Saturday, May 13, we arrived at Kevlavik International Airport this morning after a 6 hour flight. On board Icelandair 665: Sue Scott, Tim Russell and his wife Judy, and several “A Prairie Home Companion” cast and crew members. John C. Reilly and his wife Allison are with us as well. Allison flew in from LA and John from Chicago, where he appeared on the Conan O’ Brien Show on Thursday night. John’s flight was cancelled but he was able to make another to get to Minneapolis in time, however, one of his bags is in limbo. Tony Judge and his wife Valentine have organized this trip which includes a premiere of the movie “A Prairie Home Companion.” Garrison Keillor will have us tape the Iceland radio show for broadcast on May 20th. The Icelandic landscape is very lunar by the airport near Reykjavik, in fact NASA used it to practice their moon maneuvers.
We arrived at the Nordica Hotel at 8 a.m. It’s quite beautiful in a minimalist, Scandinavian modern way.
Special Projects Producer Tony Judge had offered to take us around Reykjavik this afternoon and then the gang will be going on a “Whale Watch” this evening. The “Whale Watch” was really a misnomer for what was in effect a “Booze Cruise.”
This as a close to a whale as anyone got that night. Tim and Judy took one look at the 20-somethings on board and the tubs of beer at hand and decided to see the sights of town instead.
This was one of the partygoers roaming through downtown Reykjavik on a Saturday night. People here seem to do all their serious partying on the weekends. Sue Scott stayed with the rest and went “Whale Watching” and when they finally returned after much discomfort, they congratulated Tim and Judy on their prescience. If nothing else, it was lovely to see the harbor in the late night light.
The sun rises at 3 a.m. and sets at around 11 p.m. – so, there’s plenty of sunlight to see the sights. Sunday, May 14, Garrison Keillor , Rich Dworsky and Fred Newman arrived this morning. Garrison started to prepare for the show to be taped on Tuesday at the Iceland National Theater for broadcast on Saturday the 20th. Rich and Fred joined Tim Russell and Judy and several others for the “Circle Tour” of sights around the southwestern part of Iceland. Sue decided to see the sights in town. The weather is ideal: clear skys and relatively warm temps (50 degrees).
This is one of the Geysers that go off every 3-5 minutes.
This is the spectacular Golfoss waterfall.
The scenery on the tour is unbelievably gorgeous: geysers, waterfalls, glaciers, Icelandic horses – it was a lovely day. Tonight is the premiere of the “A Prairie Home Companion” movie at the University theater, a large cinema that holds 1000. The movie had been subtitled in Icelandic, so it was fun to connect this ancient Viking language to what was being said on screen. Some things were undoubtedly lost in translation, for example, “You can’t put the horse before Descartes” ended up referencing Plato.
After the film, we were escorted to the reception hosted by the Minister of Culture and Education. John C. Reilly and Garrison Keillor were in attendance along with many journalists from Denmark and Norway.
After the reception John C. Reilly organized a little jam session back at the hotel’s private business lounge. John and Pat Donohue were on guitar, Rich Dworsky on his mouth melodeon, and Fred Newman with his amazing mouth sounds. Judy and Sue and John’s wife made a grocery run. John C. Reilly is amazingly versatile; he sings and plays everything from Hank Williams to lrving Berlin. We made a little too much noise, so we were gently reminded to end the fun at 2 a.m., Monday, May 15. Everybody up late today. We have rehearsal this afternoon. Tim had a late breakfast, included with the room, and placed a call to “The Morning News with Dave Lee” on WCCO Radio to bring his co-workers up to date on the Iceland adventure.
Tuesday, May 16, tonight the show came from the National Theater of Iceland, taped for broadcast on the 20th. It’s a small but beautiful theater that seats about 500, built in the late 20’s in the Art Deco style. Things went smoothly but the audience seemed a little more reserved than we we’re used to. John C. Reilly joined us in the “Guy Noir” and “Lives of the Cowboys” scripts. After the show, he told us that when he gives up the life of a big time Hollywood star, he wants to be an actor on “A Prairie Home Companion.” He seemed to have a great time hamming it up with the rest of us. John also sang an Irish Sea Shanty and another tune. You can hear all this on the PHC Website archives. The show has been edited down to two hours from the 2:40 actual show time.
We were the guests of the US Ambassador to Iceland at the Embassy. We met several of the US Base Officers and had a delightful time.
Finally back to the hotel at 1a.m. where we debriefed in the lounge until about 3 a.m. The endless daylight really throws your body clock off. Most of the crew including Sue Scott left on Wednesday, May 17.
Tim and Judy stayed on to rent a car and explore Iceland on Thursday and Friday. This is a shot of Tim near Vik. To see some more pictures of the south shore of Iceland, go to Tim’s Blog.