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Warholstars Condensed... sort of

page twenty-six



Andy Warhol's Bad

According to Bob Colacello, Bad had actually been conceived in 1973:

Bob Colacello:

"The Bad story started back in 1973, when we met Robert Stigwood and one of his young right-hand men, Jeff Tornberg. Stigwood had produced Jesus Christ Superstar; he was the manager for the Bee Gees; he had a private plane, a yacht, a castle in Bermuda, a penthouse triples in the San Remo on Central Park West, decorated by Mica Ertegun and Chessy Rayner... Andy, of course, was jealous: Stigwood always served Dom Perignon at meetings, even in the middle of the day. His young associates didn't have to pour it, as we did; they had proper servants in proper uniforms to do it for them... All though 1974 and early 1975, AWE and RSO edged closer to a Bad deal. Fred [Hughes] and I were going to be associate producers, and Jeff Tornberg the executive producer. But just when we thought everything was set, everything started changing. Stigwood was worried about Jed's being 'too soft-spoken to direct,' or so Jeff Tornberg said. In March 1975, Robert Stigwood made his final decision on Bad: No, with no reason why given." (BC322)

Although Stigwood wasn't interested in Bad, Jeff Tornberg was later made the producer of the film. In May 1975, while Warhol and company worked out other financing options for Bad, another of his superstars from the sixties died. It was:


Eric Emerson (L) and Ronnie Cutrone (R)
(Photo: Stephen Shore)

Eric had appeared in The Chelsea Girls, Lonesome Cowboys, San Diego Surf and Heat. According to Warhol biographer, David Bourdon, Eric "was found dead at age thirty-one near the West Side Highway, apparently the victim of a hit-and-run driver... the bicycle aongside his body was unscratched, leading friends to suspect that perhaps he had overdosed elsewhere and been deposited in the street to simulate an accident." (DB347) Bourdon does not indicate the source of his information and it conflicts with other reports of Eric's death. Newspaper articles that appeared in the New York Post and Soho News reported the death as a hit-and-run, but no mention is made of an "unscratched" bicycle.

As 1975 progressed, Warhol and his business manager, Fred Hughes, eventually worked out a financing deal for Bad. Peter Brant agreed to finance it if he could pull out of backing Interview magazine in exchange. Brant had made a substantial investment in Interview in 1971 when he and Joe Allen bought the shares in the magazine previously owned by Charles Rydell and Jerome Hill.

Bob Colacello:

The film was budgeted at $1.2 million, and Fred persuaded Peter Brant to finance it. But Andy made that a problem too. On one hand, he was worried because Peter had pulled out of Interview in exchange for backing the movie, which meant Andy had to cover the magazine's monthly losses, now running at about half of what they were under Rosemary Kent, approximately $5,000 to $6,000 a month... on the other hand, Andy also fretted about 'Peter taking over'... He [Andy] told me 'If Peter ever gets mad, he can just dump all the paintings he owns in auction and ruin my prices. We're just too involved. I mean, it's like Peter is my boss now...' Just as shooting was about to begin, Peter demanded that Andy put in $200,000 of his own money. Andy refused... Peter felt that Andy had to show some faith in his own people, particularly in Jed... At the last possible moment, when it became apparent that Andy wasn't going to to invest a cent, Fred [Hughes] saved the day. He put in the $200,000 - his 'entire life's savings,' Andy told me, smiling..." (BC323)

The actual filming of Bad started in March 1976.

Bob Colacello:

"Bad... the Factory's only seventies movie not directed by Paul Morrissey... started shooting at the end of March 1976, in a rented studio on East 19th Street, with Jed [Johnson] directing a screenplay by Pat Hackett... We had already tried to get Vivian Vance to play the lead... It was a far cry from the I Love Lucy show, but we thought Vivian Vance would be perfect for the part... Vivian Vance thought differently. 'I'd love to do it, Andy, I really would,' she told us over dinner at La Caravelle. 'But you must understand that for all those people out there I'm still Ethel Mertz, Lucy's next-door neighbor and the nicest woman in America, and that's why I can still go into any dinner theater in the country and get paid $20,000 a week, because all my nice fans in their mink stoles want to see Ethel Mertz be nice. I hate being nice and I hate my fans and I hate their mink stoles. But I love making $20,000 a week anytime I want..." (BC321)

Filming was completed in June 1976, with Caroll Baker playing the lead role that Vivian Vance had rejected. It was first shown as part of the Los Angeles Filmex Festival in March 1977. A star-studded screening was arranged by Susan Pile who had worked for Warhol in the sixties, but was now based in L.A.:

Andy Warhol [March 25, 1977 L.A.]:

"Diana Vreeland had a limo and we were going out to George Cukor's with her. George wouldn't let me take photos. I was disappointed. He said he loved Bad, raved about it. He'd seen it the day before with Paul Morrissey at Susan Pile's big screening at the Picwood Theater - Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty and Julie Christie went, 750 people." (AWD35)

The L.A. Times gave Bad a good review:

Andy Warhol [March 26, 1977]:

"Read the rave review of Bad in the Los Angeles Times. Went to Susan Tyrrell's party, it was great... I had to leave to go to the BAD screening. What was so great about seeing the movie at Filmex was that everything had such big significance, suddenly, because the screen was so big, so much more Pop - like that Santa Claus knick-knack on Carroll Baker's refrigerator. I want to rent a big theater for a screening in New York. Got back to the hotel about 3:00." (AWD36)

But when Bad opened in New York it ran for only three weeks to mixed and often hostile reviews. Particularly controversial was the scene where a baby was thrown out a window. It was originally released with an "X" (adults only) rating, but later re-edited to get an "R" rating (minors allowed when accompanied with an adult). When the film was shown in Germany, it was confiscated by the authorities and criminal charges were considered.

Vincent Fremont:

"New World Pictures picked it up in the States. Fred [Hughes] and I wrote them a letter saying, 'Please cut the one scene where the baby's thrown out the window, it's too graphic, it breaks the black humour.' They didn't cut it out, so the only place you can advertise the film is on the porn page. They spent no money on promotion. It was a disaster. The movie got trashed... Andy never made another movie... Andy probably lost about $400,000... Bad was confiscated in Germany, the first film to be confiscated in years: physically taken out of the theatres because of excessive violence - the scene where the baby is thrown out of the window and the finger that was cut off by a Volkswagen. It was banned in Germany and it was a ciminal case. So we said, Andy's not going to Germany for a couple of months till we figure out if it's OK. Later we cut out certain sections and it was shown but we had lost all momentum." (LD404/5)

Bad was Warhol's last film. Although he continued to have ideas for films, none would come to fruition before his death in 1987. The last footage that was released bearing his name was produced for television rather than cinema. Warhol's television work included:

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