MSNBC host Chris Matthews is one of many news cameos in new Sundance Channel series Tanner on Tanner, a sequel to political satire Tanner ’88.
The fake documentaries were written by Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau and directed by Robert Altman. Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon returns as Alex, daughter of unsuccessful political candidate Jack Tanner (Michael Murphy). Alex is documenting her father’s trip to this year’s Democratic National Convention, where they encounter dozens of real-life politicos.
In the third installment, which debuts Oct. 19, Matthews barges in on Jack Tanner interviewing former presidential candidate Howard Dean. “This is more important,” the Hardball host shouts across a fence at Alex, explaining he needs Dean for a pretaping. “This is MSNBC!”
When Alex protests, Matthews appeals directly to Howard Dean, yelling, “We gave you all that free airtime! Come on, you owe us!” Dean relents, and her exclusive interview is cut short.
Matthews tells B&C his act was purely improvisational. “I can assure you it was spontaneous. It wasn’t strategic,” he says, adding that the former Vermont governor plays his own version of hardball. “Dean was always a pretty hard get for us.”
Matthews’ take on Tanner? “I looked like a crazy guy, didn’t I?” he says. “The people in the crowd thought it was for real.”