''The Straight Story'' director explains why he'll never do television again -- and what he's turning to instead

By Liane Bonin
Updated October 20, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: Corbis Images

David Lynch fans hoping ”The Straight Story” (currently in theaters) serves up another dose of the director’s epic weirdness are in for a shock. No red-clad midgets or oxygen-sucking freaks here. The story of a lovable old geezer who, too infirm to qualify for a driver’s license, heads off to visit his far-off brother on the back of a tractor, ”Straight” is downright sweet. And Lynch says those who don’t like it can lump it. ”This was a little picture, and we went off in hiding in Iowa to make it,” says the 52-year-old. ”It wasn’t in our thoughts what anybody was going to think, and it shouldn’t be. Studio executives battle with that day in and day out. [As a filmmaker] you just go with your heart.”

Still, Lynch admits that going with his heart doesn’t always pay off. Though ”Straight” has received warm reviews from critics, his intended ABC series ”Mulholland Drive” was given a thumbs down by network execs. ”It’s pretty much been killed,” he admits. ”ABC hated it. I think it’s important to have freedom, and I kind of forgot how many restrictions there are in television, how many hands go into the pie, and just what a pathetic sort of thing it is. I wouldn’t do it again.”

Though Lynch says ”Mulholland” is his last attempt at network television, that doesn’t mean we won’t be seeing his work on the small screen in the future — it just may be the screen attached to our PC. ”I think the writing’s on the wall that network television is over,” he says. ”If cable doesn’t kill it, the Internet sure will. Any Web page can be a television station where you can run your programming totally free. I’m getting ready to go into it. I haven’t got a clue what, but I know it’s going to be a brand-new ball game.” Just look for Lynch to come out of left field.

The Straight Story

  • Movie
  • G
  • David Lynch