We learned today that HBO Films has decided that a biopic of the late Sam Kinison should get the big-screen treatment. Almost two years ago to the day, HBO was planning a made-for-HBO version of Kinison's story with Tom Shadyac directing, and actor Dan Fogler attached to star. The screenplay is based on a memoir written by Kinison's brother, Bill.
Bill Kinison also took part in an Epix/Comedy Central film, "Back From Hell: A Tribute to Sam Kinison," which debuted on Comedy Central over the weekend and became available on DVD on Tuesday.
The DVD takes an hourlong look back at Kinison's career, with old clips mixed with commentary from Lewis Black, Chris Rock, Lenny Clarke, Denis Leary, George Lopez, Marc Maron, Kathy Griffin, Norm MacDonald, Jay Leno, Ice-T, Pauly Shore and more. There's also footage from a special showcase filmed last year at The Comedy Store in West Hollywood. DVD extras include 17 minutes of additional stand-up from Kinison, plus stories about Kinison from Maron, Shore, Kinison impersonator Craig Gass, and Bill Kinison.
It's a good reminder that Sam Kinison was more than just a screamer in a trench-coat, with hair billowing out the sides of a beret or bandana. The son of a preacher who himself became a preacher, made comedy club audiences his congregation, and the sermons he screamed had powerful messages behind them.
In this clip, you see two of his more famous messages, that marriage is Hell, and that filmmakers of starving Ethiopians have their own guilt complexes.
Here's a clip examining Sam Kinison's hold over Hollywood audiences with his midnight shows at The Comedy Store:
And yes, there was that primal scream.
Back From Hell: A Tribute to Sam Kinison, will feature live performances tonight by Jimmy Shubert, Ron White, Marc Maron, Fritz Coleman, John Mendoza, Dom Irrera, Pauly Shore, Tom Arnold, Ron Jeremy, Ralphie May, Jim Serpico, Rudy Sarzo, Carlos Alazraqui, Carlos Oscar and more. The invite-only event will be filmed by Robert Small Entertainment for EPIX and Comedy Central. Small and company also have been filming offstage interviews with many comedians sharing remembrances of Kinison.
Small's previous work has included MTV Unplugged, Pulp Comics, Comics Come Home, and Biography. EPIX already previously announced it would produce and broadcast Lewis Black's next stand-up special. Do you have EPIX on your TV? Not yet. The channel, a joint venture by Paramount, Lionsgate and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, will launch in early October on Verizon's FiOS platform. Check with your local cable/satellite provider to see if they'll also include EPIX.