“Who The F**K Is Arthur Fogel?” made its U.S. premiere Wednesday kicking off the Downtown LA Film Festival at the AT&T Center. Directed by Ron Chapman, the rockumentary examines the rise to industry dominance of megatour producer Arthur Fogel, chairman of Live Nation Global Touring and producer of some of the most successful tours in history. With fascinating interviews and rare behind-the-scenes footage from backstage and on-the-road, Chapman, Fogel’s friend and fellow Canadian, follows Fogel’s journey from a drummer in minor Canadian rock bands to producer of global treks by such artists as the Rolling Stones, U2, Madonna, David Bowie, Lady Gaga, Rush, Neil Young, and others, most of whom appear in the film to discuss working with Fogel.
Ron Chapman, left, with Billboard’s Ray Waddell (Dan Steinberg)
Also weighing in on Fogel in the film are a host of well-known industry players including U2’s Paul McGuinness, Madonna manager Guy Oseary, Neil Young manager Elliot Roberts, Canadian promoter Donald Tarlton, Lady Gaga manager Troy Carter, Rush manager Ray Danniels, rock ‘n roll accountant Bill Zysblat, and other observers, including former Billboard Canadian correspondent Larry LeBlanc (as well as this Billboard touring writer).
Chapman and Fogel flank former Police guitarist Andy Summers. Fogel produced the massively successful Police reunion tour of 2007-2008, which grossed $362 million (Dan Steinberg)
While the film screened to frequent applause, no one seemed to enjoy it more than Fogel’s wife Kaleen, who was highly amused by many of Fogel’s interview segments, particularly his caffeine-fueled musings while on the road around the globe. For his part, the reserved Fogel had to laugh at early career photos showing him sporting a ‘stache and mullet, and bawdy tales of establishing his reputation for improvisation on the road.
Fogel with William Morris Endeavor Entertainment power agent John Marx (Dan Steinberg)
The documentary addressed not only Fogel’s triumphs, but also his rare career missteps, including a Guns N' Roses tour that ended in riots, and Diana Ross and “the Supremes” tour the failed to generate public interest. Perhaps the most compelling moment of the film came when U2 first encountered “the Claw,” the massive staging for the record-shattering 360 tour, with The Edge taking the stage, asking for a guitar, blasting out the opening riffs of “Vertigo,” and then pronouncing his rock ‘n roll seal of approval. The film ended poignantly with Fogel banging away on the drums, on stage in an empty stadium, ever the man behind the curtain.
Chapman with Madonna guitarist Monte Pittman, and his wife, photographer Lisa Pittman. Monte Pittman has signed with Metal Blade for a rock album to be produced by Fleming Rasmussen, to be released in late 2013 or early 2014 (Dan Steinberg)