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Joe Corey’s PARTY FAVORS - 10/2005

Posted by Ken in Party Favors (October 1, 2005 at 10:35 pm)

ROCKY MOUNT— It is always an adventure when you step through the TV screen.

Sunday evening I watched news reports about the latest Amber Alert. A 28 year-old sex offender had abducted a 12 year-old girl (all names have been withheld because of the nature of this case). The incident took place an hour from where I live so I took note, but there was no indication that they would be coming my way. Neither was there an indication that I’d be going their way. I saw the girl’s grandmother pleading for a safe return. I felt for her, but what could I do?

Monday night, I was doing a lot. I received a call from “America’s Most Wanted.” They needed me as a producer to cover the latest press conference featuring the local police, the FBI and the grandmother. Within an hour, I was reviewing all the information on the case that had been released to the media. I was no longer a casual observer keeping an eye out for people that match the faces on the police flyer. I was a producer for the most popular law and order show in TV history.

When we arrived at the police station, we were treated like royalty – as opposed to the normal news stiffs. As my cameraman set up for the press conference shot, I introduced myself to an officer working on the case. He was impressed. When you say, “I’m from America’s Most Wanted,” there’s a certain sense of power. The FBI agents didn’t mind standing to the side and going over the facts of the case that can be shared with me. Nobody refused to talk with me about the missing girl. What was also strange was that nobody asked to see any sort of ID.

But I didn’t let this rush of respect completely go to my head. Because I knew that I wasn’t merely doing a job. I was an extension of John Walsh, the host of AMW. John’s son Adam had been abducted and killed by a convicted sex offender. So working on this case made me twice as professional. When the abducted girl’s grandmother arrived for the press conference, I went over to not merely ask her questions about the case, but to comfort her. She was on the point of emotional exhaustion. She couldn’t figure out how her granddaughter would leave her house at 1 a.m. on a Saturday and take off with a 28 year-old guy that had just gotten out of jail for not registering as a sex offender. Through the various talks with authorities, I concluded that they suspected that the girl had met him when she was 10. He was working at a convenience store near her mother’s place. Somehow they had stayed in touch. He was convicted once of statutory rape of a 15 year-old girl. He had a second case dropped against him. He was living in a trailer park with his mother and had stolen a friend’s car the night he decided to abduct the girl. It was hard to figure the appeal this guy could have.

The day we were at the press conference was during Katrina’s rampage against the gulf states. An FBI agent told me that the sex offender only known cash supply was $400 he had stolen by using his mom’s bankcard. I asked if the FBI was keeping an ear out for drive offs at gas stations. Gas prices were already soaring and $400 doesn’t go too far on the road anymore. The FBI agent said sure, but I’m not sure if he took me seriously. We interviewed the police chief and the FBI agent in order to get a sense of what was going on and what viewers should keep an eye out for.

We were supposed to interview the grandmother, but she was in no emotional shape to talk to us. Her press conference was a tearful plea for her granddaughter to return. She spoke of how her husband was already in bad shape from a disability and the pressure from not knowing what was happening was killing him. As we packed up our gear, I told her that we’d visit in a few hours. We needed to shoot a couple other things for b-roll.

Our big trip was to locate the abductor’s mom’s mobile home. If you’ve never been to Rocky Mount, well just imagine getting lost in Hooterville. It’s a town of train tracks and roads that keep changing names. We kept getting lost trying to locate the trailer park. When we finally found the place, it was truly in the boonies. The windows had been covered over in black trashbags – probably the last few days of their missing son being a face on Fox News had made them shy of sunlight. AMW wanted us to talk to his parents. But there were no cars and no one inside the trailer came after us with a baseball bat. So we got our front shot. But then we noticed something in the backyard – the real home of the abductor was a camper. We captured a nice shot of where this creep crawled from to lure this girl into his life.

We headed to the grandmother’s house. She was busy talking to a former FBI-agent who was now part of a group that helps parents find kids that were abducted. The house was really small – about the size of a beach cottage with a main room that worked as the living room and kitchen and two bedrooms. The place was done in knotty pine paneling. This was a family living on a tight budget. The grandmother’s job was a substitute teacher that pays $60 a day. She led me to the granddaughter’s room to figure out shots for the cameraman. I entered the space like Clarice Starling in “The Silence of the Lambs” when she visits the first victim’s bedroom. Even though the authorities had picked apart the place and taken objects for clues, my eyes kept trying to size up why this happened from the elements of her life. As if there was a single clue that would let me grasp why this kid would do something this foolish. The day before had been the first day of school and there was a list of things she needed to have for classes. I checked out the pile of VHS tapes next to her TV. The top title was “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.” She was watching stuff a little more mature for her age.
I learned that this was a girl that grew up fast. Her parents had split. Her father moved to Florida with her brother. Her mom had problems that forced the grandmother to raise the child. This was a girl that thought she was older than she was as survival instinct. But she wasn’t wise enough to avoid the sex offender.

We spent a long time interviewing the grandmother. She had recovered from the morning press conference. She had never heard of the man who had taken her grandchild. She had no idea how they had carried on the relationship or why she left in the middle of the night. Her only clue was the granddaughter badly wanted to see Snoop Dogg in concert. Maybe the abductor had promised to take her to the big show.

The most valuable question I asked her was how would someone know they are near her granddaughter if they ran into her at a convenience store. Did she have favorite junkfood or phrases? Did she hate eating certain things? But the grandmother didn’t have a solid answer and it tore into me. You want to be able to spot this child instead of seeing someone who kinda looked like her and have the cops go nuts. We finally found out that the girl hated junkfood and liked fresh fruit. That could help a suspicious Fast Fare employee.

What ate at me was that AMW doesn’t air until Saturday night. I couldn’t believe that these people would have to go through this emotional nightmare for another five days if this aired. As we were packing up, I gave the grandmother a hug and told her that she’d hear from her granddaughter before this footage aired. I didn’t feel like I was lying. The main thing that gave me hope about the case was that the sex offender hadn’t attacked his under-aged victims. He seemed to seduce them. There was a chance this poor girl wasn’t dead in a dumpster behind a Piggly Wiggly. I didn’t feel like I was lying to this drained woman. There was a chance. The family thought she was going towards Alabama and were scared that Katrina would cause havoc.

The big thing that the folks up at the AMW headquarters wanted was a shot of the highway information sign flashing the Amber Alert. Even though we were on I-95, the “local” sign was nearly an hour away in Fayetteville. It was easier to get the shot back in Raleigh on the trip home. When we got to Raleigh, all the highway info signs were black. How could the Amber Alert get canceled now? We did what we could do. So we went to FedEx and shipped out three tapes at 6 p.m. and went home.

When the 11 o’clock news came on, the lead story was that the granddaughter had turned up at a bus station in Iowa at 8 p.m. My tapes hadn’t even made it up to D.C. and the girl had been located. I called AMW to let them in on the news. They shipped all my footage over to the fugitive department. The next day the evening news reported that the abductor had been arrested in Colorado. How did they catch him? He drove off without paying for a tank of gas. Just as I suspected. I called up AMW to give them the news. With that information, my story taken off the schedule. My big nationwide producing gig was finished. But I didn’t feel bad for getting bumped. This wasn’t merely entertainment. There was a life at stake and now it was safe and secure. And there was one less sexual predator lurking on the streets.

So I didn’t get to see John Walsh talking over my footage. And we had nothing to do with the finding of the girl. But for those hours I spent with the grandmother, I kept her from totally losing it. I was able to give her the hope and compassion that we’d all need in such situations. Something that I suspect John Walsh would see as important in such trouble times.


How come I can’t get the U.S. Postal Channel on my cable box? I spend a couple hours watching it at the post office. It’s just amazing to see stuff I can buy at the post office while in the post office. It’s such immediate programming. I’ve got Boomerang, why can’t I get this?


Neil Cavuto has read over two dozen of my letters on the air and when it comes time for his latest book tour, he visits Charlotte instead of spending a day signing in beautiful Raleigh. How he turns on his providers.


Is there a deeper silence than Adam Corolla’s monologue? This is where black holes are born.


Paris Hilton just called off her impending marriage. So does this mean she won’t be retiring from showbiz? Does this mean she’s going to force herself on us for another decade? Will we have to see her act and sing? Perhaps she’ll return to her true passion – amateur porn.


My wife knows that I love her because for our wedding anniversary I bought her the first two seasons of “The Gilmore Girls.” I did only pay $18.88 for each DVD set and they’re part of a rebate deal – so I didn’t pay the $60 SRP. I’m not insane. But I did have to get a Target male employee to go in the back and get season one. I might as well have asked him for a crate of Depends. I’m not a man in that kid’s eyes. I should have just asked him if he had any Clay Aiken DVDs while he was looking.

I only watch the show with her cause someday Lauren Graham will forget what project she’s making and ask Santa for backdoor loving. “Badder Santa” is the most precious gift this Christmas. Plus the younger Gilmore Girl was a hooker in “Sin City.” I’m hoping the director’s cut DVD will include that Gilmore Girl proving that her mom isn’t the only one who can satisfy Santa-style lovin’. Ho Ho Ho! If I can only score with one mother-daughter combination during a torrid weekend in the Nutmeg state, it’ll be with the Gilmore Girls. Am I watching this show with a different eye than my wife?

But my wife thought it was touching that I bought a DVD set that she knows I won’t be watching alone. And when I touch her heart, it means I’ll have to touch myself less.


Where exactly have all the good horror marathons gone this October? What channel is running all the AIP, Universal and Hammer Scary flicks? AMC is showing their usual crap. Turner Classic Movies has a few titles on Halloween weekend, but is mostly fixated on showing Hitchcock classics. Looks like I’ll be digging in to the DVD collection for a couple shockers.

Supposedly there are three competing Horror channels trying to get into the cable business. Is there really enough quality material for all three to exist? Sure one has Joe Bob Briggs as part of their team. But what about the movies? Even Joe Bob understands how there are so many stinkers in the genre that you get stuck running. We’re talking films that were beneath the worst offerings on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Has it really been six years since it went off the air? Well at least they’re putting out DVDs to keep the love of schlock in the eyes of the faithful.


Did you notice that MTV started running the promos declaring “MTV doesn’t play music is a myth” at the same time they cut back on daylight running of music videos. This is an ad campaign brought to you by the guy who invented New Coke.


So the show will be called “Junk Food Kingdom” where stars and witty unknowns talk about their favorite bad foods. Plus a strange history of cereals, candy bars and fake meats. Plus there will be showing of vintage commercials. It’ll be cooler than VH1’s programming cause you’ll be hungry when it’s over.


Leave it to AFI to come up with another bogus greatest list. Now it’s the top 100 film scores! Who could have guessed this one? Me? How about the 100 greatest supporting characters? 100 best films featuring pro wrestlers as actors? 100 greatest nepotisms? 100 greatest heterosexual actors….scratch that list, not enough entries. I swear the greatest 100 films to watch while getting wasted is coming.
And how come the music to “Deep Throat” was overlooked?


Fox canceled “Head Cases.” Adam Goldberg had the greatest bad hair of the season. His hair even tops the bad haircuts in the upcoming “Miami Vice.” Oh well. Guess I’ll have to wait until the “Complete Series” comes out on a single DVD next month.

I’m just too engrossed with “Criss Angel: Mindfreak.” The man is amazing – especially since he can escape a straight jacket in a giant tank of sharks, but he can’t let go of looking like a roadie for Extreme. Does Criss really tour or just hangs out in Vegas parking lots?


Now that Raw is back on USA, I don’t have a reason to watch Spike. If I want a CSI fix, I’ll just turn on CBS and see a fresh one. I’m already missing Howard Stern on E! Sure they are repeating the old ones, but the strippers seem a little stale. Where’s my piping hot pixilated boobies?

And what happened to Triple H’s boobies during his time off? It’s like he’s taking bodyshaping tips from Ric Flair.

When will Rufus R Jones return to wrestling?


Forget DVD, here’s a movie needs to be experienced at a drive-in. This coast-to-coast race flick is amazing in its full cinemascope glory. Enough with the dirty, dingy pan and scan version that aired on TV over the last three decades. This is a clean and confident print that looks as sleek as its high performance cars. The film deals with a rumored illegal race that was also the source for “Cannonball,” a Roger Corman production that came out at the same time and “Cannonball Run” and its sequel. After the long gas lines from the oil embargo and the instituting of the national 55 mph limit, America went to the theater to race vicariously through the cinematic speed demons.

The characters in “Gumball Rally” aren’t as cartoony as Burt, Dom and the all-star gang in “Cannonball Run” films. But the Gumballers do have their hammy sides – especially the late great Raul Julia as Franco, an Italian racing champ. I have fond memories of the trailer with Raul Julia yanking off his rearview mirror and declaring, “Whatsa behind me is not important!” Why wasn’t this part of AFI’s Greatest Movie Lines?

The star of the movie is Michael Sarrazin as Michael Bannon, the host of the “Gumball Rally” and the defending record holder for making it across America in a day and a half. Sarrazin looked like Peter Fonda’s stunt double back in the day. And he was a mid-70s Drive-In Superstar with this film and “The Reincarnation of Peter Proud.” Tarantino better cast him in “Grindhouse.”

The race starts out with fantastic footage of the sports cars zipping around Manhattan. And it’s amazing to see so many dashboards with only AM radios. Of all the films in this genre, “Gumball” is the one you can enjoy with the least amount of guilt in your pleasure.

The only extra on the DVD is a trailer. This is a shame since Sarrazin and others must have freakish tales of driving those expensive cars like a pack of maniacs.


There’s also another amazing car flick that just came out on DVD: “Dirty Mary Crazy Larry.” The film stars Peter Fonda as former NASCAR driver who has left the track for a life of crime. He’s driving a getaway Dodge Charger while lawman Vic Morrow burns after him in a helicopter. Susan George plays Dirty Mary and she’s not really that dirty. She doesn’t do anything that would cut it in the world of German videos. She looks clean enough to work in a McDonalds. But the British actress does cut it as a backwoods slut who wants to keep hooking up with Fonda. She wears a denim bikini top that deserves a visit to Jerry Springer. Anchorbay did an amazing job with the DVD. The print glistens. They have a 30-minute background documentary that explains how the second unit director from the Avengers TV series came to America and made a drive-in classic. The key living figures all chat away. There’s also a filmmaker commentary track. But the strangest piece is an ad for the ’69 Dodge Charger where they adapted “Midnight Special” into a sales jingle.

You want an old-fashioned speed demon night, get your hands on “Gumball Rally” and “Dirty Mary Crazy Larry.”


Blue Underground – June 28, 2005

This is the legendary show that was whispered about across America, but only available on Manhattan cable. Al Goldstein (publisher of Screw) is a great host since he wants to elevate these films to legit status, but he’s a dirty old man hitting on his female guests. Imagine Charlie Rose with a raging libido. Even 30 years later, there’s nothing quaint about this show. It would still widen eyeballs on any cable channel – even in this era of Howard Stern and HBO’s “Real Sex.”

This 2-hour compendium of episodes on this DVD features Al’s interviews with “Deep Throat” related figures – director Gerard Damiano, star Harry Reems, supporting actress Carol Connors and Chuck Traynor, the ex-husband of Linda Lovelace. I haven’t had a chance to see “Inside Deep Throat,” but from all accounts, this is more entertaining.

While Al doesn’t have a commentary track, he gives us a modern perspective with informative subtitles. There are a few shockers among Al’s tidbits. What would be one? That Carol Connors, who played the nurse in “Deep Throat,” is Thora Birch’s mom. I didn’t know that. (Thora’s dad was erotic actor John Birch.) That fact alone was worth the rental. The producer wanted Carol to be the star of “Deep Throat,” but she couldn’t perform the star stunt so she took the supporting role. Although in her interview, she mentions having added that technique to her repertoire.

Reems’ interview is amazing for his future vision of what will happen to the porn film industry with the introduction of home video. He is a naked Nostradamus. He speaks of his court case when he was on trial for his involvement with “Deep Throat.” Traynor’s a weird character since as Lovelace’s husband he’s been accused of being beating her. Traynor’s defense is that they had a BDSM relationship. Either way, the man is creepy. Damiano comes off as a filmmaker instead of merely a slimy mobster tool. Although for a former
hairdresser, he has a hideous wig.

People complain about commercials, but on this DVD set, you will be glued to the screen during the breaks. They didn’t advertise hamburgers on “Midnight Blue.” It’s hilarious how they have to hint what goes on at “leisure spas.” Are we really supposed to believe the naked women are merely giving therapeutic massages and baths? There’s a porn theater letting you know what you can get for $2.49 – “Your best hardcore film bargain!” There’s even an ad for “Synth Coke” that can be had by sending your money to a PO Box in Kittery, Maine. Plus you get to see the pool at Plato’s Retreat. This is a well-rounded view of Manhattan’s carnal underbelly.

The video quality is better than what you’d expect from a mid-70s to 80s cable access show. There are periodic glitches, but nothing that ruins the experience. If you’re interested in the subject of “Deep Throat,” this is essential viewing.


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