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Roadie – Press Kit

Roadie USA Press Kit – 21st April 1980

United Artists
A Transamerica Company

United Artists Corporation
729 Seventh Avenue
New York, New York 10019
(212) 575-3000


Production Notes

A roadie, as not everyone knows, is a jack-of-all-trades who accompanies musical groups and singers on their road tours setting up the equipment, repairing and driving the vehicles, making coffee, fetching, carrying and serving as a general handy-person-cum-do-it-all. As Lola, the female lead in “Roadie,” the new United Artists comedy, puts it, “The band makes it rock, but the roadies make it roll.”
A roadie is not to be confused with a groupie, who as more people know, accompanies musical groups and singers on their road tours, and vicariously gets his/her kicks by being able to talk, eat and/or sleep with an idol (or two). They could be described as contemporary camp-followers.
“Roadie,” directed by Alan Rudolph as an Alive Enterprises Production for United Artists release, relates the bizarre experiences of a roadie and a groupie, from their first moments together under a Winnebago until the screen says ‘The End’ as they are about to embark on an adventure with an object from outer space — a modern love story if ever there was one. Music superstar Meat Loaf, in his first leading part as film actor, plays our hero, Travis W. Redfish, a vigorous, hell-raising, beer truck-driving Texan, whose musical knowledge (at least at the outset) is very limited — for example, he thinks Alice Cooper is one of “Charlie’s Angels.” But it’s his main skill — mechanical wizardry — which catapults him into those other worlds of music.
He accidentally comes upon an extraordinary young lady, proudly boasting the self-imposed title of groupie (she never actually does what groupies are allegedly famous for) and he’s hooked quicker than you can say amplification. Through a series of events (he proves to have all the qualifications of a much-needed roadie), she is forced to lure him into joining the Rock’n’Roll Circus (for whom she groupies) and he thus leaves his eccentric family and their equally mind-boggling home to find himself ensconced in an even more outlandish society. Travis, whose entire universe has been confined to central Texas, suddenly finds himself a fellow traveler — winging and riding from Los Angeles to New York with stopovers in between.
Meat Loaf’s screen personality, Travis W. Redfish, was originally created for a newspaper column written by Big Boy Medlin (a native of Texas). The character was overwhelming enough to spread itself right into a screenplay on which Big Boy collaborated with fellow journalist Michael Ventura.
The Redfish clan is headed by Corpus C., Travis’ father, played by the irresistible Art Carney, and sister Alice Poo, played by Rhonda Bates, whose Oklahoma origin provides a natural twang and whose natural gift for comedy provides a perfect foil for the others in her screen family.
The groupie who infatuates Travis, and whose actual groupie deeds prove to be far less spectacular than her boastful words, is Lola Bouilliabase, played by Kaki Hunter. A comparative newcomer, the young actress is both spacey and touching, an odd but enchanting combination of qualities. She appears in Paul Mazursky’s “Willie and Phil” and seems certain to emerge a star from her current venture.
Among the other performers featured are Gailard Sartain as Alice Poo’s beau (he’s been a regular on TV’s “Hee Haw”), Joe Spano, Richard Marion and Sonny Davis as various co-workers of Travis’, and Don Cornelius (host of “Soul Train”) as Mohammed Johnson, the super-cool, polysyllabic enterpreneur of the Rock’n’Roll Circus.
“Roadie” boasts a batch of top music stars which takes in the whole spectrum of contemporary music. These include Blondie, Alice Cooper, Roy Orbison, Hank Williams, Jr., Asleep At The Wheel, Alvin Crow and the Pleasant Valley Boys in addition to many talents who will be heard on the soundtrack.
The film’s locations were divided among Austin, Texas, where the major portion of the action was shot (the Redfish family are natives), New York and Los Angeles. Inasmuch as a good deal of the fanciful tale takes place in and around Austin and, as the city has become a center for much of the popular music today (in addition to the traditional Country & Western), it was only natural to bring cast and crew to the Lone Star State.

Besides the streets, highways and byways leading to and from Austin, some of that city’s landmarks also were utilized, such as the Soap Creek Saloon, a home for the top music talent when they come to town; Crazy Bob’s Saloon; Manor Downs, which served as the open air concert stadium ostensibly located in Boise, Idaho; the awesome Mansfield Dam; the local Ramada Inn which also doubled as the residence for the company during its stay in Austin, and the entire center of town which closed down for several nights for the filming of the car chase.
The weekend location stay in New York encompassed a number of street sites and thus taxed the ingenuity of the camera crew and the film’s director, Alan Rudolph. The gathering of crowds was to be avoided at all costs because of the limited time allotted and because of the number of locations to be utilized in that brief period. So, hidden cameras were the order of the day as were nonchalant actors and invisible (to the public) crews. The “secret” sessions were held in front of Madison Square Garden, on the infamous 42nd Street and Times Square, on 34th Street, on 8th Avenue and environs.
In Los Angeles, such diverse spots were employed as The Sports Arena, Marina del Rey, Venice, the Whiskey A-Go-Go on Sunset Boulevard, Bruno’s Italian Ristorante and a laundromat where, of all places, innocence triumphs over sin, drugs and the cops.
Meshing all these elements was director Rudolph, whose first directorial features, “Welcome to L.A.” and “Remember My Name,” were made for Robert Altman’s company.
“Roadie” also marks Carolyn Pfeiffer’s debut as a full-fledged line producer, although she has produced for television and the theatre and was a production associate on “The Duellists.” Pfeiffer is the head of Alive Enterprises’ motion picture division. Serving as executive producer of the project was writer/actor Zalman King.
“Roadie,” an Alive Enterprises production of an Alan Rudolph Movie, stars Meat Loaf, Kaki Hunter and Art Carney with Alice Cooper, Blondie, Roy Orbison and Hank Williams, Jr. Rudolph directed from a screenplay by Big Boy Medlin & Michael Ventura. The story is by Big Boy Medlin & Michael Ventura and Zalman King & Alan Rudolph. The film was produced by Carolyn Pfeiffer, with Zalman King as executive producer. “Roadie,” in Technicolor and Panavision, is released by United Artists, a Transamerica Company. The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Album is available on Warner Bros. Records & Tapes.

MEAT LOAF (Travis W. Redfish) — most people think of him as a singer, but he has, indeed, been at least as active professionally as an actor — and Shakespeare, at that. There is no Shakespeare in “Roadie” but he does have the starring role of Travis W. Redfish, whose mechanical genius inadvertently entangles him with rock musicians, a pretended groupie and a series of glorious adventures along the way.
Born in Dallas, Texas, on September 27, Meat attended North Texas State, Texas Tech and Lubbock Christian College, studying at various times history, speech and, what else, football! He wanted to be a gridiron star, but an injury cancelled out such a career so he packed up and moved to California.
His rock and roll career started shortly after that in his first band called Popcorn Blizzard which played in California and Detroit for almost three years.
Returning to California, Meat was immediately (six months later) cast in a role in “Hair” and shipped DIRECTLY to Detroit. While in Detroit, Meat and a young lady named Stoney signed with Motown and formed an act called Stoney and Meat Loaf and he had his first hit single, “What You See Is What You Get.”
Then in 1970 he made his Broadway debut in “Hair” and later that year Meat joined Joseph Papp’s N.Y. Shakespeare Festival to do a play called “More Than You Deserve,” where he met his partnet, writer Jim Steinman. He also appeared in “As You Like It” and “Othello” for Joseph Papp. His other stage productions include “Rainbow,” “Silver Queen,” “National Lampoon Show,” “Rockabye Hamlet” and “The Rocky Horror Show.”

After Steinman and Meat did “The National Lampoon Show” they decided to concentrate on their musical enterprises. Four years later the album “Bat Out Of Hell” was released by Steve Popovich of Epic/Cleveland International/CBS Records. The album sold more than 9,000,000 copies and is still one of the top selling albums in the world — the biggest seller ever in Iceland, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Australia and Holland.
Prior to “Roadie,” he appeared in the films “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Americathon” and “Scavenger Hunt.” He has a new album, scheduled for this summer (1980).
ART CARNEY (C. C. Redfish) — To re-coin an old phrase, Art Carney is an actor’s actor. He possesses the gifts of mimicry, pantomime and flawless timing and he’s equally adept at comedy, drama and tragedy either on stage, in films or on TV. He’s never had an acting lesson in his life and, although a native of Mt. Vernon, N.Y., where he was raised and educated, he is able to convincingly portray one of the most outrageous Texans (Corpus C. Redfish) ever devised.
The youngest of six sons, he is from a partially show business-oriented family — his father was a newspaperman and publicist, his late brother John was a CBS producer and his brother Frederick was a TV director.
Art graduated from high school in 1936 and, because of his gift for mimicry, he was signed for Horace Heidt’s band as a mimic and singer of novelty songs. In fact, his film debut was in 1941 in the film “Pot O’Gold,” in which Heidt’s group was featured (based on the popular radio show of that time).
That year he left Heidt and unwillingly concentrated on night clubs and vaudeville; his luck turned in 1942 and he started a long and illustrious radio career including “Report to the Nation” on which he portrayed such epic figures as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Wendell Wilkie, Gen. George Marshall and Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower.
During World War II he served in the U.S. Infantry, then returned to CBS Radio for such shows as “Danger” and “Suspense.” As part of Morey Amsterdam’s radio show, he entered TV when that show evolved into the then new medium. His famous association with Jackie Gleason began in 1951 on “Cavalcade of Stars” when the character of Ed Norton was created and which eventually became part of “The Honeymooners” series still syndicated around the country.
Among his dramatic TV shows were “Playhouse 90,” “Studio One,” “Omnibus” and “Kraft Theatre.” The late, legendary stage star, Alfred Lunt, said of Carney, “There’s practically nothing he couldn’t do on stage.” One of his most famous roles was that of an alcoholic on the TV drama, “Call Me Back,” which was a one-hour, one-character show. He starred recently in “You Can’t Take It With You.”
He made his Broadway debut in “The Rope Dancers” and subsequently appeared in “Take Her, She’s Mine,” “Lovers,” “The Odd Couple” and “The Prisoner of Second Avenue.”
Carney won the coveted Academy Award as Best Actor in 1974 for “Harry and Tonto” and has appeared in a number of other features, including “W.W. and the Dixie Dance Kings,” “Won Ton Ton, The Dog That Saved Hollywood,” “The Late Show,” “House Calls,” “Sunburn,” “Going In Style” and now, of course, “Roadie.”

KAKI HUNTER (Lola) — The young lady never took acting lessons and she dropped out of formal schooling at an early age. Although acting is not really her whole life, she’s begun a career with comparatively little difficulty, thanks to a little bit of luck and a lot of talent.
Kaki Hunter co-stars with Meat Loaf in “Roadie” as the pretended groupie, Lola Bouilliabase, who is a lovely if off-the-wall screwball, an updated version of the legendary ’30’s movie heroines.
Born in Silver Springs, Md., in 1955, Kaki moved very early to New York, as her father was as aspiring actor. The family crossed the Atlantic when he received a contract with Dino De Laurentiis to make those famous spaghetti westerns (and other). Her dad made a number of Italian-German co-productions while she went to an American school in Rome. Her mother finally agreed she should go to the Somerhill School in England which was a revolutionary kind of school where you didn’t have to go to classes if you didn’t want to; she did mostly woodwork and pottery.
Her father then started a theatre group in a basement of an American church in Rome (he writes screenplays now) and when she returned she participated in the workshops; it was where she learned about acting and improvisation and everybody’s method. “The one method I acquired was that anything goes — if it works, use it.”
She returned to California with her mother when they started a communal-type restaurant with friends. After two years, she went on her own and eventually got a call from her father’s agent in Rome to make a German movie. Called “The Girl’s War,” it led to her being named best young actress at both the Berlin and San Sebastian Festivals.
Kaki became a mother two years ago, took a year off and gave herself another year to make it as an actress. Her agent found her American TV jobs in the “Hawaii Five-O” series, as well as several small-screen movies such as “Mary White” and “Haywire,” but it was the comparatively small role in Paul Mazursky’s new film, “Willie and Phil,” which helped to seal her fate. She opted to stress feature films and not TV, and was subsequently recommended for “Roadie.” She was one of more than 100 young actresses tested for the female lead and won out over some formidable competition. And thus, hopefully, a star might be born.
GAILARD SARTAIN (B.B. Muldoon) — The business partner of Travis W. Redfish in “Roadie” and his future brother-in-law, Gailard Sartain marks his fourth movie within a year. Born in Tulsa, Okla., he studied painting at the University of Tulsa but finances forced him out of school and on to a local TV show which became his entrance into show business. Eventually he became a regular on “Hee Haw” and was seen in the feature, “Nashville.” The trio of recent films consists of “Carny” (Lorimar/UA), “The Jerk” and “Hollywood Knights.” He is also an illustrator of note and is responsible for album covers for such artists as Leon Russell, Roy Clark and Hank Thompson.

RHONDA BATES (Alice Poo) — The third member of the Redfish family is Alive Poo, played by the talented Rhonda Bates, who is a native of Fayetteville, Ark., and grew up in Evansville, Ind. She received her Masters degree in drama from the University of Arkansas, then taught health and physical education in her home state before heading for California in 1975. She first received attention doing a standup comedy act at The Comedy Store, a “testing” club in Los Angeles. She was noticed by the producer of a Don Rickles TV special who hired her for same; she appeared in another show, “Keep On Truckin'” and then became a semi-regular on Rickles’ “CPO Sharkey.” Rhonda has been seen on a number of weekly series shows and telemovies, and has been featured in the films “The One and Only” and “Fast Break.”
JOE SPANO (Ace) — The character could be called a nervous middleman. Among Spano’s theatrical features are “American Graffiti,” “The Enforcer” and the upcoming “The Incredible Shrinking Woman.” He has appeared on numerous TV episodes and starred on stage in “Dracula: a Musical Nightmare,” directed by another “Roadie” player, Richard Marion, and co-starred with the latter in the hit comedy, “Bullshot Crummond.”
RICHARD MARION (George) — An actor/director, his other films include “3 Women” and the upcoming “K-GOD.” In addition to various TV movies and episodic shows, he was a regular on “Operation Petticoat” and has a leading role in “Marriage is Alive and Well in the USA.” His regional theatre experience at the Long Wharf, San Diego Shakespeare Festival and Mark Taper Forum lab includes such shows as “Charley’s Aunt,” “Of Mice and Men” and “Arms and the Man.” He recently directed the award-winning Los Angeles premiere of “Dracula: a Musical Nightmare” which starred fellow “Roadie” player Joe Spano, and also appeared with him in “Bullshot Crummond.”
SONNY DAVID (Bird) — The other roadie in “Roadie.” Among his recent films are “Why Would I Lie?,” “Where The Buffalo Roam,” “Melvin and Howard” and “The Whole Shooting Match.”
DON CORNELIUS (Mohammed Johnson) — The “engineer” of TV’s popular “Soul Train,” Don Cornelius plays the entrepreneur of the Rock’n’Roll Circus. Born in Chicago on September 27, 1936, he was graduated from high school in 1954 and joined the Marine Corps, spending 18 months in Korea. After his discharge, he married his childhood sweetheart, taking odd jobs to earn a living, but also investing $400 in a broadcasting course. In 1967 he got his start as a part-time news announcer. Three years later, he parlayed the school gamble and announcing job to develop a format for a black-oriented dance show. Sears & Roebuck was the first sponsor to come on board the “Soul Train.” The program opened in August, 1970, locally in Chicago, with the syndicated version beginning in October, 1971. It is now seen in dozens of markets.

ALAN RUDOLPH (the director) — began his motion picture career as a nine-year-old actor in a movie called “Rocket Man” which was directed by his father, Oscar Rudolph, and written by the late comedian Lenny Bruce. Since then he has worked as an assistant director on several films (“The Long Goodbye,” “Nashville”) and written “Buffalo Bill and the Indians.” He has written and directed two feature films of his own, “Welcome to L.A.” and “Remember My Name.” His other screenplay credits include “The Moderns” and “Breakfast of Champions.”
His association with producer Carolyn Pfeiffer and Alive Enterprises began in 1976 when he wrote the television special, “Welcome to My Nightmare” for Alice Cooper. In addition to “Roadie,” he and Pfeiffer will join forces on other projects including “The Moderns,” the story of Americans expatriated in Paris in the 1920’s.
CAROLYN PFEIFFER (the producer) — Prior to producing “Roadie,” Miss Pfeiffer has produced and associate produced concerts, theatre and TV specials, including the Emmy Award-winning “Welcome to My Nightmare,” A.C.T.’s “Smiles” and “The Duellists,” which won the Prix de Jury at the Cannes Film Festival. She was raised in Madison, N.C., moved to New York City and then Europe where she lived for 16 years and formed her own public relations company.
In Europe she worked with many film-makers including Fellini, Visconti, and Truffaut. In 1975 she returned to the U.S. to Alive Enterprises where she now heads their motion picture division of which “Roadie” is the first production.

ZALMAN KING (executive producer) — A native of New Jersey, he attended Grinnell College, in Grinnell, Iowa, majoring in anthropology. Foregoing that profession, he sought an acting career and eventually appeared in the TV series, “The Young Lawyers,” in the feature, “Ski Bum,” and Jesus Christ in “Passover Plot” and most recently on TV in “Like Normal People.”
“Roadie” is his first effort as executive producer; he had known Big Boy Medlin and Michael Ventura (the writers) and had bought the rights to Big Boy’s character, Travis W. Redfish, from the Los Angeles Weekly. They all developed the story idea with director Alan Rudolph and King commissioned Big Boy and Michael to write the screenplay. He also brought in Alive Enterprises and with them, producer Carolyn Pfeiffer. Zalman is planning to direct a feature, “9½ Weeks,” for which he wrote the screenplay, and to direct and produce “Fandango” from a Medlin/Ventura script.
BIG BOY MEDLIN (screenplay writer) — Born in Santa Ana, Texas, Big Boy grew up in Odessa, Texas, and upon graduation from high school, lived in Germany for a while. He then majored in English at the University of Texas and, after receiving his degree, joined the Peace Corps. He was wounded during the Vietnam War and, after returning to the U.S., began writing a sports column for a weekly newspaper, the Austin Sun, which featured a fictional character, Travis W. Redfish. Four years later, the character (and Big Boy) traveled to the L.A. Free Press and the L.A. Weekly.
He was eventually commissioned (along with co-writer Michael Ventura) by executive producer Zalman King to write a screenplay based on the character and thus “Roadie” was born. He and Ventura wrote another screenplay, “The Joker and the Dealer,” which is scheduled shortly for filming.
MICHAEL VENTURA (screenplay writer) — Born in the Bronx, N.Y., on October 31, 1945, he was raised in Brooklyn but left home at the early age of 13, knocked around in New England and finally wound up with a minister’s family in Maine where he went to high school. He spent a year at Goddard College in Vermont and although he didn’t start working for the Austin Sun until 1974, he knew he wanted to be a writer since he was a teenager.
He and Big Boy Medlin also worked together on the Los Angeles Free Press and the Los Angeles Weekly and they eventually merged their talents on the screenplay of “Roadie.” Executive producer Zalman King says they work together like Tin Pan Alley composers. Michael has had two books of poems published — “Rags” and “The Mollyhawk Poems” — and recently wrote another screenplay with Big Boy, “The Joker and the Dealer.”

Alive Enterprises was formed 12 years ago by Shep Gordon who based his faith in his future in the entertainment industry on an unknown rock’n’roller from Detroit named Alice Cooper. Alice’s rock became Alive’s foundation and Gordon parlayed it into the music-film-TV-video and management organization that is Alive Enterprises today, a multi-faceted, multi-million dollar entertainment complex. Under the Alive Enterprises banner, which has offices in both Los Angeles and New York, are Alive Films, Maui Productions, Movements in Motion, Alive Video and the exclusive representation of the famed restaurant-night club, Carlos ‘n Charlie’s.
Alive Enterprises is a management firm, nurturing the careers of stars such as Alice Cooper, Teddy Pendergrass, Blondie, Yvonne Elliman, Carole Bayer Sager and Burton Cummings. Throughout the past decade Alive has also performed management duties for such stars as Raquel Welch, Groucho Marx, Anne Murray, Ben Vereen and others.
Alive Films (including Vivant Productions) oversees the movie and TV side of Alive Enterprises. Most recently it has been involved in the production of the film, “Roadie” (starring Meat Loaf, Art Carney, Blondie and Alice Cooper, among others) released by United Artists. It is readying for production a four-part TV mini series, “The Alberta Hunter Story,” a music documentary on the fabled blues singer, in association with Southern Pictures, Ltd., in the U.K. Another Alan Rudolph (director of “Roadie”) movie, “The Moderns,” based on U.S. expatriates in Paris in the 1920s, is being prepared. Two other screenplays, “American Rhapsody” and “Sykes and The Woman That Made Him,” are currently being written. Alive Films was involved in developing the 1977 Cannes Festival prize winner “The Duellists,” directed by Ridley Scott whose current hit movie is “Alien.” The involvement with “The Duellists” was through an association with Enigma Films. Another Alive-Enigma association was the controversial Dustin Hoffman-Vanessa Redgrave film, “Agatha.” Alive Films was also responsible for the Emmy Award winning ABC-TV special, “Welcome To My Nightmare,” starring Alice Cooper and Vincent Price.
Maui Productions is the division of Alive Enterprises responsible for the production and implementation of radio specials. A combination of artist interview-music-special effects, these specials are pressed on to disks and sent to radio stations in the U.S. and abroad. Already produced by Maui is an award winning Styx special, a critically acclaimed Alice Cooper special and soon-to-be-released special on Robin Trower.
Movements in Motion, headed by Joe Gannon, nationally acclaimed rock stage producer, handles the division of Alive Enterprises responsible for stage production. Apart from his work internationally for Alice Cooper’s stage productions, Gannon has also produced, handled lighting and sound for superstars Neil Diamond, Diana Ross and Bill Cosby, among others. Gannon invented the ‘magic screen’ effect for rock stages which allows a two-dimensional film effect to come alive dramatically into a live rock performance.
Alive Video is Alive Enterprises’ newest division, created to take care of what Shep Gordon considers will be the entertainment explosion of the 1980’s. It will mainly be concerned with producing video software to supply the burgeoning video industry. So far produced is an Yvonne Elliman special and “Eat To The Beat” starring Blondie which is the first video cassette produced of an entire previously recorded record album.

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