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Left of the Dial

16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Left of the Dial (DVD)

Amazon.com

Produced for HBO, Left of the Dial tracks the growing pains behind the nation's first liberal radio network. Longtime Michael Moore associates Patrick Farrelly and Kate O'Callaghan (The Awful Truth) take a "fair and balanced" fly-on-the-wall look at the major players behind and in front of the mic at Air America, established to "challenge the right wing dominance of talk radio." (Moore, surprisingly, turns out to be one of the venture’s harshest critics.) The filmmakers began shooting 12 days prior to the March 2004 launch and kept going for the next few months. They start by aiming their cameras at Evan Cohen, the chairman, and David Goodfriend, the general counsel. Like the duo depicted in Startup.com, theirs isn’t a partnership built to last. Other subjects include hosts Randi Rhodes, Marc Maron, Chuck D, Janeane Garofalo, and Al Franken. Most hadn't worked in radio before and things quickly begin to unravel: Rhodes feels left out of the press coverage, while Maron feels the staff is incompetent. Then Ralph Nader hangs up on Rhodes and there's a scandal regarding airtime payments. What do their competitors think? Sean Hannity (FOX News) opines, "These people are not bright...they really are dull." Fortunately, enough listeners felt otherwise that Air America eventually found their footing and grew out of that awkward stage. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Special Features

  • Commentary by Randi Rhodes and Marc Maron with filmmakers Patrick Farrelly and Kate O’Callaghan
  • Deleted scenes

Product Details

  • Actors: Al Franken, Janeane Garofalo, Randi Rhodes, Marc Maron
  • Directors: Patrick Farrelly, Kate O'Callaghan
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Unknown), Spanish (Unknown)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: HBO Video
  • DVD Release Date: September 2, 2008
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BBOU9K
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #180,928 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Left of the Dial" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Reelbuff on February 22, 2006
Format: DVD
This HBO documentary about the early days of Air America Radio is a pretty amazing piece of work. It's a real edge of your seat film with plenty of twists and turns to keep your attention. It's a total roller coaster ride with internal meltdowns, allegations of fraud, very funny political on-air stuff and loads of drama. Even if you're not a fan of Al Franken, Randi Rhodes and Janeane Garofalo (which I am) you'll find this behind the scenes documentary really compelling. The stuff with Randi Rhodes in particular is awesome -- she's a total revelation in this film. For anyone interested in re-visiting the political passions of 2004 this film is a must.

Highly recommended.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Zapp B. on February 26, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I've been a listener of Air America (esp. The Majority Report) from Day 1 but missed the broadcast of "Left of the Dial" on HBO. Thank goodness they released the DVD!

As mentioned by reviewers, Randi Rhodes is THE surprise of the film. I find her radio show to be fun and energizing...but only in small doses. She can be rather shrill & grating to my ears but I was very glad to see her in a more intimate light.

The DVD has two audio commentary tracks, #1 with Randi and Marc Maron, #2 with filmmakers Farrelly and O'Callaghan (BOTH TRACKS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!) but sadly, no subtitles/close captioning of any kind. There are several excellent special features: Deleted Scenes, Interviews with Randi, Chuck D, and Janeane Garofalo but the 20-minute Q&A segment with the filmmakers at the Jacob Burns Film Center is a special treat.

The film and commentaries revealed some of the massive internal problems - deception, infighting and clash of personalities / philosophies - which, by all accounts, should have sunk this venture. The fact that Air America is very much alive and growing is a testament to the passion and commitment of the staff, and to the very real need that they serve in an America with policies and doctrines that Thomas Jefferson would neither recognize nor approve.

(4-1/2 Stars)
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38 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Patrick on November 27, 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The story of Air America is really an amazing one. Before it ever launched, right wingers were saying it would never make it. A few days after it was on the air you had Bill O'Reilly saying "Is that still on?" And Ann Coulter saying "Nobody listens to Air America." The company had very poor management in charge and ended up losing Los Angeles and Chicago. It looked like Air America was going to flop. But because of the on air talent, most notably Randi Rhodes, it survived. People may tune in initially to hear Al Franken, but it's Randi that keeps people coming back day after day. The company is nearly two years old and it's already got over 70 stations. It's ratings are still far behind Rush Limbaugh's but he's been on for over 20 years and broadcasts from over 600 stations. So when he talks about Air America's ratings just remember that the company is still a baby but this baby is already on it's feet walking.

I had the pleasure to attend a live broadcast of Al Franken's show in Los Angeles (AM 1150) and the venue was jam packed full of people. So Air America has an audience and it's growing every day.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By P. Mann VINE VOICE on October 22, 2007
Format: DVD
I'll try to make sure I review the actual movie here. The story, as I'm sure anyone reading this already knows, is of the start of Air America, an effort to combat what its creators saw as domination of the talk radio market by conservatives. The film does an adequate, if uninspired, job of capturing the early efforts of the startup network, but there could have been so much more here. The struggles included losing two of the three largest affiliates, Chicago and Los Angeles, money troubles that led to the employees losing their health insurance, a primary investor who disappears, and, perhaps most devastating of all for the film's subjects, the 2004 re-election of George W. Bush.

Against all these obstacles, there had to be intense soul-searching, anger, and frustration. These personal stories, however, are largely absent from the film. Instead, we get a sort-of fly-on-the-wall view of the efforts to get the network on the air and then keep it there. There are times when the film comes close to personal stories, notably with Janeane Garofalo and her father (a Bush Republican), but even there, the one face-to-face debate between the two is cut short.

The shame is that here was a film with the potential for so much more. The odds were certainly against the network, and the passion of those who stuck with it through truly trying times would have made for compelling viewing. (Documentaries such as Gimme Shelter, Grey Gardens, and
...Read more ›
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Janedoer on February 23, 2006
Format: DVD
This is the real deal story about the founding of Air America Radio with no punches pulled. Even though you get to see the non-stop crisis in the first few months it's also a very inspirational story about how the people who worked there managed to overcome huge obstacles to build the progressive talk radio network. I had a lump in my throat watching the presidential election night when the Air America folks realize that Bush is going to win again. Fans of Marc Maron will love this film. He is hilarious and completely crazy and it reminds you what a huge loss he is to Air America.
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Left of the Dial
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