Boy, we haven't seen a fan reaction (or oldies media buzz) like THIS in quite a while!!!
Ever since we first mentioned the upcoming documentary WAGES OF SPIN ... profiling the Philadelphia Music Scene of the late '50's and early '60's ... (with PARTICULAR emphasis on DICK CLARK and AMERICAN BANDSTAND) we've been receiving mail about little else!!!
For a quick recap, here's what we've passed along so far ... followed by a FORGOTTEN HITS Exclusive ... the latests word on THE REAL DEAL courtesy of PAUL RUSSO and SHAWN SWORDS, the guys who are putting this whole film together. And be sure to check out some of these links ... some absolutely AMAZING stuff. (We can't WAIT for this film to hit the streets!!!)
UPDATE: Watch For A Brand New Documentary, The First To Take An Honest, Comprehensive Look At Music Industry During "American Bandstand" Era, Coming Soon!
***** The producers who brought you the popular 2006 made-for-PBS documentary: "CHARLIE GRACIE: FABULOUS!" are coming back with another project sure to raise some eyebrows:
"THE WAGES OF SPIN!"
The program will primarily focus on DICK CLARK and the Philadelphia Music Scene during the era of "American Bandstand." This will be a no holds barred look at how the system worked ... the rules of the game -- how careers were created or shattered, depending on one's willingness to play! CHARLIE GRACIE, MIKE LOVE and BRUCE JOHNSTON (Beach Boys) FRANKIE AVALON, LEN BARRY, FABIAN, CONNIE FRANCIS, CHUBBY CHECKER, JOE TERRY and FRANK MAFFEI (Danny & Juniors), MARC STEVENS (Dovells), STEPHEN CALDWELL (Orlons), DICK BOCCELLI (Comets), DAVE APPELL, BOB MARCUCCI, ANDY WILLIAMS, ARTIE SINGER and scores of others will appear. More Info Coming! (Stay tuned to these pages!!!)
This new Documentary Examines Payola During Bandstand Era - Dick Clark
Watch a short trailer here:
submitted by CHARLIE GRACIE, JR.
When Frannie and I made our trip out to the East Coast last November, we first heard about this film thanks to Paul Russo, owner of Cool Scoops Ice Cream Parlor, who is also the Executive Producer of the film. Clips were already starting to surface on YOUTUBE back then, building anticipation for this VERY revealing documentary. Over the past four years or so, we've talked with a number of people about putting together an in-depth expose on Dick Clark for Forgotten Hits ... but NOBODY that we talked to was willing to speak “On The Record” about him, a tribute to just how powerful a man Dick Clark really is.
The clip referenced above illustrates exactly that … a love / hate, bittersweet relationship … we can't WAIT to see this film ... and we are DEFINITELY not alone. Since we first published Charlie's "ADVANCE NOTICE," we've received dozens and dozens of emails asking for more details about the film. When I talked to Paul Russo about this, he told me that even HE hadn't seen the final cut yet … I'm not even certain that it's hit the "editing stages" yet ... so we may still be a little ways away from seeing it … but this one is sure to ruffle a few feathers and show us some things that perhaps many folks have long suspected … but very few people have been willing to talk about. (By the way, from what we've been told, the most likely venue for this will probably be a PBS Television Special, followed by a home video release … again, stay tuned for more details as they become available.) While some may perceive this to be not much more than a Dick Clark Witch Hunt, coming at a time when Clark is in ailing health, our hope is that most music fans will view it as an expose of an era ... and a look at just how business was done back then ... in the earliest, evolving days of Rock And Roll.
Please keep us posted about the Dick Clark Philly special I would most definitely like to see this!
Looking forward to the Dick Clark / American Bandstand story. I have read about his involvement in the payola scandals and found innocent. Many critics thought he was guilty.
Poor Alan Freed was found guilty and it eventually ruined his career.
Do the producers of this film have any comments from Dick Clark? Please let us know when it appears on PBS.
WOW, Kent!!! I can't WAIT to watch "The Wages of Spin" !
Friends and industry insiders advise of an up coming television documentary being planned about the recording industry of the late 50’s and 60’s in the final stages of production at PBS. When aired it is expected to concentrate on the red hot city of Philadelphia during a time when Dick Clark’s American Bandstand broadcasting live each weekday exercised great power over the careers of many recording artists in that era. Said to be a no holds barred look at how the system worked -- the rules of the game -- how careers were created or shattered, depending on one's willingness to play, this expose will air what has long been talked about in private by industry insiders but unreported to the public at large.
Hey Kent -- It is certainly about time that the whys and wherefores of Dick Clark and "American Bandstand" saw the light of day. I was (and still am) a Bandstand fan, and certainly respect all that Dick has done on TV. However, back in the 80's, I used to hang out with Joe Bennett ("Black Slacks" fame) and he told me that when he appeared on Bandstand, at the end of the show, he would get his appearance check, endorse it, and hand it back to the show producer. That was the way it was done, and if you wanted to be on A.B., that's the way you did it. I read Dick's autobiography several years back, and one thought kept running through my mind ..... "I wish he would have told the real story, you know it'd be a lot more interesting!!"
Jim Pritchard / Gladstone, OR
(aka "Jim Southern" to at least dozens of old radio fans back in the 60's.)
For a more current update, we talked again with CHARLIE GRACIE, JR., whose father's bio-pic /documentary inspired this whole new in-depth examination in the first place:
Hello Again Kent!
I hope you'll share this update with your readers! I just had to respond to the comments by Carolyn and her questions about whether or not Dick Clark will appear in the "Wages Of Spin." By-the-way, I hope you like that title. I suggested it to the producer, Shawn Swords and he went with it! I'm not usually good at stuff like that, but it just seemed to fit. Shawn and his crew are doing a marvelous job on this film, as they did with my dad's documentary: "Charlie Gracie: Fabulous!, shown on PBS in late 2006. No, Clark was not interviewed for this piece.
The "Wages Of Spin" is the perfect sequel to my dad's film -- where the whole issue of Dick Clark, "payola" and his "silent partnership" with Cameo-Parkway Records came up. My dad is one of the centerpieces of this story as well, in-so-much as he was arguably the first (or at least one of the first) artists to challenge his record company for lack of royalty payments. This was unheard of at that time. After three big hits with Cameo ("Butterfly," "Ninety-Nine Ways" and "Fabulous") and three others that made the Top 20 in England, my dad filed suit against the label and won--settling with them out-of-court for $50,000 in 1958. At that time, my dad still had NO idea of Clark's connection to Cameo Records, but by suing the label, he unknowingly cut his own throat. From that day forward, airplay for my dad's future releases on Coral and Roulette was minimal at best. During the Congressional hearings into "payola" a year and a half later, Clark admitted to collecting at least $7,000 on my dad's #1 hit, "Butterfly," a song he had NO hand in writing! This scenario was repeated many times over with other hits as well, "At The Hop," Sixteen Candles and more! Carolyn was correct when she implied that Alan Freed took the hit! Congress chose to make an example of Freed, while Clark, who was involved in everything they investigated, was let off the hook! He did have to relinquish his interests in music publishing companies, record pressing plants and other areas that were blatant conflicts of interest. It was that or give up his position as host of "Bandstand." By that time, Clark had amassed a fortune worth millions. Kent, having written all of this, I must add that my dad never had words with Dick Clark. The few times we saw him in recent years, Dick was always congenial and still the consummate professional. This film is not meant to be a "hit piece" on the man, nor does it challenge his role as the "perfect host" for "American Bandstand." Yet, Clark often left out the fact (conveniently?) that Bob Horn was the show's original host. It was a local Philly show from 1952 through 1956. Horn was wildly popular with teens and built the program into a powerhouse. Clark took over when Horn was convicted on a couple DUIs and was later charged with statutory rape. He was never convicted of the later. This film by Shawn Swords will attempt to tell the full story of how "American Bandstand" worked -- not the sugarcoated version Clark has recounted through the years. Many worthy and talented artists saw their careers "deep-sixed" if they dared to challenge the rules. This documentary is as much about them as it is about Clark and "Bandstand."
PIC ATTACHED: Dick Clark (Center) at the premiere of "Jamboree!", the Warner Bros. rock 'n' roll movie ---- with Charlie Gracie (to the left of Clark) and singer Jodie Sands (to his right.) Bob Marcucci, Peter DeAngelis, Kal Mann also appear in this photo. "Jamboree" featured Charlie Gracie, Jerry Lee Lewis, Frankie Avalon, Fats Domino, Carl Perkins and many others. I gave Clark a copy of this pic in 1997 ( he didn't have one of his own) and he signed another one for me: "To the two Charlie's" at the 40th Anniversary of "American Bandstand" in '97.
Charlie Gracie, Jr.
And, now, for the first time anywhere, here's the COMPLETE lowdown from Paul Russo, the film's Executive Producer and Shawn Swords, the film's Director:
Thanks for the opportunity to explain the origin and evolution of the" Wages of Spin" documentary. Sit Down, Relax, Hang On!
The idea for "The Wages of Spin" Documentary Film came to us while we were filming The Charlie Gracie Documentary Film "Fabulous" in the Doo Wop Capital of the World, Wildwood, New Jersey. We conducted several film interviews with pop icons and musical industry types from the 50's and 60's during the filming process and were intrigued by how many of the interviewees stated on and off the record "That it is was a shame what happened to Charlie" and "What happened to Charlie?" We started talking to and interviewing a lot of industry insiders from the 50's and early 60's and their assessments of what happened to Charlie were universal. Charlie Gracie had a #1 hit, "Butterfly," that sold over 3 million copies and catapulted him to superstardom within a short period proceeding it's release. Charlie then began to tour extensively in The United States and abroad and began appearing on high profile radio and television shows, including an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. When Charlie returned from his prolonged performance and appearance tour, he was extremely dismayed to find out that he had not been receiving his appropriate royalties for his record sales and questioned Bernie Lowe, the owner of his record label, Cameo Records, about being paid commensurately what he was due per his contract. Lowe dismissed him and suggested he get a lawyer. Charlie did not acquiesce and proceeded to take legal action against Lowe. Charlie explained to us that he had always been a man of his word and that a deal is a deal and he just wanted to be paid what he was owed. Several insiders advised Charlie not to take action against Lowe but Charlie informed them that he was a man of principle and that a deal was a deal. Charlie was unaware that Bernie Lowe had assigned 25 percent of the copyright for "Butterfly" to Dick Clark as a "gift". Charlie's subsequent songs and records received very little airplay and were not pushed by Clark after he had pushed and promoted "Butterfly" heavily. It is not a very difficult deduction to figure out the impact Charlie's suit had on his career after he sued to get what was rightfully his. During the latter part of our "Fabulous" documentary we began to discuss a potential feature length project on The Philadelphia Music Scene circa 1952 thru 1963, focusing primarily on Dick Clark, American Bandstand, The Teen Idols and The Payola Scandal of the late 50's and subsequent congressional hearings addressing "Payola". Our company, Character Driven Productions, Producers: Myself, Conrad Zimmer, Blake Wilcox and Shawn Swords, discussed the potential project and were unanimous on our choice to produce the film "Wages ofSpin" as our next project. It had become evident thru our interviews and discussions with musical insiders from the 50's and 60's that there was a great story to be told if we were going to produce a film that was candid and thorough about the inner workings of the Philadelphia Music Industry from 1952 thru 1963. The film has finished principal photography and will be ready to exhibit in mid to late May. The documentary is loaded with great archival material and interviews with several pop icons and music industry notables from the 1950's and 1960's including: Chubby Checker, Connie Francis, Mike Love and Bruce Johnston of The Beach Boys, Frankie Avalon, Fabian, Dick Richard (of the Comets), Charlie Gracie, Danny and The Juniors, The Dovells, Stephen Caldwell (of the Orlons), Andy Williams, Len Barry, Jerry Blavat, Bill Webber, Sally Starr, John Carlton, Ron Joseph, Ed Hurst and several other music industry notables. A complete cast list and credits are viewable at:
There is also a compelling film trailer viewable at:
"The Wages of Spin" was originally envisioned as an episodic series but will now be exhibited as a feature length film. Another interesting aspect of the film was the reluctance of many of the interviewees to talk about Dick Clark and Payola other than "off the record". We did find industry insiders that were willing to talk about the practice of "Payola" and assigning copyrights and gifts to Clark in exchange for airplay. The practice is outlined thoroughly in the film. The film also has great anecdotal material including: Bob Marcucci talking about discovering Fabian and Frankie Avalon, Chubby Checker talking about "The Twist" and its impact on the world, Connie Francis talking about getting her big break on Bandstand and Jerry Blavat talking about the transition from Bob Horn to Dick Clark's Bandstand.
The success of "Fabulous" opened a lot of doors for us in terms of getting high profile entertainers' contact information and them to agree to participate in "The Wages of Spin" Production. Almost all of the entertainers we contacted agreed to participate in the film. We weren't even aware of the amount of influence that Clark had on the industry and some of his practices until we were almost mid-way thru "Fabulous". We are story tellers and this is an amazing story. It isn't just about Clark but, naturally he is the epicenter because of Bandstand and his profile and the complexity of his relationship with artists and the inner workings of the industry. This is a rich,multi-faceted story not a tawdry expose'. For the most part we are staying away from tabloid sensationalism and personal problems not related to abuses of or exploitation of artists or their intellectual properties. This is solid narrative, objective story telling. Photos are available on our website:
Shawn Swords, Director
Paul Russo, Executive Producer
'The Wages of Spin'
Coming soon to Film Festivals and Theaters near you
Thanks SO much, guys ... you've got ALL of us oldies fans chomping at the bit to see this one!!!