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Editor's Note: Dennis Wilen, webmaster
for Harry Shearer, and Bunezuela, who paid $510 for two tickets
to the film premiere, report from Spinal Tap's triumphant return
in Los Angeles, September 5, 2000:
Dennis Wilen reports:
No fooling those Sunset Boulevard
scenesters! Despite the House of Blues marquee showing TUES NITE:
SUSSMAN BRIS, the can't-fool-me crowd of hepsters packed the
HOB for the tour-opening gig of Spinal Tap's 16th anniversary
The hard rockin', Spinal Tap
t-shirt wearing- crowd was like totally ready for an extremely
rare appearance by one of England's loudest bands. With tickets
to the uber-private HOB "industry preview" gig reportedly
going for up to $300 on eBay and September 7 David Letterman
taping tickets in the $3K range, there was no question this was
the hottest show in Hollywood.
I myself with my own eyes
saw swinging stars like Carl Reiner, Al Franken, the inimitable
Hef (no ascot tonight!) with two matching blonde bimbettes, and
my old Philly homeboy, bass-playin' Freebo, whose mysterious
presence was only explained by the show's encore. There were
lots of other celebs, I am told, plus many industry weasels in
Surprise opening act was The Folksmen. Dressed in matching
khakis and vertical red and white candystripe shirts, the group
played their one hit, what had once been several traditional
ballads, and, to show they're no strangers to that rock and roll
music you kids like to listen to, closed their set with a rousing
version of Boston's More Than A Feeling.
Even if you think you've heard
this rock classic in every possible setting, you would have probably
been as dumbfounded as the audience was upon hearing it on string
bass with two acoustic guitars. Stunning.
Finally, as the velvet curtain
rose on the laser lit, smoke-filled club stage, the thundering
intro to Hell Hole, cut one side one on Tap's debut LP, filled
the room, and Tap was Back from the Dead, in a might big way.
From left to right, dark,
hairy and menacing Derek Smalls, as always, on bass. In the center,
on vocals and rhythm, blonde and beautiful David St. Hubbins.
On the right, as flashy as ever, Nigel Tufnel sent out the soaring
leads on his artlessly played Japonese Stratocaster copy with
lots of buttons.
The band never stopped to
rest or chat much or even tune up as they hammered hit after
hit across the proscenium to the screaming horde.
Bitch School. Christmas With
the Devil. Whatever that song was during which Derek had gotten
trapped in the pod, but not this time. The British Invasion hit
that started it all off for Tap: Listen to the Flower People.
And then, unbelievably, as the lights flashed and the thunder
rolled, a prop Stonehenge is lowered to the stage.
It was easy to forget, at
that moment, the huge, bald spot in the middle of Derek's flowing
tresses, the crusty cold sore on Nigel's lip and the fact that
St. Hubbins was made up like a geisha whore on crack. The magical
musical tale began. This was Progressive Rock at its perige!
Or is it apogee? I never remember.
And, apparently as part of
a personnel compromise that got the band back on the road, the
part of the midget was danced by a woman (Jeanine?) who might
have been St. Hubbins' bird, ya know watteye mean wink wink nudge
nudge? But I'm not sure.
As the epic ended, the crowd
was silent. The 'Henge retreated into the lights. What could
possibly follow this?
Cheers. Cheers. Cheers as
Freebo, carrying a goddamn tuba, and a famous bass player with
a bald head, wire-rim specs and a long gray ZZ Topish beard (I
am spacing on the name) came on to join the Tapsters, and, in
a fitting finale, together they layed down the bottom-heaviest
version of "Big Bottom" you'd ever want to hear. And
I don't say that lightly.
My ears are still ringing.
And my mind is still spinning in a good way.
I attended the premiere on
September 5 of This Is Spinal Tap at Graumann's Egyptian Theater
in Hollywood. The band, and many cast members of the movie, were
there. It was quite an exciting night.
I know what you are thinking:
this movie came out in 1984. Well, Rob Reiner said that they
never premiered it before last night. This was the 16th Anniversary
show to celebrate the launch of the DVD and the movie's relaunch
in 10 movie theaters and 30 colleges nationwide.
In the 16 years since its
release, This Is Spinal Tap has had a huge influence on comedy
and filmmaking. It was ranked 29th on the American Film Institute's
list of the 100 Funniest Movies of All Time. Newsweek called
it the funniest film ever made about rock and roll. This film
We arrived to see the red
carpet and bright lights in place, and all the TV networks there
covering the premiere. And, we walked down the red carpet to
the Egyptian Theater! Even though we aren't famous.
Outside the front lobby was
a huge red Marshall amplifier stack Upon closer inspection, the
11s had been upgraded with an infinity sign after the 11 (you
know, that 8 on it's side, the sign for infinity). So now, Nigel's
amps go to infinity. Who can top that?
Popcorn and Cokes were free!
All you had to do was ask
Once inside, we took our seats
just across the aisle from the bands' seats, which were marked
with their names: Derek Smalls, David St. Hubbins and Nigel Tufnel.
Seats were also marked for Fran Drescher and Rob Reiner, among
The band arrived! David took
his seat just across the aisle from me. He wore a white satin
outfit with long coat and sneakers. Behind him was Derek in black
leather, with his new bald-spot wig. Derek had a lovely blonde
companion... maybe it was Cindy, his special friend. And then,
Nigel Tufnel arrived, in red sleeveless t-shirt with black leather
pants, and the lovely Jamie Lee Curtis on his arm. Nigel and
Jamie sat next to each other, just a few feet away from us. The
remainder of each band members' seating row had been reserved
for their families and friends. I saw Derek's mom or maybe
she was some sort of grandmotherly relative and Nigel's
lovely daughter Annie! Nigel was of course, chewing his trademark
The beautiful Fran Drescher
took her seat just in front of David. She wore a lovely red patterned
skirt. I heard a lot of Drescher laughs! It is a wonderful sound.
Fran was hugging and kissing all her friends, Bobbi Flekman style.
Tim Curry, Dr. Frank N. Furter
of Rocky Horror fame, sat in Derek Small's row with Derek's other
family and friends. A massive meeting of the cult movies indeed!
The room darkened and Rob
Reiner went to a microphone in the front of the theater to introduce
the film. To applause and cries of "Meathead!" (his
role as Archie Bunker's son-in-law on the classic Seventies TV
series "All In The Family") Reiner began his remarks.
(I desperately wished I had sneaked in a recorder, but no.)
Reiner said he had been sent
on behalf of Marty DiBergi (the director of This is Spinal Tap)
to apologize to the band for showing them in an unfavorable light.
This has been the feud going on for some time now. The band claims
DiBergi cut the film to make Spinal Tap look stupid! His "apology"
brought catcalls and heckling from David, Derek, and Nigel. It
was quite hilarious. Then Reiner introduced each band member
one at a time, and they stood up, to thunderous applause ...
the applause of several hundred people in a small movie theater,
that is! It was a touching moment I will never forget. Nigel
smiling, waving to the crowd ... all the band members there with
their families and friends. These are things you remember all
Carl Reiner, who is Rob Reiner's
father, was there, and he was beaming. Carl Reiner is one of
the great comic geniuses of all time, having created television
classics such as "The Dick Van Dyke Show." He was there
with his family and grandkids to see the Meathead's achievement.
Carl just looked so proud and so happy.
Rob Reiner then said he would
speak for himself, and he went into some details on how the film
was made. They had the original idea in 1980 and made a 20-minute
film, which they shopped to studios. It took four years to get
financing and complete the film. He asked the lady who helped
them with financing to stand up ... she was there, sitting several
rows in front of us. I recognized her in the film, later, but
I forget her name. She is blonde with glasses.
Reiner said the studio had
been planning to finance a movie called "Take This Job and
Shove It" but they dropped that idea once they saw Tap's
20 minute demo.
Reiner said it had taken 16
years since TIST's release for people to finally "get it"
about the film they made... I disagree. Musicians, especially,
have loved this film since it came out. He also said it was never
premiered upon it's initial release in 1984... this was its Hollywood
premiere, in the year 2000! That brought many more cheers from
the crowd, so happy at the historic moment.
Reiner finished with a few
more funny remarks ("There's a fine line between stupid
and clever") and called for the film to begin.
A man behind us, in a seat
marked "Bruce Markoe," got on his cell phone and told
the projectionist to start the film. He also told them to turn
up the air conditioning a little, even though it was already
chilly in the theatre. In conversation "Bruce," sitting
behind us, had said that they were asking VH1 not to air the
film for the time being, since it is now being released on DVD
and in theaters in 10 cities, as well as 30 colleges. But VH1
already bought the rights to air the Spinal Tap film on TV, so
that's show biz, kiddies.
Moments passed. Reiner quipped
"They can't find the film!" and everyone laughed. Then
Reiner ad-libbed again, "They are going to show 'Take This
Job and Shove It" instead!"
But then, This Is Spinal Tap,
the greatest rockumentary / mockumentary of all time, began,
with the familiar MGM lion roar, in glorious Dubly stereo sound.
Marty DiBergi's punim (with a brown beard, not its current white-haired
version) filled the screen to tremendous applause. And he began
to tell the story of how Spinal Tap, for him, redefined the word
rock and roll, and gained a reputation as one of the loudest
bands in England.
Laughter erupted from almost
each and every line in the film. The moments which got the most
applause were, in no particular order: (1) Nigel's "this
goes to 11" scene, (2) Bobbi Flekman. (3) Derek unable to
emerge from "the pod" until the song is over. (4) Derek's
cucumber in foil at the airport scene, (5) Stonehenge, 6) Billy
Crystal as Morty The Mime, the mime caterer for Spinal Tap's
record release party (with food server helper Dana Carvey. I
am told the mime catering business was called Shut Up and Eat),
(7) Artie Fufkin requesting an ass-kick.
The list goes on... laughter
and applause filled the room from opening scene to final credits.
There were no added scenes to the film, although the DVD will
contain some previously cut scenes and extras.
I hate to take favorites,
but Nigel seems to own many of the punch lines. Go, Nigel, go!
There is not a single dull moment in this film. I get the feeling
many people in the audience, like myself, could speak the lines
before they happened. But that only seemed to enhance the laughs.
I have never heard so much applause during a film.
When the lights came up, the
band was already gone, likely setting things up for their live
gig at the House of Blues nearby on the Sunset Strip after the
Rock and roll, comedy, fake
British accents and Hollywood movie magic... on the way out I
grabbed the actual seat markers from Fran Drescher's, Derek Smalls',
Nigel Tufnel's, and Rob Reiner's seats. I didn't want to move
back down the row to get David's, there were people behind me...
but it's still a nice set of memorabilia from the premiere of
a movie that means so much to me. I also kept the parking pass
and movie premiere tickets, which were nicely laminated with
Tap logo and special insignia.
The band had left for the
HOB gig, but many Hollywood stars were still here. As I walked
out the interior theater doors, Jamie Lee Curtis stepped through
the door and stood right in front of me, blocking my way out!
She was talking to a friend in a wheelchair next to me. Jamie
Lee is beautiful and gracious, a spectacular Hollywood icon in
black sequins. Her voice is musical and soothing and cheerful.
It was her party! She was so proud of her husband. She was kindly
taking care of her guests, a vision of a Hollywood hostess. Had
she been a regular mortal, she would have smiled at me and excused
herself for blocking my way. But, I understand she couldn't make
eye contact with me, a stranger, due to her celebrity.
It didn't matter to me...
I just stood there quietly smiling, as if Marilyn Monroe had
just stepped in front of me to speak to a friend, inches away.
It was a moment I'll never forget, the sound of her voice was
wonderful. My lovely wife later asked me if I had smelled Jamie
Lee's perfume. Unfortunately, no, I had not! [Jamie Lee's star
is on the walk of fame not far from the Egyptian Theater.]
In the lobby we saw Rob Reiner
beaming, talking to friends, hugging people, and in general,
basking in the glory of his 1984 directorial debut. And as I
said, his dad, Carl Reiner was there too, in blue blazer and
tie. Carl smiled at me, and I smiled back. I was very happy for
him! And Alan Brady himself had smiled at me! <grin>
As we walked out, the red
carpet had been removed, and there were a lot of photographers
and autograph seekers standing outside. Quite a sight.
There's more to tell, but
that's about it for now. Long live Tap!