Will Hollywood buy 'Kalamazoo?' Not Likely


BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- After several years in the making, the feature-length film comedy "Kalamazoo?" was shown for the first time Thursday night to a private Hollywood audience. The question now is: Will the general public ever see it in theaters?

Probably not.

While the city's landmarks, parks and businesses looked good in the film, the story bothered Sue Flakes, a writer and film director. "It had some memorable moments," she said, "but it was comedy and it was serious, too. And to be honest, I'd like it to just be one or the other."

"It didn't work," freelance journalist and author Luke Ford said afterward. "I wanted to like it, but it didn't take (me) anywhere emotionally. ... It was really cliched. They all reach inside and get in touch with themselves. You'd think they'd (the filmmakers) come up with something different."

Kalamazoo? Bombs

No wonder nobody wanted to go with me to this movie. It stunk.

The premiere was scheduled for 7:30pm at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre at 8949 Wilshire Blvd. I've been to premieres there three times before and never liked a film yet. I only get invited to such a cool place when they are desperate to fill seats.

I wanted to make sure I could find easy street parking, so I arrived at 6:35pm and sat in my van and read for 40-minutes. After I get out and walk the 20-yards to Wilshire Blvd, this big black man drives up and asks me if I'm going to the premiere. I say yes. He asks me where he should park. I don't know. I suggest he drive around.

Once the movie gets going, I find out the black man was one of the actors.

I sit between two women -- a writer and a cameraman's assistant. I chat them both up, but once the movie finishes, the writer leaves. I turn to the remaining woman and say, "Nice camera angles."

She stares straight ahead. I keep my gaze. Finally she turns and looks at me with the neutral expression you give a mad man. I beat it down to the dessert table. Unfortunately, because of Passover, I can't eat anything but strawberries.

As I sip a cup of decaf coffee, a tall handsome man filled with Mid-Western goodness approaches me. He says he's Matt Jakubowski, staff writer for the Kalamazoo Gazette. I guess it is a real town of about 70,000 people in Michigan. Writer/producer Joanna Clare Scott and producer Dana E. Kowalski are from there. (I wince whenever I see a Polish name because I'm having terrible luck with Polish women this month.)

Matt asks me my opinion of the movie. I say it was a complete flop. It's a shame that Joanna and Dana would devote years of their lives to this (it's about their only credit) because the movie said nothing. It was a tissue of cliches. Why devote so much of yourself (the movie was obviously a personal statement for the women producers, and the show tonight was co-sponsored by Women in Film) to something where you have nothing to say?

I know I'm in trouble with a movie when there's only one character I want to date (Josie Davis) and even here my urge wasn't so intense that it hurt. I mean, I wouldn't have thrown her out of shul for eating crackers during Passover, but...

I guess this movie is a big deal in Kalamazoo, but I doubt it will have meaning anywhere else.

The crowd of about 500 people seemed largely made up of family and friends of the people behind the movie. And their reaction was subdued. At the end, there was only a smattering of applause. Many people fled the building rather than lie to the makers about how much they enjoyed the film.

The main problem was with the script. It had nothing to say. The actors did the best they could.