Police nab suspect with spirits, videos

St. Petersburg Times - July 9, 1987


ST. PETERSBURG - A man with a taste for blood, wine and beer never had a chance to enjoy the horror movies and spirits that police say he carefully chose at a Circle K store early Wednesday morning.

Police arrested Darris L. McKinney as he left the store with a plastic garbage bag filled with an empty computerized cash register, 11 bottles of Bartles & Jaymes wine cooler, six cans of Busch beer and about 30 scary videos.

''It was kind of weird, which movies he took,'' said Annie Teal, manager of the Circle K store at 1345 34th St. S.

Night of the Zombies and The Creepers were among those taken, she said. Left behind were ''sophisticated'' movies such as The Woman in Red and Stuck on You.

Many of the recovered tapes were damaged, Mrs. Teal said. The now-broken cash register, three wine coolers and several cans of beer also were recovered by police, she said.

According to police and Mrs. Teal, at about 1:05 a.m. McKinney used a car jack to break a glass door and entered the closed store. He inadvertently triggered a silent alarm, and police said they arrived as McKinney left the store.

Two police officers and one police dog chased McKinney. Mrs. Teal said the police told her the suspect tossed bottles of wine cooler at the officers. The officers dodged the bottles and caught McKinney, who was charged with commercial burglary, police said.

The man, whom police described as a Clearwater-born transient with no local address, was in jail Wednesday afternoon in lieu of $5,000 bail.

Mrs. Teal said the man, who also is known as Darris L. Lemon, has been a regular customer at the store.

Store workers were conducting an inventory Wednesday to see if anything else was taken in that burglary and in a similar incident the night before, she said.

Mrs. Teal said no one was arrested in the Tuesday incident, when the store lost sandwiches, cakes, another cash register and two cases of Michelob and Lowenbrau beer.



Miami Herald, The (FL) - March 18, 1984

Author: BILL COSFORD Herald Columnist

Headline: WOMETCO TO SELL ITS THEATERS.Item: There's an usher who works the early shift at Wometco's Miracle Theater in Coral Gables, and has for as long as I can remember. When you give him your ticket he says, "Enjoy the show." On the way out, if there's not a crowd he asks, "How did you like the show?"

Sometimes it is the little things.

With Wometco Theaters, the little things have mostly been done right. Several years ago, The Herald did a three-county survey on movie theaters. We visited all of them, not checking on the movies but investigating everything else: cleanliness, comfort, crowd control, food quality, price. Before the survey was half done, we had confirmed what had been only a suspicion, that the Wometco insignia was that rare thing in American business, a guarantee of quality.

There are other well-run theaters, of course. The Riviera, across the street from the University of Miami, is one; it attracts a young crowd, and with it an excuse to be dirty and loud, but the Riviera is neither. Fort Lauderdale's Galleria is well maintained. And in north Dade, the Marina complex remains the best-run "tube theater" -- eight screens under one roof -- in the area. There are a few others scattered about South Florida.

The difference with Wometco has been, for years, that virtually all their theaters were well run. At a Wometco Theater, if you had a complaint, you were likely to get an answer. For a long time, it has been company policy that if you didn't like the movie, and you left early, you could get a free pass to another. The ushers actually tell loud people to be quiet, the concession stands are clean, even the restrooms are clean. An attempt is made to sweep the aisles between shows.

With all that, we found another thing about Wometco theaters: Their prices were lower -- in most cases on tickets, in all cases on popcorn, candy bars and drinks.

Wometco, in other words, has been a nice place for a long time.

We were never sure why, exactly. The late Jack Mitchell, who died not long ago after a fight with cancer was one of the reasons. He ranthe Florida theaters (Wometco also has theaters in Alaska and the Caribbean), and when you talked to him about putting on a show, he would always start his speech about the employes, and how to get kids working for little money to treat moviegoers who weren't spending much money themselves as important people. He loved to talk about that, though he had better themes from his days as a minor-league P.T. Barnum, putting on outlandish film promotions. I think it was Jack who staged the chariot race down Biscayne Boulevard, and I know it was he who put the live sharks in the Dadeland lobby for Jaws II, and who challenged Sylvester Stallone to a fistfight between Rocky's.

Another factor was that Wometco, unlike General Cinema or AMC or Plitt or the other chains, was locally based. The company regarded the Dadeland theater as its flagship, but since executives could drop in anywhere here, they were all flagships after a fashion.

What was sure was that people who went to the movies a lot often tended to regard the entire Wometco chain warmly. And in all the time that I have been going to movies, I have never encountered an entire theater chain about which people felt good.

That not only sounds nice, it sounds like good business as well. But the movies are not such good business as you might think.

Contractual relations between movie distributors and movie exhibitors are complex and fraught with quirks of accounting, but the basic terms of a contract for a big movie usually come down to this formula: Allowing for a certain deduction for movie-theater overhead -- an amount that is often arrived at arbitrarily, and may bear little resemblance to the theater's actual cost of doing business -- the initial week's take for a film such as Return of theJedi or Superman III, the ones you would think make everyone rich, is divided according to the "90/10"split. The "10" -- 10 per cent -- goes to the theaters. The "90" goes back to Hollywood. After a few weeks, the split drops to, say, "80/20."

In any case, the split is arrayed against a large advance guarantee, and advance guarantees are not ordinarily refundable even if your blockbuster goes, as they say on the West Coast, into the toilet.

This is why, and it has become a cliche of the business, theater owners will tell you that the profit is all at the concession stand. That is not quite true, but it's close.

It is also why the trend to large numbers of small theaters under one roof -- "tube" theaters, the worst kind of place to see a movie -- is probably irreversible. If you can show eight movies with the overhead of a single large theater -- one big rent, one ticket seller, one projectionist, one large concession stand -- you have a better chance to make some money.

This is why even Wometco, which cared for its theaters and their place in the community, first broke the Miracle, at 1,600 seats a genuine movie palace, into a twin, and more recently, into a "four- plex" (yes, even the names are ugly). The Dadeland was similarly altered. And when Wometco built new theaters -- Campbell Square, Miller Square -- they, too, were tubes. Handsome, well-run tubes, but tubes nonetheless.

Wometco might have stayed with its theaters and their fine reputation for years, but Wometco ownership recently changed hands. Van Myers, who began with the chain 40 years ago, when theaters were essentially its only business, and who is now chief executive officer, speaks with the delicacy of a man
auctioning off his family's antiques: "On the part of the new owners, there is good reason to divest those properties which they feel do not have the long-range potential of some of the other properties."

In other words, a forward-looking Wometco does not want to be in the popcorn-and-hot-dog business any longer. To a businessman taking a cold look at that 90/10 split, they haven't been in the movie business for years.

Myers says that the sale of the Florida theaters, when it comes, is likely to be to another chain. And he is optimistic that such theaters as the Miracle, a Coral Gables landmark, will not go the way of the old Coral and Gables theaters, sold and torn down to be replaced by office buildings.

Nonetheless, as Myers says, "Times change, industries change." Wometco is keeping its cable-TV operations, and the lesson there is Business 101. Cable makes a good return selling us movies that have already proven themselves in theaters. The trick, for theater owners, is to get people into the theaters first. Wometco knew how to do that, but even at its best theirs was not exactly a growth industry.

"It's just one of those things," Myers says, and of course he's right. I can find no villain in the piece, so I look for just a twinge of nostalgia for those years of a job well done. We'll miss Wometco theaters when they're gone, I tell Myers.

"Well," he says, "I'm not so sure that we won't, either."



Miami Herald, The (FL) - March 12, 1984

Author: LARRY BIRGER Herald Business/Monday Editor

When Miami-based Wometco Enterprises Inc. is acquired this spring, provided a last-minute glitch develops, one of the first moves of the new owners will be the sale of the company's 45 movie theaters.

Most probably, they'll also sell two of Wometco's best-known attractions -- the Miami Seaquarium and Citrus Tower in Claremont, in Central Florida.

Also on the block will be Wometco's vending division, which was built from scratch into one of the 10-largest machine-fed food-service operations in the United States.

Plans to sell these assets were disclosed in a voluminous proxy statement prepared for Wometco's proposed sale -- the largest leveraged buyout in the United States -- to the New York banking firm of Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts & Co.In a leveraged buyout, the purchaser -- in this case borrows most of the money and uses the cash flow from the company's operations to pay off the debt over an extended period.

Wometco shareholders will vote March 29 on the proposed buyout at $46.50 a share. Also being sold to KKR is the 15 per cent of Wometco Cable TV Inc. that is held publicly. For that, stockholders will receive $29.50 a share.

If shareholders approve, and the Federal Communications
Commission also agrees to the transfer of Wometco's six television station licenses, the deal could be consummated as early as next month and cost KKR slightly more than $1 billion.

The buyout would mark an end to the empire that began in 1925 with Mitchell Wolfson and Sidney Meyers, both now dead, who opened their first movie theater on North Miami Avenue between Third and Fourth streets.

From that tiny start grew a leisure-time empire that 58 years later, in 1983, grossed $520 million and enjoyed after-tax profts of $30.8 million -- both all-time, one-year records.

KKR and its limited partners are financing their heir
purchase by borrowing $660 million -- including $500 million
from a group of banks headed by Continental Illinois of Chicago. Another major lender is Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America, which is putting up $27 million.

Van Myers and Arthur Hertz, who will stay on as chief executive and administrative officers, say sale of the amusement and vending units -- and also extensive real estate in Miami and Alaska -- was dictated by the need to raise cash to reduce the huge debt accumulated in the buyout.

"In the formula of a leveraged buyout, you have to convert into cash those assets that don't produce sufficient return to justify the debt," Hertz says.What will be left of Wometco will be split into two companies. Broadcasting will be headed by Anthony J. Cassera, president and chief executive officer of Golden West Television, owned by another KKR company.

Myers and Hertz will head up non-broadcasting, which will include the company's 47 cable TV systems in 163 communities and the soft-drink operations. Wometco is one of the nation's largest Coca-Cola bottlers with operations in areas that serve 12 million people.

But Myers is quick to point out the company will not be in a hurry to dispose of its expendable assets.

"This is no fire sale," he says, "We're not in a rush to sell. There will be no bargains. We'll only sell when we find buyers who are willing to pay a fair price."

The divisions up for sale, however, have not been among the company's star performers -- which is another reason to dispose of them. Wometco closed five theaters during 1983, and the division lost money in 1981-82 before earning a modest profit last year.

Seaquarium attendance dipped from 950,000 in 1980 to 525,000 in 1983, with the decline attributed to a general drop in tourism in South Florida.

Vending sales of $102.6 million in 1983 were slightly ahead of 1982, but income declined to $3.8 million from $4.5 million a year earlier.

Analysts who follow the company say what Wometco's new owners are doing is typical in a leveraged buyout.

"It's a very usual technique that you streamline operations by selling off extraneous, less productive assets and also real estate that is generally carried on the books at cost but could bring a big profit when sold," says Ed Tavlin, of Miami's Prescott Ball & Turben Inc.

Robert Beck, a partner in State Street Research and Management Co. of Boston, whose mutual funds hold a large position in Wometco, agrees.

"Vending is traditionally a very cyclical business that requires lots of capital. And motion pictures aren't the greatest growth business. I'd also think the company has very valuable real estate under the theaters. So it's an intelligent way for them to reduce the leverage and not sell off the better assets."

Beck also says KKR, an outsider with no emotional ties, will have an easier time selling off company holdings than the Wolfson family. "It's very difficult for the family to take an objective view. It's tough for them to sell."

Except for two of its members, the family will be out of the picture once the sale is completed.

Mitchell Wolfson Jr., son of the founder, who will be paid $84.5 million for his holdings, will remain as one of Wometco's seven directors. He is investing $7 million of his own money to become a limited partner.

Louis Wolfson III, a grandson who is a vice president in Wometco Cable and whose holdings of more than 1 million shares are worth nearly $50 million, is buying a small equity position
from KKR.

Together, 31 company employes will wind up with 5.9 per cent of the non-broadcasting side and 4 per cent of the broadcasting side. But they'll have to pay $5 for each share they acquire.

They were given the ownership option in the restructured companies, each of which will have 15 million shares of privately held stock.

Hertz, 50, who will receive more than $2.2 million for the Wometco shares he holds, will emerge as the largest shareholder among current managers by paying $1 million for 200,000 shares in the two new companies.

Myers, 66, who will get nearly $1.4 million for his Wometco stock, will pay $200,000 for 40,000 shares.

KKR, meanwhile, will receive $10 million for negotiating the purchase agreement and will receive annual fees that start at $600,000 and increase at a compound rate of 10 per cent yearly for managing the surviving companies.

Drexel, Burnham Lambert Inc., a New York investment banker hired to render an opinion as to whether the $46.50 price was fair to the stockholders, is being paid $4 million.

Merrill Lynch Capital Markets, which also rendered a favorable opinion, is getting $200,000. And Continental Illinois will receive $1.2 million for bringing Wometco to the attention of KKR.

Not all shareholders are pleased with the price. Several class actions suits have been filed with one litigant claiming the price is "grossly inadequate and unfair." Another maintains that Wometco's board had earlier turned down more than $50 a share.

Analyst Tavlin calls the $46.50 "a full price" since Wometco is selling for 28 times 1983 earnings. "But its earnings are growing rapidly," he maintains.

Adds State Street's Beck: "I think it's a fair price, and it could be underpriced. Wometco has some very valuable assets."



Miami Herald, The (FL) - September 25, 1983

Author: MARY JO TIERNEY Herald Staff Writer

The message on the marquee at the Sunrise movie theater is something no one wanted to see.

It says "Closed for Refurbishing," but there's not much action inside the 60-year-old downtown movie house.

"We're not quite sure what we're going to do with it. We have to have our architects take a look at it and analyze the situation," said Tommy Hyde, vice president of Kent Theaters, which has rented the building from the Koblegard family for more than 20 years.

Not many people got sentimental when the old Fort Pierce Hotel was torn down last month. But the Sunrise movie theater -- now that's something else.

It's where St. Lucie County Judge E.P. DeFriest first saw Tom Mix on his white horse. "I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the most exciting thing that ever happened to me. The most disappointing thing that happened to me was not having a dime and having to miss one of those serials on Saturday afternoon," he said.

The theater is where A.E. (Beanie) Backus started his artistic career. Backus made the posters of the upcoming attractions. He was paid $14 a week, but also got to see some of the "big shots" who came to the Sunrise. And he said there were some big shots.

Sally Rand was there, doing her fan dance, and Olson and Johnson's Hellzapoppin rolled them in the aisles. There was vaudeville and the Saturday morning Mickey Mouse clubs, followed by a double feature.

But the biggest attraction was Wednesday night. That was bank night. "A drum majorette would pick a number out of a bowl and the winner would get a couple hundred dollars, or some dishes or furniture. The place was packed. Everyone in town would be there," said Circuit Court Judge Philip Nourse.

Nourse was an usher, making $3 a week "working every night of the week and on weekends." But he said the the job did have its fringe benefits. "All the pretty girls were there on Saturday afternoon."

For decades,the Sunrise theater was a favorite rendezvous spot for teenagers. It was big and dark enough for some discreet smooching, just as long as they stayed out of the balcony.

The balcony was reserved for the blacks, who until the late 1950s, were not permitted to sit in the main theater.

The Sunrise was once the biggest theater between Jacksonville and Miami. For decades it was the only theater in Fort Pierce. Now there's the Village in Searstown with its six theaters and the Cinema on South U.S 1 with its two screens. But most serious moviegoers said the Sunrise is still the best place in town to watch a film.

The screen is mammoth compared to the others and the theater is big enough to have a smoking section.

But the Sunrise has a lot of overhead and no longer draws enough of a crowd to fill all of those seats.

"The public just doesn't realize what's involved in running a theater like that," Hyde said.

He said Kent theaters could give up their lease to the Koblegards, but no decision has been made.

R.N. (Koby) Koblegard, whose father and grandfather both ran the Sunrise, said he isn't sure what the family would do if Kent decided to pull out.

"I guess we could put something else in there or renovate it. Or maybe we could tear it down and start all over ... It's just not a moneymaker anymore," he said.

Nourse said he may have the answer. "Tell them to have the bank nights again," he said. "They were always the talk of the town."



Miami Herald, The (FL) - May 25, 1983


Sheriff's deputies were searching Tuesday for a print of the film Return of the Jedi that was stolen from a movie theater .

Kjel Nore, manager of the Bush River Cinemas, said the movie completing the Star Wars trilogy was delivered early in the morning, but it was gone by the time he got to work.

Return of the Jedi makes its world premiere today in more than 800 theaters in the United States and Canada. The movie is expected to gross more than $20 million in its first week, 20th Century-Fox officials said.

Sheriff's Capt. Jack Bowden said the movie print is worth about $3,000, but "it's not the value of that particular print we're worried about. It's the potential lost income. They're worried about somebody copying the film and distributing it. That could run into millions."

Another copy of the film was quickly shipped to the theater for its 11 a.m. premiere.



Miami Herald, The (FL) - March 10, 1983

Author: From Herald Wire Services

A civil liberties group challenged the Reagan Administration in court Wednesday over its decision to brand three Canadian films as propaganda that must carry special labels when shown in the United States.

In legal papers filed in U.S. District Court, the American Civil Liberties Union said the action violates constitutional free speech guarantees and stigmatizes the films, two about acid rain and an anti-nuclear movie nominated for an Academy Award.

Meanwhile, Rep. Robert W. Kastenmeier (D., Wis.), chairman of the House judiciary subcommittee on civil rights, introduced a bill to repeal the section of the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 requiring that films and other similar material carry the disclaimer.

Kastenmeier said his bill would repeal the section of the law calling for Justice Department review of films and other materials.

"I view such actions as unwarranted government intrusion into activities in an area clearly protected by the First Amendment," the congressman said.

At issue is the Justice Department's decision that the three films -- produced by the National Film Board of Canada, an independent agency of the Canadian government -- are subject to the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Under that law, the department can review materials intended for distribution in this country by registered agents of foreign powers.

If the material meets a definition of "political propaganda," it must carry a label that it is edited by the registered party and that "registration does not indicate approval of the contents of this material by the U.S. government."

The film board also must tell the government the number of groups seeing the film and the names of the television stations, organizations or theaters using the material.

The ACLU said the government's "attempts to cause a denigrating label to be placed or retained on the films, and the requirements that the Canadian film board assist in the execution of any notice of dissemination in connection with the films violate the First Amendment."

It also said the films fall under a fine arts exemption of the law.

The ACLU asked the court to declare the "political propaganda" regulations are unconstitutional and to block the government from requiring the films to carry the special label.

The government's action has caused a storm of protest and condemnation from members of Congress. It also prompted long lines at movie theaters showing the films: If You Love This Planet, Acid From Heaven, and Acid Rain: Requiem or Recovery?.

The Justice Department had no comment on the ACLU's suit. However, in letters to editors last week, department spokesman Thomas DeCair said the administration is not engaging in censorship and called the reaction "uninformed hysteria."

The ACLU filed its suit on behalf of two environmental groups, a Washington movie theater which has shown the documentaries, a film distributor, the New York Library Association and the state of New York, which argued its citizens have a right to learn about the acid rain problem that affects their environment.

AIP ballyhoo


From Boxoffice Magazine, May 1977


From Boxoffice Magazine, May 30, 1977


From Boxoffice Magazine, May 30, 1977

THE CHILD ballyhoo

From Boxoffice Magazine, May 30, 1977


From Boxoffice Magazine, May 30, 1977


From Boxoffice Magazine, May 30, 1977




Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA) - August 31, 1983

Author: Ann Kolson, Inquirer Staff Writer

Gorehounds are a breed apart.

They can be seen lining up outside movie theaters for such stomach-turners as Corpse Grinder, Maniac, Gore Gore Girls or that all-time favorite I Spit on Your Grave . They crave nothing better than a brutal slaughter, spurting blood, severed limbs, cleaved heads and gouged eyeballs.

Though the low-budget splatter flicks they love are reviled by highbrow critics for their bad acting, poor technical quality and frequently anti- female themes, gorehounds have found a champion in Rick Sullivan.

Sullivan, 28, is the founder, publisher and sole contributor to the Gore Gazette - a 35-cent newsletter dedicated to sleazy films or, as its masthead proclaims, "Your Bi-Weekly Guide to Horror, Exploitation and Gore in the N.Y. Metro Area." Circulation of the three-year-old publication is 5,000 and growing.

Slight, mild-mannered and bespectacled, Sullivan is a "normal guy" who just happens to be known as "Mr. Gore." He looks more like a certified public accountant than a connoisseur of the gross and disgusting. Funny, he is a certified public accountant, working in North Jersey booking films and doing accounting for a small chain of movie theaters. But that's just his job; sleazy cinema is his life.

Most of Sullivan's spare time is spent in the squalid movie houses around 42d Street in New York City or, sometimes, at suburban New Jersey theaters where gory films are screened at midnight. The Fabian, a five-screen theater owned by Sullivan's boss in fraying downtown Paterson, N.J., is a showplace for the greatest in gore. (One recent imaginative, although unprofitable, booking there was the pairing of Gandhi with Tales of the Crypt, "catering strictly to Hindu gorehounds," Sullivan says.)

According to Sullivan, defining the schlock/shock genre - "goon pictures shown in goon theaters" - is easy. An exploitation film is made only to make money and "any artistic statement is only accidental."

Take the movie Blood Feast (1963), for example, that Sullivan considers a classic. "A lot of people think it's the worst movie ever made," Sullivan says cheerfully. It was made for $20,000 in six days ("It was supposed to be five, but it rained one day.")

Blood Feast - filmed in Miami by Herschell Gordon Lewis, a granddaddy of gore - made $2 million, according to Sullivan, without ever playing in New York, Chicago or the West Coast. (It did, however, play Philadelphia.) Rural Southern drive-ins are where it and films like it fare best.

At the theaters he attends, Sullivan sees who goes but can't say what makes the movies popular. At the theaters in urban New Jersey, audiences are primarily black and Hispanic. In trendy Manhattan theaters and bars that screen gore classics, much of the clientele is gay.

Scratchy prints, uninspired scripts and wooden actors are taken for granted by gorehounds. According to Sullivan, 50 percent of the actors in these films are unknowns, the other 50 percent are has-beens. Cameron Mitchell is one who appears. So is Samantha Eggar.

Sullivan sees himself as kind of a Ralph Nader: "I tell them what to see and what's a rip-off." He admits that as much as 80 percent of the movies are ''garbage" but thinks that "a lot are very good films the press ignores."

This is a fast-buck industry where the advertising budget often exceeds the shooting budget for the film. And where greedy filmmakers change the names of films to capture a new, unsuspecting audience.

Who else but Sullivan could caution the unwary that "Dr. Butcher is the 1979 Italian production, formerly Queen of the Cannibals, to which Aquarius added an opening sequence lifted from a mid-'70s American production known as Tales That Will Rip Your Heart Out from director Roy Frumkes."

The gazette is filled with other helpful tips. "Ignore the ad campaign: Class of 1984 is not the trendy throw-away fluff United is promoting it to be," one review reads. ". . . There is plenty of activity with table saws, lead pipes, switchblades, car crashes . . . to more than satiate any gorehound."

Sullivan turned to gore because he was forbidden to watch horror movies as a kid. That's his theory, anyway. But by the time he accidentally saw The Giant Behemoth, at age 5, he was hooked.

After college he wound up in a three-piece suit working as a financial analyst for Exxon in New York City and spending his lunch hours in 42d Street theaters watching gore.

Sullivan began the Gore Gazette in 1980 at Exxon expense (unbeknownst to Exxon), using company printers and mailing it in company envelopes. He "drew the line," he says, at using company stamps.

The gazette, then free, was gaining in popularity ("the printers liked it better than doing financial statements") and all was going well for several years until a security guard found a copy in the men's room. Exxon threatened to get him for mail fraud - they didn't pursue it - and after 4 1/2 years of work, Sullivan found himself unemployed. Three weeks later he found his present job with the theater chain.

Interesting, sometimes elevating - "I try to include vocabulary expansion in the Gore Gazette; I try to include at least three words readers would have to look up" - Sullivan isn't sure that the Gazette will last forever.

Sometimes, he admits, it gets boring. "How many synonyms are there for 'sick,' 'deranged' and 'crazed'?" he asks.


1994 Theater image from the Flickr photosite of sssdc1

Our Own Outrageous Ontario

Washington Post, The (DC) - October 30, 1981

Author: Michael Kernan

IT IS 7:30 on a Saturday night, and the Ontario Theater is embarking on a marathon of the three "Omen" movies, one after the other. Thirty people are rattling around in the great dark chamber which has room for 1,100. The floor isn't canted, to speak of, but the huge screen is so high that it doesn't matter. A stage projects several yards in front of it. The place is clean, amazingly clean.

"We have three films every night," says Seth Hurwitz, the former manager who now books pictures for the Ontario when he isn't running his own booking company, IMP ("(It's May Party"). "Three movies for $3, it's a gimmick. I go to all the screenings of first-run pictures and only use proven hits. The neighborhood is changing, and we try to keep that in mind."

The neighborhood is perhaps Washington's most interesting, Adams-Morgan, the Columbia Road area between 16th and Connecticut. Blacks, whites, Latinos, artists, embassy people, white-haired apartment dwellers . . . and he's right, it is changing, and the prices are going up.

"I tried 'Elephant Man,' and that didn't go. I tried 'Straw Dogs,' which has plenty of violence, but it didn't go. I put the classic 'Freaks' in with 'The Fantastic Animation Festival,' but that didn't work either. But they loved 'Gloria,' which is a classy movie but violent."

Now the audience is building. People drift in steadily, paying no attention to the movie times. A group, laden with cups, pails and bushel baskets of popcorn, files in and settles itself. On the screen, David Warner is being nastily beheaded by sheet glass, the sound track is screaming and blood is pumping, but the talkative newcomers don't bother to look.

Recently a local magazine attacked the Ontario for running so much violence, notably the sadistic " I Spit on Your Grave ." Hurwitz and the present manager, Carlos Rosario, say they are doing their best to upgrade the product while still making a living. On weekends the theater shows Spanish-language films, mostly Mexican, with the occasional Cantinflas comedy (no subtitles). These do very well indeed.The live rock concerts also do well.

"It's expensive to operate as a concert Hall," Hurwitz says, "because there are no lights or sound, everything has to be brought in and taken out. We pick them carefully, charge $8 or $9, you have to be sure you have a hit. We had three this year, all sellouts."

One problem is making the theater attractive to suburban kids who might feel threatened by the neighborhood and perhaps don't understand the uninhibited Columbia Road audiences. The Ontario goes out of its way to have police protection at concerts and a couple of black-belt bouncers hanging around . . . "They're kids themselves, and they're concerned mainly with the fire regulations. It's a happy group, a little noisy, but we've never had any trouble," Hurwitz says.

The first "Omen" picture is over, and more people drift in from the black-marble-and-mirror lobby designed by Marvin Goldman when K-B Theaters took over the place in 1958. Someone calls to a friend clear across the theater. the friend shouts happily back. Small children run up and down the aisles. Everyone seems immune to the film's determined spookiness. It is only when the action explodes that the chatter stops, like crickets in the country when a car passes.

"Outrageous is our byword," Hurwitz says. "We don't do any X-rated stuff. I would say the ideal combination was 'Dawn of the Dead' and 'halloween II.' The perfect Ontario movie. Sometimes they come in late and don't like it and demand their money back, or they want to pay $1 just to see the last picture."

For several years he tried to run hard-ticket reserved-seat programs at the Ontario, but it was no good. The turning point came in March 1979, when Bruce Lee's "Enter the Dragon" opened, and receipts went through the roof. Since then, the Ontario Theater has provided a fascinating study in esthetics, teetering delicately on the razor's edge between art and money. It's also the last word in community movie theaters.

The other night they had a ridiculous picture called "Dracula's Dog." A guy came up to the box office and said, "I didnt know dracula had no dawg." But he paid his $3 and went in anyway.

INTO THE VALLEY OF THE 'ULTRAVIXEN' bu David Lees and Stan Berkowits

Poster image from Bosnuk's Public Gallery : http://picasaweb.google.com/weirdposters

Into the Valley of the 'Ultravixen'

Washington Post, The (DC) - March 18, 1979

Author: David Lees and Stan Berkowits; Copyright (COPYRIGHT) 1979, David Lees and Stan Berkowitz Distributed by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate

The sign on the sandy highway optimistically proclaims: "Rosamond, Gateway to Progress." But if there have ever been any gateways (or any rpogress) during the history of this little town on the edge of the Mojave Desert, they've been sunbaked or sandblasted out of existence. A handful of fast-food franchises huddle together along the only street in town. Hilly desert country stretches out on all sides; a lonely highway cuts across it all, going to nowhere from nowhere.

Nobody in Rosamond knows about it, but the biggest news here is the shooting of the finishing touches of a feature motion picture.

The firm carries the marquee-stretching title "Beneath the Valley of the Ultravixens." Coupled with the almost furtive location work, it's a sure sign that Russ Meyer, the man Forbes magazine calls "the Hugh Hefner of the adult-movie business," is back at work.

Work, for Meyer, means shooting -- and marketing -- his own filmed fantasies. Meyer comes up with the ideas for his films. He collaborates in the writing of the scripts. He secures all financing, half of the money usually coming out of his own pocket. In addition to the traditional duties associated with a producerdirector, Meyer feels most comfortable working as his own cinematographer, camera operator, gaffer, transportation captain, unit manager and occasinal cook. He will serve as the film's editor, and after it's completed, he will spend one day each week going over ledger sheets and calling up theaters, in his role as the distributor of the finished product. It may open soon in Dallas.

Although Meyer has kept away from hardcore footage in his work, he has spent years and hundreds of thousands of dollars defending himself against obscenity charges throughout America.

During the last 18 years, Meyer has turned out 32 films. At last count, the take for his movies totaled around $60 million. Meyer's audience, once limited to older men in raincoats, has grown to include college students and even a few women. This small, youthful Russ Meyer film cult turns out in full force for Meyer reruns.

It takes most of the two-hour drive out to Rosamond for Meyer to sketch in the plot of the film. Concerned with the career of a young man whose sexual dysfunction is cured by the divine intervention of a lady evangelist, "Beneath" is scattered with silly character names, cases of mistaken identity and a cheerful bawdiness throughout. Meyer can point with pride to Pulitzer Prize winner Roger Ebert as a collaborator on "Beneath." Ebert, an old friend of Meyer's who won the journalism prize as a film critic for The Chicago Sun-Times, has his name listed as screenwriter on Meyer's "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls." This time around, he wants to use a pseudonym.

"Go ahead and use his name," Meyer says. "He just tells everyone anyway. He wants to call himself Holly Martins (the character Joseph Cotten played in "The Third Man"), but I think Mr. Hyde would be better."

There is little chance that "Beneath" will show up on many critics' top-10 lists, despite the shadowy presence of Ebert. In New Times, Richard Corliss accused Meyer of going directly from adolescence to senility in "Up." Another critic wrote that he found "not one damned thing redemptive" about "beyond the Valley of the Dolls."

But to many observers, Meyer's films have become important not so much for their content as for the way they are made. Meyer's working style offers what some say is a sensible alternative to the extravagances of major studio productions. A Meyer film rarely exceeds its $250,000 budget. He takes only a few people along on the crew; the films he makes require only a few weeks to shoot. A finished Meyer product has the high production values of studio features -- and Meyer's astonishing batting average of 30 hits and two flops is far better than any studio's.

On Meyer's small crews, everyone has double duties. Often, the sound recordist helps with the props, the makeup woman claps the slate and the actors help carry the equipment.

"Meyer is very overbearing, but he gets the job done," says Charles Pitt, an actor who played the lead in "Supervixens." "It's like old Blood-and Guts Patton. If he needs a shot, he'll lie down in the mud and show you the shot he wants; he'll never tell an actor to do something he won't."

Meyer has a tired face, the lines etched by the months he has spent looking at his latest film through the tiny window of a Moviola.Sitting in a corner booth in the bar at the Hollywood Nickodell, the 56-year-old Meyer sips on a nonstop series of Bombay martinis. He is reluctant to speculate on how long be will be able to sustain his flat-out working pace, but it is clear he intends to continue as a strictly one-man show.

"I want to make my films, my kind of pictures, one a year," he says.

The relative comfort of a full union crew doesn't seem to appeal to him. He has signed with only one union, Screen Actors Guild; the others have never bothered him.

"If you want to make a picture that has any real scope and name stars, where you have to have portable toilets, policemen, caterers, you have to sign a contract because you need all those services. It serves me no purpose to have a giant crew for my kind of film... but it's very good if you're going to make a musical, like 'Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.'"

"Beyond" -- or, as some critics called it, "B.V.D." -- was Meyer's first major studio film, made in 1970 for 20th Century-Fox. He went on to direct "The Seven Minutes" for the studio, but when it bombed, Meyer found himself back on his own.

"I wouldn't go back to a major studio," Meyer says flatly. "At Fox, [Richard] Zanuck was always telling me how great it was to see my car in the lot on Sundays, but I don't think he'd ever seen one of my films.

"I don't want to make an art movie," continues Meyer. "I don't want to make a film that has great critical acclaim. It's nice if someone says a few nice things, but the important thing is the guy who plunks down his $3.50 or $4 to see the movie.

"The satisfaction I have is that I can make films that are not peopled with any kind of stars; and if I do it right, people will come in large numbers to see what the hell I've done.

"My films are just extensions of my own fantasies. Right now, I want to make a film a year and have a good time."

Meyer's definition of "a good time" has always included flirting with disaster. Meyer, and nearly everyone who has always included flirting with disaster. Meyer, and nearly everyone who has worked for him, has a stock pile of stories about boat crashes, near-electrocutions and brushes with venomous snakes, all encountered during the course of shooting.

Steve Oliver, who starred in Meyer's 1964 bike epic, "Motorpsycho," before playing in 148 episodes of "Peyton Polace" as Lee Webber, recalls: "If Meyer wanted something, he'd get it. We were shooting on a hill, with about a foot and a half on each side of us and the camera right in the way of the bikes. Two actors ended up in the hospital, one with a hole in his stomach two inches wide."

But for Meyer, the worst disaster is failing to complete a movie.

"You make the film by the grace of God and a long-handled spoon," he says. "The only thing that counts is get the film done, no matter what you have to do. Lie, cheat, steal, bunco, con, get it out."

All Those measures failed recently on a project called (depending on who you talk to) either "Anarchy in the U.K." or "Who Killed Bambi?" Meyer was hired by the management of the then-punk, now-defunct Sex Pistols to direct a takeoff on "A Hard Day's Night"; but after three days of shooting in Ireland, the production stopped.

Meyer is suing the Pistols for back pay; they are counter suing him, claiming unprofessionalism and alleging that he attacked an actress during auditions. Meyer denies the charge, but he hopes the court fight will generate publicity for his new film.

Meyer's hunger for publicity never extends to the actual shooting of his films. He clamps a security lid on the set because he says his actresses balk at appearing naked in front of gawking strangers. It's also cheaper to shoot in a semi secret environment.

Segments of "Supervixens" were filmed in the home of an old Army buddy of Meyer's who lives in Highland Park. An interior for "Beneath" was shot at The Other Ball bar in San Gabriel. In selecting an exterior for "Beneath's" inserts, Meyer simply turned off the main highway, drove across the rough terrain and opened up shop at the foot of a hill.

Meyer's drive to complete his own films in his own way often tempts even the unknown actors he uses to walk off the set and across the desert. On his "Cherry, Harry and Raquel," an actress left in the middle of shooting.

"The person who's involved in simulated sex," Meyer explains, "They think after a while, well, this is just a porno film, why is it so important?"

Uschi Digard, a buxom North Dakotan who has acted in four of Meyer's films and served most recently as associate producer for him, claims, "As an actress, you have to give Russ what Russ wants."

Meyer alumni have graduated to other things from his films. Oliver plays the character role of Dugan in Crown International Pictures' top-grossing "Malibu Beach." Harrison Page, a regular in "C.P.O. Sharkey," Ken Swofford of "The Eddie Capra Mysteries," Alex Rocco, who was Moe Green in "The Godfather," and Charles Napier, Chrome Angel in "Handle With Care," have all worked for Meyer.

Meyer is quick to point out the irony that although he is known for casting actresses of spectacular dimension, few of them have gone on to any prominence. Former Playmate Dolly Reed starred in "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," but now she's known mainly for a succession of guest appearances on game shows with her husband, comedian Dick Martin. Erica Gavin, whom Meyer credits with the success of his "Vixen," now works in a boutique in West Hollywood. Shari Eubank worked in "Supervixens," acted in one other exploitation film, then returned to her home in rural Illinois.

"None of them are primarily actresses," says Digard. "They don't really want to be actresses. They either marry a rich man or go into other fields. I never really wanted to be an actress. I've had fun, but I've never felt about acting as I do about being behind the camera."

Francesca (Kitten) Natividad, one of the leads in "Beneath," seems to echo Digard's assessment. "I don't have to be a serious actress. I have a great body, so why not use it?"

Phyllis Elizabeth Davis may become the exception to the dismal track record of ex-Meyer actresses. Her first major role was in "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," a film she somehow managed to get through without removing her clothes. Her later work in a couple of women-in-prison films did involve some nudity, but that part of her past didn't prevent her from doing "Love American Style" on television (she was with the blackout cast) and a major feature, "The Choirboys."

Currently on the ABC series "Vegas," Davis remembers that she and Meyer "just didn't hit it off.

"I don't want to say anything negative about him," she adds. "We just didn't become friends -- at all."

Meyer's subject may be sex, but he is puritanical about off screen passion. He demands that the sexes be segregated while on location and is constantly on the alert to make sure they stay that way. Just talking to an actress alone in her room drew an assistant cameraman an angry reprimand from Meyer.

"A newspaper editor came by while we were shooting once," reports Meyer, "a real swinger. He thought we'd all be mingling together like angle worms. Fall asleep, then wake up and do a couple of shots. That's not the way it works."

"Sure, you'd be anxious to see what the girl looked like when she took off her clothes," says one former grip for Meyer, "but then, after about five minutes, it was business as usual. Well... maybe 10 minutes."

"I choose to think that if the actors and actresses continue to keep being horny, their whole attitude is hungry, lean. It may contribute to their performance," Meyer said of his on-location policy.

Ms. Nativdad, who tells a reporter to "make sure to say I'm his girlfriend," seems to contradict Meyer's avowed reluctance to mix real-life sex with is celluloid fantasies. "I was in 'Up,' and after that I really wanted to be in his next one really bad. I kept inviting him out to lunch, but he wouldn't go. Finally, he went, because he had nothing else to do, I guess. You know, he drinks and I don't but I was drinking anyway. I passed out and woke up at his house. That's how our romance started," she says brightly.

Their relationship has continued during the making of "Beneath," and because of it, Meyer lifted has ban on fraternization.

During principal photography, he and Kitten would often slip away together at lunch. Concerned, Kitten says, "Do you think everyone knew what we were doing?"

"Sure," Meyer replies blithely."When you came back, some of your body makeup was gone."

At Rosamond, Kitten sponges on her body makeup for what she hopes will be the last time... on this film. Meyer completed principal photography a year ago, but he is still busy shooting inserts, brief pieces of nonverbal footage that add to the flow of the film. Kitten's figure is pure Little Annie Fannie, with an assist from a Las Vegas plastic surgeon.

Despite the proximity of these distractions, Meyer works steadily through the afternoon. His personality on the set is low-key; he rarely shouts. He moves quickly to set up each shot, but he doesn't seem to panic as he hurries to wrap up shooting before the sun goes behind the mountains. Everything goes so smoothly, one is tempted to wonder why Meyer needs even one assistant.

But suddenly, Meyer asks his assistant to operate the camera, enabling Meyer to do the one thing he hasn't done so far in this film -- act. He will play himself, directing "Beneath the Valley of the Ultravixens."

After the scene, with the sun gone, Meyer takes advantage of te natural echo of the hills to record some sound effects. Kitten and the assistant position themselves next to each other, about 20 feet from the microphone. They burst into a cacophony of orgiastic moans and groans, punctuated by lunatic dialogue. Meyer interrupts several times, orchestrating the precise effect he has in mind.

"I want it to sound like lunch at the zoo," he says with satisfaction.


Violence in the Wake of 'Warriors'

Washington Post, The (DC) - February 22, 1979

Author: Megan Rosenfeld

On February 15, Martin Yacabowicz, 16, was riding on a Boston subway at about 10 p.m. when he got into an argument with six young men he knew; one of them had a knife strapped to his right leg. A few minutes later, a knife had been plunged into Yacabowicz' stomach; he staggered off the train and collapsed at a bus stop, where he was found by two policemen and taken to a hospital. He died at 5:15 a.m. Police have charged two young men with his murder, and say they were among the six and that they had all been to see a movie called "The Warriors," advertised as "Boston's Number One Newest Hit."

On February 12, at 10:20 p.m., in the lobby of a movie theater in the Esplanade Shopping Center in Oxnard, Calif., Timothy Gitchel, 18, his brother and two of his friends, all white, were asked for a quarter by one of a group of 20 black youths. They got into a shouting match; Gitchel got a bloody nose. The fight escalated, and a few minutes later Gitchel, who had been stabbed in the heart, staggered into another area, and died. The movie: "The Warriors."

"The Warriors," a $4 million feature made with unknown actors which opened on Feb. 9, grossed $3.5 million in its first three days. At least five incidents of violence have followed in its wake, although a Paramount spokesman denies any direct link. In addition to the deaths in Oxnard and Boston, there was a fatal shooting in a Palm Springs drive-in , a subway rampage in New York, and a rock and bottle throwing incident at a drive-in in Oxnard.

Paramount spokesman Gordon Weaver said that as a result of the incidents the company had withdrawn its advertising, and offered to pay for extra security at any of the 670 movie theaters playing the film. Two theaters , in Oxnard and Palm Springs, have canceled showings of "The Warriors."

"We canceled the advertising because it was turning into a media event," Weaver said. "We didn't want to have a situation where a news commentator would finish a report on one of these incidents and then an ad would come on saying 'now playing at your local theater .'"

(Last night, however, the AP quoted Weaver as saying Paramount had decided to resume advertising but that the ads would be different -- telling prospective patrons only that the film was being shown and where they could see it. "We wanted an ad that could never be construed as being exhortative," he was quoted as saying.)

Weaver said he did not believe that the movie inspired the violence, and cautioned that in the incident in Palm Springs the participants had been involved in another fight unrelated to the movie, and that in Oxnard the blacks had seen the movie but the whites had not.

"What happens is when you have an event where you have large groups of people from diverse backgrounds meeting in a common forum, it perhaps provides a setting for something antisocial to happen. I've seen enough bloody noses at high school football games to know that... You have to look at the number of films released every year and say do people act out their fantasies? That does not seem to happen."

Massachusetts state Sen. Michael LoPresti complained in a letter to the Boston area district attorney that the film "depicts youth crime in a glamorous manner." LoPresti asked to have the movie banned in Boston; assistant district attorney Paul K. Leary said the office would view the film and see if it was violating any local statutes.

"It's a very violent picture," said the assistant manager of the downtown Boston theater where the six youths had allegedly seen "The Warriors."

"It's fantasy violence," said Weaver. "The violence is not real violence, it's pop-gun violence. Obviously, heads get bashed in, but it's not done in an ugly way."

"These are the Armies of the Night," read the advertisements for "The Warriors." "They outnumber the cops five to one..." It takes place in New York City, and involves the efforts of a gang (the Warriors) to reach their home turf via subway after being mistakenly blamed for the death of another gang's leader.

"There are not innocent people who get attacked," said Weaver. "It's good guys and bad guys, like a Western. The one truly bad person receives retribution."

Locally, the film is playing at the Town Downtown, the K.B. Silver, and the K.B. Georgetown Square. The manager of the Town theater said the only problem he'd had was "some noisy kids" one day when school was canceled because of the snow. He said Paramount was paying for the two extra security guards he had hired for the run of the movie.

Oxnard police spokesman Lt. Dan Hanline said the fight did not appear to be a gang war but rather a racial incident. There were 60 people in the lobby during the fight, he said, yet police have been unable to charge anyone with the murder. One suspect was released for insufficient evidence "although there was blood on him."

In another incident the night before in Oxnard, Hanline said, young people threw rocks and bottles at police cars called to a drive-in after a showing of the film was canceled because of fog. Asked if he thought the movie was related to both incidents, Hanline said, "you can't expect me to answer that." However, he said, violence of that type is "rare" in Oxnard, where last year there were a total of 14 murders in a population of 100,000.

Paramount Pictures executives were "shocked, totally shocked," at the violent incidents surrounding the showing of the movie, Weaver said. "Three young people lost their lives," he said. "We knew young people would like it, but we certainly were not prepared for that."

"I'll tell you one thing," said the assistant theater manager in Boston."We haven't done such good business in 15 years, not since we had 'My Fair Lady'."


Miami Herald, The (FL) - January 31, 1983
Author: LIZ BALMASEDA Herald Staff Writer

When the flying cars, burning rubber and crashing metal stopped Sunday morning, a wreckage of fast cars littered Collins Avenue like a mess of linguini.

"Anybody get killed? Where are the bodies?" a hysterical motorist asked a police officer.

"Nah -- they walked away without a scratch," the policeman answered coolly.

Well, they walked away without a scratch after the director said "Cut."

It was only a movie -- a wild, wild movie: an Italian comedy about two wacky secret agents who -- in their chase for the bad guys -- come to Miami Beach in their "Supercar," check into the Fontainebleau Hilton and get into all sorts of zany trouble in the wildest of places -- for example, the Seaquarium.

Go For It. it is called.

"Is it Burt Reynolds or Jackie Gleason?" asked a passerby, seemingly familiar with local film production.

When she was told the cast, she gave a blank look.


The film, which will be edited in Italy and dubbed in various languages, stars Italy's Dynamic Duo, Bud Spencer and Terrence Hill , familiar faces of the slapstick genre. Produced by the El Pico company, it is directed by Roman filmmaker E.B. Clutcher (his American name).

The secret agents zoom about Collins Avenue in their custom-made Supercar, a speed machine that resembles a low-rider vehicle.

Still learning the function of all the hidden gadgets in the car, the spys hit the oil-slick button by mistake, releasing a jetstream of oil (actually grape-colored water) onto Collins Avenue, which triggers a series of spinouts and wrecks. Even a Miami police car involved in the chase gets into the demolition session.

"The Italians are here. Incredible," chuckled one spectator.

But during Sunday's smash-up scenes, the big stars took a breather. The action scenes were done by local stunt actors like Mike Warren -- the guy who walked out of the smashed Olds without a scratch -- and Artie Malesci, who also maneuvered a jump car at a deceiving 40 miles per hour.

"I've done that stunt about 200 times," shrugged Warren, taking a swig of Coors during lunchtime.

Passersby didn't know that.

Before they continued a picture-taking escapade, a group of Japanese tourists stopped to take their pictures in front of the set.

Hubert Yount and Fran Eiseman, two Indiana Realtors in Miami Beach for a convention, parked themselves in lawn chairs that Yount extracted from his trailer.

"That crash scene was as real as can be," said Yount, who took pictures of the whole thing.

"Both of those guys got out without a scratch, bruise or bump. They came out of the wreck laughing."


Miami Herald, The (FL) - March 7, 1985
Author: MORRIS PANNER Herald Staff Writer

Hollywood has come to the Hialeah Police Department, and Chief C.B. Seay has won a gold star.

Columbia Pictures is producing a police comedy film and the production company is using the Hialeah department for the film.

"I don't really like it much," said Seay, who was relaxing in his office after a scene in which he had been fired by the evil and corrupt police commissioner. "And, if you'll excuse me, I have to go catch up on a script."

The film, which has a working title of Policemen of Eighth Street, takes place in a small, but unnamed city in South Florida.

Two local companies, El Pico and Trans-Cinema, are filming in Hialeah week. For the first half of the week, the company filmed in the police offices at City Hall. Today and Friday, the crew will move to the North Station on Le Jeune Road.

Seay, who had to take several days off to shoot the film, said that six films had been done in Hialeah before, and he acted in one film about 12 years ago.

"Even though I'm off, I still have to keep up with things at the department, so this has been a busy time," Seay said.

Film company official Josi Konski said the chief was a natural at his job.

"He has a very important role," Konski said. "The part is just him. We couldn't find an actor that is as good at being chief, as the chief is at being chief.

"He has a good, strong face and he doesn't over act." Although Seay is the only police officer with a speaking part, dozens of other officers are acting as extras for $50 a day. Seay would not say what he is being paid. Lt. Lowell Coffin, who has been in charge of recruiting the extras and is an extra
himself, said he has had no trouble getting volunteers.

"We put out a memo," Coffin said. "And people seem pretty interested."

The film makers said there is no guarantee the extras will end up in the movie because much more film is shot than actually used.

Seay, however, has a "critical part," and will definitely be a part of the film, Konski said.

The movie, which will cost about $7 or 8 million to produce, will be released either in the summer or Christmas season of 1986.

Max Wolkoff, executive producer, said the movie will be released primarily in Europe and Japan, and that the stars of the film, Terence Hill and BudSpencer , are big names in Europe.

"Kind of like Clint Eastwood over here," Wolkoff said.

Wolkoff said the movie is being produced in English, but that it will be dubbed in French, Spanish, Italian, German and Japanese.

"There will be a lot of action and fighting in this film," Wolkoff said. "But no one bleeds and no one dies. This is a comedy."


Miami Herald, The (FL) - December 28, 1985
Author: MARK POTOK Herald Staff Writer

A few waiters, several retirees, a college football player, a smattering of children, a dry cleaner and two college professors gathered in Hollywood Friday.

Their extraordinary mission: Be typical.

So the odd group, dressed in everything from sweaters to bikinis, got up and cheered at the Six Flags Atlantis water theme park. They sat down, and then they stood up and cheered again. A man yelled, and so the group of 130 cheered some more.

The movies came to Hollywood Friday -- only this was Hollywood, Fla. To hear some of the extras working the gig, the business isn't all glamour and spice.

"We eat hot dogs and run around in jeans just like everybody else," said Hollywood resident Lori Duffy, 20, who was one of the extras. "All the stars live in trailers and I don't think that's very glamorous."

But the crew, filming the latest South Florida scene in The Genie, an update of the story of Aladdin and his magic lamp,
drew stares nonetheless from regular tourists and park-goers as they shot crowd scenes of a waterskiing meet.

To many of the extras, however, it was old hat.

Most had been in movies before, or at least commercials or television serials, and many had worked for the Rome-based movie firm of Compagnia Generale R.T. before. So the day, the first of three at Six Flags Atlantis, was for many a time of backslapping and renewed friendships.

The work was routine.

"You think it's going to be fun, all this acting and stuff," said Laura Iovino, 15, another Hollywood resident. "But it really isn't. It's boring."

"This is about the ninth or tenth movie," said Jane Candelori, a local retiree. "I like it. We get paid, we get good food and we get to meet Burt Reynolds."

That was last time, in the movie Stick.

Most of the stars of The Genie are Italian, even the leading man whose stage name is Bud Spencer in the English- language film. Still, about 4,000 South Floridians will make $40 a day as extras in the almost $3 million movie.

Many of those working came in answer to radio ads. But the vast majority, said casting director Beverly McDermott of Hollywood, were drawn from talent agencies, old friendships and a personal computer file of some 15,000 names.

Candelori was at the filming with another veteran extra and retiree, Frank Duffy. Another old friend, a woman in star-shaped glasses, walked up. They chatted about old times, about the summer 1986 release of the film in American theaters, and then Duffy turned to make the point once more.

"The kids think it's all glamour," he said. "But it's a lot of hard work."


Miami Herald, The (FL) - July 19, 1985
Author: Herald Staff

Three classic horror movies will be shown tonight and Saturday at six area Wometco Theaters.

Beginning at midnight each night, the films Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween and Zombies will be shown at the Palm Springs, Miracle, Dadeland, Kendale Lakes, Plaza Hollywood and 163rd Street Theaters .


Miami Herald, The (FL) - June 5, 1982
Author: LOURDES BREZO Herald Staff Writer

A fantasy trip into the future turned into a quick trip to jail for one Hialeah man at a trouble-ridden opening of the movie Star Trek -- The Wrath of Kahn.

Michael Chiochetti, 50, of 1364 W. 62nd St., was one of the 400 to 500 persons attending the 10 p.m. showing of Star Trek at the Apollo Theatre, 4054 W. 12th Ave. in Hialeah.

He was charged with disorderly conduct, assault and resisting arrest with violence, Hialeah police said.

About 30 minutes into the movie, viewers complained that the sound was inadequate, police said. About half of the patrons began demanding refund of their $4 admission, Sgt. Joseph Elizardi said.

"The management made an announcement that there was no cash to refund," Elizardi said, "because the day’s receipts had been taken to the bank.

The people were offered passes for the future."

"If I would have had the money here I would have given them refunds," theater manager Jorge Lemes said.

Lemes estimated the crowd asking for refunds at 40 to 50 persons. Sgt. Elizardi estimated 150.

The sergeant called it a potentially dangerous situation, "because of a handful of people."

"They started verbally abusing a police officer," Elizardi said. "Then he

Chiochetti took a swing at a police officer." Chiochetti missed, the sergeant said.

"He tried to take another swing when he was arrested," Elizardi said.


Miami Herald, The (FL) - June 10, 1982

A Times Square peep show theater , which advertises "7 Live Bedroom Acts" on its marquee, received a $65,000 loan from the federal Small Business Administration.

The loan was granted in 1977 and passed on to the owner of the Show World Center on West 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue, considered one of the largest combination peep-show theater and sex-magazine shops in the city.

Officials said SBA auditors discovered the nature of the theater about two years ago. The loan has been repaid, they said.

The theater , which advertises pornographic films and live sexual acts, received the loan under an SBA program that encourages investment firms to support local businesses.

Two investment firms applied for the $65,000 loan listing the recipient as a "movie theater ."



Image pilfered from www.lashorasperdidas.com

Miami Herald, The (FL) - June 24, 1982
Author: BOB THOMAS Associated Press

Most producers of war movies start by opening negotiations with Yugoslavia or the Philippines. Al Ruddy wanted to try something novel: filming in the United States.

It wasn’t easy. Ruddy had to go to the Pentagon four times before winning approval.

Ruddy is no faint-hearted producer. He made The Godfather despite pressure from Italian-American groups, which objected to the concept of a Mafia, and from Paramount Pictures, which wanted to fire Francis Coppola early in filming. He also put together Cannonball Run for the Hong Kong-based Golden Harvest Productions, paying Burt Reynolds $5 million for showing up.

The $20-million Megaforce, which opens Friday in South Florida theaters , marked a reunion of Golden Harvest, Ruddy and director Hal Needham (Smokey and the Bandit). It concerns a fictional U.S. battle force with futuristic weapons and vehicles which can be transported swiftly to any trouble spot in the world.

"I always wanted to make the picture in the United States," says Ruddy. "But I needed to have the use of troops and material, and all approvals must come from the Department of Defense. A producer submits the script and receives one of three responses:

"1. The picture shows U.S. equipment and personnel in a flattering light and is eligible for full cooperation.

"2. The picture is not in the best interests of the military and can receive no help.

"3. The picture does not put U.S. equipment and personnel in a flattering or unflattering light and cooperation is possible at a user’s rate -- meaning the producer pays for use of equipment, gasoline, troops, etc."

Ruddy said his first three trips to the Pentagon were fruitless "because the Defense Department didn’t like the idea of portraying a phantom army with exotic equipment, ready to fight anywhere in the world." He had hoped to film in Nevada, combining studio-made war gadgets with equipment of the National Guard.

"While I was in Washington, I went country-shopping," said the Montreal-born producer. "I found interest from South Africa and Israel, and I was about to leave for Africa when word got to Nevada authorities that the state was going to lose the $10 million we planned to spend there."

Pressure was applied, and the film was allowed to rent National Guard gear with one constraint: Location of Megaforce headquarters would not be identified.

Now the National Guard is lending C-130s to fly Megaforce props around the country to help promote the opening. Included are megadestroyers -- armored cars with cannons, rockets, sidewinders, Gatling gun and lasers -- and a six-wheel battlewagon with a computer to monitor all the equipment during warfare. The guard will use the tour to help recruitment.

Ruddy isn’t around to oversee the tour. He’s leaving for locations of another Golden Harvest war epic, High Road to China. That one’s shooting in Yugoslavia.


Miami Herald, The (FL) - July 9, 1982
Author: GEOFFREY TOMB Herald Columnist

Remember Frankie, Annette, the Fab Fifties and those films about where the boys are? Well, they are back.

A new film, Spring Break, is being filmed along "The Strip" in Fort Lauderdale. Except there is a problem. This is July. Spring break has sprung. No one seems to know where the boys, or the girls, are.

"We need hundreds of extras," says Steve Zeller, publicist for the movie.

Imagine that. They do a $5-million movie and come to Florida in the off-season.

If you would like to take part in the film, it’s hot and boring but you do get a free lunch (no cash, however), show up at 11 a.m. today at the Marlin Beach Hotel, 17 South Atlantic Blvd.

Zeller suggests you wear T-shirts and bathing suits. Naturally. The film has few recognizable stars. The director is Sean S. Cunningham, who did the original Friday the 13th. Lead actors are David Knell, Perry Lang, who appeared in 1941, Paul Land and Steve Bassett.


Miami Herald, The (FL) - October 1, 1982

A human skeleton estimated to be 100 years old, rented as a Halloween costume-ball prop and a star in a horror movie and lodge initiation rites, was back where it belonged Wednesday at the county morgue.

Police officer Frank Augustine recognized the skeleton as the real thing and not a plastic replica when he spotted it lying in a glass-topped coffin in a Costume World store.

The skeleton, rented for $100 during Halloween for many years, appeared in the 1978 movie Dawn of the Dead, filmed in Pittsburgh.

The bones were removed from the costume store Tuesday and identified by Allegheny County Coroner Joshua Perper as those of a middle-aged woman.

Police have not ruled out foul play in the woman’s death, but they are leaning toward the theory that the skeleton was originally used by a medical school and discarded as it began to deteriorate.

Marilyn Wick, owner of the Costume World shop, said she bought it last spring from Larry Wintersteller when his costume shop folded.

Wintersteller, now living in San Diego, Calif., said he knew the skeleton was authentic when he bought it about 10 years ago.

He said he purchased it from a man who said the bones were used in initiations by members of a now-defunct Odd Fellows lodge.

"Why didn’t they see it while it was sitting in my store
window -- while I needed the publicity?" Wintersteller asked.


Miami Herald, The (FL) - November 13, 1982
Author: BOB MIMS Associated Press

There was a time when many people living near two drive-in movies snapped closed their living-room curtains when darkness fell.

The reason: R-rated fare on the nearby 40-foot-wide screens.

But nearly two years ago, the West Valley City, the state’s second largest city which is 10 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, passed a law creating a commission to review restricted films prior to showing.

Now, says one outdoor theater owner, it would be hard to find a truly R-rated film at the two outdoor theaters . They’re often either cut to remove objectionable scenes, or shipped back, unshown, to distributors.

"It’s a pain to be faced with this, wondering what you can play," said Wes Webb, owner of Valley-Vu Drive-In Theater . "It gives a small element of people the opportunity, whenever they see something on the screen they don’t like, to scream it’s time to enforce the law."

The Commission on Public Decency, the offspring of a local petition campaign, targets not only nudity and sex on outdoor screens, but eyes indoor theaters , sale and rental of video cassettes and distribution of adult magazines and books.

"We are reducing most of the R-rated movies to essentially PG-rated movies. We show very few R-rated movies any more," Webb said.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) defines PG movies as requiring parental guidance because some of the material may not be suited for children. R-rated movies should be restricted, according to the commission, requiring any viewer under 17 to be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian.

For the recent run of Private Lessons, the story of a wealthy teenager seduced by the family housekeeper, Webb darkened the screen during scenes the commission thought were objectionable.

"The big thing we’ve got going for us is our bark, holding a sword over their heads," said City Attorney Ron Greenhalgh. "And the cooperation of the theater people has been great.

"We let the theater owners know we stand behind the
commission, and we’re not afraid to take legal action," he said. "When we talk about prosecution, we’re talking about minors being exposed to the materials."

Greenhalgh said the city could close down a theater "in the event of a couple of convictions."

Nine volunteer commission members, soon to be 12, serve one- year renewable terms at the discretion of the city manager. Under the law that created the panel, West Valley City theater owners must notify the city attorney when they are showing R- or X-rated films.

Webb said he complies with the law, but thinks it is "ridiculous, over-restrictive and very inconvenient."

Since most of the films are copyrighted and can’t be cut, theater operators often return them if they draw the committee’s ire, he said.

"If we really wanted to make money, we would challenge the law and overturn it," Webb said. "I still don’t think a soft-R picture with an occasional bare breast is offensive to children."

But Steve Allen, chairman of the Commission on Public Decency, said what may be acceptable at an indoor theater where restrictions can be enforced, can often be offensive when shown outdoors.

"Nudity, by Supreme Court standards, is not obscene," he said. "But if a lady was to stand outside a drive-in theater and take her top off, she could be arrested for indecent exposure. At the same time, we can show that same scene 40 times larger. That bothers me."

The 32-year-old father of six said although the commission is primarily concerned with the two drive-in theaters , it occasionally checks video cassette rental shops, store magazine shelves and the four indoor theaters in this city of 72,000.

Officials at Redwood Drive-In referred questions to Deanza Land and Leisure of Los Angeles, which manages West Valley City’s other outdoor theater . Company spokesman Steve Pentoney declined comment.

Meanwhile, West Valley City officials are confident their law, based on a similar ordinance in Orem, could withstand legal challenge. Webb said he has not decided whether to challege the commission’s authority in court.

But in Orem, 40 miles south of Salt Lake City, a Media Review Commission has modified its goals after theater managers began charging the city for use of equipment and projectionists during film previews.

"That got to be rather expensive," said commission secretary June Hair. "So now they go to the first showing and print the reviews in the paper."

If commission members see something they feel is legally obscene, they can notify the city attorney’s office for possible action. But primarily, the panel confines itself to developing the reviews, run as a city-paid feature in the local daily newspaper, Hair said.

"I don’t know what West Valley City is doing, but our ordinance was set up to educate people that some things are not as enjoyable or desirable to see as others," she said.


Herald Crime Report from 1983

A WOMAN WHO WAS YELLING AND SCREAMING "for a long time" Monday night during a movie at the Lincoln Cinema, 555 Lincoln Rd., was charged with aggravated assault after she threatened several movie watchers with a kitchen knife, police said. Mary Cruz, 45, who refused to give her address, threatened Benjamin Klein and other patrons with a knife after she was told to quiet down. When police were called, she became "very abusive" and was escorted out of the theater . She was taken to the Women’s Annex of the Dade County Jail.

And this. Not movie related but because it’s damn humorous:

Miami Herald, The (FL) - June 9, 1983
Author: Herald Staff

A Miami Beach man took too long in the bathroom Monday, so his neighbor stabbed him, according to a police report.

Alex Berrospi, 42, who lives in an apartment in the 1500 block of Drexel Avenue, shares a bathroom with a neighbor he knows only as "Maximo."

About 5:30 p.m. Monday, Maximo wanted his turn, but Berrospi was in the room. Maximo became angry, then violent. He knocked on the door. Berrospi finally opened it and Maximo stabbed him in the scrotum with a knife, Berrospi told police.

Police could not find Maximo.


Miami Herald, The (FL) - April 26, 1984

One person was taken to the hospital and several others suffered minor injuries when fighting broke out among a crowd of people waiting to see a horror show in Jacksonville Tuesday night.

Between 1,500 and 1,700 people were waiting in the parking lot of the movie theater when the fights broke out, police reported. A witness said Wednesday most of the people were local students on spring break.

"They were gathering all day long, said Lou Ella Johnson, a student at a nearby barber school. "By the time evening came, there was just a swarm of teenagers, not knowing what to do with themselves."

Marcus Hobby, 15, was treated and released from University Hospital after the crowd pushed him against a cashier’s window that broke.

Police said a similar disturbance took place last week in the theater ’s parking lot.

"There was a larger crowd this week, and it was very
violent," officer R.D. Williamson said.

The theater , which was showing Friday the 13th The Final Chapter, was closed after the fighting Tuesday.


Miami Herald, The (FL) - June 16, 1985
Author: ROBERT L. STEINBACK Herald Staff Writer

It’s strange enough that a kid would grow up wanting to make monsters for a living.

But what’s really weird is that Norman Cabrera is getting his chance.

Cabrera, and just about everyone else on the Davie set of the horror movie "Scarecrows," is immersing himself in the ultimate dream, or nightmare, come true.

The set of "Scarecrows," which begins shooting Monday, is really a sort of dream factory. Everyone from the set construction crew to producer-director Bill Wesley is trying to turn a personal fantasy into a hit movie.

Cabrera couldn’t have asked for a better break than a movie about scarecrow-corpses who come to life to deal with seven uninvited guests, including five murderer-thieves who happen to drop in on their abandoned farm.

"My house is like plastered with monsters," said Cabrera, 20, who is building the chilling creatures. "It started as a hobby. This is like my big opportunity."

Cabrera, who grew up in Miami, pursued his hobby watching movies rich in special effects and studying horror film magazines. He traveled to California to look over the shoulder of Rick Baker, the special effects genius behind Michael Jackson’s music video "Thriller" and the movie "An American Werewolf in London."

Cabrera has worked on some locally produced videos and cable TV presentations. But to work on a full-length horror movie full of blood and gore practically in his own back yard is like a promotion to heaven.

On the "Scarecrows" set, though, Cabrera’s story is typical. The crew is young -- director Wesley is only 30 -- and nearly all are working on their first feature movie.

The fact that the movie is being shot at all is the chance meeting of two dreamers: Wesley, who had always wanted to make a horror movie, and 36-year-old Dade millionaire Ted Vernon, who always wanted to make -- and act in -- a film.

Vernon, who owns a Miami luxury car dealership called the Ted Vernon Collection, bankrolled "Scarecrows" to the tune of $1.8 million and got one of the seven lead roles.

"Scarecrows" is the reality Cami Winikoff often dreamed about. Winikoff, who declined to give her age, but who would certainly be carded buying beer, is a self-styled "film creature" who can’t imagine life outside show business. She’s making the most of a golden opportunity.

"I was trying to get a job on ’Miami Vice,’-t" the New York native said. "Finally, the guy said, ’Leave me alone. Go call this guy Bill Wesley.’"’

Wesley hired Winikoff to answer telephones on the "Scarecrows" set. But she promptly organized the books, took over the paperwork and began handling business arrangements. She now sports the title "associate producer."

Tony Bondanella is a classic "starving actor" waiting for his big break. The 33-year-old Fort Lauderdale bartender with the California surfer good looks didn’t get one of the lead roles in "Scarecrows." But he’s helping out with set construction -- for no pay -- in hopes of landing a bit part in the movie.

" is interesting, and I can put it on my resume," said Bondanella, who had minor roles in "Spring Break," "Where the Boys Are ’84," and "Stick."

But the opportunity presented by "Scarecrows" was probably best expressed by 21-year-old unit production manager Barry Waldman, fresh out of the University of Miami’s communications school.

"This film is great," he said. "To walk out of college and become a production manager? There is a God!"


The Last Starlet

Washington Post, The (DC) - May 27, 1981
Author: Roger Ebert, Field News Service

When they write the history of the movies in the dark days after the passing of Hollywood's Golden Age, there ought to be a mention of Edy Williams, the Last Starlet. When, and if, she attends her last Cannes Film Festival, and era will have ended.

All of Hollywood studios used to have half a dozen starlets under contract.

Their duties were simple; They had to look gorgeous, attend acting classes, play bit parts in movies and, most important, pose for thousands of cheesecake photographs and be on call 24 hours a day for the opening of a supermarket, the christening of a boat or the dedication of a shopping center.

The primary duty of a starlet was to be photographed while in the act of being a starlet, and Edy Williams understands this in the innermost recesses of her ambition. She is so good at being a starlet, so tireless and dedicated, that she was, in fact, the last official starlet in Hollywood. She was under contract to 20th Century-Fox until 1971. Now she is the last starlet at Cannes.

To be sure, there are other girls who take off their bikinis on the beach or pose in motorcycle helmets and fishnet stockings. But they aren't trying to be discovered -- they're just being exhibitionists. Edy Williams hopes again this year, as she has at Cannes almost every year since 1974, to be discovered.

In the dreams of the starlet, I suspect, there is always that scene where the cigar-chomping producer spots a lovely young woman on the terrace of the Carlton Hotel and shouts, "Who is that girl? I must have her for my next picture. Sign her up immediately."

That has not yet happened to Williams, but she was on the terrace of the Carlton again the other day, breathlessly saying hello to genial Sam Arkoff , a man who founded American-International Pictures in 1954 and has already produced 450 movies without finding it necessary to hire Edy Williams. Now Sam has sold AIP and is back in independent production. Maybe this year?

"I just don't know what to do about my image," Williams said the other night, thinking out loud and a little poignantly. We were having dinner at Felix, one of the in spots along the Boulevard Croisette. Every waiter and busboy in the restaurant was making six trips a minute past our table to gaze in awe at her plunging neckline.

Across the table from her, Silver Dollar Billy Baxter shouted, "Irving, brang 'em on." The waiters, who have all been trained by Baxter to believe that their names are Irving, raced to his side with a glass of scotch. This was a conference of war. Silver Dollar Baxter, who is the second most visible American at Cannes (after Edy Williams), had agreed to counsel Williams on her image.

"Irving," said Baxter, "brang Miss Williams here some champagne. Good stuff. None of that cheap French crap. And Irving, do me a favor, huh? Clean aashtrays. And the menus. What do you recommend, apart from another restaurant?"

"Oh, Billy, you always know what to say," Williams said

"Only thinking of you, sweetheart," said Silver Dollar Baxter. "Now what are you complaining about? Look at that dress you're wearing. It covers up so much I can hardly see everything."

"Do you think it's right for evening?" asked Edy Williams.

"What's the stuff all over your b--bs?"

"Gold sparkle. It's my new makeup. Do you like it? But, Billy, I was thinking. You know, I'm not in my 20s anymore. I was thinking if maybe my bikini routine is getting a little dated."

"What bikini routine? You mean where you go down to the beach and take off your bikini?"

"You know what I was thinking? I brought along tapes of my nightclub act. I have a portable stereo that's real loud. I was thinking, what if I play my tapes and do my nightclub act on the terrace of the Carlton, huh?"

"What if you fall off the edge of the terrace and bust your a--?"

"I was thinking of a new image for my 30s. Maybe something a little more reserved."

"I can't believe my ears," Baxter said. "More reserved? We're talking about the girl who jumped into the ring before the Ali-Spinks fight and took off her clothes in front of 70,000 people in the Superdome."

"They were caught completely by surprise," Williams said.

"What did it feel like?" asked Silver Dollar Baxter. (As a public relations stunt he once had two starlets push a brass four-poster bed down the middle of Broadway.)

"What did what feel like?"

"Taking off your clothes in front of 70,000 people. You know, I'm not sure . . . I gotta check on this . . . I'll bet you are the only person in history to take off her clothes in front of 70,000 people. At once, anyway."

"It was real scary," Williams said. "The worst part was right before I did it. I was standing at ringside, and I was scared. What if they didn't like it? What if everybody booed? Or didn't pay any attention?"

"That's gotta be every girl's nightmare," said Silver Dollar Baxter. "There she is, she jumps in the ring, whe whips off her clothes in front of 70,000 people, and they all shout, 'Put 'em on!'"

"But it was the most unbelievable sensation, when I was in the ring and they were all cheering," she said. "I knew what Ali must feel like. Then they made me leave the Superdome. They wouldn't let me stay for the fight. And I had a ticket and everything."

"Irving," said Silver Dollar Baxter, "look at these flowers. It looks like you picked them up off the street."

"Somebody was telling me I was using too much makeup," Williams said. "But for the photographers, if you don't wear enough makeup, your eyes don't show up. And you never know when they're going to take your picture."

Two days later, in the daily English-Language at Cannes, there was a photo of Williams posing in front of the James Bond poster that covers the front of the Carlton Hotel. The poster, two stories high, shows Bond framed by two long, lovely female legs. Edy Williams was posing with her legs in the same position, and without her bikini top.

"Doesn't look like she made too extensive revisions in her image yet," Silver Dollar Baxter said. "Wait a minute. What's this? He was reading the daily gossip column by Peter Noble, editor of Screen International. "Says here Edy has a pilot for her new TV show. It's physical exercise show called 'Keeping in Shape With Edy.'"

Baxter was sitting by the pool of the Majestic Hotel, watching the fleet of nine airplanes flying past with banners advertising "Superman III." Just then, Williams appeared at poolside and planted a big kiss on his cheek. j

"What do you think about my pilot?" she asked him.

"Edy," said Baxter, "If you ask me, you could bring it in on instruments."