Last Unicorn Tour Arrives in Big Apple

Peter Beagle and Connor Cochran.

Peter Beagle and Connor Cochran.

After making its way north from Virginia via New Jersey and Pennsylvania, The Last Unicorn movie tour plays New York City this weekend. The four showings are scheduled for —

TODAY @ 7 PM — Village East in Manhattan on 2nd Avenue
Saturday 9/28/2013, 2 PM — Cinemas 123 in Manhattan on 3rd Avenue
Sunday 9/29/2013, 7 PM — Alamo Drafthouse Yonkers in Yonkers NY
Monday 9/30/2013, 7 PM — City Cinemas 86th Street East in Manhattan on 86th Street

“Peter will be at every screening to do a Q&A session, sign things, give hugs and great conversation,” says Connor Cochran, “and he’ll stay as long as it takes for every last person there to get their proper turn with him.”

Peter Beagle, ready to hit the road.

Peter Beagle, ready to hit the road.

One of the most interesting places to host the movie in the past week was the Strand Theatre in the college town of Kutztown, PA:

The Strand is pure history, over 100 years old and cobbled together from bits and pieces of other local movie theaters that went out of business over the decades. Yet inside we found one of the newest, nicest projection and sound systems we’ve yet to work with.

The Last Unicorn actually played there during its original release in 1982. The classic old theater marquee reminds me of the one shown in Field of Dreams just before Ray Kinsella finds Doc Graham.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

Parke Godwin (1929-2013)

Parke Godwin

Parke Godwin

Fantasist Parke Godwin died June 19 at the age of 84 reports Connor Cochran, his business manager. Godwin had been in declining health for a couple of years.

He was particularly known for his novels placing Arthur and Robin Hood in realistic historical settings.

The excellent discussion of Godwin’s literary output by Maria Nutick at Green Man Review begins with a selected quote from the Arthurian novel Firelord that epitomizes the writer’s style. King Arthur tells the reader —

A king should write his own story, especially a Briton. We’re a race of musical liars, and who you are may depend on who’s singing your song.  Many’s the tree-spirit come tripping out of yesterday to find itself a saint today and rudely surprised by the change. I’ve been called Artos and Artorius Imperator, but it seems to stick at Arthur, the way the monks write and the bards sing. That’s unimportant; what matters is who we are and what we did. I want to write of us the way we were before some pedant petrifies us in an epic and substitutes his current idea for ours. As for poets and bards, let one of them redecorate your life and you’ll never be able to find any of it again.

However much his novels were praised, Godwin received the most accolades for his ghost story “The Fire When It Comes,” a novella published in 1981. It was nominated for a Hugo and Nebula, and won the World Fantasy Award.

Besides writing,  Godwin worked at times as a radio operator, a research technician, a professional actor, an advertising man, a dishwasher and a maitre d’ hotel.

He published his first novel, Darker Places, in 1973. And during the early stages of his career he collaborated with Marvin Kaye on Masters of Solitude, Wintermind, and A Cold Blue Light.

Godwin’s two favorite volumes, according to a guest of honor intro published by the 2011 World Fantasy Con, were his controversial religious satires Waiting for the Galactic Bus and The Snake Oil Wars, containing such scenes as a meeting between the protagonists and Yeshua of Nazareth who says, “They’ve spent two thousand years turning me into something out of Oxford or a Tennessee Bible college. Both my parents were Hebrews, I look like an Arab, spent all my life in the desert, and if they let me into one of their nice ‘white’ restaurants at all, I’d get the table by the kitchen door.” The author was reported at work on the third book in the series, Is There A God in the House?

Godwin’s short story “Influencing the Hell out of Time and Teresa Golowitz,” was the basis of an episode of the television series The Twilight Zone.

Last Unicorn Screening Tour

A rare chance to see The Last Unicorn movie on a big screen and personally meet the novel’s author Peter S. Beagle are two compelling reasons to attend the premiere of The Last Unicorn Screening Tour on April 20 in San Francisco’s Castro Theatre.

The organizers hope to continue the tour with screenings all over America, as well as several major cities in Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Germany. The tour’s next stop is tentatively slated for Texas in June, although the dates have not been posted.

After the screening, a benefit for the Cartoon Art Museum, there will be a special VIP birthday blast to celebrate Peter’s 74th birthday at the Museum that includes Peter’s first public reading of a brand-new Schmendrick story.

Beagle and his manager Connor Freff Cochran discussed The Last Unicorn and Peter’s career on April 8’s Atomic Array podcast.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

Peter Beagle Getting Paid

Peter S. Beagle and Connor Cochran, who in August announced a settlement of the 8-year fight over rights to the movie The Last Unicorn, have issued an e-mail discussing the resolution in detail. Conlan Press also has announced some new projects made possible by that development.

Q: What was the problem, exactly?

A: Peter wasn’t getting paid. The animated version of The Last Unicorn was making millions of dollars around the world from VHS sales, DVD sales, cable distribution, and satellite broadcasts — but despite having a contract, Peter wasn’t getting his due share of that money from Granada Media, the English company that owned the film. In fact, he basically wasn’t getting any money from the film at all. For example, between January 2001 and January 2011 over 2.5 million copies of The Last Unicorn sold through North American retail video outlets, and the royalty Peter got from all those sales was exactly zero.

Q: Was anybody doing anything about this?

A: Certain people were trying. Connor Cochran took up the cause in 2003, when he read a news article in The Hollywood Reporter announcing all kinds of new international media business with the film. Since Connor is Peter’s business manager, he immediately got on the phone to England and tried to get Peter the money he was owed. Granada Media responded by claiming they didn’t owe anything…and what followed was an eight-year conflict over which side was right. It wasn’t a constant battle — sometimes things would be incredibly intense, and other times months would go by without anything shifting — but there were many twists and turns along the way, and the fight took lots of time, energy, and money. A bunch of Peter’s fans made direct donations which helped defray some of the legal expenses, while many others helped with the costs by purchasing things from Peter at conventions, or through Conlan Press. More than a thousand fans, from 55 different countries, posted messages of support on a public website. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Peter got additional important assistance from friends like David Roudebush and Terri Kempton, and from his attorney, Charles E. Petit. But despite all this effort, between 2003 and 2010 there really wasn’t anything that could be called progress. Just a frustrating and expensive game of corporate Whack-A-Mole.

Q: What changed?

A: In spring 2010, Peter and Connor decided to take Granada Media to court. After some research they picked the law firm of Holme Roberts & Owen for the job (because they had offices in LA, San Francisco, and London) and settled on attorney Richard J. Mooney to handle the case. Then, during prep for the filing, Connor noticed something which wound up making all the difference in the world.

Q: What was that?

A: All along, Peter and Connor had known that Granada Media was a subsidiary of a much bigger company — a huge European media conglomerate called ITV. What Connor noticed was that ITV had recently gotten a new CEO, a man named Adam Crozier, who came in from outside the company and had a mandate to pretty much completely clean house: get rid of things that weren’t working, make marginal properties more profitable, etc. To put it bluntly, this new CEO had no reason to cover up for anyone’s past bad judgment or mistakes and every incentive to make good new business happen. So, after some internal discussion, Connor sent a letter directly to Adam Crozier himself. The person at ITV who was tasked with responding was the company’s Group Legal Director and Corporate Secretary, Andrew Garard. Andrew really took the situation seriously. He dug in, did his research, met with Peter and Connor and Richard Mooney in New York City last November, and ultimately came to the conclusion that we were was right — (a) Peter wasn’t getting his due, and (b) if we stopped fighting and started working together, The Last Unicorn could be even more successful than it already was. Settlement details were worked out at a second meeting, this time in Los Angeles, and finally, last August, the settlement paperwork was signed.

Q: What does this mean for Peter?

A: First, from now on he will get his contractually-due share of Last Unicorn earnings. If the movie is shown on cable TV in Kuala Lumpur, or a Blu-ray sells in Joplin, Missouri, Peter will get his proper piece. Second, over time he’ll get a series of payments that will make him whole for all the years he wasn’t be paid.

Q: What does this mean for Connor?

A: He gets to stop putting time and resources into this problem, and will finally be able to catch up on some long-delayed Peter S. Beagle/Conlan Press projects. (Hooray!)

Q: What does it mean for ITV?

A: Adam Crozier and Andrew Garard and ITV proper all get a big round of richly-deserved applause for doing the right thing, and the company eventually winds up making more money as all the new business gets worked out.

Q: What does it mean for Last Unicorn fans?

A: A lot of exciting things, we hope. That’s the new business part. The original 1978 animated film contract divided up rights in the property in ways which didn’t make a lot of sense (even at the time), but which are flat-out ludicrous in today’s media world. The third part of the Peter S. Beagle/ITV deal was an agreement to work out a way to put those scattered rights back together in a powerful unified package. It’s going to take a while to figure out all the details, but we’ve begun, and already a bunch of things which weren’t legally possible before are about to happen.

Q: For years there’s been talk of a live-action Last Unicorn film. Does the settlement mean that there will finally be one?

A: The live-action film is a separate issue. A small London-based company called Continent Films currently has the exclusive right to do a remake of The Last Unicorn, and they will own that right until February 2015. Maybe they’ll get a movie off the ground before they lose the rights, maybe they won’t: we don’t know. All we can say is that Peter hopes they won’t get anything made, because he doesn’t trust them to do a good job.

The settlement deal means Conlan Press can finally do real Last Unicorn merchandising and licensing, using original development/production art from the animated film and brand new art based on it. See the items here.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]