So, Whatever Happened to That Texxas Jam '78 Documentary, Anyway?
Speaking of the Texxas Jam, as we're known to do from time to time, while researching yesterday's Fleetwood Mac attack at the Cotton Bowl in '78 I stumbled across an Internet Movie Database entry for something called Texxas Jam '78, which promises to be "the first real look at an event that crammed 100,000 people into the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas to celebrate Rock n' Roll in 1978." Says it's directed by James Austin and due for release ... wait, what? July 2011? Hunh.
Couldn't find much else on the thing, though, except the name of a production company: Archway Pictures, whose homepage actually features a three-minute trailer for the doc featuring Heart, Eddie Money, Ted Nugent, Sammy Hagar and Redbeard. This morning I tracked down the production company's president, Brian Hedenberg, and I asked the Bedford native, UNT grad and former Belafonte frontman now living in New York: What gives? He sent back the following missive:
The Texxas Jam 1978 documentary has proven to be considerably more challenging that we originally anticipated. The documentary has finally been completed and is in the hands of networks and distributors. Considering the event was over 30 years ago and everyone was stoned that day, we were shocked at how much they remembered not only of their own sets, but each others. It's actually pretty funny to see Walter Egan, Head East and Ted Nugent all taking the piss out of one another. Getting Aerosmith and Van Halen to give an interview was like pulling meat from a Lion's mouth. There is so much internal drama within the groups themselves that we were not even a blip on the radar for the five years we were trying to make this thing.
He goes on to explain that at some point, David Krebs, co-founder of the concerts with Pace Concerts' Louis Messina, decided he was going to make his own doc about the Texxas Jam. (Krebs is listed as one of the producers of the Aerosmith video from the '78 show at the Cotton Bowl and took out this ad in Billboard in 1998 celebrating the band's 25th anniversary. He's not an easy man to reach.) That, of course, threw a wrench into Hedenberg's plans to get his doc out there. He writes:
We should have been making a documentary on the making of this documentary. I think a documentary on Goldman Sachs would have been less troublesome.
The doc had been intended for release in '07; he told one fan, via email, that he'd hoped to have it out in time for the 30th anniversary in '08. Writes Hedenberg today:
With the support of guys like Redbeard and Louis Messina and the bands, this thing is finally going to get to see the light of day. Rock and Roll ain't what it used to be. I was shocked we were able to finish this without major advertising endorsements. Then again, it hasn't aired yet. Thanks for keeping an eye out. One thing about Texans, we don't quit easy.
Update at 2:39 p.m.: Earlier I'd asked Hedenberg if there was a time line for release. He just sent this:
It depends on what VH1 comes back with. And if we get the chance to pitch Sony that could be a game changer too. But realistically its only 52 minutes, and Sony is already talking to Krebs about his live footage. Except we have the interviews. If VH1 passes then we'll just go straight to DVD or film fests by end of summer. We have a meeting in a couple of weeks. We get a pretty consistent stream of emails every year wanting to know if we're done. Yes, we're done. Now we're just trying to get it out to everyone and cover our asses. Licensing hits from all those bands from the '70s was a lot more than we had anticipated.
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