Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Edgar Kennedy Restoration Project

Five years ago Bob (Matinee at the Bijou) Campbell and I developed a proposal to produce "The Edgar Kennedy Show." Here is part of the description that we filed with the Writer's Guild West:

The EDGAR KENNEDY SHOW is a proposed series for television. Edgar's biographer, Bill Cassara, will introduce each 18 minute comedy short starring Edgar Kennedy and will then discuss some aspect of Edgar’s life and films. Excerpts will be included from Edgar Kennedy feature films. 

Edgar Kennedy was America’s first sitcom star. He played himself in 103 two-reel (twenty minute) short subjects produced by RKO Radio Pictures between 1931 and 1948. In each episode, Edgar is surrounded by a zany dysfunctional family consisting of dizzy wife, meddling mother-in-law and shiftless good for nothing brother-in- law. Sound familiar?

Each short revolves around a typical sitcom plot with Edgar at the center of the action and caught up in domestic discord, a household emergency, or the latest get-rich-quick scheme certain to bankrupt the household ~~ or put one of them in jail. As the tension mounts, Edgar’s pent-up impatience boils over until he finally ignites in anger, and resigns himself to fate by slowly wiping his head and face with his left hand. This symbolic white flag of defeat and “Slow-Burn” made him one of the movies’ most recognizable faces.

THE EDGAR KENNEDY SHOW is coming soon from Bijou Productions, the creators of the original hit 1980s television series MATINEE AT THE BIJOU and Festival Films.  Each half-hour sit-com episode will feature one of Edgar’s entertaining and timeless movie shorts, most of which have not been seen by the general public in over 60 years.

The Edgar Kennedy Show will be produced in High Definition and will include a comprehensive website and blog, along with a myriad of other Web 2.0 bells and whistles to help stimulate the buzz. 

Contemplating his legacy!

Those five years slipped away quickly and without much progress because we needed financing to restore film prints to high definition and to film the introductions and biographical segments with Bill Cassara that will flesh out each episode.  We also needed a broadcast platform, DVD distributor, foreign sales, publicity, marketing and other plans to generate income.  Our faith in the films and in Edgar to conquer new audiences fostered a continuing conviction that if we just produce the first shows and get them out there, then fans and sponsors will follow.

The Edgar Kennedy Show will give birth to an Edgar Revival for these indisputable (in our minds, at least) reasons:

  • His best films are hilarious.  Funny is funny ... forever!
  • Edgar's films have not been restored in Hi-Def for TV or DVD.
  • Edgar contributed to Our Gang, Laurel and Hardy and the Marx Brothers.  Their fans are legion.
  • Edgar's Average Man series set the stage for all TV situation comedies to come.
  • Edgar's eternal woes and slow burn are timelier than ever.  He is today's average man!

The innovative road to producing The Edgar Kennedy Show is crowd funding -- the method that recently generated $5 million to make a feature film of VERONICA MARS.  Edgar's many fans will have their chance to help us restore his films and perpetuate his legacy.  Yes, we plan a Kickstarter campaign this summer to finance the first six half-hour episodes of The Edgar Kennedy Show.

Our plan to raise money on Kickstarter for a new season of Matinee at the Bijou will delay until immediately after The Edgar Kennedy Restoration Project (the Kickstarter name) is successfully funded.  The reasons to promote and produce The Edgar Kennedy Show before Matinee at the Bijou are many: 

  • We will learn the ins and outs of Kickstarter.
  • Restore shorts to hi-def that can later be used in Bijou. 
  • Lower budget to produce 6 Edgar Kennedy Shows than 13 Bijou shows.
  • Focusing on one beloved icon is sure to succeed. 
  • Simple goal: Fund Edgar and we will deliver long-lost films like Thanks Again (1931). 
  • A half-hour will be easier to license to TV or find a sponsor for PBS. 
  • Countless fans love Edgar, and will love to see him re-introduced to the world. 
We have a new partner in this exciting endeavor -- Phil Hopkins, one of the owners of Film Chest Media Group.  Film Chest specializes in restoring vintage films for DVD sales, foreign, television, online streaming and venues not yet invented!  Film Chest has run a successful Kickstarter campaign and will advise us there.  Phil is excited about restoring Edgar Kennedy's many shorts for the first time.

We have just launched The Edgar Kennedy Restoration Project on Facebook.   The first goal is to gather Edgar's fans.  Please visit and "Like" Edgar and you will get each Facebook update.  Leave your comments about Edgar.  Tell your friends.  Help us spread the word by sharing a photo and link on your own FB page.  Come back each week to watch the "Edgar Clip of the Week."  You can view the first one right here:

A weekly dose of Edgar will bring a smile to your face and a hearty guffaw.  Edgar suffered for all of us.  His pain is our pain.  His exasperated, slow-burn face-wipe still epitomizes the plight of the average man in a world gone mad.  His hopeless predicaments will cheer you up with laughter.  Help us revive Edgar and restore him to the world!

Visit The Edgar Kennedy Restoration Project on Facebook!