The flip-side of Newsies – “Blood Drips on Newsies Square”
In the early 90’s, the Walt Disney Studios attempted to make a return to bringing family films to the live-action realm. There had often been remembrances of classics like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Marry Poppins, but years had passed since those films were made.
In 1991, the studio adapted Jack London’s book White Fang for the screen. While it was a modest hit for the studio, 1992 would not be so lucky. For that was the year when Newsies hit the big-screen. Touted as the studio’s first live-action musical since Mary Poppins, and featuring music by composer Alan Menken (fresh off his Academy Award wins for Beauty and the Beast), the world apparently wasn’t ready for a rag-tag group of newsboys dancing around New York City.
Since then, the film has become one of company’s titles that gained a small cult-following. Those who were into musicals found out about it years afterwards, and some would even use the music pieces for recitals or demo reels. When Director Kenny Ortega was doing choreography for one of the Olympic games, he was surprised at the amount of demo reels he saw, that had people performing to Newsies’ music.
Of course, along with it’s fandom, and a revival into an off-Broadway sensation 20 years after its release, there is also…the Dark Side, of Newsies.
Young men performing on a film are bound to get into mischief. But give them a camcorder, and plenty of time on a movie studio backlot, and their minds will surely come up with something bizarre (sorry girls, I know what you’re thinking, and your fanfiction fantasies have not come true).
Filmmaking mischief was what happened during the filming of Newsies, and the result was Blood Drips on Newsies Square.
Conceived of by several members of the film’s cast (Michael Goorjian, Trey Parker*, Max Casella, & Ivan Dudynsky), the story concerns Don Knotts (portrayed by actor Mark David, with a hugely-extended underbite), who decides that he would be perfect to be cast in the production of Newsies.
However, after getting rejected by director Kenny Ortega, and thrown off the lot, Don decides that “if he can’t be in this movie…nobody will!”
Yes, that’s right: Don Knotts goes on a killing spree! Admit it, doesn’t that sound funny? Well, the guys have Don use several different methods to take down his victims.
One that’s rather entertaining, is where he tricks Max Casella to climb to the top of a tall set to retrieve his chair. Don then gives Max a little shove, leaving him dangling over the edge. Needless to say, Don uses a method that cartoon afficianados will surely recognize.
Even though the film focuses on a handful of the cast, there are still small cameos by some of the main stars. They include:
Christian Bale (sitting in the center),
and even Bill Pullman!
There’s also a small cameo by Lucy Boryer, who at the time, was appearing on Doogie Howser, MD (along with Max Casella).
Being on the Universal Studios backlot, the filmmakers took full advantage of their surroundings. From the main set, to the movie trailers, and up in a hilly area away from the street sets.
They’re almost always in their on-screen wardrobe, but do some fun little character/costume setups. A fine example of this is when Don Knotts enlists the services of Fire Marshall Brett (backup dancer Brett Dieball, doing a great impersonation of Jim Carrey’s Fire Marshall Bill persona from In Living Color), to help him eliminate the Newsies cast in a faster way.
Be forewarned: this is definitely not PG material. Given the Adult Situations, Language, and Violence in this piece, one will definitely want to keep impressionable young minds away. It’s also a sure thing that this is not something that would be approved by Disney, so you won’t find this tucked away as a the DVD ‘easter egg.’
This almost feels like one of those wrap-party videos, and one has to wonder if it was shown at the conclusion of filming, or if they finished it sometime afterwards.
If this little work sounds intriguing, Michael Goorjian has a website where you can buy a copy. It’s available on DVD and VHS, for $25 (plus s&h).
The picture and audio quality isn’t perfect, but what do you expect from something shot on videotape? Not exactly Oscar-worthy, but it’s cut together competently, and entertaining enough that it gives me a good laugh when I need one.
* The answer is no, this is not the same Trey Parker that co-created “South Park.”