Mr. Saturday Night (2021) Movie Script

I started out making a film
about the New York disco scene
in the '70s.
And I discovered this sort
of genius at the center
of it all.
Whether it was disco,
the Bee Gees,
Saturday Night Fever,
you name it,
Robert Stigwood's fingerprints
are all over it.
He was the Wizard of Oz
of the 1970s.
to New York in late '75,
beginning of '76.
I had gotten a job to work
for RSO,
the Robert Stigwood
Robert at that point
was in the music business,
and other than the Bee Gees,
I really didn't know that much.
I knew he had Eric Clapton
he was managing...
and it was just at a moment
where he was transitioning
into producing movies.
I'm like, in my early twenties,
and I'm head of development
and production.
And one of the first things
Robert had done,
when he set up the new company,
was sign John Travolta
to a three-picture deal.
But we didn't have any pictures
to support it,
so I said to Robert,
"What do I do now?"
And he said, "Well, you go out
and buy projects."
If you're thinkin'
You're too cool to boogie
KEVIN: In '75, '76, in New York,
there was a very cool
disco culture.
You know, music was happening
and people were coming out
to do something
that you weren't allowed to do
in any other environment.
...'Cause we're gonna
Boogie oogie oogie
'Till you just can't boogie
No more
Ah, boogie
Boogie no more...
And as I'm looking for stories,
I met this sort of cutting-edge
rock 'n' roll journalist
called Nik Cohn.
Nik had this particular insight
about music, and about people,
and nocturnal explorations
of Manhattan and the boroughs.
'Cause we're gonna
Boogie oogie oogie...
KEVIN: And he'd written
a New York Magazine article
called "Tribal Rites
of the New Saturday Night."
Boogie no more...
It was an incredible story
about a kid growing up
in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn,
and the part of his life
that comes alive
with his dreams,
which is on the dance floor.
For me,
what made it stand out was
I totally got this character.
He was like somebody
that I could have known
growing up.
There were a lot of kids
I'd gone to school with who,
what they lived for
was Saturday night,
and how they looked,
and how they danced,
and how other people thought
about them.
if Robert actually just read
the story, or if Kevin said,
"You ought to read this,"
but Robert's the one
who called me.
It was 4th of July weekend,
I believe.
It was like two weeks
after the article had come out.
And I said, "It was fascinating,
wasn't it?"
And he said,
"Yes, it was fascinating."
"Do you see what I see?"
I said, "I don't know
what you see."
He said, "This is
a hundred-million-dollar movie."
KEVIN: When we got the article,
Robert's first thought was,
"This could be
John's first picture."
And we sent it on to John,
and John said, "I'm in."
Well, you can tell
By the way I use my walk
I'm a woman's man
No time to talk...
NIK COHN: If anybody else
had bought
that little magazine story
I had written,
any other producer, Fever would
not have happened.
We wouldn't be talking
about it now.
We can try to understand
The New York Times' effect
On man...
NIK: When they bought
that story, Robert said to me,
"I smell something real here."
He existed by sense of smell.
To say he had a wonderful
sense of smell.
You just get the sense of,
you know, you put that there,
and that there, and that there,
and they might work together.
I don't mind other guys
Dancing with my girl
That's fine, I know them
All pretty well
But I know sometimes...
In the last five years,
Robert Stigwood,
a diffident, awkward Australian
who shambled into a fortune
on the other side of the world,
has become the entertainment
industry's newest
and most unexpected tycoon.
Stigwood is 37, a millionaire,
and one
of the world's biggest owners
and manipulators
of other people's talents.
You don't personally come across
as somebody with immense drive
or tremendous, abrasive cutting
edge or anything like that.
You strike me rather
as a rather shy person.
Yes, but drive, I think,
comes from, uh, inside oneself.
Better leave her behind
With the kids
They're all right
BOB ADCOCK: I first met Robert
when I was a tour manager
with a band called The Merseys,
and that would have been '66.
And he was the agent
for the Merseys and the Who. a lot better for her
I don't mind other guys...
BOB: And when Cream formed,
Robert was their manager.
And he called me to hook up
with Cream.
...Sometimes I must get out
In the light...
BOB: Robert's reputation
was a good one.
He conducted business
but on behalf of his artists.
The kids are all right
I'm speaking to you
from a club in, uh...
in Hamburg, and I'm Barry Gibb
of the Bee Gees.
Robin, here. Robin,
we've heard rumors
that the group is splitting up.
Would you like to verify
those rumors?
If I was to say that was true,
then I would be
the Premier of Russia.
No. No.
and gentlemen, would you meet
Robert Stigwood and Barry,
Robin, and Maurice,
-The Bee Gees!
all remember your first meeting?
Somebody sent you a tape
of these boys from Australia?
-Yes, they did.
And I heard it
and I was absolutely astounded,
it was the most brilliant
harmony, singing,
and composing I had ever heard.
MERV: Did you make them
audition for you live?
-I'm afraid I did.
He came in, aided by two men...
(LAUGHS) ...holding each arm.
-MERV: Good heavens. Hmm.
-He had a hangover
like you wouldn't believe.
-He sat down in front of us...
-MAURICE: Don't worry, Robin.
This is 11 years ago.
BARRY: ...and put his head like
this, you know, and said,
"Carry on."
So we did what we had
worked up, which-- In Australia,
where we had a nightclub act,
and our act was a medley
of Peter, Paul, and Mary songs,
ending with Maurice
kissing Robin.
-MAURICE: This was a long time
ago, folks.
In those days.
-I am straightened out now.
-He never saw a minute of it,
he heard something and said,
"Come and see me
in my office later on,"
-and staggered out again.
-ROBIN: But we later discovered
that he didn't have a hangover
at all.
-He just couldn't stand
what he was hearing.
ROBERT: It didn't take a genius
to know
that one had an incredible new,
exciting talent,
and I signed the record deal
for them.
BILL OAKES: I was actually
on the payroll of the Beatles,
which was a company called
Beatles & Co.
I was just 17, I was a dogsbody,
I was the guy that got the fleas
out of Paul McCartney's dog,
I can't claim that-- You know,
it wasn't a great career start,
but it got me to meet people,
and that's how I met
Robert Stigwood.
KEVIN: Stigwood was working
with Brian Epstein.
Brian had sort of hit a place
in his life
where he wasn't sure how much
longer he wanted to manage,
and obviously the Beatles
were the biggest thing
ever, ever, ever.
BILL: Brian Epstein was fed up
with managing.
He wanted to manage
a bullfighter, as I remember,
and the Beatles were going
their own way,
so Robert was brought in really
to run the company.
ROBERT: I became
Joint Managing Director
of NEMS on Brian's invitation.
With Brian looking after
the Beatles,
and with me really
and running the business.
was in negotiations with Brian
to take over
as the Beatles' manager.
ROBERT: If I paid him
half a million pounds,
I would control the company,
including the Beatles.
KEVIN: The Beatles didn't know
about it,
and they didn't like him.
And they certainly
didn't like the Bee Gees.
PAUL MCCARTNEY: We said, "Well,
let's just get this straight."
"We are not going to be sold
to anyone."
If you-- You can continue
to manage us, we love you.
We're not going to be sold.
We said in fact, if you do,
we will record
"God Save the Queen"
for every single record we make
from now on,
and we'll sing it out of tune.
JAMES: Robert finally--
The way he explained it to me
was he said to the Beatles,
he said, "You know,
we've kind of ruined
our work relationship
with each other,
so why don't you guys
do your thing and I'll do mine?"
And Robert took his artists,
the Bee Gees, Clapton.
KEVIN: And they said,
"You can go and take
the Bee Gees with you."
And he started his own company.
I'll say goodbye
To all my sorrow
And by tomorrow
I'll be on my way
I guess the Lord must be
In New York City
I'm so tired of getting...
BILL: I got word
that Robert Stigwood
was starting a company
in New York.
And I just leapt at it.
This was a chance
to sort of build his empire.
I guess the Lord must be...
BILL: And his attack on America
was spearheaded
by Jesus Christ Superstar.
Well, here I am, Lord
Knockin' at your back door...
TIM RICE: When we were doing
the Superstar album,
before it was a show,
Robert got in touch with us,
and Robert definitely knew
what he was doing.
I mean, a lot of people
had turned us down.
I mean, I think we always hoped
it would become a show,
but, I mean,
we had a number one album
in America,
which was a great thrill for us.
In a way,
if nothing else had happened,
we might have thought,
"Well, great,
we did better than we thought."
But Robert was the sort
of person
who could see beyond
a hit record.
He thought super big...
and his timing was fortuitous.
He was lucky to be around
when he was.
Now, when I was
Just a little boy...
KEVIN: From Woodstock on,
Hollywood was totally
in transition.
My Papa said, "Son"...
KEVIN: Part of it was that
young people had other choices.
They had the choice of how
they wanted to spend their time.
Did they want to go to concerts?
Did they want
to listen to music?
And the movie business
had realized it had to change,
to try to become relevant.
KEVIN: They started to use music
to illustrate a movie.
Easy Rider becomes
sort of a snapshot
of that particular moment.
KEVIN: Or The Graduate.
It was, "What can you provide
that feels relevant and urgent?"
How do you guys get to being
a Secret Service man?
KEVIN: It's why you see
all these fantastic filmmakers,
you know, like Scorsese,
Taxi Driver.
NARRATOR: It was a dog day
KEVIN: Sidney Lumet.
Francis Ford Coppola.
Steven Spielberg. George Lucas.
There were just all
of these voices,
making really signature films,
and getting to make them
without handcuffs, creatively.
You're looking for things
that you wouldn't have thought
would have worked
as a movie before.
Because you were reaching
a new audience.
Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ
Who are you?
What have you sacrificed...
KEVIN: And so for Robert,
these were the things
that he understood.
He had a great vision
of how things
could work together.
And he helped these guys
build Jesus Christ Superstar
into a worldwide phenomenon.
BILL: He put together
a concert tour,
and then the Broadway show,
and then the film.
Tell me what you think
About your friends...
INTERVIEWER: There's been quite
a bit of criticism
from the religious sections
of society.
How do you feel about this?
It's a free world, you know?
Let everybody say
what they like about anything.
I only want to know
Ever since I was a young boy
I've played
The silver ball...
KEVIN: People had wanted
to make a movie of Tommy
for many years, and the guys
would never give 'em the rights.
And what they knew
with Robert was,
Robert understood music,
and so they felt looked after.
Robert got Jack Nicholson,
just as a lark,
to come in for three days,
and Ann-Margaret
and Tina Turner,
like, right after she left Ike,
and she thought Robert
was just her savior.
Always playing clean
He plays by...
JAMES: My first
official function
with the Stigwood Organization
was the opening
of the movie Tommy.
The movie opened
at the Ziegfeld Theatre
and then everybody walked
to the subway station
on a red carpet.
Robert had taken it over.
He's a pinball wizard
There has to be a twist
A pinball wizard's...
JAMES: The following morning,
all of these celebrities
flew from the opening
in New York
to Los Angeles
for the television program
that was a 90-minute special.
NEWSCASTER: Army Archerd
is greeting the celebrities
as they arrive,
thronging into the foyer,
for the premiere performance,
right here, of Tommy.
It's like an old Hollywood
Well, it's a new Hollywood
BOB: I think Robert was more
into show business than music.
The showbiz side of it,
that's what he excelled at.
TIM: He covered concerts,
records, stage, film,
he was good at it all.
Plus, he was a good impresario.
He can beat my best
His disciples lead him in
And he just does the rest...
ROBERT: I'm a gambler.
I act instinctively.
You have to know
what people want,
and I suppose
I'm fairly tuned in to that.
KEVIN: Robert really understood
the synthesis of movies,
music, and storytelling.
He was always looking
for where trends were going,
and had such a great nose
for what works.
NEWSCASTER: You have to go all
the way back to Elvis Presley,
to the Beatles,
to rock and roll,
and then finally comes disco.
A very large, very lucrative
new business of dance music,
maybe the biggest wave yet.
'Cause it certainly seems
that more and more Americans
are getting more and more
into the disco scene.
I never can say goodbye
No, no, no, I
I never can say...
NIK: When I came over to America
in the early '70s,
New York Magazine hired me
to write about music.
...had enough
And start heading...
NIK: It was the beginning
of disco.
Disco was essentially gay music,
and Black gay music.
But it was inclusive,
it was all-inclusive.
It's that same
Old dizzy hang-up...
NILE RODGERS: In the '70s,
I was living in New York.
We were into jazz,
and we thought our world
was the hippest.
One night I went out
with my girlfriend,
and we went to a disco.
I don't wanna let you go...
NILE: And we just
couldn't believe
that there was this whole other,
really hip world.
Ooh, ooh, baby...
NILE: The crowd was such
a disparate crowd.
It was Latino, Black,
gay, straight,
but the fact is,
is that everybody treated us
with love.
In the Black Panthers,
we used to call
that "Liberated territory."
And that's what a disco
felt like,
it was '"Liberated territory."
used to make numerous trips
to Paris.
I'm talking about '71, '72.
Going to discotheques
on the Left Bank.
It was the place where
gay people used to meet
and dance.
Oh, yes I am...
PATRICK: He used to love people
taking enhancing stuff,
you know, to be able to enjoy
the music
and to experiment
with their bodies
on the dance floor.
Things that men wouldn't do
before that, I think.
No more bridges shall...
JAMES: Robert was-- How did
they put it in Britain? They--
He was a "confirmed bachelor."
...going through...
PATRICK: England, I mean,
it wasn't the place to be gay,
if I may say so,
because it was outlawed.
...going through...
it was a very harsh environment.
You could be fired, disgraced,
your family kick you out.
So, for gay people,
dancing, with someone
of your own sex,
that is a real emblem
of liberation.
Changes, changes, changes
Before there was ever
a Saturday Night Fever,
before the disco craze,
Robert got it.
He saw that
it was a new phenomena
taking over the world.
Hi, I'm Murray the K.
Murray the K's Hustle
is now Murray the K's
Hustle C'est La Vie.
Do the hustle
Do the hustle
NIK: After "The Hustle,"
suddenly disco was mainstream.
You had secretaries
and ordinary guys
going up to hustle class.
There were these hustle contests
and disco dance contests
all over the straightest parts
of New York.
I went to one and I met
a great, great dancer
called Tu Sweet Allen.
And I wrote an article about him
in New York Magazine.
Tu Sweet mentioned that
there were these Italian clubs
in Brooklyn
that were the opposite
from what I thought
of as disco culture.
NIK: And so,
he and I went out there.
It was very, very forlorn
in those days.
Bay Ridge, around the clubs,
was a desert.
Locked-up body shops.
Bay Ridge was this sort
of bastion of Italian life.
It was tribal.
Everybody was Italian.
So we get out to one
of these Italian clubs...
and we walked in,
and Tu Sweet went
on the dance floor.
And I would say three seconds,
he was jumped on and pounded.
We were out of there
in 25 seconds.
And this wasn't just a sort
of stern warning.
This was a beatdown.
It was the
a hundred and eighty
from the original
Manhattan clubs.
They were misogynist,
they were anti-gay,
by God, they were anti-Black.
I was an illustrator
for New York Magazine.
Nik had said
there's a whole scene
happening at clubs in Brooklyn
that people were paying
no attention to,
so the magazine said to me,
"I think it'd be
really interesting
if you went out with him
and took a camera, look around,
see what you can do."
JIM: So we went back
to this converted
sort of supper club
called the 2001 Club.
I used to spend
Most of my time
Just being alone, yes, I did
Nothing to do
No place to go...
JIM: The club was kind of corny,
with these wrought iron
balconies and stuff,
which is not to knock it,
because it had a great
sort of funky charm. live a little myself
So I went on down
To the disco
wasn't the most elegant place.
(LAUGHING) Put it that way.
But what was good about it,
they would always have groups,
you know, Harold Melvin
and the Blue Notes,
-the Joneses.
- ...disco...
Every disco group they had there
on a Friday night
or Saturday night,
Gloria Gaynor, The Trammps.
And they're just dancing along
To a perfect song...
That was our home club,
2001 Odyssey.
In Brooklyn, that was one
of the most popular clubs there.
We worked there all the time.
I mean, we were
really well-liked,
but I mean,
we didn't come to socialize,
we come there to work,
it's our job.
At that time, I don't even think
Blacks were even allowed
in the neighborhood,
'cause it was
an Italian neighborhood.
...I got myself together
I danced my blues away
They're gone forever...
It was very Italian.
The boys were called cugines.
"The cugine in the car."
Italian guy with the blown back
DA haircut
in their daddy's Cadillac,
which was very popular,
or maybe a Monte Carlo then.
And had a certain look
that they all feeded into.
The gabardine pants,
the huckapoo shirts.
That's where
The happy people go
And they're
Just dancing along...
JIM: When I got my photographs
there was so much nuance
that was somewhat concealed
in the dim light of the club.
Nuances of expression, of anger,
hostility, sadness even.
Girls that got left
and were sitting
in their booths alone,
while everybody else danced.
Guys looking for clues
as to how they should behave.
You could really see them
assemble in a hierarchy.
NIK: What I'd tapped into
was that eternal dreaming.
Someone who is trapped,
whose life is going nowhere.
And who,
Saturday night rolls around,
has this dream come true.
It was something I'd seen
where I grew up
in Northern Ireland.
Catholic teenagers,
who had no outlet,
and nowhere to go,
dressed as Teddy Boys,
dancing on the sidewalk
to "Tutti Frutti"
by Little Richard.
When I went to London
in the early '60s,
and Mods were just starting,
and I'd see them work
nine-to-five in a grunt job,
and yet you were King Mod
on the weekend.
I fell in love with the idea
of the alternate reality.
And you'd watch all the rites
and how they interacted.
This extraordinary vanity.
This male, teen thing
of preening, of peacockery.
So when I walked into 2001,
I didn't think,
"This is a specific culture."
I just thought,
"Here it is again."
BILL: New York Magazine called
it the "Tribal Rites
of the New Saturday Night,"
which was a rather
pretentious title.
NIK: When the article came out,
Robert called me up.
ROBERT: I said,
"You have a movie here already."
I said, "Come to my apartment
this afternoon."
NIK: Robert said,
"Come around for tea."
I think he was attracted
to the street feel.
I mean, that's where he would
have smelled something real.
ROBERT: My next film
is a story about
a ghetto called Bay Ridge
in Brooklyn
and Italian kids
in dead-end jobs,
and how far away Manhattan is.
And a young guy
who discovers himself.
It's much more exciting
than I tell it.
FREDDIE: Robert did not know
who would direct it.
He didn't know
how it would be cast.
He didn't know
what the script would be.
He just knew the skeletal bones
of a fabulous story,
which had global appeal,
was right there
in that New York Magazine.
BILL: That was where Robert
was really inspired.
He could see a magazine article
like that,
and he could see
the whole thing.
He said, "This is a movie."
And Robert saw the soundtrack
as being the killer ingredient.
FREDDIE: Robert believed
that the movie had to have...
...that rhythm. The same rhythm
you heard in a discotheque.
BILL: And right away,
he said, "We're gonna get
the Bee Gees
to write the music."
At the time, the Bee Gees
had a couple of bad years.
There were probably two albums
that I was involved in,
Life in a Tin Can, I remember,
one was Mr. Natural,
that no one bought.
They were stiffs, as they say
in the record business.
ROBERT: I didn't feel they
were really
on the right track musically.
And this happens to stars
very easily,
they close their ears
and just go their own merry way.
And I told them so.
I was saying, for God's sake,
listen to what's happening
in the world today.
BILL: And so what Robert did,
which was inspired,
was he got Arif Mardin,
who was the producer
of Average White Band,
to produce the next album.
was a staff producer
at Atlantic Records
and would come into our studio
in Miami
with various Atlantic artists.
KARL: We were working on
Average White Band
and one day he goes,
"Boy, have I got a group
for you, Karl."
He says,
"They sing like angels."
And I said to Arif,
"Who's that?"
He goes, "The Bee Gees!"
The Bee Gees
had had major hit records.
But they'd passed
through the success zone.
They had been
sort of passed over.
Arif Mardin, though,
was a genius.
So he says, "Yeah, it's gonna be
a little more R&B,
a little more rhythm, you know."
'Cause that's what
the studio was.
And I said, "Well, great,
let's do it."
They came in,
and I met their band,
their house band.
And I think it was
about 20 minutes later,
I knew Barry was the leader
of the group,
and we hit it off.
We all just, you know,
had music in our minds.
It's just your jive talkin'
You're telling me lies, yeah
Jive talkin'
You wear a disguise...
KARL: Because Atlantic Records
was all about R&B.
Arif goes, "You know, we tried
a click track at one point
in the drummer's headphones."
He said "Karl, are you up
for that?" I said, "Sure!"
So I found a metronome
hidden way back
in the bowels of Criteria,
and put a microphone on it.
And that became a click...
- Oh, my child
You got so much... that the drummer
would have a positive feel
to where those beats belonged.
With all your jive talkin'
KARL: And everybody in the band
heard the same click.
So when Barry played guitar,
Barry was grooving,
'cause Barry has amazingly
good time.
That became a fundamental
approach that we got a hold of,
was this pulse.
ROBIN GIBB: The difference
in our music now and then,
is our music is completely,
sort of, Black-oriented now,
where it wasn't completely then.
We could play this kind
of music that we're doing now.
And we daren't do it,
because at that time,
people would say, if we did it,
they wouldn't say
it was the Bee Gees.
(SINGING) There you go
With your fancy lies
Leavin' me lookin'
Like a dumbstruck fool
With all your jive talkin'
KARL: It became one
of the guiding factors
in making a lot
of those records,
was, "Where's the groove?"
-BARRY: You heard the lyrics?
BARRY: Great!
BARRY: Albhy, I'm ready to sing,
got the lyrics finished!
-Love it, you sing 'em,
we play 'em, tape 'em!
-All right.
BARRY: Okay 'em.
...on 'til the dawn
My woman takes me higher
My woman keeps me warm...
ALBHY GALUTEN: The three people
who were in the room
eight hours a day, were me,
and Karl, and Barry.
Barry and I loved R&B.
We connected on that level.
We were never making
disco records.
We were making R&B records
with good songs.
...she's trouble...
ALBHY: At that time,
Barry was sort of tapped
into the collective unconscious.
When he'd write a new song,
it wouldn't be,
"How big of a hit will this be?"
It would be,
"How many weeks at number one?"
What you doin' on your bed
On your back?
KARL: Main Course, we had three
number one records.
Dancing, yeah...
KARL: When we did
"You Should Be Dancing"
off Children of the World,
Stigwood came in the studio,
and he got the vibe,
he says "Oh, my gosh,
this is a hit record!"
He could just feel it.
BILL: Robert took advantage
of a form of music
that was all there,
and he handed it
to the Bee Gees.
So when Saturday Night Fever
comes about,
the Bee Gees weren't exactly
rookies at this.
At the time, they were mixing
a live album in France.
Robert said,
"Do you have any songs?"
And they said, "Yeah,
we've got a few,
but we're going to keep them
for our own next album."
So, I sent the script to them,
you know, thinking
they'd like to read it,
which was a mistake,
they never read the script.
But about ten days later,
I got a package
from northern France,
and these songs came piling out,
one after the other.
Oh, girl, I've known you
Very well
BILL: "More Than a Woman,"
"Night Fever..."
BILL: "If I Can't Have You..."
BILL: "How Deep Is Your Love..."
I know your eyes
In the morning sun
BILL: ...and "Stayin' Alive."
Well, you can tell by the way
I use my walk
I'm a woman's man
No time to talk...
BILL: And the hairs on the back
of my neck stood up.
This was extraordinary,
to get five demos
of obviously brilliant songs,
which is exactly
what we wanted for the film.
...the other way
We can try to understand...
BILL: To have those songs
was an enormous boost for me.
We were in preproduction
on the movie,
and we were really rushing.
We had a start date,
'cause we had John Travolta
booked for that time
on his hiatus from his TV show.
You gotta loosen up here,
all right?
All right. Start to relax.
Start to feel who you are.
I said a bar-bar-bar
Bar-bar-bar, Bar-bar-barino
Bar- bar-bar, Bar-bar-barino
You got me rockin'
And a-reelin'
And a-boppin'
And a-reelin' Barbarino
Earth to Vinnie!
NIK: Travolta was having
a moment as one
of these teen idols.
NEWSCASTER: The young,
male adolescent star
is a multi-million-dollar
Donny Osmond and "Puppy Love."
TV's Partridge Family created
David Cassidy
as the newest dreamboat.
FaVE! and STAR!
and 16 and Tiger Beat,
they tell the kids
what their hero wears to bed
and how to get a pillowcase
with his picture on it.
NIK: Somebody else would
have signed him maybe to a film.
But Robert signed him
to three films.
JAMES: Robert paid John
a million dollars
to do three movies.
At the time, it was
the biggest dollar amount
that was ever given
to a television star
to do a movie.
PATRICK: Everybody was laughing
about it.
Because nobody had done that,
you know, coming from television
into feature films.
all of the research said
he's a television person,
he's not a movie person.
There were a lot of actors
that had not transitioned
to movies.
But Robert just
had this instinct
about John Travolta.
PATRICK: In 1971,
Robert was touring
Jesus Christ Superstar
in the states.
Travolta wanted to be cast.
He was very young at the time.
He probably was like 15 or 16.
I remember the day
my father started saving
for my college education.
It was my tenth birthday,
and he opened a savings account
for ten dollars.
"Brian," he said, "You're gonna
have it better than me."
"You're not going to have
to stand on your feet all day
just to make a buck."
PATRICK: Robert made a note
on his yellow pad,
that this kid will be
a great star.
FREDDIE: Robert said,
"I don't want to have this star
and then not own him
for two more movies.
I'll make him a star,
and then I'll make him
a star a second time,
and then a third time."
NIK: Then he had to find
those three films.
Well, Grease was sitting there.
KEVIN: Grease was an old show
that had been running
on Broadway.
TIM: The first stage show,
Grease, didn't really work.
I mean, it was good,
but it wasn't a huge success.
Most people thought
it was just a fun,
'50s revival show.
But Robert saw it was more
than that.
FREDDIE: Robert said,
"What about it for John?"
And sure enough,
it was exactly what John wanted.
JOHN TRAVOLTA: I get a call
from Robert Stigwood.
Stigwood said, "I think
this is the kid for us,
why don't we put him in Grease
because he can sing and dance?"
NIK: And then,
when the article came out,
Robert said, "This will be just
right for Travolta."
KEVIN: So we got Travolta
just based on the article.
-INTERVIEWER: Do you dance?
-I am going to get to dance
in a film in January
and it's gonna be hot.
Are you scared?
No, it's about discotheques
so I'll be, like,
king of the discos.
FREDDIE: He believed in John,
and he felt that everything else
was going to fall into place.
But there was no plan
for how it was going to be made.
FREDDIE: My job was to make
a deal with Paramount Pictures.
Robert spoke directly
with Barry Diller.
And they agreed
they would be the distributor,
and the deal would be financed
by us.
We wanted 50 percent
of the gross,
and it was compromised
at 45 percent of the gross.
That was the deal.
BILL: No one had ever done that.
When George Lucas, who had made
a deal for Star Wars
at Fox, heard about it,
he wanted that deal,
he wanted the Stigwood deal
he'd heard about at Paramount.
George told me his lawyers
could not believe
the deal that Robert
had somehow extracted
at Paramount
on this little disco movie.
It helped that Robert
was pitching a movie
that none of them
really believed in,
so they didn't care,
they didn't think
it would make money,
they gave him fifty percent.
NIK: Paramount didn't think
it was going to be a hit.
But Robert had
an extraordinary instinct.
And he built up
this little group of people
who he trusted.
BILL: I must've looked about 12.
Literally, I had no experience.
What was I doing in that job?
KEVIN: At this point,
I'm like in my early '20s.
I'm basically running the show,
and I have no experience.
And I said to Robert, "Well,
now what are we going to do?"
And he said,
"You gotta go get a director."
KEVIN: So, I had
this magazine article.
Then I'm going around
to various agencies.
I go to CAA,
I go to William Morris.
Basically, nobody
was that interested
in anything I had to say.
I go to this guy Marvin Moss.
And I'm talking to him
about a particular client
and he says to me,
"You know what, kid?
My directors do movies,
they don't do
magazine articles."
NIK: In that time, articles,
they weren't turned into films.
I mean,
Tom Wolfe wrote all those,
you know, very famous articles,
but they weren't turned
into movies.
It was just something
that didn't happen.
KEVIN: I had been in California
for like three days.
I go back to the hotel,
and I make a reservation
to come back to New York,
and I figure, I don't know
what the hell I'm doing.
And the phone rings
and it's Marvin Moss,
who calls me in,
and sort of says,
"I was on a long phone call
with a client
who you wanted to talk to.
He's read the article
and he's interested,
but you should see
his movie first."
"You could see it in New York.
When are you going back?"
And I said, "Over the weekend."
"My boss is
gonna be there, and,
you know, so Stigwood
needs to see the movie, and..."
So Robert and I go to see Rocky,
before it's released...
and we hire John Avildsen.
And Avildsen said,
I want to work with this guy
Norman Wexler.
Norman Wexler is a guy
who's literally
just gotten out
of a mental institution,
is a famous bipolar cat,
and had written
a bunch of movies
and after each one of them,
he sort of would have
this manic flip
and set his life on fire.
FREDDIE: Avildsen said,
if you want gritty,
this is what he makes.
He's a little crazy,
but he's someone I admire
very greatly.
KEVIN: I go down
to his apartment in Chelsea,
which consists of a bed,
a table and two chairs,
and this guy who chain smokes.
I've never supervised
a script before.
I'd go at like 2:00
in the afternoon when he got up,
and he'd show me the pages
he had written the night before.
And it was fantastic.
Stigwood loved it.
And when Travolta read
the script, he loved it too.
JOHN: When I first saw it,
I said, "Gee, you know,
this character seems like
he's underwater most
of the time."
But then every once in a while
he comes up out
and sees everything
exactly how it is.
And has so much knowledge about,
I mean,
like he knows everything.
FREDDIE: When Robert saw
the first draft
of the screenplay,
and his heart was pounding,
he said, "Freddie,
this director,
this screenplay, it's all here,
it's all in the script,
I could see it,
I could visualize it.
This is the movie."
Get down, get down
Get down, get down
Get down, get down...
I was living in Hollywood Hills.
In my condo building,
there was this young lady
that was on a soap opera.
We were out by the pool one day,
and she said,
"You've done a lot of dancing
shows, haven't you?"
I said, "Yeah."
She goes, "My manager
is Bob Lamont."
Now, he manages John Travolta.
She goes,
"Well, they've got this script
that they're gonna use for John
and they're looking
for a choreographer."
Now Bob lived up in the Hills,
about a mile away.
So I drove over to his house.
I come in the front door.
I didn't even know
what the movie was about,
but I knew I had a chance,
so I moved all the furniture.
He had a nice stereo system,
and I found "Jungle Boogie"
by Kool and the Gang.
...and shake it around...
DENEY: And I just started doing
all the steps.
The knee drops,
the clock splits, locking up.
Those knee drops, up and down,
I picked up a lot
of those steps
from Don Campbell
and the Lockers, and Soul Train.
DENEY: So the next thing I know,
they called me in, at Paramount,
they said, "We're signing you up
to teach this man how to dance."
Jungle boogie
Jungle boogie...
DENEY: John Travolta said,
"Everything I do,
I want it to be great."
I would take him
to these clubs,
and he started discovering
the nightlife
and the dancing and the music.
He was like a sponge.
I just tried to work
on making him a really good,
believable street dancer.
DENEY: One night,
Kevin McCormick
and Robert Stigwood
come in to see
what we're doing
and where we're going
with this dancing.
Till you feel it, y'all...
DENEY: We went side by side
and start doing the step backs,
the crazy legs, the wavy arms
and all the steps.
We got through
and it was dead silence,
you know, nobody said anything,
they'd all look over
at Stigwood.
And all of a sudden,
Robert Stigwood
got this big smile on his face.
He goes, "I love it."
KEVIN: When Rocky came out,
John Avildsen became a maniac.
He and John Travolta
went from loving each other
to he was impatient with John,
he thought he was too fat,
he thought he needed to train,
he didn't think he could dance.
John takes everything
incredibly seriously
and had a very clear idea
of what he wanted
to do dance-wise.
And Avildsen wasn't, you know,
he couldn't even select
a choreographer
and never could
really quite key into
what it was gonna look like.
He just gets more
and more impatient.
He decides he doesn't like
Norman's script,
which we all loved.
At this point,
Stigwood called me to say,
"What's going on?"
And I said,
"There's something else,
John has decided
that he doesn't want to use
the Bee Gees' music."
And he said, "Really?"
"Call John and tell him
to be at my apartment
tomorrow morning at ten o'clock,
and you should be there, too."
So, Avildsen and I show up,
we're there, waiting.
Stigwood comes in,
and he said,
"John, there's good news
and bad news."
"The good news is
you've just been nominated
for an Academy Award
for Rocky."
"The bad news is you're fired."
And I said to Robert,
"What do we do now?"
And he goes, "Go out,
go get a director."
So I came out to California.
There was a director,
John Badham, who I'd met,
who'd just been fired off
of The Wiz.
JOHN BADHAM: My agent said
to me,
"Do not read this script.
They want you to do this,
but I want to make a deal first
before you go and read it."
And I said,
"Okay, yeah."
So I promptly started
reading it.
Well, like an hour
and a quarter later,
I'm running
around our little house
at that time going,
"This is great! Oh, my God!"
BADHAM: The characters,
the dialogue, the situation,
about the Tony Manero character
just leaps off the page.
I'm a guy who was,
A, born in England,
B, raised in Birmingham,
had been in Brooklyn
maybe once.
And what I knew about dancing
was the dance classes
my mother sent me to
when I was 12 or 13 years old.
And yet, for me,
it jumped off the page.
And only as I'm on a plane
two days later
to go to New York,
to get this thing shooting
in two and a half weeks,
that I go, "Ho, my holy God,
this is a musical!"
BADHAM: I get to New York
and I go to meet Robert,
and one of the first things
he does
is hand me
a little tape cassette,
and he says, "My boys,
the Bee Gees,
have done five demos
that we're going to use
in this movie."
And he said, "Three of them
are gonna be number one hits!"
KEVIN: We started production
flying by the seat of our pants.
You know, all the locations
weren't locked down.
You know,
it was a three-million,
five hundred
thousand-dollar movie.
It's not like
it's a luxurious studio budget.
BILL: We were shooting the movie
at the same time
as me getting the music.
We were really rushing, because
I didn't-- never done it before,
I didn't know you had
to get a sync pulse
and a click track... (CHUCKLING)
...and all this stuff, you know?
It was like, we were sort
of making it up
as we went along.
KEVIN: There was something
quite wonderful about being
in that neighborhood.
You have to fill the club
with extras who can dance.
You know, better
that they're people
from the neighborhood
who get this, you know?
MAN: Now shape up, you assholes.
We're the faces!
ELIZABETH: I did the movie
when I was 20 years old.
My brother and I would compete
in dance contests.
JOE CURCIO: They did
a contest for the movie.
If we entered the contest
and we won,
we would get one day
in the movie.
We ended up walking in,
Saturday afternoon,
and I was a little like,
John Travolta was in the corner
reading his lines,
Karen Lynn Gorney was there.
"Oh, my God, this is really it,
you know?"
JOE: The most beautiful
memory for me,
and this is straight up, no lie,
John Travolta stopped
reading his lines
when we stopped dancing.
He came right over to me,
and he put out his hand
and he said,
"You guys are great,
you're wonderful!"
"My name is John." And I said,
"Well, who don't know that?"
ELIZABETH: My brother goes,
"Yeah, okay,
like I don't know that."
(LAUGHING) I was like,
"Shut up!"
MONTI ROCK: We have Elizabeth
and Joseph Curcio!
Give 'em a hand!
Come on down! Yeah, baby!
ELIZABETH: To be in a movie,
with John Travolta,
I couldn't believe it.
And once it got out,
it was like an epidemic.
The whole 86th Street.
BADHAM: Our very first day
of filming,
you couldn't turn anywhere
without seeing people.
Even if you looked straight up,
you were seeing kids
hanging over the building.
We had to shut down
by lunchtime.
We could not shoot.
RONA BARRETT: Mr. Stigwood
in a short period of time
has developed a reputation
as being someone who knows
exactly what he wants.
How much control does he have
over the people
who work for him?
Well, I think
the great thing about...
the, uh-- doing pictures
with him, would be
that he likes the artists
to have a lot of say-so.
Because I think
he trusts artists' instincts.
One of the most important
things working with Robert
is that he gave that kind
of freedom within the projects,
to get a lot of your own
creative ideas in there.
And he really did, I mean,
I must say.
KEVIN: John had
a very evolved sense
of what the dance solo
should be like,
and really thought it should
be covered in a specific way.
And his imagination led him
to what it had to be,
to be excellent.
And when he saw the dailies,
Badham had a much
more ordinary version of it.
You know, it wasn't anywhere
near captured
the way he had slaved
for about 18 months
to really make it
look fantastic.
BADHAM: The first time
we saw the dailies,
there were a couple of places
where he went,
"Why did you do that?"
And he said, "When you're ready
to shoot it my way,
"then," you know,
"I'll be in my trailer."
KEVIN: The movie literally
shut down for three days.
John wouldn't go back to work,
he just couldn't imagine
finishing this out
because Badham
had screwed it up.
And Robert had to be
a peacemaker,
to sort of put it back
together again,
so we could get everybody
back up on the high wire...
...of making the movie.
We really talked about it,
and argued a little bit,
and he said, "Well,
if you really feel
that strong about it,
it must be-- it must be right."
BADHAM: Absolutely he was right,
so I went into John's trailer
and said, "Okay, come on,
we're gonna do this."
"You're right. I take
your point, I'm sorry."
"So we'll go and fix it."
My baby moves at midnight
Goes right on till the dawn
My woman takes me higher...
KEVIN: In the end, it was rather
simple coverage that sells it.
You know, that really gave you
how magnificent it was.
-All right!
KEVIN: I always think about John
as being incandescent
in that moment, you know,
he becomes that character. should be dancing
All right!
Dancing, yeah...
KEVIN: For me, it was both an
incredibly intense experience,
but I kept thinking,
"How lucky am I?"
Every day, I couldn't wait
to get there, you know?
And I think everybody sort
of felt the same way,
because they knew something
special was going on.
BILL: I was on the lot
in Paramount Studios
that summer.
We were editing the movie.
I was doing Grease
at the same time.
We were shooting Grease
in Venice, California,
so we were going
from "Summer Nights,"
or something like that,
to "Night Fever" at night.
And I remember they said,
"How's your little disco movie?"
That was the phrase I got
from Michael Eisner,
of all people.
He was the president
of the studio.
He had Looking for Mr. Goodbar,
a movie with Richard Gere,
scheduled for Christmas.
That was the Paramount
Christmas picture.
The idea that Robert wanted
this "little disco movie"
to come out before it,
and then come out in more
screens, was absurd to Eisner.
You know, people think
Saturday Night Fever
somehow kicked off disco.
It actually didn't.
It was dying on its feet
when we came out with
that movie, I have to tell you.
Disco was almost over.
I was worried we were too late.
I remember, when I'd finished
mastering the album,
I was up all night in Hollywood
at Capitol Records.
I had the album
that I'd been working on
for nearly a year and a half
in the back of my car,
and I was stopped
at a traffic light
on the way home
on La Brea in Hollywood.
And in front of me
there was a truck,
and on the bumper sticker
said "Death to Disco."
I remember calling Robert,
I said,
"You know, I've got a feeling
we might be too late."
FREDDIE: Saturday Night Fever
did not do well
in its sneak preview.
We flew to Ohio.
People weren't quite sure
what to make of it.
When we got the so-called
"focus group" report,
it said, "Saturday Night Fever
sounds like a venereal disease
you pick up
on a Saturday night."
"Boy in a white suit,
that's a sissy boy."
You know,
all these silly things.
BILL: For a movie musical,
it's quite dark, you know?
-BILL: There's a rape scene,
and then, you know, the scenes
in the back of the car,
and the guy falling off
the bridge.
This is not
your grandma's musical.
-Tony, look at me.
-Look at the punk.
Bobby, get down!
It's too dangerous!
BILL: The language alone,
we had endless discussions
about taking all
the language out.
Oh, fuck the future!
No, Tony, you can't fuck
the future.
BILL: Because
it was full of F-words
that Paramount just
couldn't get their heads around.
C'mon, fuckhead!
Hey! Son of a fuck won't budge!
PATRICK: Robert was staying
at the Beverly Hills Hotel,
bungalow five or ten.
Barry Diller and the execs
at Paramount met with Robert,
they had breakfast,
and Barry said,
"There's too many 'fucks'
into the script,
and it's bad for the audience,
for the young audience."
"What can I do
to sweeten you off,
and can you take
a few of the 'fucks'
out of the script?"
And Robert said,
"How many do you want?"
"Well, at least five,
there are about twenty,
at least five."
Robert said, "Well, five,
that's five percent extra
on the gross."
And Barry, "You've got a deal."
FREDDIE: Ultimately, Robert,
I think, agreed
to one dirty word
being taken out.
KEVIN: I remember, very vividly,
I'm in the airport,
getting ready
to get on a plane to L.A.,
and somebody paged me,
and I thought,
"Wonder who the hell that is."
And I picked up the phone.
And Michael Eisner got
on the phone
and started screaming at me.
I think he had just watched
the new cut of the movie.
"Who do you think you are?
What are you doing?"
He just went on and on
and on and on.
He was enraged
that there was still a lot
of language in the movie.
When I told Stigwood...
...he thought
it was the funniest thing ever,
and it made him
absolutely determined
that it was done,
and that's exactly
what it was gonna be.
NIK: Robert was very driven
by the idea,
"You can't do that."
The moment any suit said to him,
"You can't do that," it was,
roll up your sleeves,
here we go, lads." You know?
NIK: Paramount made clear
that they were not really going
to push it.
I had no idea what we had.
I didn't even know
it was a musical.
I was walking down the street
on Central Park West
and I ran into Robert Stigwood
and he said,
"Do you want to come upstairs
and listen to music?"
I can say categorically
I went up and listened to it,
and had no idea
it was a musical, still.
NIK: That was the thing
that triggered Robert
to do what no one
had done before,
release the soundtrack
before the film came out.
KEVIN: He instinctively knew
that he could use that
to water anticipation,
and that more than any trailer,
the music from the movie
would really compel people
to wanna come
and see what it was.
BILL: Eventually, Michael Eisner
"How will we know
if your record's a hit?"
And Robert said, "Guarantee it,
it will be a hit,
it'll be number one."
"How will we know?"
He said, "Okay,
if it's number one, then you
give me 250 more screens."
BILL: "If the next one
goes number one,
you give me
500 more screens."
It was an escalating thing.
He wrote this all down.
So they went with it.
But of course,
he had the last laugh.
We were number one
seven times with it.
Every time you turned on
the radio
you heard
"How Deep Is Your Love,"
"Stayin' Alive," "Night Fever,"
"More Than a Woman,"
and "If I Can't Have You."
NEWSCASTER 1: Four singles
from Saturday Night Fever
have hit number one
since the album's release,
more than from any other
new album in history.
The album Saturday Night Fever
is projected
to sell some 12 million copies.
NIK: Right, take that.
Now can you put it
in the dumpster?
has sold more
than ten million copies,
on its way to being
the biggest-selling album
of all time.
MICHAEL: I was skiing in Vail,
I think it opened December 7th,
this was like two weeks earlier,
and I heard the guy at the lift
at the bottom,
and I heard "Stayin' Alive."
And then I went up
to the top of the lift
then at the top of the lift,
and went to the restaurant,
and there was "Stayin' Alive."
I called up Barry Diller
and I said,
"Do we have a hit here?"
ANNOUNCER: Presenting
the world premiere
of Paramount Pictures'
Saturday Night Fever,
starring John Travolta.
and gentlemen,
this is John Travolta!
Burn, baby, burn
Burn, baby, burn
RONA: The movie
is Saturday Night Fever,
and the star is John Travolta
disco dancing his way to fame.
To my surprise...
and gentlemen,
-will you welcome the Bee Gees!
People getting loose y'all
Getting down on the roof
You hear?
The funk was flaming...
PRESENTER 1: Did you get
Saturday Night Fever?
PRESENTER 2: I do-- I have
Saturday Night Fever.
Did you disco down?
-I discoed on down.
-Me too, I had such fun.
When the boogie started
To explode I heard...
BILL: When the film did open,
and it opened massively
to a lot of screens,
the cinema operators
were immediately all asking
for more prints,
they wanted to add more screens.
Paramount said,
"The cinemas are billing us
for the ushers
they are having to bring in
to stop the dancing
in the aisles."
Saturday Night Fever
put rock and roll to bed
-with a bad cold.
Saturday Night Fever
has apparently
revived disco fever.
NEWSCASTER 3: Hundreds
are rushing to schools
to learn the right steps.
...till I had
To self-destruct...
BILL: What it did,
was it gave disco
another, maybe,
five more years of life.
In the year or two
after Fever came out,
you couldn't go
to a single nightclub
anywhere in the world
without people
wearing white suits
and chains and dancing
like Travolta.
DENEY: Everybody was going
to the clubs, dressing up,
fixing their hair, looking good.
- Burn, baby, burn
- Burn that mother down
Burn, baby, burn
Disco inferno
DENEY: People that would
never dance,
never want to dance,
wanted to be John Travolta.
NIK: To me, it was always
just this little magazine story,
and then suddenly it wasn't.
PATRICK: I met Robert in '78
in France,
when he was having
so much success coming through.
I was driving a limo.
One afternoon, I was sent
to the airport
with two other limos
to pick up a group of people
coming from London.
When we're out there dancin'
On the floor, darlin'...
PATRICK: I can see
this lovely group,
young people arriving,
all smiling and full of fun.
And then, Robert
is amongst them,
with a white scarf...
...and he picks my car.
You make me feel
Mighty real...
PATRICK: Robert said,
"Can you put the radio on?"
"Okay." And of course,
soon as we put the radio on,
"Stayin' Alive" is blasting
through the loudspeakers.
...mighty real...
And he says, "This is my music."
I said, "No,
you're not a musician."
And he said, "No,
I'm the producer of the film."
When we get home, darlin'
And it's nice and dark and...
Could I ask, for example,
what Saturday Night Fever
has grossed, thus far?
I think around 110 million,
at the moment, in America.
MERV: And what do you
after it's all wrapped up
in a nice big bag?
ROBERT: I would think something
in the region of 250 million.
-MERV: Mm.
-It's a very popular film.
Oh, you make me feel...
PATRICK: Robert said to me,
"You stay on, I'm going
to use you,
I need to go to San Remo,
I'm buying a yacht."
Mighty real
PATRICK: Everything
is moving forward,
he's getting his toy,
this big yacht.
Money was flowing in.
MERV: And the album?
The album, I think,
is nearing 18 million
double albums worldwide
at the moment.
But that would be the record
breaker of all time.
Yes, it's already
the biggest-grossing album
in the history of music.
I feel real, I feel real...
EARL: When that movie came out,
we worked every day.
Wasn't a day we didn't work.
It was unbelievable,
you know, how much
money we made.
Had a suitcase going
to the bank.
I feel real, I feel real...
KARL: The Bee Gees
were a little surprised,
like everybody else.
It just mushroomed
beyond what expectations
would be.
They had a 727 plane,
"Spirits Having Flown."
They sold out
Dodger Stadium in L.A.
They sold out
Madison Square Garden
for five nights in a row.
DENEY: I don't think anybody
really foresaw the phenomenon
of this movie,
other than Robert Stigwood
and John Travolta.
BILL: I remember, when we were
shooting Grease,
John asking me, like,
"So, what do you think
about Fever?"
'Cause he wanted to know
how it was shaping.
I said, "Well, you look great,
you look fantastic."
He said, "No, is there
any chance for, maybe like,
an Academy recognition for it?"
And I thought, "Oh, my God,
this is ridiculous,
this is not an Academy movie,
are you nuts?"
BILL: Well, he had
the last laugh,
he got a nomination,
Academy role for it.
-How are you?
to win tonight?
-Sure, why not?
-INTERVIEWER: What would
the win mean tonight?
Terrific, terrific validation.
-INTERVIEWER: See you later!
PATRICK: Robert was so relieved
that he was right
in every which way.
Fever came out,
and then Grease.
KEVIN: No reason why kids should
have liked it,
but Stigwood, brilliantly,
got enough new music into it
that it was both recognizable
but new again.
FREDDIE: Robert said,
"I want two hit songs!"
This really happened,
just like this.
He said, "I want two songs
that could go with this script,
with this character,
and if I have two hits,
I could sell this album."
You are the one that I want
FREDDIE: They wrote
"You're the One That I Want"
and '"Hopelessly Devoted to You"
and it worked.
Grease sold 28 million albums.
This was a big deal.
BILL: Those two movies,
Saturday Night Fever
and Grease,
carried Paramount
through several fiscal quarters.
Robert, I'm over the moon
about our three-picture deal
and that it has become
so successful.
The winner is, Evita,
producer Robert Stigwood.
TIM: I mean,
from about '75 to '80,
almost everything
that was successful
was Robert Stigwood.
You know, Grease, Tommy,
Superstar, Evita,
RSO Records, the Bee Gees,
Saturday Night Fever.
He had all these things
going at once, more or less.
KEVIN: He's on the cover
of Newsweek, and, you know,
we used to jokingly say
to each other,
if only they knew
how mad this all is.
PATRICK: There was so much
money flowing in at the time.
In the New York office,
the flower bills
were something like
15,000 dollars a month.
I mean, the amount of money
that was spent
by everybody in the office,
let's say, was just staggering.
But, you know,
it was there to be enjoyed.
That's what Robert said,
you know,
"Rather my guys enjoy it,
rather than pay the IRS
too much money."
KEVIN: You know, and within
a couple of years,
you know, it had started
to change.
-MAN 1: Turn all the lights on!
This sign was the original sign
used when they made all
the posters
-for Saturday Night Fever!
Let's give them the salute,
ladies and gentlemen.
MAN 2: It's time to ring out
the old and bring in the new!
'Cause we've got something
to say about that.
I hate disco music
'Cause disco music
Really sucks
That's right.
And I hate disco music
'Cause disco music
Really sucks
Disco sucks
Turn off the radio
Disco sucks
'Cause I don't wanna hear it
BILL: I think it
was that natural pushback
that anything really successful
gets at some point.
- Disco sucks
-It had become so mainstream,
that anywhere you went
in the world,
weddings, funerals,
they always played disco music.
Disco sucks
MAN: I hate disco.
-It's a snore.
-I think it sucks, man!
-Disco sucks!
Disco is a disease!
RICHARD: Why does it suck?
Because that's something
gay men do.
Disco sucks
RICHARD: It was about the fact
that these people
were asserting themselves
and shouldn't have.
I saw Ted Nugent last Saturday,
you know what he said about it?
He said he was glad for disco
because it kept them away
from his concerts. (LAUGHS)
He says, "Those guys don't come
close to me, boy."
Disco sucks
Fifty thousand people got in
before the White Sox
called upon Chicago Police
to help close the gate.
It was billed as
"Disco Demolition Night."
Then came the main event,
a crate of disco records
was blown up in center field.
I don't wanna hear it
I don't wanna hear it
'Cause disco sucks
BILL: It was directed very much
at the Bee Gees,
more than disco I think.
It was they were fed up
with the Bee Gees,
it was weird.
The Bee Gees were upset
about that,
you know, having
all their records burnt
in the middle of a ballpark.
(CHUCKLES) Who wouldn't be?
BARRY: We're not really
a disco group,
we do all kinds of music.
And what happened
with Saturday Night Fever,
is we actually were asked
to write the music
and we did so,
and they used the film
as a disco film,
which we didn't, weren't aware
that is what they
were going to do,
was going to be done.
And the music, I think the songs
stand on their own
apart from disco.
If "Stayin' Alive" had come out
five years ago,
no one would have called
it a disco record.
It's as simple as that.
KEVIN: Saturday Night Fever
was the apotheosis of disco.
Then all bets were off.
definitely expedited
disco's death.
It took the mystery out of it.
There was no cool scene
around it anymore.
VINCE ALETTI: Once everybody
is going out in Suburbia, USA,
and pretending
that they're John Travolta,
it's done, it's done.
Anything that big,
it has to end.
The success, I knew, was going
to be a problem.
Saturday Night Fever
grossed record earnings
and escalated actor
John Travolta
to the heights of superstardom.
Practically everyone involved
made a bundle on the film.
But there's one man who says
he should've made a bundle,
but didn't.
He's taking action
to see to it that he does.
KEVIN: Some guy who said
he spoke to Nik in Brooklyn,
somebody quite specific,
took it to court.
you think that Tony Manero
is you?
because I was interviewed
by Nik Cohn,
who wrote the original script,
"Tribal Rites
of the New Saturday Night,"
and it was developed
from that article
in New York Magazine.
ELIZABETH: From what
I understood, Nik Cohn
came down to the club one night,
was observing stuff.
JOE: I'm not sure--
Don't quote me on it.
I know they-- Somebody
was interviewing somebody.
ALEX: Basically, there was a guy
coming down,
asking about this, you know,
all different questions.
In filing the suit,
what are you really after?
I would like Paramount
themselves to come out
and admit
that I'm the character,
and I would like these writers
to back down,
and admit
that it's my original gem.
KEVIN: That lawsuit went on
for a number of years,
and in the end, Nik said,
"I don't know what
this guy's talking about.
I made it up."
NIK: I made up
the main character
and built him around a Mod
I had known
in London in the '60s.
There was a certain degree
of authenticity about it
in the sense that I had watched
the various rituals,
so the attitudes
of the main character
in terms of his mates,
that was observed.
The actual character himself
did not exist,
I have to say I made that up.
They were guesses,
and trying to put myself
in somebody else's shoes.
When I looked at any group
of young teenagers,
in any culture, it was just,
I wonder what it's like
to be that way.
So my imagination would go,
and that's what came out.
ELIZABETH: So he didn't even
really talk to some kid
named Tony Manero? Oh, my God.
NIK: For a long time, he had
just an infallible touch,
and then, suddenly, he didn't.
FREDDIE: Moment by Moment
was a disaster
and humiliating to him.
A horrifically bad movie.
It may be too early to pick
the worst movies of the year,
but it is not too early to cite
one of the worst movies
in the past ten years.
Maybe the worst big-budget
movie ever made.
It is Sgt. Pepper's
Lonely Hearts Club Band.
TIM: The Sgt. Pepper film
and album just was a disaster.
It was a bad idea,
looking back on it.
But I'm trying to remember
what other flops he had.
BILL: We did the sequel
to Saturday Night Fever
called Staying Alive,
which was not enjoyable for me.
This is the end
You made your choice
And now my chance is over
BILL: Stallone was the director
and I was the English meat
in this rather
weird Italian sandwich,
with Travolta on one side,
and Stallone on the other,
and it was me in the middle,
as producer of the film by then.
But, I mean,
we were just retreading.
And I think Robert's interest
sort of...
well really, it went away.
BILL: And he folded up
his record company,
and moved to Bermuda,
and never really went back.
PATRICK: He decided
to lift his foot a little bit
and go into yachting
for a couple of years.
-MAN 1: Oh, wow, look at this!
-MAN 2: Look at that!
PATRICK: He had his retreat
in Bermuda.
A beautiful place in Bermuda
where he would spend,
-you know, months on end.
KEVIN: He became
fantastically wealthy.
JAMES: I watched Robert make,
you know, a billion dollars
for Paramount
within three years.
I think 300 million of it
wound up in his pocket.
FREDDIE: If you sell 22 million
soundtrack albums,
and you're averaging
four dollars an album
as your profit,
that's 88 million dollars more,
and you're not splitting that
with the studio,
because Paramount never had
a piece of the album.
BILL: The studio
wasn't interested
in soundtracks.
They said,
"Soundtracks don't sell."
So he said,
"Fine, I'll keep it."
Which was kind of a mistake
on their part, I think.
That was probably one
of Robert's lasting
great achievements,
is to wake up the synergy
between records and film.
You saw the film,
you'd buy the album.
You listened to the album,
you'd go to the movie.
KEVIN: The soundtrack became
part of the way
that you looked
at a movie's success or failure.
You know, Urban Cowboy,
let's see
if there's a country music
application to it.
KEVIN: It just became
this crazy phenomenon.
-Top Gun was successful
on its own, but music
certainly helped it.
And it went on
for a really long time.
Robert really did change
a lot of things.
The good news
was he made more money
than he ever could
have imagined.
And I suppose the bad news
is once he did that,
I think the incentive
to keep working,
to keep plugged in,
to keep looking for new things,
went away.
NIK: There was a great
loneliness at the heart of him.
He was always very unsure
of himself.
Pink-faced, not comfortable,
he was never comfortable.
He was only close to the people
who was in his
very immediate circle,
basically lived with him.
I mean, the beautiful boys
flitted in and out.
ROBERT: Well, I had you,
if you didn't make that move,
I had you checkmated.
PATRICK: He fell in love
with Barry, with me,
with everyone around him.
And then, all you had to do
was put the record straight.
And that was it, then he
was happy to be around you.
So, he wasn't pushing
anything to anyone.
They're cheating again.
-MAN: Would you believe that?
-The two, he gives them advice.
NIK: His deepest instinct,
I think, was still
to just charge, madly,
don't think about the odds,
just keep going.
But that's impossible
to sustain,
there comes a day where you
just can't keep doing that.
And the culture's moved on,
and you no longer have
the feel for it.
And part of the art is,
at that point,
getting off the train,
and that's what he did.
Once I had a love
And it was a gas
Soon turned out
Had a heart of glass
Seemed like the real thing
Only to find
Mucho mistrust
Love's gone behind
Once I had a love
And it was divine
Soon found out
I was losing my mind
It seemed like the real thing
But I was so blind
Mucho mistrust
Love's gone behind
In between
What I find is pleasing
And I'm feeling fine
Love is so confusing
There's no peace of mind
If I fear I'm losing you
It's just no good
You teasing like you do