At close range

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German title At close range
Original title Up Close & Personal
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1996
length 119 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Jon Avnet
script Joan Didion ,
John Gregory Dunne
production Jon Avnet,
Jordan Kerner ,
David Nicksay
music Thomas Newman
camera Karl Walter Lindenlaub
cut Debra Neil-Fisher

Up Close ( Up Close & Personal ) is a feature film by the US director Jon Avnet from the year 1996 . The plot is loosely based on the life of the American journalist Jessica Savitch (1947-1983) and follows the rise of a young woman from the American provinces (played by Michelle Pfeiffer ), who with the help of her news chief ( Robert Redford ) becomes popular and a successful television journalist. The drama film was produced by Touchstone Pictures , Cinergi Pictures Entertainment and Avnet / Kerner Productions .


The young and naive Sallyann "Sally" Atwater grew up in a small mining town in Nevada . She makes a living at a casino in Reno and dreams of a career in television. She takes evening classes at the city college and records a fake demo tape. Sally applies to various television stations and is hired as an assistant by a local television station in Miami . The news chief is Warren Justice, a former White House correspondent . After various temporary jobs, she convinces him to entrust her with the role of the weather fairy. Although her first appearance is unsuccessful and she is introduced as "Tally Atwater", Justice sees that "certain something" in her. From then on she is employed and promoted by him as a reporter under this name. Both find private happiness for a short time.

After making it into the news as a co-host, Tally disparaged those responsible for an argument with host Rob Sullivan during the show. She then met the influential agent Bucky Taranova, who brought her to work as a reporter for a major Philadelphia television station . It is there that Tally begins to suffer from attacks by established television presenter Marcia McGrath. At the same time, as the new reporter, she is not accepted by the audience and, on the advice of the consultants, changes her image. Warren Justice follows her to Philadelphia at Taranova's request and supports Tally. Both resume their relationship. Then Tally finds her way back to her old self-confidence. The ratings go up and she takes over from Marcia as the news presenter.

Justice, who refuses commercial coverage, is not getting a job on the east coast. He was once forced to give up his career in Washington, DC after a scandal involving a false source he believed - his ex-wife, Joanna Kennelly . Tally lets her relationships play out in order to be able to work with him from now on. The couple are getting married. Tally and Warren then turn to a background report on prison conditions in American prisons. News chief John Merino lets Justice know that Tally got him the job. Warren then breaks off the collaboration and plans to follow a backstory about the handover of the Panama Canal , which the television networks are not interested in. Tally pursues her story alone and is trapped with her cameraman in a prison revolt in Holmesburg . With the help of Warren, she then reports live across the country from the events in the prison. She survived the storming of the detention center by special police units.

Tally is promoted after her award-winning coverage from prison. She is to take over the office of the television network in Washington, DC alone and work as a presenter and news anchor. Tally would prefer to continue working with Warren. However, this gives her to understand that she has meanwhile developed into an excellent journalist and is no longer dependent on his help. Warren then sets out to do research in Panama to research the arming of groups that refuse to surrender the Panama Canal. During the farewell party in her old newsroom, Tally learns that her husband was ambushed in Panama in a robbery. While he posthumously caused unease in Washington with his story, she took the intended position and remembered her deceased husband in her speech at the television network's end-of-year party.

History of origin

The original plan was to tell the life story of the American news anchor Jessica Savitch. At the end of the 1970s, Savitch was one of the first "anchor women" on the news of a major US television network ( NBC ). After a personal stroke of fate and an alleged drug addiction, she was killed in a traffic accident at the age of 36. The implementation of the film dragged on over years - screenwriter John Gregory Dunne and his wife Joan Didion were involved in the project from spring 1988 and delivered a total of 27 script drafts. Numerous directors and actresses were associated with the material during this time, including John Frankenheimer , Penny Marshall and Tony Richardson, as well as Meg Ryan , Kathleen Turner and Robin Wright . “We didn't stop changing our minds. First we wanted to go in one direction, then in another, ”says Ed Hookstratten. Tom Brokaw's agent and Jessica Savitch were also involved in the film as executive producer. The discrepancies continued during the shooting. Director Jon Avnet wanted to add more comedy to the story. The main characters Robert Redford and Michelle Pfeiffer , however, were for a more serious and harder story.

The film was shot for a week in Florida , two weeks in Philadelphia and several weeks in Los Angeles . The Miami broadcaster WTVJ was chosen as the filming location for the fictional WMIA television station, which was built on the walls of an old cinema. Another location was Reno, Nevada. Director Jon Avnet has always been fascinated by the media. At the same time, he was interested in this “mentor-protégé relationship, in which the protogé ultimately awakens the mentor to who and what he was,” says Avnet. “One of the elements that I particularly liked about the story was the fact that it wasn't a story that was anti-media. What we wanted was to give a certain insight into this world and to show how this world determines the people who live in it personally. ”The construction of special converters was necessary to transfer the video material (30 frames per second) to the of a movie (24 images). At the same time, Avnet cast real television journalists from Miami and Philadelphia.

Production costs were estimated at 60 million US dollars .


United States

Up close premiered on March 1, 1996 in the United States, where it was distributed by Buena Vista . The film failed to bring in its estimated production costs with revenues of approximately $ 51 million.

Janet Maslin ( The New York Times ) noted that the story seems "toothless" when compared to Jessica Savitch's biography. The film is "tempting" because of its cast and reminds of the times when film star romances lit up the big screen. James Berardinelli described the film on ReelViews as a "lively" and "nicely photographed" soap opera . It is based on the life story of the real news anchor Jessica Savitch, which is "far more interesting" than the film.

For Roger Ebert ( Chicago Sun-Times ) the film was nothing more than "those teenage career novels in which a brave girl steps up, led by a helpful mentor." The story is “artificial and greasy”, but functions as a love story. Avnet's directorial work remains "superficial" in his portrayal of the television business. The supporting cast ( Stockard Channing , Kate Nelligan , Joe Mantegna and Glenn Plummer) are "excellent".

Up close, Rita Kempley ( The Washington Post ) saw “definitely no more ' broadcast news '”, but a “fairy tale” that tries to portray itself as criticism of television news. The film is just as "shiny and empty as a Christmas special". Savitch's "unhappy career" would probably have been a better movie, and Michelle Pfeiffer only shares her "guts and hair color" with her.

In 1997, screenwriter John Gregory Dunne published Monster: Living Off the Big Screen, a book about his experiences in the laborious making of the film, in which he was also very cynical about the practices of Hollywood .


"Up close" in the German cinema charts (1996)
date Spectators
(previous week)
space First place
(audience - previous week)
23 Sep 152.940 3 Twister
Sep 30 105.012 3 Independence Day
(1.918 million)
Oct 7 89,490 3 Independence Day
(1.363 million)
Oct 14 86,130 6th Independence Day
(1.243 million)
Oct 21 49,538 8th Independence Day
Oct 28 45,404 9 The Mad Professor
Nov 4 43,690 6th The Mad Professor
Nov 11 32,169 12 The Mad Professor

The film was launched in Germany on September 12, 1996, when Up Close, with over 152,000 viewers in the first week, placed third on the cinema charts behind Twister and Eraser . With over 850,000 visitors, the film stayed in the top 12 of the German cinema charts until the beginning of November 1996.

The German trade press almost unanimously criticized the film as superficial and conventional and drew parallels in plot terms to the A Star Is Born films. The writers Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne wrote the script for the version with Barbra Streisand (1976).

Franz Everschor ( film-dienst ) criticized the film for its conventional staging as "a shamelessly sentimental and unrealistic melodrama, a fully synthetic love story in the television milieu that doesn't even have to be compared to James L. Brooks '' ' Nachrichtenfieber - Broadcast News ' in order to watch see how consistently all real conflicts are avoided here. ”However, he praised the“ unbelievably harmonious interplay ”between the two main actors Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert Redford and saw it as a plus point that the love story only developed slowly. The short review in the Spiegel was similar, which spoke of a "heart-pain film, far from the riot genre with which big money is made in LA" .

Carla Rhode ( Der Tagesspiegel ) felt that romance was decidedly predominant and that the media world remained a “superficial backdrop”. She also praised the play of the two main actors, which saved the "soulful film" from falling into kitsch. Avnet does not go so far as to disavow the profession, the basic tone is "mild and forgiving". The sweeter the love affair between the two main actors, the more “pathetic and sticky” the script becomes, noted the Stuttgarter Zeitung . Avnet stage "more lying than the sensational action news and also lame and clumsy". Frank Schnelle ( Frankfurter Rundschau ) also saw “a smooth piece of Hollywood clothing, nothing more” . The main actors would offer "solid", but seemed "a little lost in a plot that never knows exactly where it actually wants to go." The topics would only be scratched, never looking behind the scenes, like Network or Broadcast news would. At Avnet, the big feelings were reduced to "kitschy pictures from the travel brochure". At the end of the film, the film falls over completely, as the hard and dramatic prison scenes would appear “arbitrary” and they lack “any dramaturgical necessity”. The film would have "(almost) nothing more to do" with the biography of Jessica Savitch.


In 1997, Diane Warren won the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers' Film and Television Music Award and the Grammy Award for the song Because You Loved Me , which was interpreted by Celine Dion . She was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe Award in 1997.

Stockard Channing received the 1997 Blockbuster Entertainment Award for her portrayal of Marcia ("Best Supporting Actress - Romance").


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b cf. Company credits in the Internet Movie Database (accessed May 15, 2010).
  2. cf. Honestly, Matthew C .: Jessica Savitch . In: Encyclopedia of television news . Phoenix, Ariz: Oryx Press, 1999. - ISBN 1-573-56108-8 . Pp. 223-224.
  3. cf. Lawrence, Sue: Jessica Savitch (1947-1983) . In: Signorielli, Nancy: Women in communication: a biographical sourcebook . Westport, Conn. [u. a.]: Greenwood Press, 1996. - ISBN 0-313-29164-0 . Pp. 369-378.
  4. cf. Preface. In: Dunne, John Gregory: Monster: living off the big screen . New York: Random House, 1997.- ISBN 0-679-45579-5 .
  5. ^ A b Maslin, Janet: Books of the Times: Playing the Only Game in Tinseltown . In: The New York Times, March 5, 1997, pp. C19.
  6. a b c cf. Everschor, Franz: Up close . In: film-dienst 18/1996 (accessed via Munzinger Online ).
  7. a b c cf. Production notes on the German purchase DVD. VCL, 1998.
  8. Filming locations for Up Close & Personal
  9. a b cf. Box office / business in the Internet Movie Database (accessed May 15, 2010).
  10. cf. Janet Maslin : At the Top of TV News, A Star Is Made, Not Born . In: The New York Times, March 1, 1996, Section C, p. 1.
  11. ^ Review by James Berardinelli
  12. ^ Review by Roger Ebert
  13. cf. Kempley, Rita: Up a Blond Alley . In: The Washington Post, March 1, 1996, p. D06.
  14. cf. Cinema hit list . In: Focus , September 30, 1996, No. 40, p. 157.
  15. cf. Cinema hit list . In: Focus , October 7, 1996, No. 41, p. 167.
  16. cf. Cinema hit list . In: Focus , October 14, 1996, No. 42, p. 176.
  17. cf. Cinema hit list . In: Focus , October 21, 1996, No. 43, p. 160.
  18. cf. Cinema hit list . In: Focus , October 28, 1996, No. 44, p. 155.
  19. cf. Cinema hit list . In: Focus , November 4, 1996, No. 45, p. 176.
  20. cf. Cinema hit list . In: Focus , November 11, 1996, No. 46, p. 160.
  21. cf. AP: "Current popular success: Twister" . September 17, 1996, 8:30 am Eastern Standard Time, Frankfurt / M.
  22. cf. Cinema hit list. In: Focus, November 11, 1996, No. 46, p. 160.
  23. cf. Up close . In: Der Spiegel, September 9, 1996, No. 37, p. 224.
  24. cf. Rhode, Carla: Sally and Tally . In: Der Tagesspiegel, September 12, 1996, No. 15743 (accessed via Wiso praxis ).
  25. cf. Robert Redford and Michelle Pfeiffer: "Up Close" - On the news circus . In: Stuttgarter Zeitung, September 12, 1996, p. 32.
  26. cf. Schnell, Frank: A "My Fair Lady" of the TV business . In: Frankfurter Rundschau, September 13, 1996, p. 7.