So, in a desperate attempt to boost the stationís ratings and save her career with the network, Topping cultivates a novel idea, a new concept in the history of broadcasting - putting one ordinary personís life on cable TV 24 hours-a-day! Unlike the historic PBS documentary on the Loud Family two decades ago, and totally dissimilar to MTVís popular Real World show, Toppingís program will contain no script...no actors...no editing. Each and every second will be true. Unscripted. Unedited. Unrehearsed. Uninterrupted. And, unpredictable. According to Topping, America is supposed to sit in front of their TVs and watch this person live...live!
Once network executives reluctantly okay the idea, Topping and her staff set out to find the ideal candidate for this unprecedented format, which could, if it fails, become a new low point in network programming. After numerous auditions, they pluck a boyish, goofy, thirty-something guy from San Francisco, Ed Pekurny (Matthew McConaughey). Within a week, this unambitious video store clerk has become the blockbuster hit of the TV season. And, as True TVís ratings soar, the eyes of America are on one thingÖEDtv. This new media sensation spawns fan clubs, stalkers, national headlines and even television imitators as EDtv becomes a public obsession and a new emblem of the American psyche.
At the outset, Ed welcomes the constant attention as he is shadowed, wherever he goes, by a three-man video crew. Once inside his apartment, several mounted cameras record his mundane existence. As Ed sleeps, the network carries highlights of his dayís events. And, while Ed may sacrifice his privacy (some say even his dignity), sex is off-camera and off-limits to his viewers.
However, celebrity has a price, and while Ed initially embraces his newfound fame, he also witnesses the awkward, often humorous and sometimes painful predicaments suffered by members of his family who automatically become part of the program, and infamous in their own right.
Ed alienates his brother, Ray (Harrelson), a failed businessman, by falling in love with his siblingís girlfriend Shari (Jenna Elfman), initially to the viewersí and networkís delight. Then, unexpectedly, his estranged father Hank (Hopper), who abandoned the family decades ago, suddenly reappears, causing friction and a rift between Edís mother, Jeanette (Sally Kirkland), and her second husband, an inquisitive ailment-ridden senior citizen named Al (Martin Landau), whom Ed truly adores.
Ed also realizes that his success on camera has turned him into just another popular consumer product. When he finally decides to end his time in the limelight, which he has now endured for four months, he encounters resistance from the network brass - not Topping, who becomes a fan, but her boss Whitaker (Rob Reiner). Ed then must find a way to stop his ordeal, cancel EDtv, and return to the normal life he led before fame made him a daytime, nighttime and primetime superstar.
For Ed Pekurny, fifteen minutes of fame is fourteen minutes too long.
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