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Local MPR stations host sneak preview of 'Prairie Home Companion' movie

"A Prairie Home Companion," the movie, will open to the general public on Friday at the Amigo 9.

But Kristi Booth, senior district manager of the local Minnesota Public Radio stations KCRB and KNBJ, has secured a special advance screening today for MPR members and fans of Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" radio show.

"We had 200 seats for the advance screening, and they're all gone," Booth said.

The other cities with theaters showing the movie today are in the Twin Cities, Fargo, N.D., Rochester, Duluth and St. Cloud. Booth said she didn't know if Picturehouse, the film distributor, would be willing to give the advance screening in small market like Bemidji, but when she called the company agreed.

"We're going to make this a fun evening," she said. "The Woodtick Theater Band is going to be playing as people take their seats to get us in the mood."

There will be some give-aways and the KCRB and KNBJ banners and displays. The movie will continue showing beginning Friday at the Amigo and nationwide.

Written by Keillor and directed by Robert Altman, the movie follows the spirit and humor of the radio variety show Keillor has hosted for more than 30 years. The film was shot in the Fitzgerald Theater, the radio show's home, and Mickey's Diner in St. Paul.

The cast features famous actors, such as Meryl Streep, Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones, Lindsay Lohan and Kevin Kline. Keillor plays himself, a radio show host.

The story is about a fictitious radio show like "A Prairie Home Companion," and features the combination of music, skits and bogus commercials, such as for Beboprebop Rhubarb Pie. The film uses the musicians and crew of the real radio show.

Since its debut on July 6, 1974, "A Prairie Home Companion" has gained a strong following, listeners who tune in every week to hear the music, stories and Keillor's "News from Lake Wobegon."