What happens when you're talented, successful -- and adopted? If you're New York comedienne-performance artist Reno, you do whatever it takes to track down your birth mother and film the search as it unfolds. The exclusive HBO special RENO FINDS HER MOM chronicles her quest when it is presented MONDAY, MAY 11 (10:00-11:30 p.m. ET).
Other playdates: May 9 (2:40 a.m.) and 24 (2:35 a.m.).
This "docu-comedy" follows Reno on her real-life search through the halls of bureaucracy and across the country, combining hidden-camera and cinema verité footage with animation, scenes of Reno performing onstage, and fantasy sequences featuring Mary Tyler Moore and Lily Tomlin. Moore plays Reno's adoptive mother, while Tomlin (one of the program's executive producers) plays Reno's imaginary godmother, who lives in her brain, pushing her along the way.
As chronicled on hidden "spy cams," Reno gathers bits and pieces of her past from records at the public library and the New York City Bureau of Vital Statistics, getting tantalizingly close to learning her identity, only to be repeatedly thwarted by "the system." Her legal search produces nothing until a social worker accidentally reveals her mom's birthdate. Calling people with the same birth name merely deepens the confusion.
More than three months into her search, the social worker admits the adoption agency has lost Reno's file! Desperate, and despite misgivings about his methods and high fee, she hires a shadowy "detective," dealing with him through an intermediary. Amazingly, he produces the name and address of her birth mother within 48 hours. All of a sudden, Reno's birth mother fantasy is about to give way to an unknown reality.
Now Reno has to face her deepest fear, that her mother would not want to be found. After an emotion-filled first meeting, however, Reno discovers that her mom is mostly glad to be found. Although she does not agree to be in the film, she does explain the circumstances that led her to give up Reno for adoption. Finally Reno can fill in the missing chapter in her life.
RENO FINDS HER MOM is produced by Lydia Dean Pilcher and Reno; directed by Lydia Dean Pilcher; co-producer, Tina DiFeliciantonio; executive producers, Jane Wagner, Lily Tomlin and Paula Mazur; associate producer for HBO, Nancy Abraham; executive producer for HBO, Sheila Nevins.