XTRA CRISPY

So the Bird was out for First Friday recently when it ran into Andrea Beesley-Brown, a.k.a. the Midnite Movie Mamacita, known for hosting splatter and grindhouse flicks at Chandler Cinemas, where she doubles as the operations manager. The perky New Zealander told this tweeter a wacky tale of Crispin Glover's visit to Sand Land to showcase his deeply weird art film What Is It?, which features actors afflicted with Down syndrome, naked chicks, swastikas, and a butt-load of dead snails.

Glover brought his surreal celluloid romp to Chandler for a three-day run at the beginning of May. And for fans of the quirky character actor, who's given memorable performances in movies ranging from Back to the Future and Charlie's Angels to Willard and River's Edge, to name a few, it must've been a Gloverama dream come true.

Before the flick's screening, Glover narrated a long slideshow drawn in part from self-published scrapbooks such as Rat Catching and Oak Mott. Afterward, Glover engaged the audience in a protracted Q & A and wound up signing autographs, taking pics, and chatting with long lines of slavish Glover-lovers.

"For $18, it's a very long night," Beesley-Brown admitted to this avian. "You get your money's worth of Crispin. You get to meet him and get your freaky photo with him. He'll sign stuff. It's a good value for the patron."

But for those promoting and hosting the event, not so much, according to Beesley-Brown. The lion's share of the take went to Glover — $14 out of the $18 ticket price, and Glover's food, in-town travel, and sundry expenses were covered by the event's promoters. Glover required a regular diet of sushi, and had the promoters man his merchandise booth and police the crowd for possible bootleggers filming his surreal, Luis Buñuel-esque film with smuggled-in camcorders. There is but one 35mm print of the film, as Glover has opted not to release it on DVD. So piracy issues are a constant concern to the bizarre star.

The turd in the proverbial punch bowl wasn't so much the financial arrangements, but having to deal with Glover's sometimes prickly, demanding persona. A couple of incidents in particular left a bitter aftertaste, insisted co-promoters Amy Young of Perihelion Arts gallery on Grand Avenue, Stephanie Carrico of the Phoenix performance-art venue Trunk Space, and Matt Yenkala, proprietor of Chandler Cinemas, a struggling indie multiplex offering $2 second-runs and revival fare such as Monty Python double features and screenings of bone-tinglers from Italian horror master Dario Argento.

In other words, Yenkala's Chandler Cinemas ain't making no big money, and neither are scrappy art-fart types like Young and Carrico. Perhaps that's why Glover's demand for his split in cash each night of the showing socked it to their collective pocketbook.

"We're a struggling business," Yenkala related to this yardbird. "We're doing our very best, but we weren't in a cash-ready position. So we had to scramble as bit."

Another problem was that many of the tickets had been sold online through a service that paid the promoters only after the fact. So when Glover demanded to be paid up-front for that first-night ticket sales — or he wouldn't go onstage — the promoters freaked out.

"I was furious!" recalled Beesley-Brown. "It's very difficult for us to come up with all that because we have to pull money from the safe, from the box office, from wherever we can. So finally Matt managed to get all that money and give it to Crispin."

Later, while the film was being shown, Glover was in the Chandler Cinema offices, meticulously counting his newly acquired wads of moolah, Beesley-Brown recalled.

"He wanted it in all the nice, new bills because he takes his money to the Czech Republic, where he has land or a castle or something," Beesley-Brown claimed he told her. "Apparently, he has to take all the nice bills over there because the Czechs won't take ripped bills."

Glover's personal take for the three nights was close to six grand, plus whatever he made off his merchandise, which seems like fairly measly pickings by Hollywood standards. True, Glover ain't no Brad Pitt, but he did appear in the recent box-office winner Beowulf as the monster Grendel, along with co-stars Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins, and John Malkovich.

Glover also scored the promise of another $610 from Yenkala after an alleged meltdown in which Glover accused the theater's young projectionist of messing up a small portion of his film, reducing her to tears, according to Yenkala and others present.

"He built himself up into this very stressed state of mind, pacing and gradually raising his voice, not really letting anyone have a word in edgewise," stated Yenkala. "He made it clear that he felt we had damaged his film and wasn't going to be satisfied until we agreed that we were going to pay for the replacement."

Yenkala reluctantly agreed to the demand to placate the persnickety character actor, even though Yenkala doesn't believe the film was damaged on his premises.

This mockingbird e-mailed Glover about the whole episode, and the agitated B-lister immediately called Yenkala and accused the cinema owner of trying to ruin Glover's career by talking to the press. Glover eventually e-mailed The Bird back, giving his side of the kerfuffle.

"I did not yell at or even have a conversation with the projectionist other than getting the details of how my print was handled," wrote Glover. "My entire conversation after the show on Sunday was with Matthew M. Yenkala about the technical aspects and procedure that led to damaging reel five of my film."

Glover went on to explain, in detail, his basis for concluding the film was damaged by the projectionist, and his theory about why the promoters are unfairly criticizing him. (You can read Glover's e-mails and the promoter's e-mails on the Feathered Bastard blog.)

Glover also asserted he was nothing but professional during his sojourn in Sand Land, and that getting paid in cash up-front was part of his e-mailed requirements to the promoters before the event. (Apparently, there was no formal contract.) Yenkala provided The Bird with a copy of Glover's technical "rider" for the appearance, which didn't include a demand upfront for the loot. When e-mailed this rider by The Bird, Glover responded with his own version, which included a demand for payment in cash.

Yenkala responded that Glover's version wasn't what he received from the actor, and Carrico forwarded a copy of an e-mail from Glover to the promoters containing the version of the rider sans the cash request. All the promoters say Glover's insistence on a cash payment was new to them on the first night of his Chandler presentation.

This isn't the first time Glover's pitched a fit over the showing of his art-house masterpiece. In 2005, the Tucson Weekly detailed how Glover "flipped his lid" at Tucson's Loft Theater "after he learned that his directorial debut, What Is It?, was going to be shown in the smaller upstairs theater rather than in the cavernous main auditorium for the last two days of its week-long engagement."

And Glover's known (and in some quarters beloved) for his eccentric behavior, like the infamous 1987 incident in which he kicked his platform shoes perilously close to David Letterman's head during an appearance on Late Night, exclaiming, "I'm strong . . . I can kick."

Glover's also had his beefs with Hollywood big shots like Steven Spielberg, who executive-produced Back to the Future, wherein Glover played milquetoast dad George McFly, father of Michael J. Fox's character, Marty McFly.

According to the Internet Movie DataBase (IMDb.com), when Glover turned down the offer to reprise the role in Back to the Future, Part II, the producers, who again included Spielberg, "brought the character back to life by splicing together archived footage and new scenes (using an actor in prosthetic makeup)." Glover successfully sued Spielberg over the issue. IMDb.com notes, "The case prompted the Screen Actors Guild to devise new regulations about the use of actors' images."

Glover maintained the grudge, it seems. In a compendium of outré articles edited by Adam Parfrey, titled Apocalypse Culture II, Glover has one that poses several outlandish questions concerning his cinematic bête noire, including, "Could anal rape of Steven Spielberg be simply the manifestation of a cultural mandate?" And, "Would the culture benefit from Steven Spielberg's murder, or would it be lessened by making him a martyr?"

Yet Robert Zemeckis, director of the Back to the Future films, was willing to work with Glover again in Beowulf, which Zemeckis also directed. But some who've dealt with him here in Arizona feel differently.

"If he's all about the indie spirit and stuff, like he says, I really think he should be a little more generous toward the venues where he shows his film," offered Beesley-Brown. "Especially for putting up with him."

TARGET GUADALUPE

That Bob Dylan line "the pettiness that plays so rough" is what comes to this beaker's mind regarding attacks on Guadalupe Mayor Rebecca Jimenez following her defiance of Sheriff Joe Arpaio on April 3 during the anti-immigrant sweep detailed in the New Times cover story "Brown Out" (May 29).

Hispanic-hatin' nativists are out to dig up anything they can on the 36-year-old ASU student and mother of four who receives a $300-a-month stipend for her mayoral work, on which she estimates she spends anywhere from 30 to 50 hours a week. (Regular Guadalupe council members receive $200 a month.)

Wing-nutty Linda Bentley, reporter for the far-right Sonoran News in lily-white Cave Creek, recently penned a hit piece against the mayor, wherein Bentley dug up old citations for loose dogs the Jimenez had and, therefore, characterized the small-town official as having "a criminal record that spans about a decade."

(Bentley neglected to follow up on a tip that a really bad hangnail Jimenez had two years ago caused her to snap at the mailman.)

According to Bentley's twisted logic, the dog incidents make Jimenez as evil as Ma Barker and Hannibal Lecter combined. Obviously, Bentley pulled most of her info from online sources. Even the photo she used of Jimenez was clipped from another publication without the photographer's knowledge.

Bentley also accused of Mayor Jimenez of being convicted of disorderly conduct. A call by this quacker to Marilyn Trujillo, court administrator for the Guadalupe Municipal Court, uncovered the fact that Jimenez was actually the victim in that case. Nice work, Bent-ley.

As Cave Creek's a world away from Guadalupe, Bentley didn't bother to get off her ass and traipse to the Hispanic locale. When asked if she'd actually physically done any research in the town, which's practically across the street from Tempe's Arizona Mills, Bentley whimpered: "No . . . Why would I?"

Good point, Linda. If you're already down on the brown and plan to bash anyone who defends Arizona's Hispanic population, then there's no reason to venture past your desk. Bentley's done similar hit pieces on Salvador Reza, operator of the Macehualli Work Center, and composed crazy screeds for her rag on immigrant-rights firebrand Isabel Garcia in Tucson and Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon.

Once upon a time, the Sonoran News did critical pieces on Arpaio. But now that Joe's taken up the cudgel against the undocumented, the weekly's gone all kissy-face with the county's corrupt top constable. These days, the Sonoran News delivers only stories about injured Gila monsters, dust ordinances, and why Hispanics are to be loathed and feared.

Opposition to Mayor Jimenez from the Sonoran News is to be expected, but Jimenez is also getting pummeled by Guadalupe's loony left in the person of longtime community activist Socorro Bernasconi, whose husband, Santino Bernasconi, is the deacon of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church. Both Bernasconis want Arpaio out of their community, but their dislike of Jimenez seems even greater, though they've never proffered a rational explanation behind it.

In persistent, sometimes hysterical e-mails to members of the Guadalupe Town Council, Socorro Bernasconi has compared Jimenez to a "miniature Arpaio" with near-dictatorial powers. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Jimenez currently leads a small 4-to-3 majority on the council. Her fellow council members are free to make remarks criticizing her during the council sessions and can call council meetings with three signatures. Citizens speaking for or against anything the mayor does can speak at public meetings. And all measures of the council must be voted on.

Still, Socorro Bernasconi's helping gather signatures for a recall of Jimenez. That's not a difficult thing to accomplish in a town where not enough people vote regularly. Bernasconi has already been successful in getting the sigs to recall council member Patricia Jimenez, the mayor's cousin, mostly over personality issues. The vote's set for this September, even though Patricia Jimenez's term is up early next year.

If Patricia Jimenez is successfully recalled, her cousin will quickly face a vote of no confidence and may be stripped of her mayor-ship, as the mayor's elected from and by the seven-member council.

Asked why she was working so diligently to topple the mayor — one of the few elected officials to defy Sheriff Arpaio — Socorro Bernasconi would reply only via e-mail with the following non sequitur.

"My only comment is that New Times (like Arpaio) is only using Guadalupe — to get back at Arpaio!"

Huh? Arpaio's using Guadalupe to get back at himself? As for the part about New Times "using" Guadalupe, Arpaio made Guadalupe ground zero in the immigration debate, not New Times.

Do we care about the abuses perpetuated on Guadalupe citizens by Arpaio? Absolutely. Which's why New Times has extensively reported on Arpaio's April sweep there and why it will continue to do so.

If Socorro Bernasconi cares about her town as much as she says she does, and if she wants Arpaio vamoosed, then she should focus her energies on building coalitions instead of tearing them down. Otherwise, Socorro Bernasconi might as well be an adviser to the sheriff or a regular contributor to the Sonoran News.

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5 comments
Red B.
Red B.

I was going to make the event and have my DVD copy of Willard signed but alas, I couldn't come due to more personal woes in securing an IT job. This city cannot possibly attract an ethical company from anywhere else in the country can they? The ones based or started here certainly aren't. Glover sounds like the typical Hollywood jackass to me. The guy never lived down his Letterman embarrassment. However I still think he's a gifted and talented person. I believe people like him and their haughty attitudes are one of the main reason our country is going to self-destruct one day. As long as the haves insist on shitting on the have-nots, the haves' days are truly numbered.I commend the efforts of the Chandler Cinemas yet as I've told them on Myspace, this city's populace as a whole will never appreciate them as they should.

Mr. Fukes
Mr. Fukes

Was this article written by your local morning DJ? ("This is Andrea Beesley-Brown, a.k.a. the Midnite Movie Mamacita tweetin' your way at 8:05 in the morning! The temperature in your neck of the Sand Land right now is wowza hot! After the break I've got a wacky tale about a Gloverama dream gone wrong!" /awful radio DJ voice.) I think once I removed all the shtick from this article it was only a paragraph long.

Concerned Guadster
Concerned Guadster

The Bernasconis have been around for decades trying to better our town. It was they who called for the special meetings to discuss police protection and it was they who gathered the information about crime rates in various cities, budget information of towns that use MCSO with corresponding square mileage and populations, etc.( I have the packet of information if you would like to see it.) They seem to be the only ones who are actively trying to do something about the situation we are in. I thank them for the hard work they have put in to get that info out to us. I can't speak for Socorro as to why she is personally attacking Mayor Jimenez, but I can tell you that there is always someone who doesn't like the mayor and tries to take them out, no matter who the mayor happens to be-it is almost like a tradition. Mayor Jimenez by all accounts is a real bitch. But it is in fact this bitchiness and attitude that led her to stand up against Sheriff Joe and not take any of his shit and score one for Guad. I have also dealt with her cousin Patty and she was a great help regarding a concern that I had a few weeks back. Both sides have much room for improvement. The Bernasconis should take a page out of the Bible and be more forgiving and/or accepting of one's flaws and mistakes, and the mayor should be friendly and listen to her people more.

David
David

What's the Ridiculous Raven going to squawk about if Arpaio ever leaves office?! The Arpaio bellyaching is getting old. Move on.

Matthew M. Yenkala
Matthew M. Yenkala

As the owner/operator of Chandler Cinemas, what follows is my formal statement about and response to both the article and the entire experience.

I need to state upfront that this is certainly not the kind of publicity I desired for myself, the theatre or even for Mr. Glover. I find the entire affair (and especially its fallout/aftermath) both distasteful and regrettable, and had no intention of making it public. Indeed, I had already largely left this situation behind, focusing simply on keeping the fragile dream of our humble little independent theatre alive.

Now it has been made public, through a series of circumstances beyond my control. Since the proverbial cat is out of the bag, a response is called for, and I see no reason to refute the essential facts of the piece as related by Mr. Lemons. I can attest to the veracity of these accounts, because I was one of those who lived it.

Mr. Glover�s appearance at our theatre was the culmination of over a year of efforts on behalf of me and my promotional partners, Amy and Steph from the Trunk Space & Perihelion Arts. We had each been separately attempting to book a Phoenix-area appearance for Mr. Glover for some time. When we were made aware of one another, rather than compete, we unified forces, all of us working very hard to make it manifest.

For our collective part, we all admired his work, we were all fans, and we wanted to give Mr. Glover an opportunity to bring his work to the Greater Phoenix area, a market that he hadn�t visited in the better part of two decades. We were certain he had a large number of fans out here who would love the opportunity to see him live and interact with him. None of us had any agenda or ulterior motive beyond that. Our sole intention was to create a successful event for both Mr. Glover and his fans. (That it could be a high-profile event that would draw much-needed attention to our efforts to keep alive alternative art and cinema in the Valley was certainly a bonus, but not a primary motivation.)

And I need to state on the record that he was wonderful with the fans. He was extremely generous with his time despite obvious and increasing exhaustion throughout the weekend. On this score, he was utterly professional, and I admire his fortitude. He stayed till 1am or later each night, personally meeting everyone who stayed (though many left early), signing items, taking pictures, engaging in friendly conversation. I never saw him be anything less than courteous with any of them. For the sake of those 400 people who came out to see him over the three days, I am glad we held this event.

Also, having had my share of celebrity experiences over the years, I can honestly say that for the most part, in the majority of our interactions, Mr. Glover was not that difficult to deal with. As long as things were going right, he was pleasant, approachable and conversational and did not exude any kind of �star trip� aura. We were braced for it going in, being well aware of his reputation for eccentricity. Though it was a scramble, for example, the cash-upfront issue didn�t seem so out of character. As for the catered sushi, I�m aware of rock bands with much more demanding riders than this.

Unfortunately things did get supremely uncomfortable at the end of the weekend. This sequence of events is adequately covered in Mr. Lemons� piece, so I will not elaborate on it here. Nor will I put myself in a position to public or privately engage in a debate or war of words over what happened. I will simply say that what the article states is accurate, and it left a taint and pall over what was otherwise a highly successful event. I counted myself grateful to have simply survived to the end of it.

(I also need to praise all those who helped and supported throughout the weekend: Doug, Jenni, Alex, Lowell, Justin, Andrew, Tiny, Mez, TJ and above all Angie. I�m afraid this acknowledgment is the only compensation I can offer for their time and hard work.)

While I absolutely stand by my statement that his film was NOT damaged on our premises, I did, in fact, agree to pay for its replacement in order to calm him down and resolve the situation. I still intend to honor that agreement. However, as the article rightly observes, we are struggling. The $610 that this will cost us is quite frankly beyond our present means. We have rent, insurance, taxes, utilities (summer AC!), supplies, payroll, and studio payments that must be met first. Nevertheless, this bill will be paid�when we can afford to pay it. Right now, that $610 is our survival.

This is the ultimate irony of the situation, as my erstwhile partner Andrea has observed. Art, independent, retro, foreign & cult theatres are few and far between�a niche-market that�s been dying a slow death at the hands of home video and multiplex-mania. Mr. Glover claims to champion such �cinephile� movie houses where they do still exist. Well, for the Phoenix area, that�s us.

Chandler Cinemas is the only independently owned and operated theatre in the Valley. Our mainstream �dollar movies� notwithstanding, we are very consciously trying to fill the niche of an �art house/independent� theatre, a longstanding void in the Valley�s cinema market. It�s an uphill battle, exacerbated by the theatre�s location in the extreme southeast Valley as well as its checkered history, and our dwindling resources. But we are proud of what we have achieved and what we offer, not least because it�s something that no one else, especially at our level, has attempted before. I do not speak out of hubris, simply honest pride and acknowledgment of what we have done and are attempting to do. Should we fail, I can�t see that anyone else will pick up the mantle.

Yes, Mr. Glover�s appearance could have been a nice boon to the theatre. Instead he�s attacking the very thing he claims to champion�a fact for which he seems to have little empathy or regard. So be it.

While there had been some discussion of a second appearance later in the year, I feel it is now highly unlikely that the paths of Mr. Glover and Chandler Cinemas will ever cross again. Regardless, I wish nothing but the best to any other venue that wishes to host him.

Likewise I wish nothing but the best for Mr. Glover both personally and professionally. I will not waste the energy harboring any resentment. My only regret, I fear, is that my enjoyment of Mr. Glover�s work will henceforth always be overshadowed by my personal experiences with him. This is a shame, but as has been observed by others, the world is a strange and imperfect place.

Regardless, other than the matter of the $610, I now regard this as a closed issue. My focus is now on keeping the theatre�the dream�alive.

Matthew M. Yenkala

 

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