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Hard Time

September 06, 1987|Todd David Schwartz

Leon Isaac Kennedy just can't get out from behind those bars.

The producer-star of the "Penitentiary" series, including "Penitentiary III," now playing in NYC (no dates yet for L.A.), acknowledged, "I've spent one-third of my professional life incarcerated."

Which is why, originally, Kennedy didn't plan on doing a "IV." But then . . . after viewing "III" "for about the 25th time," Kennedy said that he and writer/director Jamaa Fanaka had a change of heart about how to end this installment.

As first planned, the ending found key character Midnight Thud Jessup (midget wrestler Raymond Kessler) taking a fatal fall. But, says Kennedy, "we kept talking about how much audiences are gonna like him. And then we said, 'If we did a "Penitentiary IV," it sure would be nice to have him.' " So the scene was recut.

And "IV" is now possible.

And, according to Kennedy, Cannon co-chairman Menahem Golan is talking "V" and "VI."

Mused Kennedy: "I keep saying, 'How much longer 'til I get out?' "

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