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Just as sarcastic, but minus the robots

June 19, 2008|Susan King

THE OLD gang is back.

Joel Hodgson, the creator and original host of the Peabody Award-winning series "Mystery Science Theater 3000," and several of the show's regulars have regrouped as Cinematic Titanic. And the troupe will make its L.A. debut Saturday night at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre crew skewering Roger Corman's 1959 "The Wasp Woman" as part of the Los Angeles Film Festival.

Cinematic Titanic is the brainchild of Hodgson, who played a young man shot into space and forced to watch and riff on bad movies with his puppet pals Tom Servo and Crow on "MST3K."

Cinematic Titanic, which had its first live performance in December for Industrial Light & Magic employees in Northern California, features Hodgson and series regulars Trace Beaulieu (Crow), J. Elvis Weinstein (Tom Servo), Frank Conniff (TV's Frank) and Mary Jo Pehl (Pearl Forrester).

Though the biting humor and cheesy B-movies are still the same, Cinematic Titanic has put the "MST3K" puppets, robots and space gear into storage. "We have grown up," says Hodgson. "This is more like a Philip Glass recital. We are just starting again. We used to turn over a 'Mystery Science' every eight days. Now, it takes three weeks to write and put them together."

The story line for Cinematic Titanic, says Hodgson, is that scientists have found there is a "rip in the electron scaffolding and all digital media is at risk. They have gathered us together in this mysterious underground think tank, and they are asking us to riff on movies for future generations. They [the people who gathered them] are actually fans of 'Mystery Science Theater,' so they brought us together."

Cinematic Titanic also has its own DVD line. "They will be coming out every six weeks," says Hodgson. "Our next movie is 'Doomsday Machine.' "

Besides Cinematic Titanic, the Los Angeles Film Festival programming at the Ford includes the documentaries "Anvil! The Story of Anvil," next Thursday, and "American Teen" on Wednesday, both featuring live musical performances; and the adults-only "Swear-A-Long Scarface," set for Friday night.

"It's a unique space, and we feel like whatever we do in that space we want to make it different and a little unusual," says LAFF director Richard Raddon. "We have always liked this idea of infusing a live act into what was happening on screen.

Raddon says that the festival may have broken new ground with what he believes is the first-ever "swear-along."

"We have done sing-alongs in the past," says Raddon. "We were kind of sitting around talking about different, unique ideas for the Ford. And Rachel Rosen, our director of programming, said, 'How about a swear-athon?' There are so many swear words in that movie that it becomes a kind of dialect unto itself."

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-- Susan.King@latimes.com

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LOS ANGELES FILM FESTIVAL AT THE FORD

WHERE: John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. E., Hollywood

WHEN: "Swear-A-Long Scarface," 8:30 p.m. Fri.; Cinematic Titanic, 8:30 p.m. Sat.; "American Teen," 8 p.m. Wed.; "Anvil!," 8 p.m. next Thu.

PRICE: $12

INFO: (866) 345-6337, lafilmfest.com

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