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Kennedy’s ‘Heckler’ on DVD

18 Sep, 2008 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Jamie Kennedy has already established himself as both a TV star (“The Jamie Kennedy Experiment,” which ran for three seasons on the WB network) and a movie star (Wes Craven’s Scream and Scream 2 and, more recently, Kickin’ It Old Skool and Malibu’s Most Wanted).
Now, he’s ready to conquer the next frontier: the burgeoning direct-to-video field.

Independent DVD supplier Echo Bridge Entertainment has just released Kennedy’s Heckler, a comic documentary that explores the changing nature of criticism in our society, fueled in large part by the Internet. The film premiered on DVD with a wealth of extras, including a behind-the-scenes feature, deleted scenes and commentary by Kennedy and Michael Addis, who jointly produced the film. (Addis also directed).

“It’s a great market,” Kennedy said. “You can put stuff directly on DVD and likely be seen more than it would if it went out [in theaters]. DVD has become a great medium — it’s why there’s going to be a third ‘Harold and Kumar’ movie, and it’s why ‘Family Guy’ got picked up again after it had been canceled. DVD sales were so strong TV executives took a second look.”

Heckler was an official selection at the AFI Film Festival, the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival and the 2007 HBO Comedy Arts Festival. The film features a “who’s who” cast of performers, filmmakers and media personalities, from Roseanne Barr and Bill Maher to Larry Flint, Howie Mandel, Rob Zombie and Jewel.

The film follows Kennedy as he tours clubs and college campuses across the United States, chronicling his encounters with hecklers and critics, both in the real world and on the Web.

“It’s a comedic documentary along the lines of The Aristocrats’ or American Movie,” Kennedy said. “It explores the world of heckling and blogging and the critical world we live in, from the artist’s perspective.”

Heckler also is a direct result of Kennedy’s own experience doing standup in clubs — and then sharing his experiences, rife with the obligatory heckling that has become standard practice on the live comedy circuit.

“I started taping heckles and then began asking other comedians if they got heckled,” he said. “They all did. And then they started telling stories, and I taped their stories.”

Kennedy is aggressively promoting the DVD of Heckler on his own. He’s done an interview with Rolling Stone, and appeared on various newscasts and TV shows around the country.

“It doesn’t matter what medium you’re on — a movie or a TV show or a DVD — it needs to be actively promoted,” he said. “I’m really going out there and publicizing the hell out of it.”

Kennedy said he’s had so much fun with Heckler that he’s already eyeing a followup project, also aimed at the DVD business: a frank, forthright documentary on marriage.

“Let’s see what happens with this one first,” he said. “But I think it could work.”

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