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Saturday, June 10, 2006

Still More Big Damn History

As an addendum to an earlier article, we illustrate more instances of history being a curious thing.

Louis Heaton was an eager young film director in 1924. Feeling that he needed something to separate his films from those of other filmmakers, he decided that the world was ready for sound film.

Unfortunately, Heaton had no clue how to create sound film. In fact, the first sound film wouldn't premiere until Warner Brothers released The Jazz Singer in 1927.

Heaton, however, was creative. He hired five actors to stand behind the screen and speak the dialogue while the onscreen actors moved their silent lips.

It took weeks of practice, but finally Heaton's actors got the hang of it and their performances were nearly flawless.

Having worked together for those long weeks, the actors got to know each other very well. Some better than others. Frank O'Leary had fallen in love with the sole female voice actress, Violet Salinger. Violet, however, had fallen for another actor named Warren Burton.

Angered and saddened, Frank showed up for the premiere of Louis Heaton's first film having imbibed more than a few drinks of an alcoholic nature. With no back up actors, Heaton simply trusted that Frank would be able to pull through.

Frank, however, was seriously shitfaced. And angry. Halfway through the film, O'Leary began crafting his own dialogue. This new dialogue had very little to do with the story on screen, but was instead more about what a "whore" Violet was and how Warren "liked it in the butt".

Filmgoers weren't amused. Neither was Heaton.

O'Leary was fired but by that point it was too late. Heaton's experiment had failed and his resources were tapped. He left the film industry and returned to his family's farm in Wyoming.

While many know that investors discovered the wealth to be made in creating low budget direct-to-video films in the 1990's. What isn't as well known is the story of the first stab at bypassing theaters and bringing film directly to the home.

In 1984, Patrick Gormican financed a low budget/high concept horror/romance film. Finding it difficult to get distribution for a film made outside the Hollywood system, Gormican hit upon a brainstorm: he would release it straight to home viewers.

Gormican chose the most popular video format and even lucked into a strategic alliance with Coca-Cola wherein there would be film reshoots exhibiting the beverage throughout the film in return for an advertising push from the cola giant.

On March 14, 1985 Attack Of The Mad Beasties was released on Betamax with the aforementioned partnership with Coca-Cola.

Some back story is relevant here. Betamax was created as a home video format in 1975. The format rose steadily in popularity, hitting its peak in 1983. Unfortunately, by 1985 the market was turning sharply towards the juggernaut that was the VHS format.

April 23, 1985 New Coke was unveiled. Created to mimic the sweeter taste of Pepsi, it didn't catch on with Pepsi drinkers and seriously pissed off long-term Coke drinkers. Within a few months, Coca-Cola grudgingly re-released the original formula now called Coca-Cola Classic.

While it is theoretically possible that Gormican could have made some worse choices, nothing is really springing to mind.

Five years later, Gormican had rebuilt his financial standing and decided to back a cartoon series based on the ongoing adventures of a new pop band that had recently won a Grammy for Best New Artist. The band picked were soon after found to have been frauds, not doing any actual singing on their album. The artists, Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus, were stripped of their Grammy. Unfortunately, the six episodes of Milli Vanilli and the Chilli Willies were never aired. Ironically enough, the voices of Milli Vanilli were actually dubbed by Fab and Rob.

By 1998, Patrick Gormican had given up all hope of making waves in the entertainment industry. Having lost $35 million on his various enterprises, Gormican decided to step back and go in a different direction.

Putting what was left of his bank account behind one last project, Gormican had faith that he was finally making a good decision. Harrdik was an herbal supplement for erectile dysfunction. While testing wasn't completely conclusive either way, Gormican gambled on the fact that there was no other pill that was proven to work better.

Unfortunately, on March 27, 1998 a full two weeks before the debut of Gormican's product, the FDA approved Viagra.

Patrick Gormican was ruined. Financially, mentally, and with the erectile dysfunction he know had due to stress he was forced to take Viagra which was a crushing blow to his self-confidence and ego.

At the end of 1999, Gormican disappeared and has not been seen since.

In further installments of this series, we will examine how the creation of macaroni and cheese directly led to the Munich farting incident which forever impacted the European financial markets as well as the wild west adventures of Carlton Misk who was the first man to drink a cow's milk straight from the teat which, of course, led to his demise in Tombstone Arizona.

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