Saturday, April 11, 2009

That Man is Creepy! Forry Would've Loved Him!

BY IAN JOHNSTON - Writer/filmmaker, Famous Monster: Forrest J Ackerman

The late, great Ackermonster continues to show up in the oddest places.

The most recent appearance by Uncle Forry came on this week’s Youtube sensation (700,000 hits in one day) featuring actor Billy Bob Thornton’s interview meltdown on CBC Radio.

The Wednesday interview – also carried on Canadian TV and, thus, captured on Youtube for all time – found the always-entertaining Thornton promoting his band The Boxmasters, for which he plays drums. Sounds like a simple enough promo gig.

But apparently, morning interviews ain’t Thornton’s bag. For right from the get go, Billy Bob seemed surly and uncommunicative. He took issue with interviewer Jian Ghameshi mentioning he was an Oscar-winning actor and screenwriter, and decided to basically tank the whole interview.

He offered no answer to simple questions, got pissed when he was asked if he was passionate about music (“Would you ask Tom Petty that?”) and generally made Ghomeshi squirm.

But wait – we were talking about Forrest J Ackerman weren’t we?

Yes. We were.

When a desperate Ghameshi soft-balled Thornton with the question of what music he listened to as a child, Thornton just went off - explaining his passion for the magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland and Forrest J Ackerman.

I think Thornton was just kidding, but there is some truth to that statement. I had heard from Forry’s former caregiver Joe Moe that Thornton was a Forry freak who was expected, for awhile, to show up at the Ackerman tribute last month in Hollywood.

He didn’t. But hearing him talk about Forry even in this radio crazy context made me think there’s a lot of truth to that rumor that Billy Bob loves his scifi and horror. Hell, Dwight Yoakam’s character in Slingblade is easily one of the best modern film monsters out there. No shit. Check it out. That man is creepy.

And there have been rumors of Billy Bob as the new Freddy of Nightmare on Elm Street fame, so who knows? But Forry as a musical influence? Well, Forry did love to sing. At the House of Pies mostly. And mostly Al Jolson. Though one of my fave memories is watching him sing “Swanee” accompanied on piano by actor William Schallert at the ’93 FM con in Arlington.

So what the hell? If a million Youtubers around the world now see Forrest Ackerman as a musical influence, I can live with that. Don’t matter how they remember you. As long as they remember.

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