Monday, February 17, 2014

Six Degrees of John, Paul, George and Yoko

February 17, 2014
   One of the twisted connections to the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show last week is that I actually have a connection to one of the Cats who produced the show.

  In 1980 my cartoon creation, Honkytonk Sue was sold to two Hollywood producers, Andrew Solt and Malcolm Leo, who had just produced one of the first rock documentaries, "Heroes of Rock and Roll" for ABC. I really dug the show and was excited to hear they were interested in buying my cartoon character. Andrew and Malcolm flew me out to Hollywood and took me to a great Bar-B-Q place in the Valley to impress me. That was fun, but the real impressive thing was this: turns out both worked for legendary documentatian David Wolper and so my obvious next question was, "Did you work on the O.K. Corral episode of 'The Appointment With Destiny' series?" The answer was not only yes, but Andrew had one of his associates drive up to his house in the Hollywood Hills and bring back the film canister of the show (this is before DVDs) and I sat in an editing bay and on a movieola watched the show. In those days it was very difficult to see a show after it had aired, unless you were lucky on a re-run, or knew someone who actually had the show. Both guys, Andy and Malcolm had stories about filming in Tombstone. They took out the wall that fronts Fremont Street and put dirt on the pavement and curb to return the scene to its original state so they could film on the exact spot. Well, almost. They utilized the entire space between Fly's and the corner house, so the space was actually much larger than the 18-feet-side-yard we now know was the site, but hey, it was still a big deal.

   So, I signed with the boys and the adventure to sign a major female star began. I made numerous trips to Hollywood to work on the project. We had Goldie Hawn signed to be Honkytonk Sue and Larry McMurtry wrote two scripts, but it never quite happened.

BBB Gone Hollywood, 1982

   After the project collapsed, Andrew made a very wise purchase. He bought the entire library of Ed Sullivan archives, including of course, the Beatles appearances which were used extensively on the show last week. Here he is in all his 1980s glory:

Andrew Solt, Honkytonk Sue producer and owner of the Beatles archives on Ed Sullivan

   Andrew went on to produce and direct, "This is Elvis" and "Imagine," working with Yoko Ono and given full access to John Lennon's home movies. Kathy and I attended the premiere of both films. Small world, no? Oh, and here's Malcolm in all his Porsche glory:

Malcolm Leo looking fly

"It's a small world but I wouldn't want to paint it."
—Stephen Wright