Shep Gordon headed straight for LA when he graduated college in the 60s and, by chance, fell into the music management business and made friends with Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix. This ordinary guy went on to manage such music personalities as Pink Floyd, Teddy Pendergrass and Alice Cooper. He later managed such chefs as Emeril Lagasse and brought the TV cooking show into the new millennium. And, to his many friends, he has always been and always will be a “Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon.”
I knew little about uber talent manager Shep Gordon until I saw Mike Meyers’s “Supermensch” and it makes me wish I knew the man personally. In his directorial debut, Meyers gathers a diverse collection of personalities – from the music world, movies and chef oriented reality TV – and they, to a man and woman, sing the praises for Shep, who seemed to know everyone and is liked by all.
The list of those who know and love Shep Gordon is extensive with interviews with the likes of Michael Douglas, Woody Nelson, Alice Cooper, Sylvester Stallone, Emeril Lagasse and Canadian-borner singer Anne Murray. He also has rubbed shoulders such cultural icons as Cary Grant (he and Shep shared joint custody of Shep’s cat), the above-mentioned triumvirate of Hedrix-Joplin-Morrison, Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Lennon, the Dalai Lama , Harry Nielson, Mickey Dolenz, Sharon Stone and many more. It is hard to fathom how a nice mensch like Shep could have such enormous effect on so many people, but he does.
Mike Meyers is almost worshipful of his subject but the testaments of so many that know him (and love him) make you wonder if you, too, would fall under his spell and kneel at the altar of Shep Gordon. Definitely. I give it a B.
For his directorial debut, Mike Meyers profiles the man he wrangled with over the rights to an Alice Cooper song for his 1991 film, "Wayne's World," the same man who let him stay in his Maui home for two months during a difficult period, a man Meyers says is the nicest man he ever met. The music manager, film producer and man who created the concept of the celebrity chef is a "Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon."
What a refreshing change of pace, the story of a man in the industry beloved by just about everyone who's ever met him. Shep Gordon is no angel - Michael Douglas of all people says he thinks with...well not his head - but he's built his career by helping those he felt were overlooked or treated unfairly, become a friend of the Dalai Lama's and adopted the four grandchildren of a girlfriend from his past when she sent news of her daughter's death. Semi-retired, the twice divorced Gordon still dreams of having a family of his own.
Meyers has distilled an overwhelming amount of celebrity anecdotes, weaving them throughout the film relating Gordon's history. And what a story it is! Fresh out of college in 1969, Shep went to Hollywood, inadvertently checking in at a landmark motel where on his first night, attempting to be a white knight, he was punched in the face by Janis Joplin. The next day, learning he was Jewish, Joplin's buddy Jimi Hendrix deduced that he should become a manager. Voila! If initially his music management primarily meant supplying drugs, he soon got into the thick of it with the only man who remains a client in his retirement, Alice Cooper.
Gordon may have stumbled into his career, but his shenanigans getting Cooper into the limelight illustrate a true knack for show business. The stories are hilarious (the mutilation of a chicken notwithstanding) and often astonishing. Gordon shared ownership of a cat with Cary Grant, helped Groucho Marx pro bono in his declining years, went up against the Chitlin' Circuit, married a Playboy Playmate and literally catered to the Dalai Lama. Shep's got his own brand of paying it forward, something he calls 'coupons.' When Carolyn Pfeiffer, whose baby was featured on a Cooper album cover, lost the child to crib death and needed a fresh start, Gordon hired her and Alive Films was born, the forerunner, he says, to Miramax. On his second honeymoon, a call to the front desk about a broken laptop produced Steve Jobs! He's even cheated death.
The documentary is chock full of archival footage, stills, classic music and talking heads from Sylvester Stallone ('He has the charm of Elvis, the physique of Steve Reeves, the wit of Mark Twain and is hung like...') to Emeril Lagasse. There's also Shep Gordon, a man who'll teach you the art of the dinner party and his belief in karma.
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