Hosing Down

Patriotic Doodies

There’s a pretty good chance that by the time you read this, I will have left our country. If you get this near the first of the month, however, I’m still here and will be performing with the Craig Ingraham Band at 8pm in the House of Blues on May Day. But by mid-May, this Hose has flown.

Politicians in the United States are so utterly corrupt that I’m surprised their great god MoneyandPower hasn’t yet spoken unto their hearts and cautioned them to pull back a bit or someone might catch on. To me, it’s akin to a fantastical farce. Now there’s unlimited spending in political campaigns, meaning that from here on, it is certain you’ll be ruled exclusively by the rich.

Right wing radio hosts (and the odd miscreant like Ted Nugent) are playing chicken with the first amendment (“Our fascist dictator Hussein-Obama must not be reelected! We must – or someone must – end this man’s reign of terror! Blast this nightmare away from our lives! Kill the brain and you kill the ghoul! In real life all zombies must die!”)

A man in Florida is in danger of being lynched without a trial. Secret Service agents are being severely punished for seeking some recreational poontang in their off hours. This season’s American Idol sucks big time.

Even Katharine McPhee, who has been an absolute smash on Smash can’t keep me in this country any longer.

You see, I’m leaving the U.S. on May 10th to attend the Cannes Film Festival, where I might be able to forget about all this gruesome political crap for a while.

It all began late last autumn when I was contacted by Miles Burnham of Elmtree Films Ltd. in England. They were about to begin filming a four-part series for British television that would be released theatrically as a feature elsewhere around the globe. The project was entitled Rocksoff! and was to be a dramatized story about the world of popular music during the sixties. Actors would be portraying various real icons; they had signed some truly uncanny choices for the Beatles and Elvis (I’m sworn to secrecy) and their choices for Dusty Springfield, Bill Wyman, and Eric Burdon have to be seen to be believed (likewise).

Well, Mr. Burnham offered me the role of a lifetime so I spent two wonderful weeks in London last December, full of excitement and humility and more than a little soul.

Rocksoff! will be unveiled at Cannes, then broadcast on BBC1 in June and released theatrically in the U.S. in the early fall. There’s been an insane buzz about the project in Japan, where it will hit cinemas in July and where the great soundtrack album has already been released (with the innocent title-change-through-mistranslation of Climax of Love!)

Most of the players in the film are recognizable TV faces in Britain, but will be unfamiliar in the States. The actress portraying Diana Ross had to be replaced at the last minute (she had become an obnoxious diva on the set, finally being hospitalized for overgorging on her own bathwater) and I was able to solve the replacement problem myself, using my keen eye (the left one) and ear (ditto), my lifelong appreciation of beauty, and this heaven-sent opportunity to scientifically apply my knowledge of the Casting Couch System in a real setting. My solution was named Imogen Oxley-Northel and I will admit that from the moment I spied her near Cadogen Square breastfeeding a stray Corgi, something special and strong began to grow between us. Soon, on our days off, we’d run hand-in-hand in slow motion around Piccadilly Circus or twirl weightlessly among meadows of heather and lilac or stuff ourselves with fish ’n’ chips until she was sick all over herself. It was real. It was singular. It was love Anglo-American-style, and when I eventually got bored, I told her that it wasn’t her, it was me, and she bought it. Limeys are incredibly gullible.

Upon the recent completion of the final cut, Miles Burnham phoned me and he was ecstatic. “Hose, we had to lose the dream sequence, but your spot is still more than a reel and a half and it’s marvelous. The whole show’s marvelous, and you bloody steal the whole gob!”

I began to feel queazy. “Hose! You still there? Can you hear me?”

“Sure, I can,” I replied, gathering my thoughts. So this is what it all comes down to: “stealing the show.”

“Miles,” I accurately began, with a masculine determination, “I didn’t steal anything. I never have stolen anything and I never will. I slaved on this production like I haven’t really slaved since my incarnation as Mandingo, which nobody believes me about anyway. For weeks I was a slave to you, a slave to music, to our very heritage. No, Miles, whatever praise I might receive will not have been stolen; I will have earned it the great American way… I worked hard and earned it with the blood of pioneers in my veins and the sweat of Pilgrim girls in my brain and the heart of Lady Liberty ripped out and encased within my fundament. May gawd-uh buh-less Amuricuh!”

Now, as I remember Rocksoff!, it all feels just like yesterday, but without the string quartet. None of the other actors had the slightest difficulty doing spot-on American accents for this project in which I and Diane Lane were the sole non-Brits. In fact, early on there was a lot of controversy concerning the political correctness of so many English people portraying so many Americans. Being a stickler for authenticity, I was pretty upset myself at first, but all the hubbub eventually receded… and although I may notice… wisps of a spirit of inauthenticity I’ll trust it’ll go right over the heads of most American audiences, who otherwise have weightier concerns.

I reflect on my admiration and respect for Miles Burnham, who, surprisingly, is really quite a pansy. Nonetheless, it was he who pulled me out and away, however briefly, from the growing viruses  infecting this great land of ours, and will soon pull me away briefly again. He offered me respite and the opportunity to explore and recreate, if you will, the life and soul of a once-living, breathing American icon… to put the greatness of that soul on the screen and make it live again to the best of my ability… for an outrageously large amount of money.

I’m greatly honored to have had the opportunity to portray James Brown not only as the world knew him, but as I imagined him from time to time. I think it was wise of the screenwriters to skip over his awesome football and film careers as “Jim” Brown and concentrate “souly” (hee hee) on the man’s musical/cultural significance. We did a concert scene featuring “Pappa’s Got a Brand New Bag” and “Please Please Please” and I refused to use a body double not because I’m a narcissist but because I dug the way I looked and moved. Good Gawd Y’all! Say it loud, say it proud!

Now, can I hit it and quit?

  • September 2016

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