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Old 09-25-2009, 08:34 AM   #1
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Exclamation Showbiz mogul Dick Clark Was a Tyrant on American Bandstand, According to New Film

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - As ailing showbiz mogul Dick Clark prepares to celebrate his 80th birthday in November, a new documentary threatens to tarnish his image by recounting his controversial beginnings.

"Wages of Spin," a project that took independent filmmaker Shawn Swords almost four years to make, focuses on Clark's early days in the 1950s as the host of "American Bandstand," the iconic TV show in which teenagers danced to songs lip-synced by some of the biggest pop stars of the day.

The show, which was must-see TV for millions of youngsters every week day between 1957 and 1963, gave artists a national platform that was unavailable elsewhere. It accordingly made Clark one of the most powerful figures in the music industry since the wholesome TV star decided who appeared on the show.

A congressional probe in 1960 revealed that Clark had interests in dozens of companies that could profit from "American Bandstand," including labels, record-pressing plants, and a talent-management firm.

He denied taking "payola" -- kickbacks in exchange for airplay. But the probe learned that he has been assigned the copyrights to at least 143 compositions, including such monster hits as "Sixteen Candles" and "At the Hop." Such songs received preferential treatment on the show. Payola was not illegal then, and is barely regulated today.

Moreover, Clark demanded that the young performers turn over to his own company the union-mandated fees that they received for their appearances, saying that the low-budget show could not afford to make such payouts.

"He's definitely an alpha villain," Swords said in a recent interview. "I'm not saying this man was consummately malevolent, just his business practices and the depth of his avarice and self-enrichment. I really think the man's place in pop music history needs to be re-evaluated."

CAREERS CAME AT A COST

Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, he is probably best known as the host of TV game shows and of the annual "Dick Clark Rockin' New Year's Eve" special. He also produced various awards shows, like the American Music Awards.

"American Bandstand" ran in various forms for 37 years, becoming the longest-running musical-variety program.

The documentary features interviews with pop stars, "Bandstand" dancers, associates and industry experts, many of whom profess mixed emotions about Clark. They owed him their careers, but at a very high cost.

It also shows newsreel footage from the congressional investigation. Clark impressed the star-struck lawmakers, who failed to come up with any damaging evidence against him, and they let him off with slap on the wrist. He was required to divest his music-industry holdings, and he used the funds to set up a publicly traded film and TV production company that he sold in 2002 for $140 million.

"This is a kingdom that was built on ill-gotten gains," Swords said.

Clark appears at the end of the film, via an archival clip in which he tersely denies that he ever took any money to play records, but "every single way you can think of, I made money from that show."

Swords said he had no qualms about making a documentary about a man who has rarely been seen in public since suffering what was described as "a minor stroke" in 2004. While it would have been good to get fresh commentary from him, Swords did not want Clark's ailment to make him appear sympathetic.

"And the other thing is, I don't think he would be candid," Swords added. "He's always been evasive when questioned about his involvement with payola. He's not going to tell you the truth about what happened."

A spokesman for Clark declined to comment.

Swords does evoke sympathy for one of Clark's victims, rockabilly guitarist Charlie Gracie, who enjoyed a big hit in 1957 with the song "Butterfly." Gracie sued his Cameo Records label to recover unpaid royalties, and subsequently found himself blacklisted from "American Bandstand" and radio stations.

It emerged that Clark had a financial arrangement with Cameo, the documentary said, which had paid him $14,000 for unspecified services related to "Butterfly." Gracie, subsequently revered by the likes of Graham Nash, George Harrison and Paul McCartney, slipped into obscurity.

"It's a pretty loathsome industry, the record industry," Swords said. "It always has been."

http://www.reuters.com/article/enter...=11604&sp=true
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Old 09-26-2009, 03:06 AM   #2
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Wow, I can't believe that Dick Clark is going to be 80! He looks great for his age!
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Old 09-26-2009, 02:24 PM   #3
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Payola was pretty common in those days, and Dick Clark wasnt the only one who was doing it.
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Old 09-26-2009, 02:35 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MickeyMac
Payola was pretty common in those days, and Dick Clark wasnt the only one who was doing it.
Exactly - and he's always been known for being a ruthless businessman.
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Old 09-27-2009, 02:32 AM   #5
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Wow to air this now after all this time just seems like sour grapes to me. I am surprised that he is 80. I actually thought he was older. Not because he looks it at all, but because he seems to have been around forever. He must have been really young when he started out.
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Old 09-27-2009, 04:36 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MickeyMac
Payola was pretty common in those days, and Dick Clark wasnt the only one who was doing it.


Look at Berry Gordy...............

The record industry was always messed up. They took advantage of everybody. Especially when they started out.

Dick Clark had more than a minor stroke. Have you seen him on Dick Clark's Rockin Eve? If that's minor then this man (Swords) is blind as a bat.
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Old 09-27-2009, 09:57 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pitooey
Look at Berry Gordy...............

The record industry was always messed up. They took advantage of everybody. Especially when they started out.

Dick Clark had more than a minor stroke. Have you seen him on Dick Clark's Rockin Eve? If that's minor then this man (Swords) is blind as a bat.
Ah yes, Berry Gordy...some of his former artists are still suing him to this day!!
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Old 09-27-2009, 09:59 PM   #8
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Dick Clark IS Americana


With that said though, I am curious to see this documentary
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Old 09-27-2009, 10:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Damage
Dick Clark IS Americana


With that said though, I am curious to see this documentary
So am I.
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Old 09-28-2009, 07:55 PM   #10
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Diabeties, payola or whatever you want to say about him. Dick Clark is still an icon and deserves his place in music, radio, and TV history. I noticed that a lot of people in my age group and younger seem to dislike Dick Clark and/or like to poke fun at him. Frankly I think its undeserved.
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Old 09-28-2009, 09:37 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MickeyMac
Diabeties, payola or whatever you want to say about him. Dick Clark is still an icon and deserves his place in music, radio, and TV history. I noticed that a lot of people in my age group and younger seem to dislike Dick Clark and/or like to poke fun at him. Frankly I think its undeserved.
So do I. I loved his short-lived talk show The Other Half.
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Old 01-04-2010, 12:26 AM   #12
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Default Dick Clark, for all his success in media...

...was not entirely a "nice man". He often made deals and did "unsavory" things in order to further himself in the industry during his early "BANDSTAND" years. For example, just before the live premiere of what became "THE DICK CLARK SATURDAY NIGHT BEECH-NUT SHOW" in February 1958, a snowstorm hit New York, where kids were waiting in line to get into the theater where the show was to originate. Dick gave his producer a wad of money and told him to get hot drinks for the crowd. His producer believed Clark was being thoughtful. In his autobiography "Rock, Roll and Remember", Dick admitted that underneath that thoughtfulness "beat the heart of a cunning capitalist"; he knew if he couldn't keep those kids waiting in line (by keeping them warm with hot cocoa, et. al.), there wouldn't have been an audience for the show when it aired that evening.

For the most part, Dick is an honest man. But in the 1957-'60 era, yes, he was involved in several music publishing companies and record labels in the Philadelphia area, which involved "payola". He paid the price when he was forced to divest himself of most those deals, and ABC cancelled his Saturday night show in 1960.

Right now, I'm sure he's frustrated whenever he participates in "NEW YEAR'S ROCKIN' EVE" because he wants to be the center of the show. Because of his stroke five years ago, it's now 95% Ryan Seacrest and 5% Clark. I'm sure he'd like to be more active in other projects as well. But, despite his constant therapy, it looks like he'll never regain the ability to tackle those projects...

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Old 01-04-2010, 08:18 AM   #13
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I want to see this biography on him.
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