User ReviewsReview this title
I was engrossed by his journey and the unpretentious honesty of his very interesting life, a true opportunist and marketeer who appears to remain steadfastly loyal to those around him. A funny documentary very different from so many before, loved the graphic reconstructions and the narrations transposed on these, thoroughly entertaining, I learned and laughed a lot.
In the beginning, Gordon, who looks like a cross between Seinfeld co-writer Larry David and former Canadian Football League coach Marc Trestman, talks about his experiences as a sociology major at the University of New York, Buffalo, which lead him to venturing out to the west coast to become a probation officer. After a traumatizing experience at his first day on the job, Gordon went back to his hotel room, dropped acid, and proceeded to relax and unwind before believing he heard the screams and cries of a woman being raped. When he ran outside to "rescue" said woman, he was punched in the face by none other than Janis Joplin, who was doing drugs with Jimi Hendrix. It didn't take long for Gordon to become their manager, predominately based on the qualifications that Gordon was indeed high and knew the drug world all too well.
Gordon eventually got connected with Alice Cooper, functioning as his manager by staging outrageous shows that would make headlines and selling drugs in the audience to keep the crowd coming back for more in both the performance and the social aspect of the show. Gordon talks about how he realized early on that kids loved anything their parents detested, so he tried to get Cooper arrested on stage one night by having him perform naked in saran wrap, to which Gordon would respond by calling the police pretending to be an angered parent. By the time the police had arrived at the venue Cooper was performing at, the saran wrap had fogged up from the heat of the massive crowd and the police questioned why they were even called.
Gordon is filled with those kinds of wild and crazy stories, and Supermensch is a time when those stories are released and a character is revealed. One of the stories he shares is how he and Cooper sort of pioneered audience participation and liveliness within crowds at rock concerts, going as far as throwing a live chicken in the audience, which would later come back to Cooper a mangled and bloodied mess, or how feathered pillows were scattered throughout the concertgoers. In addition,Gordon talks about how him and Cooper, who have remained lifelong friends since they were first acquainted with one another, recorded Cooper's song "I'm Eighteen" in Canada because Cooper's own Straight Records label didn't want to be affiliated with the song. This propelled "I'm Eighteen" to be a huge hit in Canada and its success eventually bled into the United States, becoming one of Cooper's most recognized songs.
The ideology behind Gordon's business practices revolves around three kickers. One is his basic philosophy, which is "get the money, remember to get the money, and never forget to always remember to get the money," in reference to receiving the promised paycut for the plethora of shows he scheduled for his clients. The second is conducting what he refers to as "compassionate business," where nobody wins and nobody loses but everyone wins and everything works out in the end. Finally, Gordon believes in a system that uses "coupons," or asking favors and repaying them through incalculable kindness, such loaning out his home to people he has known for years, or simply chipping in financially to fund someone's lifestyle at this given time. For somebody who has partied enough and undoubtedly seen every racy, cut-throat side of business there is, the fact that Gordon remains so tender and human is astonishing.
Finally, Myers doesn't neglect what the future held for Gordon, as he ventured into culinary arts after meeting French chef Roger Vergé. Gordon states how he enjoyed the freedom and liberation brought forth by the field of culinary arts because once you finished a meal, that was all that needed to be done, whereas managing talent and numerous different acts required constant contemplation of how to approach the next rodeo in a way that would mirror or best the success of the previous venture. In addition, Gordon's tireless work ethic has deprived him of the one thing we see he has needed most in his life - a wife and kids. Watching Gordon in his later years, we see a man not concerned with the party and debauchery lifestyle as he once was, but one looking to settle down and produce somebody who can go on to optimistically live the same kind of caring and open-minded life his father has done throughout his life.
Supermensch is a wonderful documentary, thoroughly human and uncommonly entertaining, with numerous celebrities like Tom Arnold and Michael Douglas weighing on what Gordon has done for them. At a simple, eighty-five minutes, Myers chronicles just about all we need to know about Gordon to come to the consensus that this is a man responsible for a lot more than what we have credited him for, and a soul just as charismatic as the talent he manages.
Directed by: Mike Myers.
More than outrageous, Shep is a legend in his excess of sex, drugs and rock and roll. Not one to miss an opportunity with the ladies, he would wear a t-shirt on tour that said, "No head, no backstage pass". But the magic of this film, something that Myers didn't craft on accident, is that the biggest legend of Shep's excess was the capacity of his heart. A kind and very generous man, Shep was every famous person's best friend because, unlike 99% of the music managers with their slimy reputation, he had the biggest heart in the room.
After being ostrasized by the fellow prison guards because of his big unkempt hairstyle, Shep found himself holed up in a Hollywood hotel. That hotel turned out to be the infamous Landmark Motor Hotel selling drugs to none other than Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Jimi Hendrix. When Shep knew the heat would catch up to him sooner than later, he stepped away from dealing and got the idea from Hendrix to start managing music. "You're a Jew aren't you? You should manage music", and that's how it all started. Shep's first client was Alice Cooper, and they've been inseparable since. Even many, many, years and famous clients later, when Shep decided to retire he didn't retire from his best friend Cooper.
It was with Cooper that Shep improvised press out of thin air turning Cooper into a star. Shep was a very adaptable manager who had a diversity of clients that spanned the hard rock stylings of Cooper, to the R&B Teddy Pendergrass, to the Canadian country good girl Anne Murray. He reached beyond music with many film producing credits, and when he became infatuated with the culinary arts, he represented the greatest chef's in the world, inventing the celebrity chef (Emeril Legasse among many others). The insight into each of these clients is truly wild and usually ended up with a happy ending; Pendergrass ending up a mixed bag tale.
And while we could listen to Shep's wild tales and conquests forever, Myer's gets us deep access into his personal life, never letting us forget that this is a good human being who really made a difference in so many lives. His want for offspring keeps surfacing throughout. The mix of his earlier promiscuous life with his self sacrificial motivation to bring all of his clients everything they could ever want has left him without an heir to the Gordon empire. Shep gets closest to being a dad when tragedy strikes as an old girlfriend's grandchildren lose their mother and he comes to the rescue not only wildly financially but also as a loving father figure. That selfless deed is where the true legend of Shep Gordon lies, a supermensch, aka a superman.
"this" selfless deed is where the true legend of Shep Gordon lies, a supermensch, aka a superman.
Couple of comments: first and foremost, even if Shep Gordon may not be known to you at all, you are in for a finger lickin' good time with this documentary. The man was arguably one of the most connected people in the Hollywood entertainment scene, and apparently one of the most respected and beloved. Besides managing many stars in the music and movie business, Gordon practically single-handedly started the 'celebrity chef' scene when he befriends French chef Roger Verge and later agrees to manage him and many other chefs. Second, given the 40+ year relationship and bond between Gordon and Alice Cooper, we get to see quite a bit of the Cooper saga with fascinating insights on how Cooper was able to break through, with the ideas from Gordon playing a crucial role (and hence it's a nice compliment/contrast to the recent "Super Duper Alice Cooper" documentary). Third, the documentary does not shy away from the personal side: while we see Gordon having relationships with Sharon Stone and other well-known women, in the end we see Gordon alone. Says his assistant: when he wakes up after the surgery and sees me beside the bed, it's clear that he wishes it was not me, his paid personal assistant, whom he'd be staring at", wow.
This is not a 'dirty laundry' type of documentary, so if you think you'll be hearing/seeing a lot of gossip on the artists managed by Gordon, you will be sorely disappointed. If on the other hand you are interested in getting a portrait on one of the most successful managers in the Hollywood entertainment business, then this is for you. I enjoyed this from start to finish. Quite a nice debut for first-time director Mike Myers. "Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Supermensch is laid out like a reverse court case. Instead of prosecutor trying to show that someone is nasty, this movie tries to convince viewers that the subject of the film, Mr. Gordon, is a good guy. We hear endless testimonials from some of Hollywood's most famous stars. Family members tear up trying to describe their love for Mr. Gordon. We see that he has achieved fabulous wealth. We are supposed to leave thinking that in all his life, Gordon has never unfairly hurt anyone. It defies belief.
The documentarian went into this project as a promoter, rather than a reporter. So we never hear from the ex-wives, the angry ex-clients, the venue managers who had to negotiate with Gordon. We hear from Myers and Gordon that their first interaction was a pretty tough negotiation. It's hard to believe he has never been dickier.
We hear that he was a womanizer and wore a T-shirt that said, "No head, no backstage pass." Maybe that was just a joke. Maybe not. We don't know. It would be nice to ask around...except that it might burst the bubble. Can't have that.
Right at the beginning, he says he tells clients that if he does his job perfectly he will probably kill them. This is interesting! But we are never told why he says that. Does he feel responsible for the deaths of his early clients? Who knows, such complexity has no place in this film.
The same goes for the film's minor characters. So Jimi Hendrix told him to be a manager because he is Jewish? WTF does being Jewish have to do with it? Who knows, this movie isn't here to expose stereotypes.
Because the film is trying so hard, it made me start to wonder about the motives of those giving positive evaluations. Are they being honest? Or is there some other reason for their effusiveness? The family members in particular are a bit too much like Regan and Goneril for my taste.
It's not like showing the darker side of the main character would make us like him less. To the contrary, in the same theatre, I recently saw another documentary about a real supermensch: The Grand Budapest Hotel. By showing characters fail, that movie succeeds at showing the heroes' true resiliency and grace.
In the end, I felt like Myers was learning the documentary craft with this movie. I hope so. He has skills, and it would be a delight if he were to apply them to a topic where he was less of a partisan, and was instead genuinely curious about the full story.
I can't imagine what was the archives and research budget for this movie. There are so many worthy documentaries waiting to be completed for lack of money, it is a bit sad to see so many resources poured into a movie that doesn't even seem to be pursuing the truth.
There are on camera interviews with Alice Cooper (who was Shep's 1st client, and who he has managed for 45 years!), Mick Fleetwood, Michael Douglas, Tom Arnold, Emeril Lagasse, Anne Murray, Mike Meyers, Willie Nelson, Sylvester Stallone and Steven Tyer. But the best interview subject is Shep himself, who has tremendously entertaining, often funny and occasionally tragic anecdotes about his many years in show business. Among the most interesting are the various clever, and sometimes amusingly devious ways Shep would raise his clients' public profiles and help make them stars.
There's a genuine wisdom and even a spiritual side to Shep, who befriended the Dali Llama, and spent a week cooking for him as a way of giving back. Ultimately Shep realized, sadly late in the game, that there was more to life than work, and that he was missing out on having kids and a family.
Not a 'change your life' film, but it's always engaging, like listening to the most fun and intelligent guest at a great party.
I had never heard of Shep Gordon before this documentary showed up on Netflix. Now I know he was instrumental in the rise of Alice Cooper and his legend, he helped create the "celebrity chef" and he was involved in the Cameron Crowe plane crash story fictionalized in "Almost Famous".
We learn about the Hollywood Vampires, and the unlikely drinking duo of John Lennon and Alice Cooper. I say unlikely not just because how different they are musically, but the political aspects could have been mind-blowing (though Cooper insists he was apolitical at the time).
We learn of the Anne Murray and Alice Cooper connection, which is even stranger than Lennon. Heck, in many ways this is far more a story of Alice Cooper than it is of Shep Gordon. If a Cooper documentary does not exist yet, expect one to come around soon thanks to his role in this.
Is the story too positive? That seems to be the biggest complaint, that the film comes off as more of a Mike Myers love letter than a true documentary. Surely someone at some point must have had something negative to say? Maybe, maybe not. At the very least, Myers should be applauded just for getting this out there and letting the world know Gordon exists. Clearly Hollywood knows, but does anyone else?
The story of Shep Gordon, a man who, while a brilliant agent in the entertainment industry, is relatively unknown to most people, despite exerting incredible influence in the music and movie industries. Moreover, his personality goes against the image we have of agents, in that he is not just about the money but shows genuine compassion and friendship.
The amount of stars in his sphere of influence, and as friends, is amazing.
Incredibly well made by Mike Myers, in his directorial debut. He painstaking compiled stills and footage of Gordon for the movie. Some scenes are dramatized but these are generally very humorously done, giving the movie an (appropriate) light-hearted tone.
Not just a story of a man, pretty much a "how to" manual on publicity. He was a genius at marketing.
Surely one of the best documentaries ever made.
this is NOT what music is about or ANY art.Art is sacred whether it be a silly comedy that makes you laugh or a song that moves your soul and empowers you art is the ambrosia of life and non humans are the living angels on this planet.We humans are the masses who are beyond asses and many are vile, some are magnificent.If you love music , if you know the beauty and epic brilliance of non humans you will loath this film.it is shallow and cruel and glorifies subhumans who not only defecate on something as amazing as music but on humans and non humans.
The bottom line is that this is a decent time-passer though I am not sure how much folks who AREN'T in show business will enjoy this. It's well made but the subject matter is only moderately interesting--mostly because his life and friends are so foreign to most viewers.