought she did. And wasn’t the New York art scene and that 45 million dollars in Jupiter Metrix stock irresistible? What price too high a price to pay for fame, fortune, and love? Living in a nightmare of surveillance cameras with a boyfriend slowly descending into madness…was that too high a price to pay? Or was it when the watchers, the unseen internet kibbutzers clicking away in a chorus of moral opprobrium, moved in for the kill? What did she really need? A Volvo station wagon and two kids in the suburbs? Or did she just need to be left alone?

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Bill Brennan

Elektra Gray