Jeremy Jordan and Timothy Scott Bogart
People Out There Spinning Music Into Gold
by Jay S. Jacobs
There are lots of people whose name you probably don’t know who are responsible for much of the music which has made up the soundtrack of your life. People like Neil Bogart.
Neil Bogart started as a singer himself, but he did most of his moving and shaking behind the scenes in the music biz. First of all he was an exec at Cameo/Parkway Records, then he played a huge part of Buddah Records, working with the likes of Gladys Knight and the Pips and Bill Withers.
However, his real masterpiece was when he started his own record label – and against all odds, despite huge debts and substance abuse issues, he turned Casablanca Records and Filmworks into the biggest independent label of the 1970s. Bogart fought radio disinterest and bad breaks and eventually turned slow-burning acts like Donna Summer, KISS, Parliament/Funkadelic and The Village People into multi-platinum hitmakers.
He eventually sold Casablanca to Polygram for an eight-figure sum and soon started another company, Boardwalk Records, for which he signed Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and also Harry Chapin for his last album. However, by then Bogart had been diagnosed with cancer, dying in 1982 at the extremely young age of 39.
It was an only-in-America type of success story, full of drugs, sex, rock, money, organized crime, dancing and tragedy. Bogart’s son Tim, who was just a boy when his father died, has been trying to get a film going showing his father’s dramatic life behind the scenes in the star-making process for decades. Now, finally, that movie has been created with Spinning Gold.
Playing the exuberant musical exec is Jeremy Jordan, star of stage (Newsies, Bonnie & Clyde, American Son) and small screen (TV’s Supergirl and Smash).
In voiceover during the film, his character of Neil Bogart acknowledges that while you may know who KISS and Donna Summer were, you probably have no clue who Neil Bogart was.
So, Jeremy Jordan, did you know who he was before getting the role?
“No,” Jordan laughed during a recent Zoom call. “Of course I didn’t. No offense, Tim, but no, I didn’t know who he was.”
“None taken,” Bogart replied, good-naturedly.
“I’m a music lover as much as anybody else,” Jordan continued. “But I never delved into who was the big record producer in the 60s and 70s. Of course I knew the music and the artists, but no, I knew nothing about Neil or Casablanca, or any of that. It was all new and exciting and wild to me when I when I heard about it.”
Which is, of course, the whole point. Tim Bogart has been wanting to make sure his father got his due, both as an artist and as a businessman. He lived an incredibly dramatic, tragically short life. Now, Bogart is able to somewhat remedy the fact that most people are not familiar with his accomplishments. He loves the fact that finally, hopefully, his dad will get credit for all the amazing things he did in such a short time.
“It’s extraordinary,” Bogart explained. “And it’s extraordinary for so many reasons. Certainly, as the son who feels like here’s this incredibly consequential character who I do think got lost to history, to some degree. Even though the music that he created, and so much of the business ideas that he created, still very much thrive today. So as a son, for sure. But I also just always thought it was an incredibly important story about dreamers and how important it is to persevere.”
Perseverance is something that the younger Bogart knows about. After all, he has been trying to get Spinning Gold made since the 1990s. At one point it looked like it would happen with Justin Timberlake playing his father, but that never happened due to Timberlake’s busy musical schedule. The delay did work out in a positive way, too, because at this point in time, and doing it as an independent – just like his dad did with music – Bogart was able to direct the film as well.
“Getting that story out, as well, as is just as moving for me,” Bogart said. “I do think this is a great parallel in the perseverance and the dream I had in making it.”
Making it, of course, meant immersing themselves in the whole sex, drugs and rock and roll vibe of the 1970s music world.
“It’s sex, drugs, and rock and roll and the character says that,” Bogart acknowledges. “But it was the ‘70s, which meant there was sex before it was deadly. Drugs, everyone was doing them, and it wasn’t as dark. And rock’n’roll for sure. So I never looked at sex, drugs and rock and roll as a negative, even though so many pieces of the ‘70s tended to couch it as a negative or cautionary tale. I saw it as just an extraordinary time coming out of the ‘60s, this expressive moment in the ‘70s. I actually thought it was an extraordinarily cool time, even though I was really young. I wish I was a little bit older to experience it.”
Bogart and Jordan started to laugh. “What did they give you when you were six?” Jordan asked.
“Let me tell you, it was a lot of contact highs growing up,” Bogart said, still laughing.
Jordan turned a bit more serious. “Yeah, it’s totally foreign to me, of course,” he acknowledged. “I’m not a big partier or anything like that. But it was really exciting to just dip my toe into that world. There was always a cigarette, or always pot, or always a drink. Every scene somebody is just medicating, or indulging, or anything. It was just normal back then.”
Yes, it certainly was a different time.
“It’s kind of wild how quickly and vastly that changes,” Jordan said. “At least optically, I’m not saying that people don’t still do that. But, not at work. You’re not supposed to do it at work.”
Another thing that Neil Bogart says during the voiceover of the film is that everything in the movie is true, even the parts which weren’t. Which is a great bit of mythmaking. However, were there any parts which Jordan felt that should be true, even if they were a bit hard to believe?
“What do I most hope was true?” Jordan asked. “I believe that there are kernels of truth in all of them. One of my favorite things about the film, and the way it was all put together, is that you’re not really sure if you’re getting the full story. But you’re having a great time while doing it.”
Neil Bogart was all about having a great time.
“That was kind of Neil’s vibe,” Jordan continued. “He just wanted to make you dance and wanted to entertain. He was a showman. That’s what we’re doing with this movie, finding the most fun way to tell these stories. What’s great is that there’s always little winks that go throughout the film. He’s got this flash paper that goes off. To me, that’s always an indication that maybe what you’re seeing is not really the reality.”
Reality. What a concept.
“Then by the end, he’s painting his own [reality],” Jordan says. “He’s writing his own ending, and it is really kind of beautiful and magical and different in that way. We don’t feel tied to ultra reality, and this is the exact perfect way that this happened. It doesn’t have to be [real] because it was sex, drugs, rock and roll. It was the journey as opposed to the actual truth of it all.”
Copyright ©2023 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: March 30, 2023.
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