[Home]  [Headlines]  [Latest Articles]  [Latest Comments]  [Post]  [Mail]  [Sign-in]  [Setup]  [Help]  [Register] 

Hillary Clinton emerges as top choice of Democratic voters in Harvard-Harris presidential poll

California Cop Confuses Umbrella for Gun and Opens Fire with AR-15

More sober drivers are being arrested for DUI in Phoenix

“He Didn’t Just Die, Did He?”

No One is Immune to Police Misconduct…Including Retired Police!

Since Feeding the Homeless Is Illegal, Activists Carry AR-15s to Give Out Food, Supplies

Virginia Sheriff: ‘I Will Deputize Thousands of Citizens To Protect Their Gun Rights’

Pope Francis Declares That Christian Fundamentalists Are “A Scourge”

U.S. officials misled public on Afghan war

Democrats to announce articles of impeachment against Trump on Tuesday

How Trump May Finally Kill the WTO

Impeachment Gets Weird

OAN Stunning Lutsenko Interview – Outlines: Marie Yovanovitch Perjury, George Kent Impeachment Motive, Lindsey Graham Motive to Bury Investigation…

Hillary Clinton emerges as top choice of Democratic voters in Harvard-Harris presidential poll

BREAKING: US Attorney John Durham Releases Statement Disputing IG Report Conclusions

Judiciary Hearing Devolves As Democrats Reuse Their Witness To Question Other Witnesses

BREAKING: DOJ IG Report on FISA Applications is Finally Released — AG Bill Barr BLASTS FBI: “Launched Intrusive Investigation of US Presidential Campaign”

In Plain View: Jaw-Dropping Video of LSD Promoters Holding 1979 Meeting

Shiff Hits The Fan

Pope Francis Compares Trump to Murderous King Herod

At UN “Climate” Summit, Pelosi and Democrats Ignore Reality

Schiff: ‘Simply False’ We Subpoenaed Call Records of Rep. Nunes

REVEALED: Ukraine was ... The Origin of The Trump-Russia Collusion Hoax --- IT Ran RighT Through The Office of Eric Ciaramella

Indicted Oligarch Firtash praises Manafort, says Trump has third-grade smarts

House Judiciary Committee Impeachment Report Ignores ‘Expert’ Witnesses

Dershowitz: Democrat Impeachment Approach Akin to Stalin’s KGB — ‘Show Me the Man and I’ll Find You the Crime’

TURLEY: <b>'Fast and Furious' impeachment looks like a rush to a failed case</b>

Military bases across the U.S are put on high alert as FBI hunts missing Saudi servicemen linked to Pensacola shooting and probes shooter's trip to New York two days before as terror investigators are called in

California Supreme Court Closes Warrantless Vehicle Search Loophole

Bill Would Roll Back Prohibition-Era Gun Rules

House Judiciary Committee Majority Report on Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment (Dec 2019)

Fearless Leader's Mighty WALL in action

Saudi Arabia 'greatly angered' by Pensacola Navy base shooting, Trump says

Michigan Woman Facing Three Months in Jail for Two Overdue Library Books

South Florida Cops Criticized over Shootout that left Two Innocent People Dead

6 Things We Learned from Prohibition

The Transhumanist Freakshow Art of Patricia Piccinini

Reasons Why Many People Refuse The Flu Shot: Facebook Has No Right Censor This Information

Revenue Collection and Something Else

US digs into Saudi shooting suspect motive in Navy shooting

Giuliani Promises ... ‘Evidence’ of Obama AdminisTraTion InTerference --- in Ukraine

Git along little doggie, git along, git along...

Bill Barr Indicts 8 For Illegally Funneling Foreign Money To Adam Schiff And Multiple Dem Senators

George Zimmerman sues Trayvon Martin’s family & state prosecutors for $100mn, says ‘false evidence’ used in murder trial

“Lieutenant” Pederast

COME SPY WITH ME Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein were spies who used underage sex to blackmail politicians, ‘ex-handler’ claims

How Bad Are Congressional Republicans?

The Supreme Court and the Right To Keep and Bear Arms

The Panopticon Expands

63 million Americans vs. 3 liberal professors

Status: Not Logged In; Sign In

See other Historical Articles

Title: 30 years ago, “Weird Al" Yankovic's "UHF" becomes a cult classic
Source: Ultimate Classic Rock
URL Source: https://ultimateclassicrock.com/30- ... cs-uhf-becomes-a-cult-classic/
Published: Jul 20, 2019
Author: Staff
Post Date: 2019-07-22 11:21:15 by Deckard
Keywords: None
Views: 177
Comments: 1

Making the progression from music videos to movies seemed like a natural fit for “Weird Al" Yankovic. As the rise of MTV continued in the '80s, Yankovic was able to make his name with  his clever parody songs and videos, such as his extended riff on Michael Jackson’s “Bad” with his own “Fat." So why not make a movie? Though Yankovic and his gleeful comic sensibilities may have felt appropriate for the big screen, the resulting effort, 1989's UHF, only ever gained a cult status.

We Got It All

That cult status, of course, wasn’t what anyone planned. Yankovic and his manager, Jay Levey, collaborated on the script for UHF, despite neither of them having a lot of awareness of what would go into the making of a film. As Yankovic described in an oral history at the A.V. Club, “I always try to put myself out of my comfort zone and out of my depth, and hopefully somewhere along the line, I’ll catch up.” Though one of Yankovic’s favorite comedies, the manic 1980 classic Airplane!, all but eschews a plot in favor of gag after gag after gag, he and Levey lighted upon a shoestring plot for their own parody film, in which the musician would star as George Newman, a slacker who is bequeathed a low-rent UHF station on which he and his loopy friends begin creating unique programming that itself inspires a passionate if small fanbase.

The script took a while to convince studios — as noted in that oral history, Yankovic and Levy pitched it for three years after the initial studio, New Line, passed. Eventually, the script wound up with producers Gene Kirkwood (of Rocky) and John Hyde; Kirkwood mentioned in the oral history as to why he picked it up, “I really needed a laugh.” The two producers brought the film to Orion Pictures, which approved it as long as it was made for under $5 million. More to the point, as Levey said, neither the studio or the producers interfered in the making of the film. “They rightfully stepped back and just let us make the movie we wanted to make.”

Getting the Band Together

Of course, the premise of the movie that Yankovic and Levey wanted to make might have seemed slightly at odds with the perception of who “Weird Al" Yankovic was. As the musician noted, George Newman is essentially the straight man of UHF -- supporting characters who take center stage on the UHF station are more deliberately outrageous and wacky than George ever is. “But he was the dreamer,” Yankovic mentioned to the A.V. Club. “Even though he’s basically a normal person, he lives his life out through his fantasies, and that was always a main element in the plotting.”

The film’s opening sequence, itself a riff on the slam-bang opening of Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, is an example of that kind of fantasy, as George envisions himself as Indiana Jones before being rudely awakened from the Walter Mitty-esque dream.


One of the co-stars of UHF went on to much bigger fame shortly after UHF failed to take off: Michael Richards. Though Richards, long since anathema in the business due to an infamously racist rant at a Los Angeles comedy club in the '00s, is best known for playing the wacky neighbor Kramer on Seinfeld, it was his work on the television sketch show Fridays that caught the eyes of Yankovic and Levey. At his audition, Richards impressed by arriving in character as the dweeby Stanley Spadowski. As Richards described to the A.V. Club, “I went in and I went off book. I just started playing with this character in front of them.”

But Richards wasn’t the only recognizable face alongside Yankovic in front of the camera. Victoria Jackson, in the midst of her time as a regular cast member on Saturday Night Live, was cast as Teri, George’s long-suffering love interest. (Another, eventually more recognizable stand-up and TV star was in the mix for the role: Ellen DeGeneres. Yankovic, in the oral history, says “I showed her the footage a couple years ago, and she was horrified.”) Fran Drescher, a few years before her starring role on the CBS sitcom The Nanny, was cast to play another of the UHF broadcasters. Well-known soap-opera star Anthony Geary (then playing Luke on ABC’s General Hospital) ended up reading for the loopy mad-scientist character Philo, in part because “I was looking for a departure."

A Product of the '80s

Some of the characters feel very much like a relic of the '80s, of course. Take Gedde Watanabe’s samurai character Kuni. In that oral history, Yankovic acknowledged as much: “There were a number of things in the movie which probably would not go over quite as well in a more PC era. Certainly, there are many things I would have done differently had I been writing a movie like that in current times.” Watanabe’s response was slightly more complex, though: “Did I have reservations about UHF? Yeah. But I think I went to do it because I felt like I wanted to see ... if I could make something out of it.”

Filming was a smooth experience, as detailed in the oral history.

Upon the recommendation of producer Gray Fredrickson, UHF shot on location in Tulsa, Okla., utilizing a recently abandoned mall next to the hotel where the cast and crew were staying for most of the set. Though Levey and Yankovic weren’t seasoned Hollywood veterans, they were able to work with the wide and varied cast on the variously wild and wacky parodies and story without any major hiccups. Levey noted, “As long as we were being efficient from a production standpoint — because we had a very limited budget — [the producers] just let us do our thing creatively.”

The only real obstacle in filming was a heartbreaking one, with the passing of one of the supporting actors, Trinidad Silva, who plays Raul in the film, the host of “Raul’s Wild Kingdom” wherein the character throws a poodle out an apartment window. Silva died during filming due to a collision with a drunk driver, and Raul wound up not making it to the telethon climax. As Levey said, “It was just terribly tragic.”

Stumbling Out of the Gate

The film was then aimed for release in the summer of 1989, and the early signs were encouraging. “I was told that UHF got the highest test screening numbers [for Orion, the studio distributing the film] since the original RoboCop,” said Yankovic. But while the numbers were encouraging, 1989 was the summer of one very specific character who served as a box-office smash: Batman, the hero of Tim Burton’s adaptation of the Caped Crusader. Along with other tentpole productions like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Lethal Weapon 2, UHF arrived in theaters on July 21, 1989 with intense competition on all sides.

Hopes were dashed instantly: UHF landed at No. 11 at the domestic box office in its first week of release. Even a re-issue of the Disney animated film Peter Pan made a good deal more that weekend. In all, UHF only grossed $6 million at the box office that year. Yankovic described that after the opening weekend, “I was basically a ghost. People in the hallways at Orion didn’t want to establish eye contact with me.”

The phrase “cult classic” gets thrown around often, but with UHF, it’s a clear fit. The film eventually got a revival of sorts thanks to cable and home video, and fans of Yankovic will often shout out lines from the film to him during his shows. The fandom stretches in odd ways -- in the oral history, standup comedian Emo Phillips (who plays Joe Earley in one of the film’s bloodier scenes) shared a photo of the actor Matthew Gray Gubler (of Criminal Minds) dressing up as his character for Halloween a few years ago.

Over the last decade especially, Yankovic’s star has risen -- his 2014 album, Mandatory Fun, was also his first to top the Billboard 200 on its first week of release. And he's changed up his touring, too, including an acoustic one and another with a symphony orchestra. But the world of films has largely been closed to him: “I would love to star in another movie. But somehow I think you need to have a motion picture studio involved in that decision.” In some ways, it might be more appropriate if UHF remains his only starring role; it’s distinctive and quirky and unique and defiantly singular. Just like Yankovic himself.

Post Comment   Private Reply   Ignore Thread  

TopPage UpFull ThreadPage DownBottom/Latest

#1. To: Deckard (#0)

Great movie!

"Badgers? We don't need no steenkin' badgers."

misterwhite  posted on  2019-07-22   12:09:07 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

TopPage UpFull ThreadPage DownBottom/Latest

[Home]  [Headlines]  [Latest Articles]  [Latest Comments]  [Post]  [Mail]  [Sign-in]  [Setup]  [Help]  [Register] 

Please report web page problems, questions and comments to webmaster@libertysflame.com