Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Woody returns to the U.S.

by Woody Strode and Sam Young

Well, with the kids off on their own, Luana and I decided to sell the chicken ranch in Montebello. I bought a house and five acres of land in the foothills of Glendora, California. That's where I live today, about twenty-five miles east of Los Angeles. I had lived there only three months when I moved to Italy. After three years, I came home to see Kenny. After he moved on, I decided I'd stick around and spend some time in America.
Well, by that time SEATED AT HIS RIGHT had been sitting on the shelf for three years. A guy named Sig Shore, who produced the film SUPERFLY, and also bought and distributed films, bought the rights to the Zurlini film. At that time in America, there was a growing market for black films, and Sig Shore put some money in his pocket behind that. Ron Pennington in the Hollywood Reporter on September 22, 1971:
He [Sig Shore] said he thinks residual values on these pictures are just a good if not better than on other pictures, adding that "television will be delirious to get black pictures, as they are always interested in demographic patterns." Shore also said he feels "airlines will have to start playing these pictures if they expect to attract blacks with their in-flight movie program. They're going to have to come up with a more balanced package," he said.
When Sig Shore called me to say he had bought Zurlini's film, he said, "Woody, I've got it sold in 64 markets. It'll open in New York, and I've given it a new title."
I said, "What will you call it?"
Well, I almost fainted. Because of my Christian background, I'm superstitious. I got back on the phone, "BLACK JESUS?"
He said, "Yes, will you come back to New York to help promote the film?"
I decided not to discuss the religious area. I said, "Okay, I'll come back there." I flew back and met Sig Shore. He set me up on Times Square signing autographs. On the billboard above me was my picture and the lines, "Woody Stode in BLACK JESUS". And underneath that, "He who ain't with me - is against me," a line I never say in the movie. But Sig Shore was quite a promoter; he was selling an image and a title, not content.

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