Subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated on entertainment news
The documentary titled will be released soon Daytime Revolutiona valuable project that will tell the story of the week in which John Lennon and Yoko Ono were co-hosts of the US television program The Mike Douglas Show (clearly conducting it also with Mike Douglas). The US magazine reports it exclusively variety.
Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon, respectively widow and son of the late John Lennon, have authorized the docu, which will tell of when the former Beatles singer and his wife hosted the famous television talk show together in early 1972. a few months their single Happy Christmas (War Is Over).
The Shout! Studios, Creative Differences and CBS Media Venture are the production companies behind this landmark documentary, which uses archival footage from each of the talk show’s five 70-minute episodes, as well as interviews with six guests at the time still alive.
Among the latter, the name of Ralph Nader stands out, an American lawyer, essayist, activist and politician who has dedicated a large part of his life and career to dealing with issues such as consumer protection, humanitarianism, environmentalism and democracy.
The stated goal of Daytime Revolution is to tell the story of an unprecedented week, focusing on behind the scenes.
However, Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon will not appear in the documentary, who have decided not to be present in front of the camera. However, John’s wife and son approved the project and consulted with the creative team, collaborating directly with them. So they won’t be in front of the camera but they certainly are present behind it.
Daytime Revolution is directed by Erik Nelson. It lasts 108 minutes and has recently finished production.
As Yoko Ono prepares to celebrate her 90th birthday, which falls on February 18, Erik Nelson and the producers of Daytime Revolution are looking for a distributor for their docu, which is produced by Amy Briamonte and Bob Emmer and Jeffrey Peisch for Shout! Studios, Lynn Fero and Adam Licker for CBS Media Ventures and Clark Bunting, and by Dave Harding on behalf of Nelson’s production company. All sales are handled by UTA Independent Film Group, with Marc H. Simon of Fox Rothschild and Jonas Herbsman of Herbsman Hafer Weber & Frisch, LLP, representing Creative Differences and Ono and Sean Lennon, respectively.
“It has become a cliché that Woodstock was the defining moment of the counterculture,” he told variety director Erik Nelson. “But when I watched these broadcasts in their entirety, I realized that, in reality, this week in 1972, when John Lennon and Yoko Ono essentially hijacked the airwaves and presented the best minds and dreams of their generation at the most possible mass audience of what was then called ‘Central America,’ was the furthest the counterculture would ever go. Not just music, but a prescient blueprint for the future we live in now.”
Nelson believes today’s viewers could learn a lot from this extraordinary week of programming, dated 51 years ago. “Fundamentally, this past points the way to our future,” said the filmmaker.
Lennon and Ono co-hosts the talk show
When Lennon and Ono agreed to co-host the Philadelphia-based talk show with Mike Douglas, it was the most popular show on daytime television, watched by an estimated 40 million people a week.
As co-hosts, John and Yoko “tackled controversial topics, including women’s empowerment, environmental deterioration, and police violence,” writes Addie Morfoot in her recent article on variety.
The Lennons personally invited Black Panther president Bobby Seale, political activist Ralph Nader, and comedian George Carlin to join them as guests on the show.
“We wanted to make the shows to show that we are working for peace and love and also to change the world, not with violence, but with love,” Yoko Ono explained in 1972. “And everyone we selected they are participating in efforts to change the world.”
The shows also included musical interludes, with John Lennon performing alongside Chuck Berry (who you can see in the viewer photo of this article, in the studio with John Lennon, Yoko Ono and Mike Douglas) and offering a touching interpretation of Imagine.
“Let’s say some of the people behind the show who were nervous about some aspect of what we were doing were happy with it in the end,” Lennon said at the end of his co-hosting of the show.
Yet not everyone, especially the Nixon administration, was thrilled that John Lennon and Yoko Ono would become co-hosts of television’s most popular talk show.
“We heard that on February 4, just ten days before these shows were to air, Senator Strom Thurmond went to Attorney General John Mitchell and wanted to warn the Nixon administration that John and Yoko were going to side,” says EV Di Massa, associate producer of The Mike Douglas Show in 1972.
John Lennon sworn enemy of President Nixon
Lennon had to face a very hard and very long legal battle to be able to remain in the land that he now felt his, America.
The US government of the Nixon era didn’t look favorably on the former Beatles singer. What the US government did not like was not Lennon’s art, his music: the problem became his acquaintances. As Yoko Ono has repeatedly stated, she and her husband began to make friends with underground politicians and activists disliked by the FBI. Two examples? Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin.
“When we met them I was worried,” says John. “I told myself I had to be careful because I didn’t want to deal with some crazy bomber. But when we met them we were pleasantly surprised. They weren’t as they were described, just as we or other people I’ve discovered are not other than how the press described them. And I should have known, given the lies they wrote about me. So we got to know them and found something artistic in them. The first thing we said to him was: hey, you are artists. You write books, you perform in the theatre: you are artists. And they: and you artists are revolutionaries”, as reported in the documentary USA vs John Lennon (The US vs. John Lennon) by David Leaf.
Many believe that Lennon was an instrument manipulated by two political veterans, very shrewd and less naive than the musician. It’s possible that Hoffman and Rubin saw him and Yoko singing Give peace a chance followed by thousands of admirers a very powerful weapon againstestablishment. Yet John Lennon seemed unaware of any kind of scam. Or maybe he had noticed all right but was still playing the game, since what he wants coincides with what they want. “We discovered that he is a beautiful person and that he has a lot to say. He does a lot of things that don’t match what I’ve read about him in the papers,” Lennon said of Jerry Rubin.
Bobby Seale on the Mike Douglas Show makes Lennon an enemy of the government
One of the things why John Lennon really became the number one enemy of the stars and stripes flag during the Nixon administration is precisely linked to the Mike Douglas Show.
“The man we are about to introduce to you is a dear friend to us and I hope also to you”, announces John Lennon from the television studio of the very popular US program. “It’s about Bobby Seale, the president of the Black Panthers.” And the leader of the Black Panthers enters the scene, introduced in prime time at the homes of the American people who are watching television. It doesn’t take a fortune teller to understand that if you play such a move “every policeman will hate you, every representative of the law on Earth will fight you considering you a danger”, as reported by the documentary USA vs John Lennon by David Leaf.
Lennon wasn’t that naïve after all
But let’s face it: Lennon wasn’t as naive as others believed (and as he himself wanted to be considered, given that naivety is a double-edged sword). When he decided to invite the leader of the Black Panthers to the studio, he knew that he would enrage those who welcomed him to that country.
If you start funding the people the government of your host state wants to put behind bars, if you use your enormous influence to pass messages that harm those who run that state, if you keep complaining about that government’s actions, it’s you can fall off the pear tree when you realize your home phone is bugged.
“What is this foreigner doing here with his songs criticizing the USA and the war?” says Gore Vidal rhetorically, adding: “But it is known that patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels. And here we are talking about real scoundrels, like Nixon”, always quoting the documentary by David Leaf.
Lennon knew that the FBI had targeted him not because he was a rock star: Mick Jagger was also a rock star, English like him and also addicted to some vice like him (or rather: as British intelligence had said about him to the FBI, to whom he spoke of marijuana found on Lennon). And if you look closely, Mick Jagger has also had ties to Satanism, yet he has never had any problems with the United States. Why such a different treatment? The ex Beatles was an enemy of the state because he wasn’t just a singer: he was an intellectual. And he chose to side with the sworn enemies of the Nixon administration and, worse still (although for Lennon one should say “better yet”), he chose to do so just as the voting age in the United States lowered.
The right to vote for 18-year-olds
Everything got complicated when the 26th amendment was inserted into the American constitution, which extended the right to vote to the age group between 18 and 21: as many as 11 million new voters, a huge slice of the electorate that had never been been considered, least of all by Nixon. And that he was exactly John Lennon’s target.
Since there was bad blood between the singer and the president of the United States – in the sense that their ideas were diametrically opposed – Nixon began to get the idea that that Englishman could endanger his political existence. The elections were approaching, he wanted at all costs to be reconfirmed, so Lennon had to leave the country.
And the musician, for his part, began to do exactly what Nixon feared: propaganda against the war and against anyone who wanted to be elected without withdrawing troops in Vietnam. Jerry Rubin, invited on television by John right at Mike Douglas Show, told the young people, “We shouldn’t vote for anyone who says they won’t withdraw troops in Vietnam.” And then there was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Rubin comes up with the idea of organizing a counter-congress: “We should go to the congresses in Miami and San Diego, make ourselves heard peacefully and defend our ideas.” These words gave rise to the idea of organizing a tour that would follow Richard Nixon step by step in all the American cities where the 1972 presidential campaign stopped, to challenge him and demonstrate against him. Eventually John Lennon and Yoko Ono decided not to participate. Lennon’s widow said they felt their lives were in jeopardy and that if they went on that protest tour they really might die.