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Almost Almost Famous Documentary | Running Time: 78 mins. | Language: English

Take a road trip through an alternate rock’n’roll universe, where Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Jackie Wilson are forever in their prime. Almost Almost Famous explores the lives of some of the world’s top tribute artists, the cost of borrowed fame and the risk of getting ‘lost in the act’.

Almost Almost Famous is a rockin’ and rollin’, wild musical ride following the stories of Texas rockabilly musician Lance Lipinsky as Jerry Lee Lewis, Las Vegas-based R & B singer Bobby Brooks as Jackie Wilson and the “Elvis from Orlando”, Ted Torres.

From the beer joints of Texas to the Karaoke bars of Honolulu, Almost Almost Famous explores how these incredibly talented singers became some of the world’s top tribute artists. But what happens when borrowed fame begins to lose its charm?

Ted’s career on the nostalgia circuit reached the top when he won best Elvis in 2017, but he can’t be “Young Elvis” forever. Lance played Jerry Lee in the HBO series “Vinyl” and for 6 years on stage in "Million Dollar Quartet” but can he find fame on his own? What happens when Bobby Brooks' life is turned upside down after Jackie Wilson’s family come to a performance and DNA tests reveal some jaw dropping, against-all-odds news?

Then there’s Marty Kramer, one-time road manager to rock music’s biggest stars. Marty struggles to keep their feet on the ground, the music centre stage, and the crowds clamouring for more on the “Class of 59” cross country road tour.

Smart, funny and full of heart, this high-end, feature-length documentary takes you on a musical ride. But after years on the road, borrowed fame is beginning to lose its charm. Who will break through and who will break down? Can any of them find stardom on their own terms, or will they always be Almost Almost Famous?

Overview

  • Genre: Documentary
  • Running Time: 78 mins.
  • Writer: Barry Lank, Karsten Wall
  • Director: Barry Lank
  • Producer: Merit Jensen Carr, Luanne Lank
  • Format: HD
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Yes

Characters

Ted Torres

“Music was pretty much in my blood,” notes Ted Torres. Born in the Bronx, New York but raised in Florida, both his parents were entertainers, often on the road. He was introduced to Elvis Presley’s music by his father. “Something just drew me in to it,” he remembers. At age 22 he entered an Elvis Presley singing competition which led to him performing as The King fulltime. An early highlight was the opportunity to record Elvis songs at Memphis’s legendary Sun Studios for a movie production. For Ted, it’s more than merely singing Elvis’s songs. “People tell me I really embody Elvis onstage; that comes from the acting part of me,” he acknowledges. “It’s incredible to be able to make people feel good with that music and touch them.”

Bobby Brooks Wilson

Growing up in a foster care in South Carolina, Bobby Brooks Wilson listened to blues and gospel music, never knowing that his biological father was legendary r & b singer Jackie Wilson. Following a ten-year stint in the US military, Bobby began performing in Hawaii with The Lovenotes and later in Las Vegas, singing the music of the 50s. “I realized I loved that music but didn’t know why,” he recalls. It was The Four Tops’ Levi Stubbs, a cousin of Jackie Wilson, who, after witnessing one of Bobby’s shows declared, “You gotta be from Jackie Wilson’s family!” DNA tests confirmed it. “People who knew Jackie Wilson gasp when I come out onstage,” he asserts. “I am an ambassador for him.”

Lance Lipinsky

Lance Lipinsky was raised on the music of the 1950s and ‘60s. Growing up in the little town of San Marcos near Austin, Texas, he taught himself to play piano to rockabilly records. He quit school at age 17 to perform as his hero Jerry Lee Lewis for 8 months in Laughlin, Nevada - and he’s never looked back, having appeared in Chicago in a 6 year production of The Million Dollar Quartet as well as performing in Legend shows in Las Vegas. He also performed at the Hard Rock Cafe under the title “Rock Baby Rock,” a musical history trip back to the beginnings of rock ‘n’ roll. Lance fronts his own rockabilly band Lance & the Lovers who have released one album. “I want to create an awareness of ‘50s and ‘60s rock ‘n’ roll,” he declares. “I like to think of myself as a Jerry Lee persona rather than a character. I live the subculture and lifestyle of rockabilly.”

Bill Culp

Born in Dunville, Ontario, Bill Culp is passionate about music history and all its stories and brings that dedication to his performances. After playing the Toronto club scene for ten years as a guitar player, he made the transition to historically-themed music productions and operates his own tour production company with a dozen shows on the road. Bill has toured Australia in a Memphis/Sun Records production and appeared across North America and Europe as both The Big Bopper and Bill Haley. “I’m recapturing peoples’ innocents and giving them a nostalgic touchstone to a happier time and place,” he says.

Jeff Giles

Hailing from Ottawa, Ontario, Jeff Giles comes to the Class of ‘59 from the theatrical side. A graduate of York University’s drama program, his talent as an actor, singer and musician have allowed him to appear in a number of musical theatre productions including Footloose and Pump Boys and Dinettes, as well as starring in several regional productions of The Buddy Holly Story. He has also appeared as Ricky Nelson, Paul Anka, Bobby Vinton, and Del Shannon in several of Bill Culp’s productions. “I saw The Buddy Holly Story onstage in Toronto when I was 12 and loved the story and the music,” he states. Besides theatrical work, Jeff says, “I have a lot of fun doing the tribute gigs and giving people a good show. It’s different than the theatrical productions because you can bring more excitement to the performances.”

Marty Kramer

Promoter, manager, producer, collector, Winnipeg-born Marty Kramer is a music gadfly. You name it, he’s done it. Growing up in Winnipeg’s tough North End alongside childhood friend Burton Cummings, Marty has been an eye-witness to the evolution of rock music both in Winnipeg, with the likes of The Guess Who, Neil Young, and Bachman-Turner Overdrive, as well as the world. Outspoken and opinionated, he is respected by his peers and adored by all those who have had the pleasure of working with him. From his base in Steveston BC, Marty has been the driving force behind dozens of successful tribute productions for several decades including The Legends of Rock ‘n’ Roll and The Class of 59.

Production Team

Barry Lank | Director, Writer

Barry established himself as one of Western Canada’s top cinematographers and filmed many national and international productions. He took his camera to some of the most tragic, desperate, and dangerous parts of the world working on social justice documentaries including Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, East Timor, Russia, and Vietnam, to name a few. Barry had a deep appreciation of history and kept abreast of world issues and he advocated for human rights and social justice through his films. Barry was a full member of the Canadian Society of Cinematographers and was twice nominated by the CSC for best documentary cinematography for his work on The Nature of Things, along with winning a multitude of other industry awards. He was also a founding member of the original Manitoba Film Producers Association and DOC Manitoba.

Barry was a cornerstone of the entire Manitoba film business, it’s impossible to overstate how much he did, or the positive impact he had on so many people. He was always trusting, supportive, and open, a powerful presence in a very unassuming manner. The entire local industry would look very different without his participation, he was fundamental to shaping the way it is now, and the success of the entire production community owes a lot to the encouragement and appreciation he gave to so many young and aspiring crew members.

Merit Jensen Carr | Producer

For over 30 years, Merit Motion Pictures (MMP) has worked with Canada’s foremost writers and directors to produce award-winning documentary films and series. During this time, MMP has partnered with BBC, ARTE, ZDF, France TV, Vulcan, CBC, Smithsonian Channel, National Geographic Channel and many others. MMP is a frequent partner for international science and nature co-productions and is fortunate to have access to the highest and most flexible tax credits in Canada. Executive producer and founder, Merit Jensen Carr, is passionate about telling stories which reflect humanity’s relationship with the natural world and has received some of the industry’s top honours including the inaugural HOT DOCS Don Haig Award for Special Achievement in Producing. Recent highlights include the MMP & CAPA/Films A Cinq science and nature co-production, Reef Rescue (ARTE, CBC, NOVA, VULCAN) winner of Best Conservation Film Long Form at the Jackson Wild Media Awards 2020. Merit is currently producing the 2 x 1hr natural history series Kingdom of the Polar Bears (National Geographic Channels, France 3, CBC, Terra Mater, Canal D); Great Lakes (Smithsonian, TVO, Terra Mater); Everest Dark (CBC documentary Channel) and season 4 of Dr. Keri: Prairie Vet (Animal Planet). Other highlights include the Canadian Screen Award-winning films What Plants Talk About (CBC/PBS Nature), Call of the Forest: The Forgotten Wisdom of Trees nominated at Pariscience and the Canadian Screen Awards for Best Science and Nature Film, Turtle Beach (BBC, ARTE, Blue Ant, CBC) and Polar Bear Town (Smithsonian Channel US, OLN).

Luanne Lank | Producer

Karsten Wall | Producer

Karsten Wall is a Winnipeg based editor and filmmaker who got his start in the film industry in 2008. He first worked on a variety of commercial projects, including the national advertising campaign for the opening of The Canadian Museum For Human Rights. In 2013 he branched off into the documentary world and was an editor on high-profile local productions such as “Polar Bear Town,” filmed in Churchill Manitoba. Recently Karsten directed, edited, and wrote “The Seven Wonders of Manitoba,” a seven-part nature documentary series that won a Golden Sheaf Award at the Yorkton Film Festival.

Awards & Nominations

  • Official Selection - Opening Film, Yorkton Film Festival, 2019
  • Official Selection, DOCfeed, 2019
  • Hot Docs Screening, 2019

For media inquiries, please contact:

Ophélie Petit | Email: ophelie@meritmotionpictures.com | Tel: +1 (204) 775-4092