Monday, June 22, 2009

American Dunkleman makes The Globe!

The Globe, the edgy supermarket tabloid that's scarfed up by millions of Americans each week, is highlighting American Dunkleman!

You remember American Dunkleman. It's the proposed television comedy series starring former American Idol host Brian Dunkleman, was hailed as "hilarious" earlier this year when a trailer for the based-on-real-life laughfest hit the Internet. The series from our pals at Frozen Pictures got great attention from the likes of the Los Angeles Times and The National Enquirer, which had fun with the producers' tongue-in-cheek Facebook campaign.

Now the current issue of The Globe tabloid features American Dunkleman. The fact that the weekly tabloid with a finger on the pulse of Middle America chose to seek out and publish a story on the show is yet another indicator of American Dunkleman's mainstream appeal.

The story is another juicy tease with an A+ tabloid headline:


FORMER American Idol host Brian Dunkleman is attempting a TV comeback by shopping around a sitcom about his life.

Called American Dunkleman, the series plays on Brian's real-life reputation of having made "the biggest mistake in the history of show business" when he walked away from his role as "Idol" co-host after the show's first season.

Since leaving FOX's talent fest, his career has nose-dived, while his co-host Ryan Seacrest went on to make a fortune as a radio DJ and TV producer.

The comedy series follows the fictional Dunkleman as he attempts to get back into the television business.

A source says: "His character embarrasses himself and disappoints his friends while constantly being reminded that he could have been a millionaire if he'd stuck with the show."

So what about the show?

"We're negotiating, we're pitching and we've got one especially hot prospect we hope will become a reality soon, says Frozen's Brett Hudson. "This series will introduce America to a Brian Dunkleman who was never revealed on reality television. He's a true comedy idol!"

Sunday, June 21, 2009

"Multitalented, ever-clever, never going to be halftime at the Super Bowl": Chicago Tribune features The Seventh Python

A week ago, we featured pictures from a Chicago Tribune photo shoot featuring music and comedy legend Neil Innes, star of The Seventh Python, the nonfiction musical feature film from our pals at Frozen Pictures. The session was part of a media blitz surrounding the historic Innes concert and film screening at the Wilmette Theatre on June 9th, and accompanied an interview with Innes by Tribune writer Marc Caro.

The feature runs in today's issue of the Trib (which has already called the film "magical, mysterious, whimsical, hysterical!"), a little late for the Wilmette show but just in time for The Seventh Python's pair of showings at the Relevation Perth International Film Festival July 4th and 10th:

Chicago Tribune
'Seventh Python' has been
making his mark
for more than four decades

But Neil Innes is far from a household name
By Mark Caro, Tribune reporter
June 21, 2009

Neil Innes was browsing the stacks at Vintage Vinyl in Evanston when the clerk brought over copies of several albums by Innes' anarchic '60s jazz/rock/comedy collective, the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.

The records were priced at $50 apiece, prompting the 64-year-old British singer/songwriter/pianist/guitarist to marvel, "Is that what they are? Hmm. Well, good luck."

He thought about autographing them, then reconsidered: "It would probably devalue it if I signed."

He inspected the back cover of "Gorilla," the Bonzos' 1967 debut album, on which was listed a song called "Death Cab for Cutie." "That came from an American crime magazine which I found in Deptford Street Market [in London]," Innes recalled. "It was this lurid cover; it said, 'Death Cab for Cutie.' "

Paul McCartney liked the song so much that he tapped the Bonzos to perform it in the Beatles' rambling TV movie "Magical Mystery Tour." A Seattle-area rock band subsequently took the song title as its own name and became so popular that the phrase's origins have become all but forgotten.

So it goes for the multitalented, ever-clever Innes, who has been making his mark for more than four decades without ever becoming a household name.

"I'm never going to be halftime at the Super Bowl," he dryly acknowledged.

The Bonzos had one British hit, Innes' jokey-folky "I'm the Urban Spaceman" (produced by McCartney under the name Apollo C. Vermouth), and appeared regularly on the madcap British TV series "Do Not Adjust Your Set," which featured future Monty Pythonites Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin. But the band never exceeded cult status, particularly in the U.S.

Innes wound up providing musical contributions to "Monty Python's Flying Circus" and the movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" (1975). He's the minstrel singing about Brave Sir Robin, and he's also a peasant who gets crushed by a gigantic wooden rabbit. His impact on the troupe was such that Terry Gilliam dubbed him "The Seventh Python," also the name of Burt Kearns' documentary that brought Innes to town earlier this month for a screening and performance at the Wilmette Theatre.

Post-Python, Innes and Idle created the Rutles, a Beatles parody group that debuted on the duo's British TV series "Rutland Weekend Television" before starring in their own 1978 NBC television special "All You Need Is Cash." It was the week's lowest-rated show among the major networks yet provided the "mockumentary" template for "This Is Spinal Tap" (1984) while sustaining a steady level of belovedness among Beatles and Python fans.

Innes eventually spun off a second Rutles album without Idle in 1996 ("Archaeology"), and a solo Idle cobbled together a rather lame Rutles follow-up film in 2005 (the straight-to-DVD "Rutles 2: Can't Buy Me Lunch"). When Innes performed a solo show in Los Angeles in 2003, "The Simpsons" creator Matt Groening was among those who showed up to pay their respects, and Kearns started work on "The Seventh Python."

Innes now has more paunch and less hair than when he played the John Lennon doppelganger Ron Nasty, but he's in anything but a retiring mood. His one-man show, which he performed at the Abbey Pub and again in part at the Wilmette, is called "A People's Guide to World Domination," a decades-spanning collection of his songs around which he wraps his theme "that the individual is being wiped out by the mass media." In typically cheeky fashion, the show climaxes with Innes leading a mock march in which he swears in the audience as "Ego Warriors," whose salute is the familiar thumb-to-the-nose gesture.

Innes is eager for 2010 to arrive because that's when his current publishing deal expires, and he's so miffed at its terms that he's waiting till then to release any new music.

"When we did the second Rutles album, I was naive enough to think if I paid a lawyer, that that lawyer would represent my best interests," he said, bursting into laughter. "No! How stupid could you get?

"I am off the hook on Jan. 1 of next year, so I will be actually doing more, being a bit more prolific. I'm just so fed up with being burgled. At the age of 65, I shall be free, so I should become a complete fame slut now."

By this point Innes was sitting outside with former Hudson Brother (and "Seventh Python" co-producer and co-writer) Brett Hudson at Argo Tea down the street from Vintage Vinyl. Neither of these two veterans was pining for the good ol' days or lamenting the demise of a record industry devoted to producing physical products.

"Quite frankly, I'm glad that part is gone," Innes said. "In many ways, what's the difference for people like me and Brett? They took all the money then."

The two of them laughed.

"I'm glad that the record business has changed and isn't what it was," Hudson said. "Because now we have a chance to make some money."

"It's gone full circle back to Woody Guthrie," Innes said.

"You're absolutely right," Hudson said.

"And, hello, we can get on street corners and say what's what," Innes said.

"You're right," Hudson said. "Woody Guthrie. We can come back. It's true."

Innes laughed. "This era is our era."

Copyright © 2009, Chicago Tribune

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Exclusive! More video and photos from the big Neil Innes & The Seventh Python event at the Wilmette Theatre and beyond!

A Chicago Tribune photo shoot at the legendary Vintage Vinyl record store (from the movie High Fidelity) in Evanston, Illinois:
Downtown Chicago, heading to the WLS studios to be interviewed, along with The Seventh Python producer Brett Hudson, on the Roe Conn radio show:
Showtime at the Wilmette Theatre:
Above center: The Seventh Python costars Rutling Ken Thornton & Vet Ken Simpson

Signing a poster for the publican at the after-party:

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What a night! Neil Innes and The Seventh Python make comedy history at the Wilmette Theatre

They laughed. They cheered. They sang along. They got free movie posters! And for four hours last night, the crowd that packed into the historic Wilmette Theatre in suburban Chicago were at the center of the rock, pop, comedy and movie universe as Neil Innes brought his live show to the Wilmette stage, along with a command screening of The Seventh Python, the movie about his life and work.

The Wilmette's Nili Yelin Wronski introduces MC and comedy legend Tim Kazurinsky

And what a show. A crowd mixed equally with Innes aficionados and curious movie buffs welcomed the Monty Python collaborator and roared with laughter as he recounted stories of his work in the rock music legends, brought his own legend up to date with biting, witty songs that took hits at mass media and corporate culture, and performed treats like "Run Away," a rare call-and-response outtake from Monty Python & The Holy Grail, and his new "Imitation Song," the "final" offering from his Rutles alter ego, Ron Nasty.

After the film and a brief intermission, Innes joined producer Brett Hudson, director Burt Kearns, and Monty Python historian Howard Johnson in a lively panel discussion with questions field from the audience by local comedy hero and Saturday Night Live veteran Tim Kazurinsky.

Neil Innes spent more than an hour after the show signing posters and memorabilia for a long line of fans

Exclusive! Neil Innes at soundcheck

The evening, organized by Wilmette Theatre publicity whiz Nili Yelin Wronski, certainly cemented The Mette's reputation as a cultural hotspot and a center of Chicago's movie and music scene.

Next stop for Innes is Thursday's launch of the Secret Policeman's Film Festival at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.

The Seventh Python heads to the Revelation Perth International Film Festival in Perth Australia on July 4th and 10th.

(Tabloid Baby's Sam Peters, who arrived late to the show because of a "bad oyster" (!), adds: "The Wilmette Theatre is a splendid place, full of interesting artistic folks, with a top concession stand and ample parking! A tip of the Tabloid Baby hat to owner and gracious host Sam Samuelson, comedy giant Tim Kazurinsky, projectionist Chad Byers, and ace publicist, organizer and go-to gal, Nili Yelin!")

Friday, June 5, 2009

"Magical! Mysterious! Whimsical! Hysterical!" The Chicago Tribune raves over The Seventh Python in advance of historic show at the Wilmette Theatre

As legendary pop music satirist Neil Innes rolls across America in a concert tour that culminates Tuesday with a once-in-a-lifetime live performance alongside a screening of the acclaimed, award-winning film bio, The Seventh Python, at the historic Wilmette Theatre in suburban Chicago, the prestigious Chicago Tribune raves today about Neil and the Frozen Pictures movie:

Chicago Tribune
June 5, 2009

A glimpse of Neil Innes

It takes a special guy to warrant the attention of The Beatles. Not everyone can (or could) call members of the Fab Four close-and-personal friends and collaborators. Enter Neil Innes. Known as "The Seventh Python" due to his work with the legendary Monty Python comedy troupe, this musical satirist can call on Paul McCartney if he ever wants Macca to produce another single for him, or if he needs a guest member for his Beatles parody group, The Rutles. Innes' own magical and mysterious tour through life is the subject of a new film, "The Seventh Python." The only thing more whimsical and hysterical than his songs is Innes' real-life story. In addition to concert footage of Innes' live performances, John Cleese, Eric Idle and Terry Jones also make appearances on camera to talk about their mate. Enjoy a viewing of this pre-fab film, and then partake in a heart-to-heart with the film's director and Innes himself. 7 p.m. Tuesday, Wilmette Theatre, 1122 Central Ave., Wilmette. $25; 847-251-7424 or

Thursday, June 4, 2009

"A must for Python fans!" Excitement builds for Neil Innes and The Seventh Python at the Wilmette Theatre

Excitement is building and tickets are reportedly selling at a rapid clip for the history-making Night of The Seventh Python at the historic Wilmette Theatre outside Chicago. For the first time, legendary musical satirist Neil Innes will perform live following a screening of The Seventh Python, the acclaimed, award-winning nonfiction musical film about his career, philosophy and influence, and the importance and significance of the event is being amplified by rave reviews and press throughout the Chicago area.

"When the film premiered at Grauman's Egyptian Theatre at the American Cinematheque's Mods & Rockers Film Festival, (festival curator) Martin Lewis had Neil there for a Q&A, and a special concert the following night. And while Neil's been on hand for other screenings, this is the first, and possibly only time the film will be followed by a concert by the real thing," said director Burt Kearns. "What makes it even more exciting is that this be the finale of Neil's US concert tour. This will be great!"

Great? The Chicago Sun-Times News Group agrees. Their wide-ranging suburban weeklies feature an interview and a three-star (we're assuming out of three) review of the film, to which we add exclamation points as we summarize:

3 stars

"In this... genial documentary...much is made of the surprising un-famousness of Neil Innes, an unofficial member of Monty Python (perhaps best remembered as the teasing minstrel in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"), with all of the surviving Pythons among those giving testimony regarding his remarkable talent!

"Its best service is providing the opportunity to appreciate Innes' musical career, beginning with the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band and continuing with the Pythons (where a particularly brilliant side project was his score for the Beatles parody 'The Rutles'). Featuring live performances of charming tunes! There's also a nice recipe for Belgian Waffles in the credits!

"A must for Python fans!"

In the feature, The Seventh Python breaks his silence, Innes talks about the film and his illustrious carer under the radar. Here's a taste:

Q: What's your favorite moment in the film?

A: They (interview) someone on Hollywood Boulevard, who says, "You're making a documentary about a guy nobody's ever heard of." I'm rather unusual in show business as being a bit shy. If I could do all my work and not have to be made a fuss over, that would be nice.

Q: Are you writing new songs?

A: I've been working quietly at getting myself out of the mess I got myself into by not paying attention when I signed things. I'm happy to say that on Jan. 1, 2010, I get my publishing catalogue back. It frees me up to come out with the newer stuff I've been working on, because otherwise it was going to be swallowed up by white-collar multinational companies. So I will probably, at the unlikely age of 65, come out from behind my camouflage and say, "Hey, I'm ready for halftime at the Super Bowl!"

The Seventh Python screens Tuesday night June 9th at 7 pm the historic and hip Wilmette Theatre, 1122 Central Ave., in Wilmette, Illinois outside Chicago. The $25 ticket price includes a movie poster and details can be found at

More to come...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

"Engaging & revealing": Magazine features Neil Innes and The Seventh Python on the road to Tuesday's history-making event at the Wilmette Theatre

With pop music legend Neil Innes receiving rave reviews on a United States concert tour that culminates in a much-anticipated appearance alongside the acclaimed, award-winning film The Seventh Python, the Bonzo, Rutle, Monty Python cohort, Ego Warrior and heretofore hidden treasure, talks about his reaction to the film and the subsequent showers of appreciation in a magazine interview that's just hit the stands.

Innes shares the stage with the Frozen Pictures Innes biopic at the historic Wilmette Theatre outside Chicago on Tuesday June 9th. And as he continues his concert tour, fans, and folks who are about to discover him, can read an excellent interview by writer Jack Elbel in the new issue (#64) of The Big Takeover, the very hip and forward-looking Brooklyn-based music magazine.

A brief excerpt from the article in the magazine you must hold in your hands:

JE: The Seventh Python must stoke your ego and provoke your contempt for fame simultaneously. Will you have difficulty maintaining your power of invisibility with a film about yourself in circulation?

NEIL: Well, it’s not really up there with The Dark Knight, is it? [laughs] I quite like that they went around with a photograph of me and nobody recognized me. One woman in Windsor said, “It’s not that Russian that got poisoned, is it?” - clinging to the idea of "it's got to be somebody who's been on the news."

JE: I particularly enjoyed the testimonials in The Seventh Python from your Python mates, during which they celebrated your vices. John Cleese described your deadly cigarettes, which were apparently "so strong, they were like something the police would throw at you during a riot."

NEIL: Cleese would arrive like an ocean-going schooner and demand, "Give me one of your cigarettes." He never really bought any of his own [laughs], but he was rather tempted by my incredibly strong cigarettes - which I only used to smoke half of. It was very wasteful. They were killer cigarettes, but I certainly didn't smoke them all the time, and I never smoked them all the way down.

"The Seventh Python is an engaging and revealing look
at the 'accidental career' of beloved musical satirist
and creative powerhouse Neil Innes,
a predominantly unsung figure despite
over four decades in the public eye and ear."
– Jeff Elbel, The Big Takeover

JE: You can see the writer's mind in his anecdotes. John's insistence that you had developed an admirable approximation of a British accent despite the "fact" that you're Belgian was very funny, too.

NEIL: John will take something absolutely incredible, and look it in the camera until it backs off. "He is from Bruges." [laughs]

JE: Michael Palin seemed to relish the story about how you would harangue the night porter for drinks after hours.

NEIL: It's funny to see Michael's interpretation. The way he says it, it makes it sound like I'm a complete alcoholic desperate for a drink!

The thing is, being on the road with a group, you would come back late [after the show]. After you've been on stage, you're pretty up [from adrenalin], and you can use something to quiet yourself down. Most hotels in the UK would be closed up. Usually, there's a night porter who's got a cupboard with a few miniatures in it. You could get a couple of shots of whiskey or something as a nightcap.

I got used to the fact that they would say, "No, it's too late." If I went, "Now look, there's a night porter's cupboard. What have you got in there?" ... if you insisted, politely and nicely as well, they'd normally get it out. That's all it was; I wasn't driving motorbikes around the corridors, demanding booze.

Neil Innes in The Seventh Python

JE: What do you make of a statement like the one Eric Idle made, suggesting that you should have paraded your talent around the states more often, and that you owed it to people?

That is a more conventional showbiz approach. I want it all, though. I want all the toys and all the friends, and all the anonymity. I'm a greedy bastard, and I want even more than most people.

JE: Less is more.

NEIL: More or less, less is more!

JE: Did you learn anything about yourself through the film?

NEIL: I already knew how prickly I can be sometimes. I thought Michael was very good about saying, "Well, he knows what he wants." That was the thing about working with Python; everybody has an opinion, and you don't get anywhere from just nodding and being polite. But eventually the best solution comes forward. It's up to everybody else not to have any grudges and go along with the majority...

Jeff Elbel & Neil Innes take the Ego Warrior oath

JE: The Seventh Python underscores what you’ve always said about degrees of celebrity before - that it's easier being a Rutle than a Beatle.

NEIL: Fame and money have become the twin pillars of modern-day culture. I like to go off into fantasies about it. I love the idea of a D-list celebrity, which is someone who’s been hit on the head by Tiger Woods’ golf ball...

JE: George Harrison had a reputation as an insightful person. With distance from the most extreme years of Beatlemania, did he become more comfortable with his status?

NEIL: No, he was always [wary of fame]. To his credit, he wasn’t fooled by show business. He once said in an interview; “It’s all very well, wanting fame and fortune, and good luck to you if you find it. But you still have to find yourself.” Money can’t buy anyone love, you know.

Great stuff! And this brief selection only hints at the insight on both sides of the conversation.

The Neil Innes interview appears in The Big Takeover's issue #64. If you can't find it, you can order it by clicking here.