Long before it was something to be sold to any crap comedy who could afford the licensing fee, the name National Lampoon actually stood for as the pinnacle of American satire. Founded in 1970, the magazine transformed the landscape of American comedy, giving a platform to such writers as the acerbic genius Michael O’Donoghue, future film director John Hughes, Tony Hendra (who can be seen in the classic This Is Spinal Tap! as the band’s manager) and the trio of Doug Kenney, Harold Ramis and Chris Miller, who would collaborate on the on the screenplay for the magazine’s first foray into film, Animal House. It was through the magazine’s expansion into radio and stage that performers like Richard Belzer, Joe Flaherty and a host of future Saturday Night Live cast members including Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner, John Belushi and Christopher Guest found their first big audiences.
The rich history of those early days has been chronicled in several books, but now Nat Lamp fans will have a documentary film to look forward to as well. Producer Douglas Tirola and Susan Bedusa, who already have the award-winning docs All In: The Poker Movie and An Omar Broadway Film to their credit, have optioned the rights to the story of Lampoon as well as its archive for a feature film to be directed by Tirola.
The documentary will chart the rise of the magazine in the 1970s, its fall in the 1980s and its eventual languishing as an intellectual property whose name its current owners sell out to direct-to-DVD films looking to get a little extra marketing juice.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the film “will feature rare and never before seen footage, and showcase the influence that the brand’s magazine, television and radio programs and movies had on American culture and the entertainment industry.”
As the film doesn’t have a title yet, I would like to humbly suggest one – Watch This Movie Or We’ll Kill This Dog.