"Little White Lie" (
"It's Me, Hilary: The Man Who Drew Eloise" (HBO, Monday).
-- you know her -- produced and is all over this more sweet than bitter documentary, directed by Matt Wolf ("Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell"), about the artist and illustrator Hilary Knight. Knight most famously gave line and life to Kay Thompson's Eloise, the little girl who lived at the Plaza Hotel with her nanny Nanny, her pug Weenie and her turtle Skipperdee. A phenomenon when it was published in 1955, "Eloise" was not originally intended for children (it was subtitled "A Book for Precocious Grown Ups"), subsequently its main though certainly not its only audience. (Dunham became a friend after Knight learned that she sported an Eloise tattoo and sent her a pile of signed books -- at which, she says, she burst into tears.) Thompson, a cabaret performer best remembered for her Diana Vreeland-inspired turn in the film "Funny Face," split with Knight over control of the character, a control she continues posthumously to maintain, blocking "my real participation for the rest of my, I hope not the end of my life." (Still, it's a kind of love story.) As the film shows, there was more to Knight's career and life than Eloise, but in her, says Fran Lebowitz, "he made something that lasted -- and almost nothing lasts." The film does maintain some critical distance from its subject, but mostly it just loves him and the fantastic, artful, art-full life he's hand-made for himself. ("He literally has put new labels on cans," Dunham recounts.) Says friend and muse Phoebe Legere, a musician, actress and performance artist in whom Knight sees a latter-day muse, "Hilary has found a way of making himself happy on a very light diet, and he's living like a princess on air."
"Off Camera with Sam Jones" (DirecTV Audience Network, Wednesdays; offcamera.com). Photographer and director Sam Jones (covers for Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone, the Wilco documentary "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart," videos for Tom Petty and the Foo Fighters) has been hosting this interview show since 2013, broadcast via DirecTV, with archived episodes available through his website. Past episodes or "issues" -- there is a Harper's Bazaar/Alexey Brodovitch look to the graphics -- have featured Judd Apatow, Aimee Mann, Laura Dern, Tony Hawke, Jeff Bridges, Laird Hamilton, Sarah Silverman and Judy Greer; the new season, its third, adds Will Ferrell, Jon Hamm, Jennifer Beals, Ethan Hawke, and
All the conversations take place in a small white box furnished sparsely in midcentury modern; all are shot, like the Wilco film, in black and white, granting the image a formality and elegance that maintains even when the guests dress down (or, as Ferrell does at one point, undress entirely); the look betokens a certain seriousness and distinguishes the series from a legion of other, less pretty or more cacophonous talk shows and talk streams. (Never before have so many interviewed so many.) Having no audience means that there's no pressure to entertain; this is not about the pitch or the plug. Jones is not out to call attention to himself, but it's also clear from the context and conversation (and the clipboard) that he's not just rolling out of bed; he's done homework. Even with its well-finished, multi-platform presence, the show feels more a personal project than a (show) business proposition. There's no particular agenda other than to be interesting and, with each session lasting just under an hour, plenty of time for relaxation and for revelation. There is an audio podcast version as well.