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POP EYE

September 15, 1996|Steve Hochman

GONZOVILLE: Hunter S. Thompson making a record with the Rolling Stones? That was one of the ideas the noted "gonzo" journalist had after being contacted by Jimmy Buffett about making an album for the singer-songwriter's Margaritaville label.

The idea, needless to say, didn't pan out. But Margaritaville President Bob Mercer continued discussions and one idea did click: an audio dramatization of Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," the landmark account of a journalist (the thinly disguised Duke) and his 300-pound Samoan attorney on a drug-fueled trip to Sin City on assignment from Rolling Stone.

The production was written and directed by Jim Stein, who had done the same with a London stage version of the book that both Mercer and Thompson had seen in the early '80s. This version is given cultural context with such period musical pieces as the Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit."

"The story is really about the end of the American Dream and this version in this form tends to isolate or point up the real issues, that the acid-driven craziness of the late '60s was probably a great mistake," says Mercer.

Casting for the production, recorded in L.A. earlier this month, was itself somewhat Gonzo: Harry Dean Stanton narrates, with film director Jim Jarmusch taking the role of Duke and Maury Chaykin as the lawyer. Cameos include Buffett, Buck Henry and George Segal, with the Rolling Stone editor played by . . . Rolling Stone Editor Jann Wenner.

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