September 22, 2023
MoviesMusic History

Someone is Making a Movie Based on a Smiths Song. Sort Of.

If you know the movie Magic Mike and the Spider-Man trilogy, you’re probably acquainted with Joe Manganiello. His new project is a movie about The Smiths–sort of–and he’s naming it after this song.

Before you ask, the movie doesn’t have anything to do with the song. Instead, it’s based on a true–well, sort of true–incident that happened at a Denver radio station in the fall of 1988.

One Tuesday evening around 5pm, James Kiss, a troubled 18-year-old, walked toward Y108, the city’s highest-rated Top 40 station. He’d rehearsed the visit in his mind many times over the previous six months, even dropping in to visit reception on more than 20 occasions. This night, though, was the real deal.

Armed with a Remington .22 calibre Apache 77, six cassettes (all by the Smiths) and one Morrisey album, the plan was to hold the station at gunpoint and force the DJ to play nothing but Smiths songs.  Why? To make some kind of statement about…well, we’re not sure, exactly. This is what he wrote in a letter to his parents:

I guess what I’m doing is a protest about life. The world’s dying and most don’t care, and if they do care there is nothing to do about it because man is the problem. Whoever or whatever made the human race made a big mistake. My views of life are in the “poems” I have written. Some of them show hope, but it quckly dies in others. A lot in the first book have nothing to do with my views.

The second book shows my interest in Morrissey and the first time I planned to do this (this is the second) I think my ideas are mounting somewhat stemmed from Morrissey. There’s no doubt his words have changed me and in a way the Smiths and Morrissey are one reason I’m doing this. The third book continues from the second. I want you to know my exact plan.

I have bought a gun for this time. When I tried it the first time I had a fake gun. I’m going to Y108 and I’m going to take control of the station and play all the Smiths and the Morrissey tapes over the air. (As I re-read what I’ve wrote it sounds crazy to me.) When it’s over I’ll give myself up. I do not expect to die, but if that happens I won’t really mind. I will not hurt anyone else that doesn’t try to stop me. I really don’t expect to be successful.

At the end most will say I’m insane. I feel I’m sane if everyone else is insane, but I’m insane if they’re sane.

Again, I’m sorry for you if I cause you pain. I hope through reading my words you can see why I did this and find a way to forgive me. You’re still my mother and father. I hope I’m still your son.

With love and regret, James

“Life is hard enough when you belong here”

Kiss never got a chance to carry out his plan after losing his nerve in the parking lot. He basically gave himself up to a radio station employee, who then had someone call the police. No one was ever in any real danger. Yet the incident has become a legend: “The man who held a radio station at gunpoint until they played Smiths music.” But it obviously never happened that way.

Manganiello heard about James Kiss and managed to obtain Morrissey’s blessing to make a movie about the incident. Reports are that the film will be set in 1987 and that the main character won’t abandon his plan. Kinda like Airheads–also allegedly based on the Kiss incident–but with mopey Smiths music instead.

Read more at Pitchfork. (Via Michael)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37091 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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