GIRLS INTERRUPTED: THE CONTROVERSIAL NEW RUNAWAYS DOCUMENTARY

You had some problems with Joan Jett and her manager Kenny Laguna involving the film?
When you produce a film that includes footage and music not owned by the production you have to license that content. The Runaways’ song publishing is owned by Peer Music, which I believe is actually the world’s largest independently owned music publishing company and a company with which the Runaways’ have been involved with since the beginning.

Usually all your licenses are obtained in the beginning of a project, which is what we did, but in this particular instance, we had to go on blind faith and trust a company that I personally had been doing business with since I was 17 years old. I trusted them, and still do, as Peer Music is a wonderful organization.

So, one of the first calls made when we started this film was to Peer Music to tell them about the film and that we would be seeking a license for a lot of our music. Ralph Peer himself became interested in the project and told me that there would be no problem with the licenses as long as the film was approved by Peer. So over the years we kept Peer Music updated regularly with the film’s progress.

Four years later, when I screened the final version of the film for Peer Music, they told us that it was one of the best rock documentaries they had ever seen and I quote them now: “Congratulations on a job well done. This film far exceeded our expectations… We have no problem licensing you Runaways music for this project…”

While we were negotiating the licenses with Peer, Joan’s people called us and asked us to screen the film for them. Since they refused to view the film at my attorney’s New York Offices, Peer graciously offered to screen the film for Joan on our behalf. What transpired at that screening caught everyone by surprise.

Peer Music screened “Edgeplay” for Joan and 6 of her advisors, all who vehemently disapproved of the film on the grounds that Joan wasn’t featured prominently enough within the body of the film or with enough importance to the story and also felt that “far too much importance was placed on Jackie’s and Vicki’s involvement in the band…”

Long story painful, Peer tried to negotiate a compromise by not licensing any Runaways’ songs of which Joan was the sole author of, but eventually the legalities began to weigh in from Blackheart and Peer Music found itself forced into a corner. Rather than being faced with a lawsuit and having to spend a lot of time, money and resources that they would not be able to recoup through royalties, Peer made the decision not to license any Runaways’ songs for “Edgeplay” that Joan either wrote or co-wrote, without Joan’s consent. Joan flat out refused to give her approval.

That left me with 9 Kim Fowley co-written songs that I still had in the film.

What happened with Kim Fowley? He kind of tried to make life difficult for you, didn’t he?
Actually, Kim blew me away because at this point, he really stepped up to the plate. Not only did he offer to co-write and co-produce new music with me for the film (which we did), he actually consented to let me finally shoot him for “Edgeplay.”

A little back-story here: I had to license footage of Kim from VH1 for “Edgeplay” because originally he wanted several thousand dollars for me to shoot him. Since everyone involved with this film did it gratis, there was no way I was going to pay Kim – that wouldn’t have been fair.

Kim’s motivation for helping me with the music was that there were some things said in “Edgeplay” that he wanted taken out. And that if I deleted those scenes, he would consent to letting Peer license me those remaining 9 songs. I needed those songs – so my attorney (Jackie Fuchs aka Jackie Fox) drafted paper work stating that the scenes in question, one of which was called “Kim Fowley’s Sex Education Class,” would be deleted in exchange for the song licenses.

On the day of shooting the new Kim footage we actually recorded some songs, too. It was strange being in the studio with him again after all these years. Kim asked me if he could rebut some of the things that were said about him in “Edgeplay” and since we all ragged on him in the film, I said sure. So Kim sits down and begins to sing his rebuttal answers while this other guy is sitting next to him playing guitar. The whole thing was very strange in true Kim Fowley fashion.

Now while all of this is going on with “Edgeplay,” there is another film currently in production in Hollywood titled “The Mayor of Sunset Strip.” The producer of that film was also seeking licenses for Runaways’ songs. And, apparently, Cherie Currie streamed her “Kim Fowley Sex Education Class” story for this production too. The story is an awful tale in which Kim, 27 years after the alleged “incident,” is still quite concerned about the statute of limitations with regard to his actions – need I say more?

At this point, Kim sensed opportunity and began to leverage both films to get what he wanted, namely, for this particular “Sex Education Class” story never to see the light of day (no pun intended). So Kim called me up with a list of 15 additional demands to be added to the paperwork that Jackie had already drafted. Included in those demands were 3 astonishing requests.

The first request was that I make a dub from the “Edgeplay” raw footage of part of an interview with Cherie in which she states something incredibly personal and very revealing about Joan Jett. Kim wanted me to send a dub of this footage to Blackheart because he wanted to show some of Joan’s advisors, who are huge Cherie fans, that Cherie does not walk on water 24 hours a day and that Cherie is a loose cannon. Kim’s goal was for Blackheart to help him stop the “Mayor of Sunset Strip” or at least use their muscle and thug tactics like they did with “Edgeplay” to get the other producers to pull the “Kim Fowley Sex Education Class” scene from that film. In Kim’s thinking, the reason they would be interested in pulling that clip, too, is because it places Joan at the scene of the “crime” (so to speak).

The second request was for me to produce the documentation from a proposed lawsuit against Cherie by various band members wanting Cherie to delete that same “Sex Education Class” chapter from her as yet, unreleased, revised book.

The third request was to discuss a royalty rate/payment for his rebuttal answers. I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about at this point, until he said that since he sang all of his rebuttals to a guitar accompaniment, each answer constituted a “song” and he expected royalties from that and wanted to know what the rate would be.

Looking back in retrospect, it’s quite funny – but at the time it was just more than I could deal with. It totally sent me over the edge. You have to hand it to him, that at 63 years of age, the old man still has his hustle down. He nailed me.

Those requests and the 12 other less interesting requests were beyond my ethical scope of reality. So I told Kim forget it and within moments I had an email from Peer Music stating that because of both Kim’s and Joan’s objections to the use of their songs in the film they would not license me any Runaways music.

It was a dark day and one I will never forget. I think I learned the true meaning of acceptance that day.

Get the rest of the interview in part four of GIRLS INTERRUPTED: THE CONTROVERSIAL NEW RUNAWAYS DOCUMENTARY>>>




Posted on January 14, 2003 in Interviews by
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