Sam Kinison biopic closer to big screen; meanwhile, rent/buy “Back From Hell,” the Kinison tribute DVD

We learned today that HBO Films has decided that a biopic of the late Sam Kinison should get the big-screen treatment. Almost two years ago to the day, HBO was planning a made-for-HBO version of Kinison's story with Tom Shadyac directing, and actor Dan Fogler attached to star. The screenplay is based on a memoir written by Kinison's brother, Bill.

Bill Kinison also took part in an Epix/Comedy Central film, "Back From Hell: A Tribute to Sam Kinison," which debuted on Comedy Central over the weekend and became available on DVD on Tuesday.

The DVD takes an hourlong look back at Kinison's career, with old clips mixed with commentary from Lewis Black, Chris Rock, Lenny Clarke, Denis Leary, George Lopez, Marc Maron, Kathy Griffin, Norm MacDonald, Jay Leno, Ice-T, Pauly Shore and more. There's also footage from a special showcase filmed last year at The Comedy Store in West Hollywood. DVD extras include 17 minutes of additional stand-up from Kinison, plus stories about Kinison from Maron, Shore, Kinison impersonator Craig Gass, and Bill Kinison.

It's a good reminder that Sam Kinison was more than just a screamer in a trench-coat, with hair billowing out the sides of a beret or bandana. The son of a preacher who himself became a preacher, made comedy club audiences his congregation, and the sermons he screamed had powerful messages behind them.

In this clip, you see two of his more famous messages, that marriage is Hell, and that filmmakers of starving Ethiopians have their own guilt complexes.


Here's a clip examining Sam Kinison's hold over Hollywood audiences with his midnight shows at The Comedy Store:


And yes, there was that primal scream.


Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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