Michael Des Barres documentary travels from Live Aid to Alf

June 16, 2015

The upcoming documentary “Michael Des Barres: Who Do You Want Me to Be?” began exactly 30 years ago. That’s when a 14-year-old J. Elvis Weinstein watched Live Aid – the mega-concert created to raise funds for to help the Ethiopian famine. The Duran Duran off-shoot band Power Station helped kicked off the festivities, but without lead singer Robert Palmer. Taking his place, in front of an estimated one billion people, was Michael Des Barres.

“I watched a lot of MTV, but I was like, ‘Who was is guy? Wasn’t he on WKRP?’” said Weinstein, who directed the film. “So he became a fascinating character to me because I hadn’t known about him and I dedicated myself to learning more.”Michael-Des-Barres-02

And there was plenty to learn. “Who Do You Want Me To Be?” showcases the unlikely, chaotic, strange and beautiful trip that has seen Des Barres go from a lower-middle class child in a one-parent home, to child actor to iconic rock star to actor and back again. Despite his rock-star cred, many know the 67-year-old only from one of his many acting roles, including on MacGyver, 21 Jump Street, WKRP in Cincinnati and countless other TV shows and movies. As Des Barres himself points out, there can’t be many other men in history who have played a concert in front of a billion people, and also acted with Alf.

And while Weinstein allows Des Barres to tell the story – and what a story it is – the documentary is as much a redemption tale as biography. Spending his early years as an entertainer often under contract – including a famed deal with Led Zepplin – Des Barres became more well known for his rock star party lifestyle than for his music, as he consumed as much cocaine as his wiry body would allow. In fact, Des Barres’ biggest hit as a song writer – “Obsession” – was written about his obsession with drugs.

Leaving his first wife for famed rock groupie Pamela Des Barres, the chaos continued. In 1981, just as it seemed drugs were preparing to win the battle against the boy from Sussex, Des Barres caught a glimpse of himself in a mirror. With vanity that far exceeded his addiction, he stopped drugs, cold turkey. Weinstein said it was that decision that not only kept his career alive, but kept him in the good graces of many of his old friends.

“A big part of the reason he’s pulled it off was he got sober before everyone else,” said Weinstein, 44. “A lot of people are still very fond of him.”

Starting his career as a stand-up comedian and with a resume that includes being one of the originals of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Theater cast, as well as being a writer and producer for the cult hit “Freaks & Geeks,” at first blush Weinstein might appear an odd choice to chronicle the life of a notorious rock star. But Weinstein – who recovered from kidney cancer in 2014 – said there had long been a part of him that felt connected with Des Barres.

“We both spent our life in show business. I started doing stand up at 15,” said Weinstein, who made his directorial debut with the film. “Like me, he’s at his happiest when he’s creating something. I mean, the guy did his best album (“Key to the Universe”) at 65.”

What helped make Des Barres even more fascinating to Weinstein was his kindness and interest in other people.

“Narcissistic brings out a bad connotation, but he is somewhat self-absorbed. It’s part of his personality,” said Weinstein, born and raised in Minneapolis, Minn. “But he is also absolutely generous wih the attention he gives other people, no matter their station in life.

“He’ll tell you this amazing story & then say, and what about you, tell me about you? He’s a junkie for moments. Him & another individual, an audience, a TV camera. He’s always searching for the moment. He will always make someone feel like a star,” said Weinstein.

“Michael Des Barres: Who Do You Want Me to Be?” is still in search of a distributor, but for Weinstein, the film has begun a new chapter in his life a director. Currently working on his second film, about stand-up comedy in Asia, Weinstein says he is only happy when he’s making something.

“I’ve been a head writer and I’ve always enjoyed being in charge,” laughed Weinstein. “There’s a lot of control freak in me. It’s not that I don’t like collaboration it’s just that I think I’m right, all the time.”

In the end, “Michael Des Barres: Who Do You Want Me to Be?” is a triumphant directorial debut for Weinstein. He wisely gets out of the way and allows Des Barres and a cadre of his hyper-famous friends discuss an iconic time and an iconic entertainer. The end result is not just an opportunity to look back at a time of sex, drugs and rock & roll, but a chance to see the true redemption story that is Michael des Barres.

Michael Des Barres: Who Do You Want Me to Be?
Web Site:  www.mdbmovie.com
Screenings

 

–WKW

Dan Mirvish goes beyond Slamdance and Eisenstadt in “Between Us”

June 28, 2013

 

When I first met Dan Mirvish, he was the behind-the-scenes half of hoax political operative Martin Eisenstadt (who was played by actor Eitan Gorlin). And while my mind was kept busy trying to keep journalists like David Shuster from being tricked by Eisenstadt, Mirvish’s mind was busy with thinking about the film “Between Us.” Unfortunately for Mirvish – and many other small filmmakers – the financial crisis began and money for independent films was scarce. Luckily, Mirvish had a built-in bridge in Eisenstadt.

While working to adapt Joe Hortua’s award-winning play, the character of Eisenstadt went viral, with news organizations reporting on his exploits in Iraq (where he “appeared on a talk show” to promote casinos in Baghdad, or his gossip about Kristen Wiig making out with Joe the Plumber at an SNL after party. Mirvish & Gorlin teamed up later to write a book about Eisenstadt’s exploits and unique political views and took some meetings for a possible TV show.

“When Eisenstadt turned into a book offer, I was presented with the option: Do I keep not getting paidto not direct a movie, or get paid to write a book. My wife wisely advised that I write the book,” said Mirvish. “When Eisenstadt more or less ran its course two years later, I recalibrated “Between Us” as a microbudget and went ahead and made it.”

“Between Us,” despite being written for the stage in 2002, was prescient in its views regarding student loan debt and wealth inequality. The story centers on two couples, portrayed by Taye Diggs & Julia Stiles and Melissa George & David Harbour who have all been friends since college.
While each couple faces pressures with marriage and family, the movie becomes a tale of two men and how one’s decision to “sell out” has led to a much more comfortable life. Still, the fact that one couple has means while the other struggles does not translate into happiness, leading to sometimes shocking dialogue such as this exchange between George and Harbour during a fight:

“One day, I’m going to murder you,” he says
“I look forward to it,” she says.

While all the actors give strong performances, it’s Harbour and George who steal the show and, with Mirvish’s direction, give what could be a simple four-person ensemble a depth and passion that will keep a viewer riveted.

For Mirvish, the film is the latest effort in a mercurial career. Having started the popular independent film festival “Slamdance,” and once worked as a speechwriter for Sen. Tom Harkin, Mirvish has earned a reputation of being a true Independent filmmaker – a reputation not hurt by how he scored such a well-known cast for “Between Us” on a minuscule budget.

More than anything, for Mirvish, “Between Us” comes from a place he can recognize.

“It also resonated with me on a more personal level with where I was in my life – dealing with young children, marriage, financial issues, and artistic authenticity,” said Mirvish. “I now have three kids and the issues the characters raise in the film are definitely ones that I can relate to, or have friends who have dealt with them. Thankfully, my marriage is much better than the ones depicted in the film, and my kids are great, too.”

For information on how and where to see “Between Us,” click here.

–WKW


Friday Movie Idea: Stooges meet Saw

July 6, 2012

So here’s an idea for a movie. I saw that for some reason the Farrelly brothers thought a modern “Three Stooges” movie was a good idea. It tanked and got awful reviews, tho.

So the idea here is to make a sequel to that movie, but have it so the Stooges get abducted by a crazed, cannibalistic serial killer. Throughout the movie, the Stooges try their humor bits and then the killer cuts off their fingers to make them stop, and so on. In the end, all three Stooges die heinously and are devoured. The final shot is Shemp & Curly Joe at the funeral crying their eyes out and swearing revenge.

The theme behind the movie is that you should be nicer to your friends. I think people would watch and come away with something.

–WKW

Tell me about a good documentary

April 29, 2011

I’m a documentary fan, and even with my other-worldly Internet research skills, I often come up dry when searching for a new documentary. Thus, I am creating this post where you, the reader, can tell me, the documentary watcher, what to watch.

I’ll give a list and some comments of some docs I’ve seen:

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father: I’m still in tears from this one.

The Cove: I liked this epic save-the-dolphins tale so much I interviewed the director.

Exit Through the Gift Shop: A movie about graffiti artists that turns out much more thought-provoking than you’d imagine.

Hoop Dreams: I’ve seen this epic twice and it still gives me plenty to ponder.

That’s just a start. Mind you, I’ve seen quite a few. But, since i discover a new documentary I’d like to see nearly every day, I figured some guidance would help. Give me some suggestions.

–WKW

Readables …

March 31, 2010

They said it, not me:

  • Gawker: Ok, who told Jesse James that posing as a Nazi was funny?
  • Random Babble: Who would Jesus force to pay court expenses?
  • Mock, Paper, Scissors: Following a victory with Health Care Reform, Democrats quickly declare defeat of Cap and Trade.
  • LT Saloon: If Christian militias had their own comic book.
  • Vagabond Scholar: Looking at 2009 in film.
  • True Slant: Ladies (except Sarah Palin) Love Cool James.
  • Crooks & Liars: What does Pedophile -defender Bill Donohue call a 12-year-old that gets molested by a Catholic Priest? A homosexual.
  • Skippy the Bush Kangaroo: Getting drilled.

–WKW

Shia LaBeouf: Sage investor or InterOil dupe?

March 26, 2010

So who do you get your stock tips from, these days? How about 23-year-old actor Shia Labeouf? Yes, in studying for his role in the upcoming film “Wall Street 2,” Labeouf spent time at John Thomas Financial. At John Thomas, InterOil (IOC) is their “favorite energy stock.”

So guess which stock LaBeouf is praising?

“IOC’s momentum is major, and it will surprise to the upside,” texted LeBeouf to a GQ writer.

That InterOil is beset with controversy, lawsuits, and a distinct inability to find proven reserves of oil or natural gas doesn’t seem to dissuade the young actor.

Of course, maybe he could have researched a little better. From Sam Antar’s White Collar Fraud:

When a company like InterOil starts on a corrupt foundation, everything that follows continues to be corrupt. In many ways, Phil Mulacek’s transgressions against investors remind me of me, back in my criminal days at Crazy Eddie. We both exploited the hopes of our investors with “spin and lies.” During its entire existence, InterOil has issued an endless string of press releases hyping its future prospects and selling hope to gullible investors. Yet, after almost a decade, InterOil has no proven commercially exploitable reserves to show for it.

Read Antar’s lengthy look at InterOil here for more, and see for yourself if John Thomas has found a willing patsy to pump InterOil stock.

As for LaBeouf, he may do best to study the words of Joshua Brown at Benzinga.com:

Kid, can you just talk about your movie and stop digging your credibility hole any deeper? You seem like a nice guy and no one is rooting against you. When you read this stuff you’re saying five years from now, you’re going to cringe in embarrassment like the rest of us are doing as we speak.

–WKW

‘Can’t Stop the Music’ – A Conservative masterpiece

March 16, 2010

Has it really already been 30 years? Three long decades since one of the most important Conservative moments overran this fine nation of ours?

Yes, it was 30 years ago since the stellar conservative film “Can’t Stop the Music,” with its themes of hard-work, love of country and personal responsibility hit theaters.

“Can’t Stop the Music” begins the way many an honest tale of heroic self-responsibility begins – with Steve Guttenberg roller-skating through a busy music store. Looking to follow his dreams of unique individualism, Guttenberg asks for a day off. When rebuffed by his manager, Guttenberg then extravagantly quits his job. He’s an American, and he dares to dream.

To showcase his joy at daring to dream, Guttenberg then roller-dances around the streets of New York.

Life Tip: Dare to Dream!

After the dance, Guttenberg runs in to friend Valerie Perrine. Guttenberg calls her fat, thus showcasing his natural dominance. The two head back to her place, where they meet Indian, who had broken in to watch TV.

There we learn that that Guttenberg quit his job so he could be a fill-in DJ for a night at a club. This is a remarkable achievement and showcases Guttenberg’s endless will, for he has no rhythm whatsoever. Indian, however, has rhythm to spare.

“My son, recording his very-first backyard album. Why, it’s just like Judy Garland,”- Steve Guttenberg’s Mom.

Still, Guttenberg will not be stopped. His are the dreams of the Henry Fords and Thomas Edisons. He will become a composer/DJ and nothing – not the color of his skin or utter lack of rhythm will stop him. All he asks for is a chance. And if it doesn’t work, it’s back to dental school like his father wants. Guttenberg’s a good boy.

Life Tip: Have a fall-back plan, like dentistry.

From there we go to the club where Guttenberg’s dream is beginning to become a reality. Indian works at the club, and is unfailingly polite and helpful.

At the club, we learn that Valerie Perrine was a top fashion model, but that she gave it all up to stay home and be worried like a good All-American girl. Then, everyone dances, with alpha males vying for Perrine’s attention on the dance floor. On the dance floor, Perrine meets Cowboy, who seems like just a fine fellow.

“Music is magic. I want to make that magic,”- Steve Guttenberg.

Indian dances for the benefit of the entire club. We meet Actor dazzling on the dance floor and finally suggestively cutting the rug with Perrine. Everyone continues dancing.

Still dancing.

Perrine decides Guttenberg should make a tape of his music and they should present it to a record executive. Guttenberg experiences his first pangs of fear of success. “But, but, but, it’s impossible,” says Guttenberg. Luckily, Perrine has dated most the important men in the music world, so it should be cool.

We go forward to the next day and we see Guttenberg hard at work writing music. This, people, is the key. Sure, Guttenberg could stay at home pouting, cursing his fate as a rhythm-less guy with little more than addle-brained enthusiasm. But, no. He Works to achieve his goals. Don’t let this lesson be lost on you.

Life Tip: Rhythm is overrated.

Perrine – dedicated to be a patriotic, stay-at-home woman – rebuffs her agent begging her to make a modeling comeback, intent to clean clothes and listen to Guttenberg bang on things rather than work.

Sadly, Perrine makes an incredible discovery – Guttenberg can’t sing. He’s going to need some singers!

In order to think about this dilemma, Perrine goes for an ice cream, where she meets Indian. He is upset because his feather doesn’t fit correctly. He can, however, sing, and Perrine quickly hires him.

Perrine then runs into Cowboy. He can’t sing, and Perrine quickly hires him.

Perrine meets up with Cop. He likes Judy Garland, but for strictly selfish reasons. A music video breaks out. Cop can’t sing. Not a lick. And Perrine quickly hires him.

We meet Olympic Champion and Great American Bruce Jenner. He has apparently just fled a prom. He gets mugged by an old lady, signifying just how bad the culture has gotten. In the meantime, Valerie Perrine’s agent decides the best way to get her client back to modeling is by skulking around New York looking conspicuous.

There is serious chemistry between Indian and Valerie Perrine’s friend Lulu. The two are old-fashioned, however, and neither acts on their carnal desires.

With Indian, Actor and Cowboy, Guttenberg gives his singers direction on his song. It is quickly obvious that Guttenberg has no knowledge of music whatsoever, doing little more than making spasmodic hand gestures while repeatedly changing lead singers. His lack of any actual music knowledge makes his pursuit of his dreams even more noble.

Life Tip: If you don’t know something, fake it!

Showing that she has her own weaknesses, Lulu offers Guttenberg a marijuana joint. Guttenberg – being young and easily misled by the charms of the older Lulu – succumbs to this gateway drug.

Bruce Jenner turns up at Valerie Perrine’s apartment. He lives next door to her sister and was delivering a cake to Perrine. Because that’s the kind of Patriot Bruce Jenner is. He is, however, rightly angered by the state of the world and the fact that he got mugged by an old lady.

Cop shows up. He can sing. And he’s apparently a real cop. He thinks Indian looks ridiculous.

Guttenberg and Lulu re-emerge from a room, quite stoned. Lulu says next time she\ll bring him some “Magic Mushrooms.” She won’t be happy until Guttenberg’s on the streets, destroyed from drugs and the kindnesses of older women.

Life Tip: Say no to drugs.

Showcasing his stoic, staus-quianism, Jenner openly wonders why there are people dressed like cowboys and Indians. No real answer is given and again. Guttenberg’s mom shows up and the question is never broached again.

Perrine’s agent skulks near the party. While her techniques are controversial – even, self-defeating – one must admire her go-forward capitalistic approach. Perrine is money in the bank. And her agent refuses to give up on her.

While everyone is eating, Guttenberg’s Mom – showcasing how much the elderly have to offer society – gives a rousin speech that lifts everyone’s spirit. Cop, Actor, Indian and Cowboy take their spots. And perform. It’s quite catchy. There may be hope for Guttenberg yet.

Everyone dances.

It’s finally all too much for Jenner who storms out being very judgmental about all the hard-working patriots singing and dancing at Perrine’s home.

A day passes and Perrine is coming back from shopping Guttenberg’s music to producers. They are all depraved animals, all demanding sex-for-sales. Perrine refuses. She will make it the old-fashioned way. By hitting up an old boyfriend who is in the music industry.

Life Tip: Use your contacts!

Guttenberg admits he has sworn off relationships until he’s made it in the music world. His earnestness knows no bounds.

Perrine goes to meet the Ex-Boyfriend record producer. She lets it all hang out, knowing that success is something we all have to fight for in life. Her ex-boyfriend says he changed (but really he hasn’t.)

Perrine’s act works as she gets the ex-boyfriend to commit to making a demo tape for Guttenberg, Cop, Indian, Cowboy and Actor. Like Guttenberg, however, Perrine admits she has taken a vow of chastity until her group is a hit.

“Hey, how’s the Indian?” — Bruce Jenner

As it turns out, Jenner is the ex-boyfriend’s tax lawyer. The movie is terribly ironic that way. Jenner meets Perrine as she’s leaving, and works his way out of the doghouse with her, and – in allowing them to use his office to rehearse – is the latest to join Team Guttenberg Cowboy Indian Cop Actor Perrine.

Perrine and Jenner start to hit it off. Jenner is married, but getting a divorce. So it’s cool.

Life Tip: Don’t get all flustered when someone says they’re married.

Needing two more members Team Guttenberg Cowboy Indian Cop Actor Perrine Jenner holds open tryouts in Jenners’ office. A bevy of hopefuls show up, including Buster Zawinski, who comes out dressed in a blue costume and lifts weights while singing a few verses of “Macho Man,” and then stripping. Some in the group – mostly Cowboy – feel he’s extremely talented.

“Anybody that can swallow two SnoBall’s and a Ding-Dong shouldn’t have a problem with pride,” – Steve Guttenberg.

But this is an important decision and no one can be overlooked. The success of the band demands more singers (due to Guttenberg’s complicated music making). But Jenner’s parents arrive at his office and you can see the Mommy & Daddy Issues come pouring out of him. Will Jenner be able to fight for this dream (which, mind you, is only his dream due to the need to impress Perrine).

But, as if to show how hard work and dedication is always rewarded, Jenner’s mom inadvertently comes up with the name of the band.

They are the Village People.

First, however, they must find two more singers. The first new singer is biker, who regales them all with a heart-breaking, old-fashioned version of “Danny Boy.”

Before they can get the second singer, Jenner and his father have it out with Jenner’s father telling him that he should stick to tax law. Jenner explodes with an Ayn Rand-ian flourish of fiscal responsibility: “This country is over-taxed and so am I! I quit!!”

Life Tip: Cut taxes.

Finally, the Village People are a full group – Indian, Cowboy, Cop, Actor, Biker and Soldier – Soldier never having actually been offered a spot, but hanging around because he has a uniform, apparently.

A music video about the YMCA breaks out. Young, healthy boys playing sports and dancing around shirtless. What could be more American.

The Village People arrive for the demo taping day with Perrine’s ex-boyfriend/record producer. “I hate Halloween,” says the ex-boyfriend producer.

The boys deliver a toe-tapping song called “Liberation,” and the ex-boyfriend/record producer is not impressed. “My intuition tells me not to get involved,” he says. But he makes a low offer and Perrine angrily refuses.

But Jenner and Guttenberg – like any good men – have been working overtime and have found a club for Village People to play. The press and opinion makers will be there! There will be a big profit! The Village People are going to put on a show!

But to show that she is no ordinary model, Perrine convinces her agent to do a commercial with her and the Village People. Everything is working out!

Life Tip: Life will work out.

In the guise of a milk commercial, a music video breaks out.

But the video doesn’t work. Jenner goes back to being judgmental and rightly castigates Perrine for dressing so provocatively in the commercial. Also, the Milk people didn’t like it. Not at all.

Life Tip: Don’t get risky with the milk people.

Jenner’s Mom comes through, however, as she finds the perfect place for the Village People to perform.

Now Jenner is jealous of Perrine, thinking she’d sleep with her ex-boyfriend/Record Producer to get the band a record deal. Jenner shows that sometimes being born with everything isn’t enough. Will he be able to show Perrine that he’s not a judgmental, jealous and a jerk?

After a brief interlude on a private jet, the Richie Family gets its own music video.

It finally all comes together. The team has a two-record guaranteed album. Jenner’s dad comes back groveling. Jenner proposes to Perrine. Lulu takes over as roadie. And then, finally, Indian, Cowboy, Actor, Cop, Biker and soldier take the stage.

When all is said and done, it’s easy to see why “Can’t Stop the Music” maintains its Conservative gravitas until today. It is a story of average Americans – Steve Guttenberg, Valerie Perrine, Indian, Bruce Jenner, Actor, Cowboy, Soldier and Biker – who have dreams, follow them and achieve them. In America.

Hollywood is endlessly sending out liberally biased movies that disenfranchise the conservative movement. But just remember, 30 years ago, it all changed. “Can’t Stop the Music” is a true Conservative treasure.

Village peoples

–WKW

–Dedicated to Jon Swift.

“The Cove” wins Oscar – Louie Psihoyos doesn’t get to talk dolphins

March 8, 2010

Last month, I got to speak with director Louie Psihoyos about his Oscar-nominated documentary “The Cove.” When asked about the possibility of winning an Academy Award, here’s what Psihoyos had to say:

“A billion people will see the Academy Awards,” said Psihoyos in a telephone interview. “That’s why I’d like to win. Because for 45 seconds you can talk directly to all the key people who are involved in these policies.”

Unfortunately, Producer Fisher Stevens – missing the point and a huge opportunity – gave the acceptance speech and never actually said the word “Dolphin.”

If you’re interested in helping to stop the horrifying murder of dolphins in Japan, here are some helpful links:

Update: Courtesy of Entertainment Weekly, here is what Psihoyos had planned on saying:

The Long version of the world’s Shortest Oscar acceptance speech

By Louie Psihoyos, director of The Cove

- We made this film to give the oceans a voice.

- We told the story of The Cove because we witnessed a crime. Not just a
crime against nature, but a crime against humanity.

- We made this movie because through plundering, pollution and acidification from burning fossil fuels, ALL ocean life is in peril, from the great whales to plankton which, incidentally, is responsible for half the oxygen in this theater.

- Thank you, Black OPS Team for risking your lives in Japan — and thank you Academy for shining the brightest lights in the world on THE COVE……

- Japan, please see this movie! Domo Aragato!

–WKW

Avatar – The 3-Word Review

February 17, 2010

I’ve seen you.

–WKW

Louie Psihoyos: Oscar for ‘The Cove’ could save lives of dolphins

February 9, 2010

Louie Psihoyos wants to win an Academy Award. For the Director of the Oscar-nominated documentary “The Cove,” being nominated is great, but when the envelope is opened, he wants to hear his film called out. Mind you, Psihoyos doesn’t much care about the award itself (“I’d probably give it to the crew,” he said.), but he wants what he sees as the biggest benefit an Oscar offers – a massive audience.

“A billion people will see the Academy Awards,” said Psihoyos in a telephone interview. “That’s why I’d like to win. Because for 45 seconds you can talk directly to all the key people who are involved in these policies.”

What Psihoyos wants to talk about is the subject of his highly praised documentary – the wholesale slaughter of Dolphins in Taiji, Japan. But should “The Cove” not win the Oscar for Best Documentary, Psihoyos has already gotten the word out to millions about the formerly secret slaughter. And just this week, it was announced that the film will now be in front of people he knows can make the biggest difference – the people of Japan.

On Feb. 8, The Works International announced that “The Cove” had been acquired by Japanese distributor Medallion Media which is planning a tentative release date of April 2010 in Japan. Carl Clifton, Managing Director of The Works International, applauded Medallion for taking the film directly to the people of Japan.

“Many distributors screened the film and most decided it was simply too hot to handle even if they all felt it must be seen by the Japanese people,” said Clifton in a press release. “Medallion Media has shown real courage in acquiring ‘The Cove’ for Japan and we look forward to working with them on it.”

“The Cove” – which currently has an almost-unheard of 8.5 rating at The Internet Movie Database – highlights the annual, six-month slaughter of dolphins in Taiji. The dolphins are rounded up by fisherman, who use sonar and bang on long poles to frighten and herd the dolphins into a cove. After highly sought-after “show dolphins” – dolphins which will be taken captive and trained at Ocean parks like Sea World – are selected, the dolphins are then herded into a once-secret cove, where they are slaughtered. Each year, more than 20,000 dolphins are killed.
Louie Psihoyos
The actual cove where the dolphins are being slaughtered was a long-held secret by the Taiji and Japanese governments. But Psihoyos (“I probably watched too many James Bond movies as a kid,” he laughs”) put together his own “Ocean’s 11″ squad of filmmakers, divers and activists to penetrate the cove under the cover of darkness, hiding cameras and sound equipment throughout the area. The end result was video that is at once educating and blood-curdling.

But despite the video and the film, the killing continues.

“At the beginning of the year they stopped killing bottle-nose dolphins, but they have started the killing again,” said Psihoyos, who started the non-profit Oceanic Preservation Society in 2005.

The film follows former dolphin trainer Ric O’Barry, who trained the dolphins in the hit 1960s TV show “Flipper.” O’Barry has long felt a responsibility for the popularity of performing dolphins that took off following the TV Show, and sees his own fingerprints on the slaughter. Now the most prominent and tireless defender of dolphins, “The Cove” highlights his fight to free and save the intelligent mammals.

Aside from being a documentation of atrocities against dolphins, O’Barry’s fight for redemption, and the cloak-and-dagger operation, “The Cove” also showcases a problem for mankind – the massive elevation of mercury in the systems of sea mammals like dolphins and whales. The problem is showcased in Taiji, where the dolphins have been used as a food source, and where authorities attempted to get dolphin meat into schools across the nation.

“The whole town was mandated for being tested for mercury because of this movie,” said Psihoyos, 52. “They found that the males had 20 times more mercury in their blood and the women 10 times more than other Japanese people.”

Psihoyos said that thus far, even with the film, the Japanese government has been of no help to either the dolphins, or their own people.

“They are still in denial. They are still trying to hide behind the old tired excuses that it’s a tradition,” said Psihoyos, who resides in Boulder, Colo. “Well, this ‘tradition’ started in the 1930s. And their tradition is poisoning their own people.”

Which is why getting the movie in front of Japanese audiences is such a coup for the filmmaker. In a time when their government is experiencing the same economic crisis as the rest of the planet, the Japanese government is actually using tax payer money to keep the needless killing of dolphins going.

“If they just enforced their own laws, this problem would end,” said Psihoyos. “The Japanese people need to know they are subsidizing these people.”

Having already scaled the heights with his first film, Psihoyos is now working on what he calls a companion piece for “The Cove,” which will look at the degradation of the world’s ocean by humankind.

“To me we’re it’s like we’re living in a science-fiction nightmare we’re only beginning to understand,” said Psihoyos. “The oceans are getting increasingly acidic, and by the end of this century it will be impossible for coral reefs to even exist.”

But despite the harrowing subject matter, Psihoyos takes to his burgeoning film making and activism career with optimism. He can see things turning around with a new generation of Americans.

“I have an extreme amount of hope with the kids. They can read through the BS and see we’re destroying the environment,” said Psihoyos. “We’ve signed up nearly 1 million people already to help with this. I know people are getting engaged by this movie.”

So come Oscar night, Psihoyos will be in the audience, hoping to receive the Oscar for Best Documentary. But that won’t be the true prize he’s after.

“We’ve won a lot of awards. But I didn’t get in the business of making films to win awards. The real awards are to solve these problems,” said Psihoyos.

More on “The Cove”

  • After learning the massive carbon footprint that making a film creates, Psihoyos made the second half of the film using only solar energy, including solar-powered vehicles.
  • Psihoyos said the film has already drawn attention from the Japanese media. A recent trip to Taiji by O’Barry was covered by by a large contingent of Japanese media. “He was like a rock star,” said Psihoyos. At a Japanese film festival, Psihoyos said “We got more media coverage than “Avatar.”

Ric O'Barry

Additional Reading

–WKW

2012 and the Mayans – Apocalypse Now, please

November 11, 2009

With the film “2012″ opening soon, many of the world’s great thinkers have accepted the movie’s premise as fact. The world as we know it will come to a grinding halt in the year 2012, they believe, because the Mayans said so.

Such logic is impossible to refute. When ancient civilizations predict something, it generally happens. The history of the planet has been foretold long ago by civilizations that – while blessed with incredible foresight and predictive powers – were unfortunately unable to see their own demise staring them in the face. Thus, the end of the world is a virtual certainty.

While this is considered a radical and “moronic” opinion in some circles, history has shown us that if there’s one thing you can count on, it’s ancient societies correctly predicting future events:

  • The Hittites foretold of a U.S. President named “Baraq Kissinger Obawma” who would create or save nearly 734 million jobs but receive little credit for it due to being President at the time of the apocalypse.
  • Philosophers of the Lost Island of Atlantis accurately predicted the invention of scuba gear, though were off base in their predictions that humans would grow gills. Many researchers have claimed the Atlanteans were guilty of what scientists have called “Wishful Thinking.”
  • In ancient Greece, the famed philosopher Socrates reportedly predicted a future where “Ignorance and mediocrity will hold sway,” an obvious reference to Glenn Beck and the Tea Bagger movement.
  • In South America, the Incas predicted the arrival of a young man that would glamor millions despite having no discernible talent aside from “creepy mouth gestures” – clearly referring to “Twilight” star Robert Pattinson’s overly entitled smug poutiness.
  • The Vikings – known more for their warrior spirit – made perhaps the most accurate prediction of all, when archeologists recently discovered scrolls that stated “Whomever shall thrust Jon & Kate Gosselin upon a society shalt be disemboweled with a rusty spoon.”

  • That the world is soon to end is no reason for panic, mind you. The Apocalypse will bring with it a plethora of positives.

    Global problems like the economic crisis, swine flu, climate change, disrespectful teenagers, Glenn Beck and erectile function will all vanish immediately into the void of space. The New York Yankees will never win another World Series. No one with the last name “Bush” will ever again be in a position of power. Your herpes will cease being a social issue. The U.S. can declare victory in Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran (Nostradomus predicted the U.S. would put Iran on a steady diet of tactical nuclear weapons starting in 2011).

    So remember, the end of the world isn’t the end of the world or anything. It’s just one of those things. And there is the possibility that the Mayan prediction has been misinterpreted and humanity still has another 5,000 years or so left. But given the situation with the world today, we’d probably all be better off if it happens in 2012, if not sooner. So keep your fingers crossed, it’s really all for the best.

    –WKW

    Official Footloose Live-Twitter Open Thread

    May 21, 2009


    Hey folks, I’ll be updating this post over the next couple hours with my Tweets from the Footloose Live-Twitter Extravaganza. I’ll also be posting Videos and photos here to add to the experience. Find out more about how to follow along at Twitter here and here.

    Here are my Tweets from ““Twootloose: A Live Twitter Examination of the Social, Political and Moral Implications of Footloose”

    I now present: “Twootloose: A Live Twitter Examination of the Social, Political and Moral Implications of Footloose” – Hit play


    [Read more]

    Thursday, 3 p.m. EST on Twitter – “Twootloose: A Live Twitter Examination of the Social, Political and Moral Implications of Footloose”

    May 20, 2009

    Twootloose: A Live Twitter Examination of Footloose

    Ladies and Gentleman, boys and girls, tomorrow, Thursday, at 3 p.m. EST, I will be Live-Twittering the famed Kevin Bacon film, “Footloose.”

    The event is entitled: “Twootloose: A Live Twitter Examination of the Social, Political and Moral Implications of Footloose”

    Basically, it will be 1 hour and 48 minutes of fun, frivolity, and me Twittering my ass off while watching Footloose. This project is being undertaken for three big reasons:

    1) Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the release of Footloose;

    2) Celebrating the upcoming remake of Footloose, and;

    3) Just to have some fun.

    How to be involved: If you are on Twitter, or join, follow me at @wolfrum or, you can keep up with me using the search term and hash #footloose

    Anyone is free to be involved, just put the hash #footloose after any Tweet you would like to add to Twootloose. In a perfect world, followers could pop a DVD of Footloose into their computer and follow along real time. But being that that is likely a longshot for most, just following along will be more fun that you can shake a stick at. That is, if stick-shaking is how you rate your fun. Also, when it’s over, I will post all my #footloose Tweets in order on this blog, so you can follow along if and when you choose to watch the movie.

    Question? If you have any, ask them in comments and I’ll get back to you. It may sound more complicated than it is. It’ll be a piece of cake, and a good time will be had by all. I hope you join me @wolfrum on Twitter, tomorrow. The film and Tweet commentary will begin at 3 p.m. sharp.

    Update: If you don’t have Footloose available on DVD or Avi, you can also follow along via the screenplay, which you can find here: Footloose Screenplay

    –WKW

    Today’s interesting fact about William K. Wolfrum

    May 15, 2009

    Back when I was a truck driver in Southern California, I made a delivery to the set of “Spaceballs.” It’s a fact.

    –WKW

    With three months off, Michael Phelps can search for the ultimate Golden Ticket

    February 13, 2009

    Michael Phelps, the American swimmer who let down all of humanity by being photographed with a bong, was suspended from swimming for three months by the American Continental Association of People Who Swim Fast Competitively (or whatever). As it turns out, this was the best thing that could happen to him. Now he has time to search for the “Golden Ticket,” to be given away by producers of the movie “The Wackness.”

    Wack on
    WIN A TRIP TO AMSTERDAM
    AND A BAG OF MARIJUANA!

    Yes, you heard us correctly! We’re offering the chance for you to win a fabulous weekend break for 2 to the city of smoke itself, the beautiful Amsterdam. But that’s not all… the lucky winner will also be able to pick up a complimentary bag of skunk from legendary Amsterdam café, Hill Street Blues.

    Hidden within one of the first 1,000 DVDs of The Wackness is a Golden Ticket. Find the Golden Ticket and you win!* It’s that simple.

    As an aside, I just wanted to note that today is my birthday. If anyone wanted to surprise me with a present, I can think of a DVD I’d like.

    –WKW

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