'Supermensch' Star Shep Gordon on Why He Let Mike Myers Make Documentary
Radius-TWC co-president Tom Quinn also talked to THR about why the boutique label, which has had success with VOD releases, is only releasing the music movie in theaters.
Mike Myers spent years lobbying Shep Gordon to let him make a documentary about the veteran music manager's life and career before Gordon relented a couple of years ago.
Why did Gordon change his mind?
"I sort of started to feel a little bit sorry for myself," Gordon told The Hollywood Reporter ahead of Thursday night's New York premiere of Supermensch. "I wasn't getting invited to celebrity golf tournaments," he added, laughing, as did Myers, who accompanied his longtime friend down the press line.
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"I called up Mike and said, 'This is going to sound really trite, but I really want to get invited to celebrity golf tournaments, and maybe we should do this,' " Gordon explained. "And then I ended up in the hospital, and when you're in the hospital, you tend to feel sorry for yourself, and I was a little medicated."
In fact, there were times during the process of making the documentary in which Myers revealed to a group of reporters that the humble Gordon was worried about seeming too arrogant by being the subject of a documentary, frequently texting him about whether it was egotistical to make the movie.
But the movie about Gordon's career managing everyone from Alice Cooper to Emeril Lagasse, which premiered at last year's Toronto Film Festival and also screened at the Tribeca Film Festival last month, has earned positive reviews from those who have seen it, including Radius-TWC co-president Tom Quinn, who bought it after its Toronto debut.
Quinn told THR that he was moved by the film; he found it hysterical, truthful and inspiring. He explained that after he and Radius co-president Jason Janego saw the film, they instantly began "retelling the stories that we had seen in this movie."
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"There was a kernel of truth in this movie in that it's a movie to live by. And as soon as I walked out of the theater I was like, 'Man, we've all got to find our inner mensch.' It's important for you to work and live in a compassionate way. … It's also f---ing funny as shit and has all of these anecdotes and charms like you would see in The Kid Stays in the Picture or Almost Famous, and yet I feel that those movies don't have the [same] kernel of truth to them."
There was also another motivation for getting involved with the movie, Quinn said.
"Deep down, I think it was also -- the movie is so infectious that I wanted to meet Shep, and what better way than to buy this movie, right? [Jason and I have] both had an amazing time with Mike and Shep working on this film."
Although Radius has had success with its dual VOD and theatrical releases, most notably 2012's Bachelorette, Supermensch will be a solely theatrical release.
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"I feel that we build this in the traditional way," Quinn said as to why there wasn't a VOD component to Radius' Supermensch distribution. "[Supermensch] chronicles a man that we all don't know, yet he in many ways is more famous than the people that we do because he connects them all. So I feel that the way to build value for this movie is not unlike the way that we discovered it. It's gotta be a real discovery. And I feel that putting a little effort into building momentum around a theatrical release I think pays off big dividends for all of us."
Quinn added: "This narrative is a movie, and it's better than any movie you're gonna see all summer. … I think these kinds of movies have a great tradition of, you build a beachhead in the middle of summer and you play on throughout the rest of the summer, so let's see if it works. But I love it, and I think people are going to walk away with the same kind of golden epiphany."
With Supermensch, he indicated that Radius is hoping to follow the same model it used with 20 Feet From Stardom, the Oscar-winning music doc that the Weinstein Co.'s boutique label released last June. They plan to roll the film out at a similar time and turn screenings into events by using Gordon's famous friends as hosts. Radius execs are even joking that Supermensch could be called 40 Feet From Stardom, as one of the singers in 20 Feet was managed by Gordon.
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Could the 20 Feet From Stardom pattern also include Supermensch being an Oscar contender? Quinn is hopeful.
"I'm very excited to see what happens come fall season. I mean, is this an Academy contender? I think that Mike has done an exceptional amount of innovative work in this movie," Quinn said. "There are just some really cool techniques here that Mike has landed on that I think make this an exceptional documentary. … We'll see."
Myers makes his directorial debut with Supermensch, but he told the press that he had initially wanted to be a filmmaker before he ended up pursuing a comedy career, saying that he has "10 other films" in him.
The SNL alum's friend Elvis Costello, who was one of the guests at the screening at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, said that Myers got him interested in the documentary by the excited way he talked about it.
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"We were working on something else, and while we were doing that, his enthusiasm for this was obviously bubbling over. It was great fun to see," Costello told THR.
He added that he didn't know exactly what to expect from the film, but he was interested and open-minded about it.
"I'm sort of the perfect member of the audience for this," Costello said. "I have a neutral opinion going in of the subject and just curiosity to hear the story."
Other guests at the star-studded screening included Jason Sudeikis and Olivia Wilde, Michael Stipe, Clive Davis, Maggie Q, Anthony Bourdain, Zac Posen, Zachary Quinto, Kyle MacLachlan, Tonight Show announcer Steve Higgins and Donna Karan. The afterparty took place at The Wayfarer, where Tequila Casa Dragones speciality cocktails -- including the White Dragon, Michelada Primaverde and San Miguel -- were served.
Supermensch hits theaters on June 6.