Anti-Porn Thief and Inspiration for TUGM’s “Sisters of No Mercy”, Charles Keating Jr., Dies

Keating

Hated porn but LOVED your money. (Photo courtesy: gazette.com)

by Legendary Lew

Charles Keating Jr., the central figure in the Savings and Loans Scandal of the 1980s (basically a warm-up for the Bush Depression of 2008) died on 3/31/2014 at age 90. Although he is known as the guy who bilked thousands of people out of their cash on useless junk bonds (with the preferential help of 5 US Senators), I will forever prefer to remember him for another colossal failure.

Keating, as part of a group called Citizens for Decent Literature, Inc., funded and distributed an anti-porn short film narrated by “outstanding news reporter” George Putnam in 1961. “Perversion for Profit” has been accurately described

Illustrated scene from "Perversion for Profit"

Illustrated scene from “Perversion for Profit”

as the Reefer Madness of porn. It’s a hyperbolic, homophobic ranting screed that uses similar tactics used by some porn-fighting churches, namely, showing an enormous amount of the offending material (with eyes blacked out).  This 30-minute short has more male and female sleaze ‘n’ tease as can be found in a dozen feature-length sexploitation films, which means, of course, that’s it has found a home with me as one of the best, most hilarious propaganda films ever made.

No doubt, I crowed about this movie so much that we had to include a remixed version of it as part of our feature film, Sisters of No Mercy. So as a testament to the double-misfired life of Charles Keating, Jr., I include in this post the amazing Perversion for Profit, presented by the indispensible Prelinger Archives:

And here is our feature, Sisters of No Mercy:

 

 

Elephant and Worm (EWTV) Returns to Television Tomorrow!

EWTVby Legendary Lew

Gather up the kids of all ages! EWTV, the Emmy-nominated TV show of The Elephant and Worm Educational Theater Company, is back on the air beginning tomorrow! There’s a host of new surprises in store, but the live call-in segments will return, so call in with your ideas during the show.

EWTV airs every Tuesday at 3:30pm on CAN-TV Channel 21. If you are not in the area or if you don’t have cable tv, you can tune in to live streaming at cantv.org/live.

This season’s first guest is Chicago artist Gene Bowen, whose works showed at Meinecke Studios last Friday in West Rogers Park.

Mediatrocities #10– Free Media: The Manifesto of The Underground Multiplex

LewandSophie

Legendary Lew

by Legendary Lew

Joseph R. Lewis and I were very proud to give a presentation titled “Free Media: Mending Arts When All is Broke” Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at Chicago Filmmakers.

Around 90 people attended to listen to Joe and I discuss the history of how The Underground Multiplex got started and some of the basic ideas that keep this

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Joseph R. Lewis

organization going. This is an age where there’s very little money going around for the arts, so it’s imperative that artists learn a new paradigm by which they can have works created, published and distributed. It may seem daunting to be responsible for all these aspects but it can be done and we’ll tell you how to approach it.

Give a listen:


Internet Hater Chris Dodd Wants Technology to Help Boost Sagging Theater Attendance

ChrisDodd

by Legendary Lew

Variety reports that last year, attendance for the 18-24 year-old age bracket in movie theaters dropped like a stone. It’s serious because, you know, everyone else is dead and will never benefit from films aimed toward them:

The number of frequent moviegoers in the all-important 18-24 age group plunged an unprecedented 21% in 2013, according to MPAA annual statistics released Tuesday at Cinemacon, while attendance in the 12-17 age bracket also saw a precipitous drop off, falling almost 15%.

Frequent filmgoers from 12-24 are likely spending much of their previous moviegoing time watching a variety of other screens.

Well, heavens to Betsy, whatever shall a bloated, non-innovative, money-wasting, inefficient, money-gouging, hypocritical corporate entity do?!

I know! Call in MPAA head Chris Dodd to give the industry a pep talk:

“We need to keep exploring fresh ways of leveraging our new technology to drive traffic to your theaters,” Dodd insisted during his keynote address delivered Tuesday at CinemaCon in Las Vegas.

“We can embrace technology, and use it to complement our offerings,” Dodd added.

I practically shat blood laughing so hard when reading these statements. This is the same Chris Dodd that backed the SOPA and PIPA legislations–so much so that he extorted the White House to try and have its support. SOPA and PIPA would have destroyed the internet as we know it with opposition to the legislation coming from internet companies that regularly help Hollywood promote its films. The public response to Dodd and SOPA/PIPA supporters was a whole lot of this.

It’s also the same Chris Dodd that supported the arrest of Kim Dotcom, only to have the case against him implode over embarrassing allegations, not the least of which was Dotcom’s assertion that he was ready to start a legally-created IPO with MegaUpload. (Dotcom’s new company, Mega, has since created an IPO in New Zealand)

Now, Dodd wants to urge the industry to use technology, i.e the internet, to boost theater tix sales.  Never mind that he tried to explode it a couple of years ago and will, no doubt, try again, unless Dodd has some other new type of technology he wants to introduce to the world.  Oh wait, I forgot, Hollywood doesn’t have one.

Next time Chris Dodd gives a speech, I suggest this type of formal attire.

 

 

Mediatrocities #9: Rare Interview with 91 Year-Old Chicago Artist and Internet Sensation Gene “No Princess” Bowen

 

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On March 17, 2014, I had the privilege of interviewing Gene Bowen, artist and sometime collaborator with Chicago legend Tristan Meinecke. Among the topics covered were her career in art and her remembrances of both Tristan Meinecke and Angel Casey. She was joined by Crystal Eidson, researcher and part of the Meinecke Studio team. Give a listen!


Chicago’s Dave Hoekstra Nominated for Prestigious Journalism Award for Covering Story First Presented by TUGM

HoekstraThe Underground Multiplex congratulates Dave Hoekstra, formerly of The Chicago Sun-Times, for his nomination of the prestigious Lisagor Award for  “BEST ARTS REPORTING AND CRITICISM:Daily Newspaper, News Service or Bureau, circulation more than 250,000.”

The news feature was “Souls on a String,” which made the front page of Chicago Sun-Times Sunday edition back on October 27, 2013. It told the story of lifetime marionette creator/puppeteer Ralph Kipniss and what happened to a half-century of his creations. Hoekstra’s coverage was a result of my report originating here on this blog.

Read Dave Hoekstra’s excellent coverage here.

Read Legendary Lew’s original report on The Underground Multiplex here.

BTW, the search for a home for Kipniss’ marionettes continues. Anyone with any leads for a permanent home can contact us at theundergroundmultiplex@gmail.com.

 

What You Won’t Learn from Most David Brenner Obituaries

David Brenner and Lesley Ann Warren starred in the doomed NBC sitcom, Snip

David Brenner and Lesley Ann Warren starred in the doomed NBC sitcom, Snip. Courtesy: remembermarilyn

by Legendary Lew

Master of comic observation, David Brenner, died March 15, 2014 from cancer. The greatest emphasis in remembering him by most media has been his numerous appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Gracing the stage there 158 times since his 1971 debut was quite the feat. It’s currently unmatched by any other guest.

A few obits will mention that Brenner was the star of a extremely short-lived NBC sitcom from 1976 called Snip. How quick was the demise of the show? NBC cancelled the show before a single episode was aired.  Normally, this would simply be an insignificant footnote in TV history. However, the story behind what happened is fascinating, leading me to believe that the network had some of the biggest assholes in charge during the 1970′s.

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Courtesy: remembermarilyn

Brenner was a very hot property by the mid-1970′s as one of the best stand-up comics around. Naturally, producers were keen to take notice and one of them, James Komack, was spinning gold as executive producer of the hit shows Welcome Back, Kotter and Chico and the Man. Komack developed a new sitcom called Snip, based somewhat on the box-office winner, Shampoo starring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie. Snip starred David Brenner and Lesley Ann Warren as divorcees who are reunited in a hair salon when he takes a job there. The show also starred Bebe Drake and Walter Wanderman as the salon owner.

NBC pulled out all the stops for promoting the show, saturating the airwaves with announcements of the new “hit” comedy. Although I’ve not seen them in almost 40 years, I recall seeing ads for it.  Snip was also buoyed by advance good reviews, presenting a strong case for the network having high hopes.

So why did NBC cancel the show almost literally at the last minute–so drastically that TV Guide didn’t have time to pull this spread from their Fall Preview issue?:

TV Guide's Fall Preview page announcing Snip, which had just been snipped from NBC's lineup

TV Guide’s Fall Preview page announcing Snip, which had just been snipped from NBC’s lineup. Courtesy: remembermarilyn

The answer: homophobia.

Snip would have presented the first regularly recurring gay character (played by Wanderman) in television history and NBC was not ready to take the chance. Throwing it into a strange limbo, NBC announced it would be cancelled, then it would be postponed, then it just simply died. NBC wouldn’t try having a gay character again until 1981, when they ran Love Sidney for a two-season run, but not before giving the lead a character castration so that his gayness would be quelled, lest viewers catch something.

The network’s dick move (certainly not the only one they pulled in the 1970′s–The Richard Pryor Show‘s tumultuous journey becoming legendary TV history) didn’t really hurt Brenner’s career. He continued to appear on The Tonight Show, even becoming rumored as a possible replacement for Carson when the latter showed signs of fatigue in the late 1970′s.

The cancellation certainly did, however, make NBC look heartless and it must have damaged Wanderman’s career, as he only made one final TV guest spot before disappearing. The subsequent successful airing of the existing five episodes on Australian television had to have inspired an interesting phone call between Komack and NBC. How I would have been a fly on the wall for that conversation.