FOOTAGE FETISHES: ROBERT STIGWOOD’S TRILOGY OF TERROR

“Back then, I was known as the ‘fifth Beatle.’”

The success of “Fever” (it grossed over $140 million) made Travolta and the Bee Gees hot property. Stigwood had already snared Travolta for “Moment by Moment,” the first in an alarming and ongoing series of career missteps for the future Mr. Kelly Preston. But what about the Brothers Gibb? They were hot following the success of “Saturday Night Fever.” I mean, “Escape from Bogen County” hot. How best to exploit their ample talents?

Picture this: the year is 1977, and a bunch of RSO executives are sitting in a Los Angeles fern bar – the muted strains of K.C. and the Sunshine Band wafting from the 8-track – trying to come up with a suitable vehicle for the Australian disco hunks:

Executive #1: What about a comic book movie? Kids love comics…they could be the “Avenging Disco Avengers.”

Executive #2: Forget it. No one wants to see grown men jumping around in their underwear.

Executive #3: What about amusement parks? They could save an amusement park from a mad scientist!

Executive #1: No! Science fiction! The Bee Gees battle disco stormtroopers!

Bartender: This music is killing me, do you guys mind if I put on the Beatles or something?

The executives share a look

Executive #2: The Beatles…why do they sound familiar?

Executive #3: ‘60s. Smoking hot pop combo.

Executive #1: slams fist on bar, knocking over his mai tai That’s it! We’ll make a movie out of one of their albums. Which one sold the most copies?

Executive #3: Uh, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band?”

Executive #1: Perfect. We’ll make a movie out of “Sgt. Pepper’s.”

Executive #2: Starring…the Beatles?

Executive #1: No, you moron, they all hate each other now. We’ll put the Bee Gees in it.

Executive #3: But there are only three Bee Gees. There were four Beatles.

Executive #1: Good point. Who else can we get?

Executive #2: Someone young.

Executive #3: Who’s hip with the teeny-boppers.

Executive #2: Shaun Cassidy?

Executive #3: Leif Garrett?

Executive #1: shakes head No, my friends: Peter Fucking Frampton.

Executives #2 & 3: Ahhhhh.

Executive #1: Mai tais for everybody!

I have no idea if that’s how it went down (rumor is “Sgt. Pepper’s” was actually a stage show first). What I do know is RSO took one of the most critically lauded albums of all time, released by arguably the greatest rock and roll band of all time, and made a movie out of it…starring the Bee Gees and – as he will forever be known following “High Fidelity” – Peter Fucking Frampton.

(I realize Frampton is a misunderstood guitar god, please forgive me in advance for any unwarranted sniping at this Great Man)

“Conceptual nightmare” doesn’t even begin to describe this sucking chest wound of a film: George Burns sings “Fixing a Hole;” Donald Pleasance sings. Period; The Future Villain Band is played by Aerosmith, who look like they just rappelled down Tony Montana’s cocaine mountain in “Scarface.” Further, there’s not a word in English to describe the lengths to which those involved try to distance themselves from it. Steve Martin, for example, likes to list “The Jerk” as his first film. Nope, it was…you guessed it, “Sgt. Pepper’s” (he plays Dr. Maxwell).

In the end, Frampton’s onscreen girlfriend (Strawberry Fucking Fields) dies, but it’s okay because Billy Preston, as Sgt. Pepper and/or Jesus, comes down from his mystical barn roof and brings her back to life. The credits roll, and everybody sprints to the bathroom to purge.

The story continues in part four of FOOTAGE FETISHES: ROBERT STIGWOOD’S TRILOGY OF TERROR>>>




Posted on October 23, 2003 in Features by

Buffer


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