When Paul Thomas Anderson Directed Elliott Smith for VH1

Slate's Culture Blog
Jan. 17 2013 10:39 AM

When Paul Thomas Anderson Directed Elliott Smith for VH1

This morning a video went up on Paul Thomas Anderson’s YouTube account with this note: “I tore up the floorboards at H.Q. the other day and came up with this little number on VHS. She holds up well.”

That little number is a test run for The Jon Brion Show, a variety series that was pitched to VH1 back in 2000, with Anderson directing the pilot. After a ragged theme song, Brion welcomes Elliott Smith, who sits down for acoustic versions of “Son of Sam,” “Independence Day” (joined by jazz pianist Brad Mehldau), “Bottle Up and Explode” (with Dan McCarroll), and more.

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Early on, Brion answers a question about drinking on set by saying, “This is a different sort of TV show.” I’ll say. VH1 decided to pass.

David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.