Rapp, feeling she and Altman needed to "stretch their wings," parted ways with the director in 2000. Rapp didn't get a movie made during the five-year hiatus, but they have recently reunited and are now reworking the 1997 documentary Hands on a Hardbody, which follows a marathon competition to win a pickup truck, into a drama for Altman to direct.Aside from the fact that there's another Altman film in the works--he already has PAINT and A PRARIE HOME COMPANION in the pipeline--the big news to me is that S.R. Bindler's HANDS ON A HARDBODY is providing the inspiration.
On the basis of The Austin Chronicle's rave review I saw the doc at the Dobie Theatre in Austin, TX while on vacation in the summer of 1998. The film's human drama and comedy, not to mention the contestants' endurance, knocked me sideways. so much that I put it in my '98 Top Ten. I haven't watched it in a few years, but my suspicion is that if it had come out a few years later, it might have been a modest arthouse hit. (HANDS ON A HARDBODY anticipates reality television, which didn't make a mark in the US until SURVIVOR'S summer 2000 debut.) It provides the opportunity for a great multi-character story, which is Altman's stock in trade.