This Valentine's Day, find out how not to spend a holiday through the cautionary video tale of Steven and Heather, mismatched singles who meet once in a Manhattan bar, then decide to spend the 12 days of Christmas together -- to their everlasting regret. Chronicling this ill-fated encounter, the "CINEMAX Reel Life" documentary MEN ARE FROM MANHATTAN... WOMEN ARE FROM SASKATCHEWAN debuts on Valentine's Day, SATURDAY, FEB. 14 (midnight-1:00 a.m. ET), exclusively on CINEMAX. Too bad Steven and Heather won't be watching it together.
Other playdate: Feb. 22 (2:45 a.m.).
MEN ARE FROM MANHATTAN... WOMEN ARE FROM SASKATCHEWAN explores the neurotic, romantic world of Steven Manin, a newly single, thirtysomething New Yorker who impulsively invites Canadian Heather Hallis to spend Christmas with him in the Big Apple, and videotapes the whole thing. Narrated by Manin (who also produced, wrote, directed and co-edited), the documentary unblinkingly chronicles a doomed relationship that starts off badly -- Steven doesn't even meet her at the airport -- and gets worse as the days wear on (and on and on). Replete with an evocative '70s pop soundtrack, and filled with priceless, revealing asides from the two principals, their friends and family, including Manin's ex, MEN ARE FROM MANHATTAN... follows Steven and Heather as they trudge grimly through their real-life romantic purgatory in Manhattan, the Poconos and Washington, D.C.
Having recently re-entered the dating scene after breaking up with Heidi, his companion of three years, Steven trades her "premium" high-rise for a dowdier downtown apartment. At a bar called Naked Lunch (with a giant roach above the entrance), Steven reveals that he once put the moves on Heather Hallis, a 28-year-old English teacher from Saskatchewan, Canada. Though they've met only once, Steven feels a rare chemistry with her: Inspired by the suggestive photos she's sent, and a series of sexy phone calls, Steven invites her to return to New York during the holidays for a 12-day stay at his apartment. Heather accepts, and arrives at the airport. However, Steven doesn't meet her because he's spending his birthday with his young son Harrison, who lives with Heidi.
- Day 1: After an awkward kiss hello (their first), Heather gives Steven her list of things she'd like to do. Elsewhere Steven's friend Steve C. says, "I didn't think at the time she was of Steven's ilk... she was a little bit chubby."
- Day 2: At a coffee shop, Steven and Heather heatedly debate how to order a lightly toasted bagel with a little butter and an unmelted slice of American cheese on top. At the driving range, Heather has trouble hitting balls off the snow-covered artificial turf. At dinner, she is upset that Steven doesn't remember her birthday, even though it's on Halloween! Later that night, Steven is on the phone with Heidi, who tells him Harry is running a fever. Then, Steven assures Heather he'll be a "good boy" if she lets him sleep in the same bed as her. Apparently he behaves.
- Day 3: Steven lies to Heather about going to a poker game that night; in fact, he has a date with a woman named Tammy Jo. Heidi calls Steven and tells him she knows about Tammy Jo; she denies hiring a private investigator, but Steven is suspicious, as are his friends, cousins and parents.
- Day 4: With the Big Apple experiment souring, Heather and Steven head for the Poconos, where they play "fabulous couples games," dance intimately, kiss, bathe in a giant champagne glass, get interrupted by a phone call from Heidi, and have sex in a heart-shaped bed. Alone in the champagne tub, Steven complains of Heather's "chewing his ear off" until she finally passed out.
- Day 5: On their way to Washington, D.C., Steven and Heather get lost in Paterson, NJ. The cameraman relates how difficult it was to spend 15 hours in a car listening to Heather drone on about religion.
- Day 6: In D.C., Steven confesses he needs a break from Heather, and reveals he stopped having sex with her because he's lost interest.
- Day 7: On an uneasy ride back to New York, Heather and Steven discuss how they would probably be better off as casual friends, and agree to spend New Year's Eve at Times Square.
- Day 8: Not filmed. The slate reads, "Too Excruciating For Public Consumption."
- Day 9: Also not filmed. The slate reads, "Blessed Relief -- Heather Spends The Night With Her Cousin."
- Day 10: Steven bets Heather she can't eat a carrot in less than three minutes, and loses. Later, he buries his head in his hands as she performs "These Boots Are Made for Walking" at a karaoke bar. Heidi calls and says she wants to meet Heather.
- Day 11: Ex and soon-to-be-ex meet at Heidi's office, and get along famously as they trade Steven-bashing tales. Meanwhile, Steven shows off the anti-depressant pills he consumes on a daily basis.
- Day 12: En route to Newark Airport, Heather and Steven express hope that others aren't as jaded as they. In a final montage of interviews, Steven's ex-girlfriends express the belief that he is neurotic and needs psychotherapy, while Steven's family and friends unanimously agree that the experiment was a disaster. At the airport, Steven delivers his parting line to Heather: "I hope you had a memorable time." You can almost hear his heels click as her plane flies north.
MEN ARE FROM MANHATTAN... WOMEN ARE FROM SASKATCHEWAN is directed and produced by Steven M. Manin; director of photography, Stephen Schmidt; edited by Geof Bartz and Steven M. Manin.
Debuting in 1995, the CINEMAX REEL LIFE series showcases distinctive documentaries on a wide variety of subjects. This eclectic series of original documentary programs has attracted critical praise, as well as numerous prestigious awards. "Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O'Brien" received the 1997 Academy Award(r) for Documentary Short Subject. "Jupiter's Wife" has been honored with a Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and a News and Documentary Emmy,(r) while "The Selling of Innocents" also received a News and Documentary Emmy.(r) "The Dying Rooms" also received a News and Documentary Emmy,(r) as well as a George Foster Peabody Award, a Planned Parenthood Maggie Award and a CableACE Award.
At the 1997 CableACE Awards, four "CINEMAX Reel Life" documentaries were honored, including "Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O'Brien," "Calling the Ghosts," "The Selling of Innocents" and "Wonderland."
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