P R E S S R E L E A S E S 2003
February 1, 2003
Mockumentary This is Spinal Tap at MASS MoCA March 6
(North Adams, Mass.) Celebrated mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap will be screened at MASS MoCA at 8 P.M. on Thursday, March 6, to mark the opening of their newest exhibit, Fantastic. Largely improvised by the director and cast, the film has the distinct feel of a real documentary. Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, and Christopher Guest co-wrote the group's songs as well as star as David St. Hubbins, Derek Smalls, and Nigel Tufnel, with director Rob Reiner posing as documentary filmmaker Marty DiBergi. All of the stars were in bands in the 1960s and '70s and draw on that to create remarkably realistic images of rehearsal arguments, on-stage blunders, the thrill of radio airplay, the frustration of getting lost en route, the chore of playing for an audience that doesn't care, and the excitement of a show that actually works.
According to Roger Ebert: "This Is Spinal Tap, one of the funniest movies ever made, is about a lot of things, but one of them is the way the real story is not in the questions or in the answers, but at the edge of the frame. There are two stories told in the film: the story of what the rock band Spinal Tap thinks, hopes, believes or fears is happening, and the story of what is actually happening. The reason we feel such affection for its members is because they are so touching in their innocence and optimism. Intoxicated by the sheer fun of being rock stars, they perform long after their sell-by date, to smaller and smaller audiences, for less and less money, still seeking the roar of the crowd."
The fake documentary, released in 1984, was the directorial debut of Rob Reiner, then famous as Meathead from All in the Family, who was soon to become one of the most successful Hollywood directors. Reiner co-founded the improvisational comedy troupe The Session and then became a writer for comedy shows like The Smothers Brothers' Comedy Hour. He got his first break as Mike Stivic, liberal straight man to Carroll O'Connor's Archie Bunker, earning two Emmies before he left. He earned a Golden Globe Best Director nomination for his third film, Stand By Me, as well as for A Few Good Men and When Harry Met Sally. He has masterfully directed a wide range of film genres including The Princess Bride, Misery, The American President, Ghosts of Mississippi, and The Story of Us.
Multi-talented Christopher Guest was a regular during the 1984-85 season of Saturday Night Live, wrote for Lampoon magazine, and shared a scriptwriting Emmy for a 1976 Lily Tomlin special. He also served as screenwriter for Best In Show and Waiting for Guffman, the latter of which he and fellow Spinal Tap-mates McKean and Shearer wrote musical numbers. As something of a second career, he and fellow Tap members occasionally tour in character and write new songs. He's also well known for starring as the evil Count Rugen in The Princess Bride. Guest directed a number of films, including Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, Best in Show and what would be Chris Farley's last film, Almost Heroes.
Michael McKean is a versatile actor and writer whose characters range from Lenny Koznowski, the nasal, nerd-friend of Andrew "Squiggy" Squigman on Laverne and Shirley, to Brian Benben's snippish boss on Dream On to the Brady Bunch Movie's evil Mr. Dittmeyer to Spinal Tap's David St. Hubbins. He appeared for two seasons on Saturday Night Live. He wrote songs for the 1996 film Waiting for Guffman, as well as Spinal Tap.
Harry Shearer was a successful child actor in the 1950s. He flourished as a comedy writer for shows like Laverne and Shirley and America 2Night. He and Albert Brooks co-wrote the screenplay for Real Lampoon, another faux documentary. He joined Saturday Night Live in 1984-85. Shearer wrote songs for Waiting for Guffman (1996) and frequently contributed his voice to The Simpsons as C. Montgomery Burns, Jasper, Principal Skinner, Kent Brockman, Smithers, and Ned Flanders.
MASS MoCA's new exhibition Fantastic opens March 8 and runs through the spring of 2004. The artists of Fantastic -- Miguel Calderon, Gregory Crewdson, Alicia Framis, Nils Norman, and artist collective Temporary Services -- explore fantastic and outlandish utopian ideas ranging from visionary social design to outright paranoid delusion.
This is Spinal Tap is part of MASS MoCA's Cinema Lounge series. The Cinema Lounge is the redesigned B-10 Theater. Instead of traditional theater seats on risers, the lounge includes couches, cafˇ tables and chairs, and a long bar running along the back of the room complete with bar stools. Food and drink courtesy of Lickety Split will be available before, during, and after the films. Doors open at 7 P.M. The Cinema Lounge series this winter focuses on music documentaries and is sponsored by Berkshire Gas and supported by Holly Angell Hardman.
Tickets for This is Spinal Tap are $5.50. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office located on Marshall Street in North Adams from 11 A.M. until 5 P.M. every day but Tuesday. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours or online at www.massmoca.org at any time of day.
MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located off Marshall Street in North Adams on a 13-acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings.
MASS MoCA 1040 MASS MoCA Way North Adams, MA 01247 413.MOCA.111 www.massmoca.org
For Immediate Release