December 5, 2020

1975-04-13 – The Tennessean

1975 04 13 The_Tennessean_Sun__Apr_13__1975_

’Tommy’ Newest ’In’ Screen Scene


By the time the film version of "Tommy"
ogened in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
t e fiubhmty and promotional buiId-up had
reac ed e IC groportions. You might say it
out-Gatsby d “ he Great Gatsby.”

Inyolved in all this “Tommy-mania” was one
movxe company, one record company, the pro-
ducers, the stars, the director—and enough pub-
licists to launch a rocket.

While Polydor Records plopped $200,000 into a
massive marketing campaign for the "Tommy"
soundtrack album which shipped gold, Columbia
Pictures reportedly spent nearly half a million to
kick off the movie itseII.

There was the star-studded New York opening,
followed by the first post-premiere party ever 0
be held in a New York City subway station. One
actress in attendance summed up the affair as the
movie’s “next scene.”
. The foilowing day, a privately chartered jumbo
Jet carried the stars of the film of! to the
Hollywood premiere, which was followed by a
“Super Party,” hosted by David host and
televised by ABC.

The Chicago gpening was preceded b "Ann-
Margret Day:” ortunateiy, the star—w oplays

“Tommy’s" mother in the film based on The
tWho’s rock opera—had a day of rest in be

And in addition to pinball tournaments,
“Tommy” posters. "Tommy” T-shirts and
”Tommy” radio shows. there was a lavish New
York press conference, where an SRO contingent
of reporters. photographers and TV camera
crews turned out to interview the superstars.

There, in Iivin color, on a raised. red-carpet
platform, amid t e posh elegance of New York’s
Essex House the sat: Elton John, Ann-Margret,
Tina Turner an The Who’s Keith Moon, Peter
Townshend and John EntwistIe.

Elton John, in beigeand—gre striped suit
wide-brimmed Stetson, red-tinte spectacles and
a diamond pin that out-glittered the chandeliers,
was the first of the superstars to arrive.

A veteran Hollywood columnist who wasn’t
exactly up on today’s celluloid heros, wondered
why this person was causing the flashbulhs to
pop. When told it was the King of Rock himself.
she ped down her coffee, grabbed pencil and
note It and pushed her way through the crowd
surrounding him.

Whether press conferences like these add any-
thing to the movie’s hox-oIIice gross is anyone’s

guess. The questions thrown out to the various .

stars were almost as ludicrous as the answers
One re orter asked The Who contingent it they
were anning to hold a garage sale, referring to
their izarre outfits. Neither Moon, Townshend.
nor Entwistle knew what a gara e sale was

Ann-Margret, wrap ed in Iue peacock
feathers, was asked if s e saw any relationship
between “Tommy” and “Bye Bye Birdie." Her
answer: ”They’re both musicals.”

Keith Moon. looking like a palace guard in his
satin pants. told one reporter how he researched
his part in "Tommy": “I just came straight in oil
the park.”

And, asked it he had any plans to make another
rock film, a bored-Iooking Elton John replied:
"No. And I haven't had any offers, either,"

While the press conference and all the other
publicity stunts had an aura of unreality sur-
rounding them, the receipts at box-offices around
the country are telling a different story.

In its second week in New York, the film
grossed $154,000, catering to an audience whose
average age is 18. In Cleveland. Boston, Chicago,
Toronto, Miami, Detroit, Philadelphia and Los
Angeles, the box-office receipts have been equal-
Iy "socko," as reported in Variety’s parlance.