Glenn Anders wrote: Now, if he had shot "The Orson Welles Show" the way he did F FOR FAKE, only four years earlier, in 1974, he would still be years ahead of his TV competition . . . .
You see, I did think he shot THE ORSON WELLES SHOW like F FOR FAKE (or were you acknowledging this?) which is really ingenious, but completely wrong if his intent was to convey the immediacy of live television.
Have you seen Penn & Teller's BULLS#$T show on Showtime? This is exactly the kind of program I could see Welles succeeding at using his F FOR FAKE style to explore contradictions and hypocrisy in the modern world. Whereas Penn Jillette's personality is one of the "everyman blowhard", Welles would be a much more genteel and charming host who would nonetheless be worth watching as he dissected many of the same issues. In fact, the BULLS#$T program seems to be a direct descendant of F FOR FAKE in its exploration of charlatans. I just think that Welles was trying to shoehorn his personality and directing style into the wrong type of TV program, one that was too conventional to coexist with Welles' particular bent.
As to whether Welles had become too self-conscious in his later years, I would have to say that Welles in his heyday as a radio personality, columnist, political speaker, lecturer, what-have-you was always self-conscious (consider his famous "why are there so many of me and so few of you" quip shortly after the release of KANE). As a filmmaker and stage director, Welles was happy to give other performers the spotlight while he controlled the proceedings like a puppet master. But when he was called upon to be "Orson Welles" the personality, his self-consciousness was often the source of his insight and humor, his reason for being. Given that he was having trouble funding his films from the late 60s on, but remained popular as a talk show guest and personality, it makes sense that there are more projects that rely on that self-consciousness. It's the one thing that Welles felt he could count on.