For insurance purposes, and in the event that eighty-year-old Director Robert Altman was unable to finish shooting the film, Paul Thomas Anderson was employed as a standby director.
When Guy Noir (Kevin Kline) popped the cork off of a bottle of champagne, the cork shot off-camera and hit Director Robert Altman in the forehead. A small cry of "Ow!" can be heard, and Kline said, "Sorry!" without breaking character.
Maya Rudolph, who plays the pregnant character Molly, was pregnant during the filming of the movie. The father of Rudolph's unborn child is Paul Thomas Anderson, who served as a standby director for Robert Altman during production of the film.
Meryl Streep accepted her role "in a heartbeat" as it had always been her lifetime's ambition to make a film with Robert Altman.
This was the first occasion that Robert Altman worked with Meryl Streep. He remarked that she was "twenty-five percent above anyone else".
Shot largely on-site at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Minnesota, the home of the actual "A Prairie Home Companion" radio show.
Reportedly, Director Robert Altman didn't care for the character played by Virginia Madsen, and had reduced the role considerably. When Madsen came on-board, she persuaded him to make it a more central character.
Instead of recording their parts in studio sessions, cast members performed live in the theater, singing and playing their own instruments in front of a real audience of whom Robert Altman asked to choose their favorite takes.
Garrison Keillor's first few drafts of the screenplay were, by his own admission, rather patchy. Director Robert Altman's only notes on them were "you're getting closer". By the time filming began, Keillor was re-writing scenes constantly.
Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin repeated their on-screen partnership at the 2005 Academy Awards when they presented an Honorary Oscar to Robert Altman.
"The Penguin Joke" was first featured on the Joke Show several years ago. Garrison Keillor mangled the delivery of the joke badly, and ever since then, the joke has regularly resurfaced on the show.
George Clooney was offered the role of detective Guy Noir, but was forced to turn it down due to scheduling conflicts.
Because the Fitzgerald was such a small building, other stage theaters in the Minneapolis-St Paul region were drafted in as stand-ins. The bulk of filming took place at the Fitzgerald, however, with the crew using the basement, and constructing fake dressing rooms.
Garrison Keillor got the name Lola for Lindsay Lohan's character from the song "Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets" from the musical "Damn Yankees" after Lohan successfully lobbied for a place in the film, even though there was no part written for her in the original script. Her character's name was also Lola in Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (2004).
Kevin Kline's character Guy Noir is the main character in one of the serialized stories written by Garrison Keillor for the real "A Prairie Home Companion" radio show.
Prior to being cast, Virginia Madsen was a longtime fan of the radio show, unbeknownst to her agent who mentioned the role to her in passing believing she would not be interested.
Meryl Streep's mother-in-law helped her practice the Midwestern accent necessary for this role.
The name for the character, Chuck Akers, comes from the name Garrison Keillor's friend Chet Atkins uses when he checks into hotel rooms.
When the cast reunites in Mickey's Diner at the end of the movie, Garrison Keillor, wearing a University of Minnesota shirt, comments on his new job at a parking ramp. In real-life, that was how Keillor worked his way through the University of Minnesota in the early 1960s.
The song "Goodbye To My Mama" had to be very difficult for Lily Tomlin to sing. Her mother passed away at the beginning of production.
Michelle Pfeiffer was originally slated to play the Dangerous Woman, but then backed out of the project.
A bidding war broke out after an initial screening in New York City with Picturehouse ultimately securing the distribution rights for 3.75 million dollars.
To broaden the film's appeal, Garrison Keillor considered retitling the film "Savage Love". Bob Berney, President of Picturehouse, was adamant that the film should retain its original title of "A Prairie Home Companion".
Garrison Keillor has been broadcasting the real "A Prairie Home Companion" for thirty years.
Robert Altman's wife was an avid fan of the "A Prairie Home Companion" radio show, and was always badgering her husband about tackling it as a subject for one of his films.
Tom Waits and Lyle Lovett were originally slated to play singing cowboys Lefty and Dusty.
The "4-5-94" written on Lola's (Lindsay Lohan's) right jean leg is a reference to the date of Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain's supposed suicide.
The movie cast includes three oscar winners: Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, and Kevin Kline, and four oscar nominees: Lily Tomlin, John C. Reilly, Virginia Madsen, and Woody Harrelson.