- R.I.P. filmmaker Jonathan Demme, director of “Something Wild,” “Stop Making Sense” & other Night Flight faves
- Record Store Day, every day: You got it nicer at Licorice Pizza stores in the 70s and early 80s
- “TV Party”: Glenn O’Brien’s weekly late 70s public-access punk cocktail party TV show
- Zinelandia: Night Flight talks with Joe Biel about “$100 & a T-Shirt,” his documentary about zines
- In 1977, Prince appeared on “The Gong Show,” but no one has ever talked about the episode, until now
- The Wu Tang Collection: The weirdest “Ku Fung Theater”-style mostly-Asian action flicks you’ll ever see
- Bullseye! Arrow Films’ exploitation, Italian horror, spaghetti westerns, drive-in sleaze & more, now on Night Flight Plus!
- “Dynaman”: Night Flight’s popular series featured rubber monsters, good looking Japanese teens, silly jokes, and cool pop music!
- “All Dolled Up”: Night Flight’s exclusive interview with director Bob Gruen about his New York Dolls documentary
- “The Gumby Show”: America’s Favorite Clayboy is back again on Night Flight!
The Definitive Oral History Of “Max Headroom”: From Cyberpunk Icon To MTV Host Selling Coke
Thirty years after the show’s TV premiere, The Verge have posted a terrific oral history of 1980s cyberpunk icon “Max Headroom,” who started as the snarky “virtual” star of a dystopian science fiction TV movie satirizing mass media but went on to host music videos and pitch cans of Coke.
The Verge‘s Bryan Bishop talked with the writers, directors, producers, actors, make-up artists, and network executives that helped bring “Max Headroom” to life.
Starring actor Matt Frewer in the title role, the prescient Max Headroom seemed incredibly ahead of its time, often Orwellian in the way the writers were able to foresee how life would be for us decades into the future, particularly in regards to things like the internet and e-mail.
That’s not all. In Max Headroom‘s world, all media is ad-supported and ratings rule all. Reporters carry “rifle cameras,” gun-shaped video cameras, which are wirelessly linked back to a “controller” in the newsroom. It’s also illegal for televisions to have an off switch.
Terrorists are reality TV stars, and super-fast subliminal advertisements called blipverts have started to blow people up by overstimulating the nervous systems of people who are sedentary and eat too much fat.
The show even predicted how big networks would rip off YouTube celebrities.
The pilot produced as a stand-alone Max Headroom movie in the UK, then reinvented as a series for ABC.
Here’s an excerpt, and be sure to head over there to check out all of the photos too:
On Thursday, April 4th, 1985, a blast of dystopian satire hit the UK airwaves. Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future was a snarky take on media and corporate greed, told through the eyes of investigative journalist Edison Carter (Matt Frewer) and his computer-generated alter-ego: an artificial intelligence named Max Headroom.
Set in a near-future where global corporations control all media and citizens are hopelessly addicted to dozens of TV channels, the movie follows Carter — working for the mysterious Network 23 — as he discovers that network executives have created a form of subliminal advertising known as “blipverts” that can actually kill. While tracking the story, Carter is flung into a barrier marked “Max. Headroom — 2.3m.” Desperate to maintain ratings with its star reporter, the network enlists a young hacker to download Carter’s mind and create a virtual version of the journalist. But things don’t go quite right. The result: the stuttering, sarcastic Max.
20 Minutes into the Future kicked off an extensive franchise, and Max became a singular ’80s pop culture phenomenon that represented everything wonderful and horrible about the decade. Max hosted music video shows; Max interviewed celebrities; Max hawked New Coke; Max Headroom became US network television’s very first cyberpunk series. Max was inescapable — and then almost just as quickly as he had appeared, he was gone.“
On the evening of November 22, 1987, a television signal hijacking regular programming occurred in Chicago, Illinois. The intruder was successful in interrupting two broadcast television stations within the course of three hours, wearing a Max Headroom mask.
It’s an example of what is known in the television business as broadcast signal intrusion. Neither the hijacker nor any known accomplices have ever been found, caught or identified, which leaves the incident unsolved.