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Lily Tomlin wants to play 'Prairie Home Companion' for real

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It's going on seven years, but comedy great Lily Tomlin loved working with Garrison Keillor and Meryl Streep so much in the 2006 movie "A Prairie Home Companion" that she wants to come back to St. Paul and be on the show for real.

"Garrison's never asked me (to do the show). He knows I want to, but he also knows Meryl can sing. He's not sure that I can," Tomlin told me with a laugh during a recent interview for her new film, "Admission."

In "A Prairie Home Companion," shot almost entirely on location at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Tomlin played Rhonda Johnson, sister of Yolanda Johnson (Meryl Streep) -- who make up the Johnson sisters singing duo.

"Meryl and I went to St. Paul a couple weeks early to practice singing," Tomlin recalled. "She's a good singer, but I had to study for three months, every day, to try to hold the harmony."

Apparently, Tomlin said, the hard work paid off.

"We had to send a tape to Garrison because he was on the road, but he wanted to hear how we were developing," Tomlin said. "After that, I talked with him on the phone and he said, 'You're a natural alto. You would have sung a cappella in church,' so I was very proud of myself."

See Tomlin and Streep sing "My Minnesota Home" from the film in a clip below.

In addition to working with Keillor again, Tomlin says she's a big fan of "PHC" cast member Tim Russell and his wife, Judy. Russell had a role in the "Prairie Home Companion" film as Al, the stage manager.

"I know Tim and his wife, Judy," Tomlin said. "They're a great couple."

Tomlin said the "Prairie Home Companion" film also holds a special place in her heart since it re-teamed her with one of her favorite filmmakers, Robert Altman, who previously directed her in "Short Cuts" and "Nashville."

"It was Altman's last movie -- how can I forget that? That was quite a time," Tomlin said.

In "Admission," Tomlin plays the fiercely independent mom of Tina Fey's character. Look for the full interview on Bring Me The News later this week.

See the trailer from "Admission" below.

Bring Me The News film critic Tim Lammers is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and annually votes on the Critics Choice Movie Awards. Locally, he reviews films on “KARE 11 News at 11” and WCCO Radio. As a feature writer, Tim has interviewed more than 1,000 major actors and filmmakers throughout his career and his work is syndicated nationwide.

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