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Singing Bill O'Reilly

What’s worse than being sued for sexual harassment? Having someone write an opera based on the case. In 2004, Fox News Channel host and political commentator Bill O’Reilly was sued by co-worker Andrea Mackris. Shortly after the multi-million dollar out-of-court settlement was announced, Seattle composer Igor Keller decided to create a classical Baroque-style oratorio out of the text of the legal complaint. The hurdles to the fulfillment of Keller’s creative process prove to be higher than expected, including performers who back out at the last minute, financial strain, and a monumental snowstorm. In spite of all the obstacles, the oratorio, “Mackris v. O’Reilly,” continues inexorably toward fruition, pushed along by the dedication of Keller and conductor Kris Falk.

Film notes

“Singing Bill O’Reilly” documents the dogged determination required by the creative process while simultaneously exploring questions of power, the place of social commentary in classical style music, and the nature of artistic obsession.

Intriguing, at times humorous, shocking, and inspiring, this film introduces the viewer to the man who turned the text of a sordid legal complaint into something with artistic merit. The man who accepts the outcome, whatever it will be, because, as he says, “that’s the price you pay for having big, stupid dreams like this.” It is fortunate for the rest of us that Igor did indeed dream big.

Director's Statement:

What kind of a guy looks at a dry, but weirdly salacious sexual harassment Complaint against the well-known public figure, Bill O’Reilly, by a female employee, and within seconds, visualizes a major classical musical work composed using the verbatim text of the complaint as the libretto, performed by three soloists, a 30-person choir, and a 35-piece professional orchestra?

Igor Keller is that kind of guy. As Igor puts it, a guy with “big, stupid dreams.” When I first met him, he had an Orson Welles-ish look: fedora, leather bomber jacket, jaunty scarf at his throat, and a large, spiral-bound score tucked under his arm.

I was intrigued and excited. Here was a project that could be great grist for the mill of my development as a filmmaker. Here was a story.

As the project proceeded, I discovered there was more to the story than simply Igor and his musical work. Issues, attitudes, inconclusive outcomes, and unintended consequences were elements that surfaced during the filming and editing of the story. At the center of the story is Igor: his dreams, his fears, his talent, his aspirations, his determination, his resilience, his humor, his quirks, his courage.

Igor's commitment to his outrageous idea is what gave me the courage to push past the fledgling stage to finish this film.
opera lawsuit composer seattle america television news conductor snowstorm

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Copyright

Copyright © 2012 Carla Granat

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Previous screenings

2012
18 Oct – 21 Oct | Eugene, United States
2013
3 May – 11 May | Seattle, United States

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Information on this profile is provided by the film owners and/or compiled from available sources | Profile updated 11 Oct 2012