Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Our next music bio film is about Chris Montez


We're still working on the aftermath of the world premiere of our Neil Innes biopic, The Seventh Python, but why waste time when we've got something great? We've already begun pre-production on our next nonfiction, musical feature film: the story of Sixties rocker Chris Montez.

Chris is a Mexican American rock legend who grew up in Hawthorne, California, went to school with the Beach Boys, met his hero Ritchie Valens as a teen, carried on as his successor, toured England with the Beatles as his opening act, and pioneered the lounge movement with hits like Call Me and The More I See You. You'll recognize his hit, Let's Dance. It played during the food fight scene in Animal House, and the Ramones covered it on their first album.

Here's the press release:

FROZEN PICTURES TO FOLLOW
ACCLAIMED NEIL INNES BIOPIC
WITH NONFICTION FILM
ON THE LIFE AND MUSIC
OF CHRIS MONTEZ

HOLLYWOOD, July 2 (JONAS PR) - Hot on the heels of the world premiere of its Neil Innes biopic, The Seventh Python, Frozen Pictures announced today that its next nonfiction musical feature film will focus on the life and career of rock and pop star Chris Montez.

Montez, best known for 1962 rocker, Let's Dance and Swingin' Sixties hits like Call Me and The More I See You, has seen international success whose versatility has moved him beyond the Oldies circuit.

“Chris Montez is an incredibly influential musician whose life and music have touched on every major thread in rock ‘n' roll, from Latino rock to R&B, Sixties pop to lounge, surf to punk,” says Burt Kearns, who writes, produces or directs all of Frozen's projects with Brett Hudson.

"His story is epic. He grew up in Hawthorne, California and went to school and jammed with Brian Wilson and his brothers. He met his hero Ritchie Valens, months before his death. He toured the Deep South at with Sam Cooke and Smokey Robinson. The Beatles were his opening act on their breakthrough British tour. He was washed up at 19. And then he met Herb Alpert and began a very unlikely second act.”

“This film will rewrite rock ‘n' roll history,” adds Hudson, who wrote part of that history with The Hudson Brothers in the Sixties and Seventies. “There's a legendary story about Chris getting into a barroom brawl with John Lennon. There are questions about where those Beatle suits came from. And there's lots more."

International Production

Plans call for filming in Los Angeles, Branson, Europe and Mexico, including an all-star jam session that will feature Montez' greatest hits in a casual setting. “What Bono did for Roy Orbison, what Rick Rubin did for Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond, we'll do for Chris Montez,” says Hudson. “He's a very special talent who really communicates with his music."


The greenlighting of the Montez project comes less than a week after Frozen Pictures' latest film, The Seventh Python, had its world premiere at the American Cinematheque's Mods & Rockers Film Festival in Hollywood.

Reviews have been uniformly impressive, with The Los Angeles Times calling the film “charming and illuminating,” and LAist praising it as “inspired and hilarious.'”

Hudson says the Montez story, besides "reflecting the journey and assimilation of the Mexican American from the 1950s to the first years of the 21st Century," fits in well with the Frozen Pictures' other entertaining, innovative and surprising nonfiction projects that that include the Bravo miniseries, All The Presidents' Movies with Martin Sheen and the television special, The Secret History of Rock ‘n' Roll with Gene Simmons.

“I want to be an example”

Montez, who recently starred at the Dick Clark ‘s American Bandstand Theatre in Branson, Missouri, is eager to bring his story to a new generation “and influence as many people as I can.

"For me, it's always been about overcoming obstacles,” he says. “I'd like to say I grew up in a bilingual home, but my parents never spoke English. I grew up with four brothers and four sisters, and none of them finished school. I've seen discrimination against them and I've experienced it myself. But though I know the struggles of being a Mexican American, I also had tremendous opportunities. I ended up working with the Beatles-- and having the Beatles open for me!

"A lot of Mexican Americans know about me, and I have a lot of older fans, but I want to be an example to young people. An example that everything's possible. I've had lot of Mexican people say to me, 'You're a legend'-- I don't know what that means. I've always been an underdog. And whether you're worth ten million dollars or ten bucks, you're the same person as long as you keep that focus.”

Lensing is set for late summer.

3 comments:

Leslie Sahlen said...

Bravo on your recent press release about the bio pic. Chris has been a trusted friend for many years and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for bringing attention to what a treasure he is. We first met in the mid seventies when our common manager enlisted me to be a backup singer. We hung out, took classes at UCLA together, and shared a deep platonic musical friendship. The seventies were not a good time for Chris. In retrospect thank God the recording project did not survive for posterity. The producer and material were just not a good fit. This resulted in vocal sessions that were hugely frustrating. When Chris left the studio that day I really believed he would never sing again. Sadly we lost touch until . . .

In the eighties I had some success running a speakers bureau in Dallas, Texas, booking celebrities for personal appearances. One day I was watching the Wolfman Jack TV show and there was Chris, looking good and singing his behind off! The Wolfman was in my rolodex so I rang him up and asked him please have Chris call me (no pun intended). He did and I learned of Chris's determination kicking in after I last saw him. He studied, earned his degree, and had kept on rockin'!

Long story short, we have stayed in touch over the years. In 2003 he came down to San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico to sing with me and others at the 1960s Music Festival in support of a local rescue charity. While here, he did a "masters class" for the kids at Casa de La Cultura. (great photo) He encouraged me to start "the Mexican Motown" and has offered to help produce in our little studio. I have photos from over the years and nice video from the 2003 festival. Of course, you are welcome to any of it.

Chris iz da bomb.

Leslie Sahlen
Coconut Country - Mariachi Fusion - MexiBlues
www.mexmosancarlos.com
www.gatorlegs.com
www.youtube.com/tomatah1

Melodie said...

I am so happy you are doing this about Chris Montez. I have known Chris since 1966 and he is always in my heart. He and I were neighbors and very close back in the day and he influenced my life greatly. Because of Chris and his belief in me I am who I am today. He taught me everything about life and love . His talent is amazing and his heart is huge. I have pics of us in those days and also great memories. Chris is a man who is deserving and also a man who has given me the greatest gift in my life.
Thank you for recognizing his talent, his story and his determination.

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