When “Everybody Loves Raymond” ended its nine-year run, executive producer and sometime writer for that series, Steve Skrovan, decided to do a sitcom about life in a public advocacy office.That idea was inspired by the real-life adventures of pal and co-writer/co-director Henriette Mantell’s time working as an office manager for Ralph Nader. Oddly, though, the more Skrovan thought about it, the more he wanted to make a documentary about Nadar and the impact he’s had on the American public for over four decades. It was a bold move. Skrovan’s experience was limited to television comedy. It was even bolder when he owned up to having voted for Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004.
When I spoke with Skrovan on March 9, 2007, he talked about the lure of a good story, dealing with media savvy subjects, and thinking of distribution in grassroots term.
And, by the way, if Nader runs again, he says he will vote for him.
There is no doubt that Ralph Nader has been one of the most influential private citizens of the 20th century. Before he got riled up about it, car safety was optional as far as manufacturers were concerned, environmental degradation was the province of wild-eyed counterculture radicals, and food safety was an illusion. By being AN UNREASONABLE MAN, he went against corporate America with all its resources, monetary and other, and won. That tenacity is the focus of the documentary.
AN UNREASONABLE MAN brings together such polar opposites as Phil Donahue, who likens Nader to a Shakespearean drama, and Pat Buchanan voicing similar opinions of the man in question. Everyone interviewed have one thing in common. Some are hurt, some are outraged, but all of them genuinely like the guy, which speaks volumes in an age of divisive politics-as-full-contact sport. Painstakingly even-handed, this incisive and often surprising documentary captures a man of true and deeply held convictions without creating a hagiography. Admirable, infuriating, even peculiar, he’s an icon who deserves more than a facile dismissal by pundit or public.