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Spoofing the indies

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They’re two of the most entertaining series on television, but you won’t find them in the TV listings — they’re a pair of standout commercial campaigns. Here’s the lowdown on some real Must See TV.

Indie Mood: It’s Matt Damon, Edward Norton, Lili Taylor, and Janeane Garofalo in…not a new Miramax flick, but industry-spoofing promos for The Independent Film Channel. In the spots, which debuted March 21, the stars are upstaged by 6-year-old indie director Christie (actually 5-year-old actress Hallie Eisenberg, of the upcoming comedy Paulie). In deadpan mockumentary style, Christie directs Garofalo (”You’re doing a bad job! Do it right!”), takes meetings with Damon and Norton, and pontificates on her art (”I call my film Horses Are Pretty because horses are pretty”). ”The world of independent film takes itself so seriously, it seemed ripe for parody,” says codirector Hank Perlman, who lured top-drawer talent to the spots through ”any connections, even if they were questionable.” Figures Taylor: ”It was really smart, and my friends were in it, so I thought, Why not?” At least the celebs impressed Eisenberg. Upon meeting Damon, she says, ”I told my mom, If he was my age and my height, I’d marry him.”

Monkeys shine: Where have you gone, Lancelot Link? The hirsute star of the ’70s all-chimp comedy show would have loved TBS’ ”Monkey-ed Movies.” The commercials, which began airing Feb. 1, have costumed simians aping scenes from popular films (like Scream‘s opening sequence starring Drew Barrymore). Why monkeys? ”As soon as you see a chimp, you laugh,” says Jim Head, TBS’ VP of original programming. The spots were so well received that on March 20 TBS aired Dinner & a Monkey, an Oscar salute with a primate take on this year’s nominated pictures. But while the long-armed thespians reenacted a memorable scene from Boogie Nights, there were no full-monty monkeys. Says Head, ”We can’t show full-frontal nudity.” Save it for the big screen, fellas.

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