Joan Jett and The Blackhearts Bad Reputation Nation

January 2018 News

Page updated on January 31, 2018
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JOAN JETT discusses her film "Bad Reputation" at IndieWire's Sundance Studio

"Bad Reputation" Review: JOAN JETT's Sexuality is Everywhere in Her New Documentary

low resolution image Not Enlargeable Within a week of moving to New York City in 2014, I'd spotted my first famous person in the concrete wilderness. A petite woman with a heavily-razored bob, colored as black as her leather jacket, walked past me in a hotel lobby, accompanied by a man a few years her senior. The woman was JOAN JETT. A few years later, it dawned on me that the man was KENNY LAGUNA, the unlikely bubblegum pop-turned-punk producer who helped her go solo in the late 1970s. My Manhattan celebrity sightings have been all downhill from there. How do you top JOAN JETT? According to Kevin Kerslake's new documentary Bad Reputation, you don't; the most you can do is listen up and take notes.

Bad Reputation follows Jett's life from her first guitar circa 1971 to her belated-as-all-hell induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015. As a teen inspired by the likes of David Bowie and Liza Minnelli in Cabaret, Jett's passion led her to pursue a band of her own with the gifted young drummer Sandy West. The smart but sketchy manager Kim Fowley steered the project and the group quickly swelled to tour van capacity with six members: Joan, Sandy, Mickie, Lita, Cherie, and Jackie. The RUNAWAYS became the first true girl band of the 1970s, touring internationally, making a dent in the charts, flustering the men who gatekept their industry. By the time the band broke up in 1979, the girls had fame, but no dough to show for it. Victory Tischler-Blue's 2004 documentary Edgeplay: A Film About the RUNAWAYS -- available to view on YouTube (for now) -- gives a great rundown of the RUNAWAYS' sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll heyday and the straight-up shitshow that followed.

Unlike several of her bandmates, Jett's love of music was enough, inevitably shaking her from a jaded alcohol spiral. With Laguna's help, she was able to deliver the chart-topping solo album Bad Reputation and figure out how to eke out an autonomous career without being sucked dry by major record labels. With JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS, they found a sustainable balance that's lasted countless hits and nearly four decades. Laguna and Jett grew to be thick-as-thieves. Their bond is underscored in Bad Reputation when he helps Jett duct tape the crotch of her latex pants closed right before a gig.

One of the best things about Bad Reputation is its impressive generational wingspan. There are a number of documentaries out there that uplift their subject at the expense of anyone and everyone who follows, as though cultural impact occurs in a vacuum. This isn't one of 'em. Jett's contemporaries like Debbie Harry speak about how groundbreaking her artistry was and continues to be, as do musicians from subsequent generations. Olympia's golden girl Kathleen Hanna recalls the time Jett randomly phoned her after meeting Bikini Kill's Tobi Vail and Kathi Wilcox at a Fugazi concert. Miley Cyrus and Against Me's Laura Jane Grace, who collaborated on a reprise of JOAN JETT & The Blackheart's "Androgynous," are just as hyped to talk about the rocker's influence.

Kristen Stewart, who played Jett in Floria Sigismondi's intricate RUNAWAYS biopic in 2010, remembers Jett helping her get in character:


JOAN JETT talks Sundance doc 'Bad Reputation' - Variety Studio

Sundance 2018 Review: 'Bad Reputation'

low resolution image Not Enlargeable JOAN JETT is no one hit wonder. Sure, "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" is an iconic rock anthem that still gets a crowd going to this day. But the story of JOAN JETT is more layered than one monster jam. Bad Reputation gives us insight into Joan's extensive career from her and her loved one's accounts. And, like the rock star herself, the documentary is full of style, edge, and pure passion.

Joan's career begins with her impactful work as the founding member of The RUNAWAYS in the 70s. The group brought something different during this era as an all-female rock band whose lyrics were open and brash. Although they struggled in their own country, The RUNAWAYS gained success overseas. After many band member changes, a firing of their original manager Kim Fowley, and musical direction disagreements, the band officially dissolved in 1979.

Post-RUNAWAYS, Joan began working with producer KENNY LAGUNA and fronted her own band, JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS. They were rejected by 23 labels before starting BLACKHEART RECORDS, making Joan one of the first women that founded a record label. As the leader of The BLACKHEARTS, Joan had many hits during the 80s, but none bigger than "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" which was #1 on the Billboard 100 for 8 weeks. The 90s and 2000s saw Joan becoming a supporter for up-and-coming bands like Bikini Kill and The Gits. Joan was also touted as being an inspiration to the Riot Grrrl movement, due to her advocacy on sexual assault and female empowerment issues. In 2015, JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Having the opportunity to see Joan recount her life in her own words is a highlight of this documentary. Often times we are unable to give our icons their flowers while they're still alive. But to have Joan still with us, and still as ballsy and badass as she was when she first stepped onto the scene, is a blessing. Her wisdom and earnestness about her life as a female rocker is priceless to watch because of her influence on the entire genre. It's also a highlight to have former managers, mentees and associates of Joan speak highly of her. The doc subtly views Joan's life by decades, creating the opportunity to introduce new interviewers who met her during the new era. All have memorable recounts of Joan and her commitment to her craft, as well as her rebel spirit.

Bad Reputation is a celebration of a pure rock 'n' roll soul. JOAN JETT is an icon not because of the music she made, but what she represented as a woman with her agency in the rock business. Opinionated, assertive, and a talent on guitar, it's about time we celebrate the Godmother of Punk Rock.

Featured film: Bad Reputation

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Feminist, Activist, Rock 'n' Roll Icon, Punk Goddess...those are just a few ways someone can describe JOAN JETT. She's an absolute legend, and her influence is immeasurably vast in its reach. She's the perfect subject for a documentary, but the thing about music documentaries is that they're very hit or miss for me. I think they're either incredibly fascinating like Ondi Timoner's classic Dig!, or Bang! The Bert Berns Story...or, they're too long, unfocused, repetitious, or flat out boring. Musicians often don't make good interviewees, and despite living fascinating lives sometimes those wild times don't translate well in documentary form. Bad Reputation is a film with a shitload of heart. JOAN JETT's life and career certainly deserve a film to explore it in depth, but at a certain point, I found myself getting frustrated as a viewer. It felt to me like everyone was speaking for Joan, and telling her story for her. I just wanted to hear more of it straight from her.

Bad Reputation is informative, and it does feature great interview segments from the likes of Iggy Pop, Billie Joe Armstrong, former The RUNAWAYS bandmate Cherie Currie, Miley Cyrus, and many more. Bad Reputation takes its audience through JOAN JETT's days forming The RUNAWAYS, chronicles the hardships they suffered getting a fair shake in the music industry, their break-up, Jett's formation of JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS, and all the way up to where she is and what she's doing today. To the film's credit, I did feel like I gained new insight into who JOAN JETT is, where she came from, and why she is where she is, but it just feels like there wasn't enough of her for my liking. Every time she showed up on screen she commanded my attention, and almost always she had the best one-liners, and hands down funniest and most interesting stories. With so many people popping up and saying their opinions, it sometimes felt a little messy and unfocused. Not in a terrible way, but certainly in a noticeable one. There were some audio choices that confused me too. Maybe they were stylistic choices, but they made me think that the film was skipping and something was wrong with the theater I watched it in. Aside from those gripes, the film has a very punk rock aesthetic, and old photos and video footage are utilized very effectively. The film captured why JOAN JETT is amazing not only as a musician but also as a human being. Examples include her support of Against Me! Lead singer Laura Jane Grace's coming out as transgender or filling in for Mia Zapata with The Gits after she was found raped and murdered. Her passion for helping people, loving others, and being accepting is very apparent and on full display in this film. JOAN JETT comes off as a genuine and truly sweet person who still can, and always has been able, to kick your ass and wreck you at guitar. She's a true hero little girls could and should look up too, someone with a kind heart, strong determination, and an uncompromising spirit...

My issues with the film are minor, it's certainly a good film that will entertain hardcore fans and those unfamiliar with Jett's music. JOAN JETT truly is a remarkable human being, and in a day and age where things are undeniably changing in regards to our attitude and treatment towards women in the entertainment industry, JOAN JETT deserves to be acknowledged as a pioneer in this movement.

JOAN JETT On How The RUNAWAYS "Turned the Tables" on the Patriarchy

'Bad Reputation' shines a light on life, career of rock 'n' roll icon

low resolution image Not Enlargeable We all have an image of JOAN JETT up onstage. A feisty, snarling, leather-wearing, no-holds-barred female rock 'n' roll badass, playing in-your-face electric guitar in an otherwise male-dominated industry.

Those are all reasons we love her and her music, right?

Well, after this week's Sundance Film Festival world premiere of Kevin Kerslake's documentary about Jett, I have a much expanded image of her. In addition to the perfectly apt description above, I am also adding humble and surprisingly sensitive to the list of adjectives that describe her.

By sheer coincidence, I happened to be sitting right across the aisle and two rows in front of Jett during the premiere screening of "Bad Reputation" on Monday at the MARC theater in Park City. Jett spent pretty much the entire 92 minutes of the documentary screening slouched down in her seat, just taking it all in. She described what that experience was like during the post-screening question-and-answer session.

"It's very surreal seeing this," she said, getting a bit misty eyed. "I'm very humble, that's why I was ducking (down) the whole film. ... I'm crying thinking about it."


Sundance 2018: JOAN JETT, M.I.A. Docs Premiere, Wow Fest Crowds

low resolution image Not Enlargeable 'Bad Reputation' secures Jett's reputation as a rock & roll badass, while 'Matangi/Maya/M.I.A.' offers painfully personal portrait

It's that vocals that always gets you first -- the snarl that comes through JOAN JETT's singing, sandpaper-rough around the edges and 100-percent fuck-you attitude. Yes, she's a first-class rhythm guitarist (listen the opening of the RUNAWAYS' "You Drive Me Wild" and tell us that's not gloriously, gut-punchingly rifftastic). But that voice ... that's what rock & roll sounds like. Seductive. Jagged. Rebellious. Like her vocal cords are going to jump out of her throat and kick your ass.

Bad Reputation, Kevin Kerslake's doc on Joan of Rock that premiered Monday at Sundance, takes it for granted that we know that voice intimately, whether you're a die-hard Jett-setter or just know her as the raven-haired tough chick singing "I Love Rock and Roll" on MTV way back when. But he adds a little gift at the end of his portrait, playing an isolated track of Jett barking out the title song without any backing. It's just the first verse, no guitar or drums, no frills, and you can hear the glam influences, the punk touches, the pop-music momentum in her phrasing. It's part catchy hook and part left-hook, and as the movie reminds us, a nice little corner Jett has occupied in music for forty-plus years regardless of whether she's playing state fairs or arenas.

"Girls don't play rock and roll," a 13-year-old Joan is told when she hauls her Sears Silvertone guitar over to a teacher's house. "Tell me I can't do something and it's a sure way to get me do it," she notes, and Bad Reputation spends the rest of its running time demonstrating her devotion to proving every doubter wrong. We follow Jett as she goes from Rodney Bingenheimer's underage disco/freak-magnet HQ to making demos for legendary sleazebag Kim Fowley; founding the RUNAWAYS, becoming big in Japan (really) and producing an album for legendary L.A. punks the Germs; hanging with Sid Vicious, hooking up with bubblegum musician-turned-superproducer KENNY LAGUNA and forming the BLACKHEARTS. Some hit singles and success follow, as does a cooling-off period, a part in "the rock and roll cancer movie" Light of Day next to Michael J. Fox and some lean years. Then riot grrls and Warped tours turn her into reclaimed, recharged feminist-by-default icon. The one constant: playing loud, fast, filthy, "pussy to the wood" music.

It's a lot to pack into two audience-friendly hours, which may be why Kerslake -- an old hand at music video journals and bio-docs -- barrels through everything at the speed of a BLACKHEARTS rhythm track. Jett's animal rights activism and mentoring of younger musicians like Kathleen Hanna (who appears with her Beastie husband as two of a dozen talking heads) get a good deal of play; her personal life does not, other then the telling quote "Rock and roll is not a person and I like to think I know the difference." Otherwise, she's a monastic devotee to the perfect power-chord combo. Her longest lasting -- and per the film, apparently her only -- relationship seems to be with Laguna, as they play out a Platonic ideal of a bickering old married couple sans the sex ("Burns and Allen in reverse" is how Hanna describes them).

So it was great to hear Jett talk about her parents during the postscreening Q&A, how she was estranged from her dad until she spotted him at a show and how her mom used to talk with RUNAWAYS manager Fowley "for hours on the phone, daily" during the band's heyday. Even better: When a fan started to talk about seeing Jett perform in the 1980s, the rock star said, "Hold on, lemme come to you" then waded into the crowd to speak to the woman face to face. You get very, very little of the intimate former version and a lot of the latter charismatic, superstar-of-the-people version in Bad Reputation -- it's the sort of portrait that gets by largely on the pleasure of its subject's company. The good news is: Why wouldn't you want to hang out with someone that badass for 90 minutes?


New JOAN JETT doc proves she's the most badass rocker around

low resolution image Not Enlargeable PARK CITY, UTAH -- The queen of badass rockers, JOAN JETT, got a little emotional as she took the stage Monday at the Sundance Film Festival after the world premiere of the documentary "Bad Reputation." A female audience member asked her what her favorite career high is: "This would be one of 'em," the leather-clad Jett said, ducking her head and wiping away a tear.

It's high time the 59-year-old Jett got the rock-doc treatment, and "Bad Reputation" does it right, tracing Jett's trailblazing path as one of the first, and still the hardest-rocking, women in a notoriously sexist industry (as one commentator in the film puts it, back in the day, Mick Jagger could -- and did -- come out on stage riding a giant inflatable phallus, but try sending Jett out on similar female genitalia and the mostly-male music critics would have been running for the exits).

"Growing up in the '70s, I didn't think it would be such a big deal for a woman to play rock 'n' roll," says Jett in the film. But she found out that wasn't the case: Her first band, the teenaged RUNAWAYS, was cursed at, spit on and had bottles and trash thrown at them. Jett says she would go backstage, have a cathartic cry and keep going. She found kindred outsider spirits in the world of punk, once lending Sid Vicious her favorite belt -- an accessory which ended up in one of the most iconic photos of the Sex Pistols bassist and his girlfriend.

When Jett finally landed a major hit in 1981 with her cover of "I Love Rock ‘n Roll," it's hard to fathom how more than a dozen record labels rejected the demo of it she sent them -- and how hard they must have been kicking themselves as the foot-stomping anthem stayed atop the Billboard charts for months.

Kevin Kerslake, director of "Bad Reputation."Courtesy of Sundance Institute Director Kevin Kerslake ("As I AM: The Life and Times of DJ AM") has a wide-ranging roster of musicians weighing in on Jett's impact on rock through the decades: from Iggy Pop to Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong to Kathleen Hanna, whose riot grrrl band Bikini Kill drew inspiration, and eventually production assistance, from Jett. "That voice! Those pronouns!" Hanna gushes, recalling her first time hearing Jett's cover of "Crimson and Clover," which dared to keep the object of the Tommy James & the Shondells love song a "her."


Bad Reputation - Sundance 2018

JOAN JETT Sounds Off on Feminism-And the Shag Haircut That Defined the '70s

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JOAN JETT, her voice smooth like broken-in leather, is spelling out a name for me on the phone: ". . . R, as in right on, G, as in"-she reaches for a word-"G-spot." I let out a laugh. Of course, the woman who defined female-fronted punk rock doesn't default to Robert and George, but she isn't cracking wise. "I don't know, it's the first thing that came to my mind!" says the 59-year-old, still the lit match she was at 16, when she came out shredding as the guitarist for the RUNAWAYS.

That provocative all-girl band, fronted by the platinum blonde, corset-clad Cherie Currie, was as much an underground sensation as it was a magnet for moral double standards. "Lissome Lolitas or Teenage Trash?" asked a 1977 headline in the music magazine Creem; never mind that the sexual revolution was supposedly underway. But for Jett-forever fierce in her thick kohl liner and jagged black shag-the lobbed words (and occasional beer bottles) only fanned the flames. As she blared in her 1981 anthem "Bad Reputation," performed with JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS, "A girl can do what she wants to do, and that's what I'm gonna do." The rest is rock 'n' roll history-and the subject of a spirited new documentary, premiering today at Sundance.

Bad Reputation, directed by Kevin Kerslake, arrives at a ripe moment. On Saturday night, when Jett brought the soundtrack to life with a hit-heavy performance in Salt Lake City, Utah, she stampeded the stage as the reprised Women's March unfolded across the country. "All these years later after starting in the RUNAWAYS, those barriers are still up, not just with the industries-every industry-but within society as well," Jett says, assessing the present moment. Still, things have come a long way from the early '70s, when her buzzkill guitar teacher dismissively said, "Girls don't play rock 'n' roll"-not for lack of ability but for a burden of propriety.

But if "rock 'n' roll is from the waist down, if you're doing it right," as a line in the documentary goes, Jett also hit a waist-up groove, with a style that fused bondage gear from Los Angeles's the Pleasure Chest with jet-black hair seared into the collective memory. (The effect of that "ferocious tomboy, wide-eyed and fine-boned, with a snarl on her face"-how Vogue described her in 1985-remains indelible.) Here, the musician talks about the impetus for that signature cut, why the "lip service to women's lib was bull" in the '70s, and how lipstick gets in the way when you "attack the microphone," she says. "But that's okay!"

The headlines from early magazine stories were pretty brutal, calling the RUNAWAYS "savaged" and "trash." As teenagers, how did you all rally through that?
I can't really speak to the other girls because we all took it differently, but I took it as a real challenge, as a How dare you tell me what I can do. It was the same thing with the women's lib movement: Hard-core women were giving us shit for doing what we wanted to do-and wasn't that the point of feminism, that women should be able to be who they want to be and follow their dreams? All of a sudden, we were getting shot down for using our sexuality, but we were dictating the script. It wasn't the other way around, like, "Hey, you can do what you want to me." It was more like, "Hey, I'm going to do what I want to you." For some reason, we were threatening to everyone: men, women.

In Bad Reputation, we see family photos of you with medium-brown hair. When did you do that definitive dye job?
Well, I was in L.A.; it was early RUNAWAYS, probably December of '75, so the five of us were together. My hair was sort of brown with some highlights in it, and I was wearing black leather at the time. Cherie [Currie, the lead singer] was platinum blonde, and I just thought it would be fun to be the opposite. So I went black.


Music News Digest

low resolution image Not Enlargeable Bad Reputation, a documentary look at rocker JOAN JETT, has its world premiere at the prestigious Sundance film festival tonight (Jan. 22). Jett played a show at the fest on Saturday night.

This is not the first time Jett has appeared on the big screen. The 2010 drama The RUNAWAYS was based on the book Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway, by the all-female rock band's original lead vocalist Cherie Currie. Kristen Stewart portrayed Jett in that movie, which was written and directed by Canadian Floria Sigismondi. Jett drew praise for her acting prowess in the 1987 film Light Of Day, starring alongside Michael J. Fox.

- Megaphono, Ottawa's music showcase fest, returns Feb. 8-10. The fourth edition hosts 70 artists performing in 25 venues around the Ottawa-Gatineau region. North American and international delegates will attend and network. Last year, more than 35 international music buyers attended. 2018 lineup highlights include Nap Eyes, Jeremy Fisher, Michael Rault, Tasha the Amazon, Lido Pimienta, Willy Mitchell, Willie Thrasher, Daniel Romano, Nick Ferrio, Mauno, and Steven Lambke. More info at

- The SOCAN-ARTISTI Original Song Award is a partnership of the pro and the Société pour l'avancement de la chanson d'expression française (SACEF) and its Ma première Place des Arts (MPPdA) competition. It features eight chosen vocalists performing songs by SOCAN writers, and the $2K cash prize will be split equally between the singer and songwriter(s) of the song selected by the joint SOCAN and ARTISTI panel of jurists.

The prize is to be awarded during the MPPdA finals on May 16.


JOAN JETT: Rock Music ‘Will Never Be Dead' (Watch)

Music icon JOAN JETT doesn't think that rock music will ever die.

"It could be dead to the radio. It could be dead, to a degree, commercially. It'll never be dead as long as there are guitars and amps that you can plug in," Jett said at the Variety Studio presented by AT&T while promoting her new documentary "Bad Reputation. "I'm telling you, you'll never get the same feeling. It's not criticism because people have to use the means they can or that they like; music is subjective. But you won't get the same feeling from a drum machine that you're going to get from sitting behind the drums. Playing a guitar on the keyboards is not the same thing as feeling the wood vibrate through your body from your pelvic bone."

Jett, a musician, actress, and producer, first rose to prominence in the '80s with her version of the song "I Love Rock ‘n' Roll" and "Bad Reputation," from which her documentary takes its name. She was portrayed by Kristen Stewart in the film "The RUNAWAYS" about Jett's 1970s rock band, which she also produced.

"[Rock music] could cycle back and it may not, I don't know," she continued. "It's just a matter of kids trying it and they'd love it. I think now a lot of people just want to become rich and famous so whatever the means is, it's not rock and roll right now. It's some other kind of deal, some version of pop that people are trying to achieve fame. It's not necessarily about the music."

"Bad Reputation" premieres at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 22.

Sundance Notebook: Her reputation precedes her

low resolution image Not Enlargeable Sundance is, of course, primarily about film. But music is certainly a big part of the film experience -- and often times my favorite memories from the festival revolve around private concert performances by musicians who are in some way tied to festival entries.

One of the best-known artists featured this year is Rock and Roll Hall-of-Famer JOAN JETT -- who is the main subject of a documentary titled "Bad Reputation," which will make its premiere at Sundance on Monday at 2:30 p.m. at the MARC.

Jett and her band, The BLACKHEARTS, performed a private concert on Saturday night for several hundred guests as part of the "A Celebration of Music and Film" series.

"It's pretty exciting," Jett said, referring to her doc premiere. "And a little weird."

Having the opportunity to witness a rock icon perform in an intimate environment is always a rare and not-to-be-missed experience. Jett and Co. blasted through an energetic 15-song set over the course of an hour. Her performance ran the gamut of her career, from the very first song she ever wrote ("You Drive Me Wild") to a brand new song the band did for the documentary ("Fresh Start"). The song was so new apparently, that one of the band's road crew came out and set its lyrics on the floor at the base of Jett's microphone stand so that she could follow along while singing it.

Other highlights included the RUNAWAYS hit "Cherry Bomb" and Jett standouts "Light of Day," opener "Bad Reputation," "I Love Rock and Roll" and "Crimson and Clover," which featured a portion where the audience took over the chorus vocals for a stretch.

One fun surprise had the band rocking out the theme song to the "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."

With the show culminating a day that began with a women's march, it was only fitting that Kathleen Hanna, who originated the underground feminist punk Riot grrrl movement, join her onstage for the two closing numbers, "Rebel Girl" and "I Hate Myself For Loving You.".

JOAN JETT Rocks New ‘Bad Reputation' Documentary at Sundance Film Festival

low resolution image Not Enlargeable By many measures, JOAN JETT is one of the most influential figures in rock history. But how many young fans who adore her proto-punk attitude would guess that one of the rocker's early influences was ... Liza Minnelli?

"I wanted to be an actor before I fell in love with music," Jett, 59, explains in an interview with Variety. "And ‘Cabaret' was really the combining of the two. Seeing that, with its '20s flapper girl decadence and the crazy makeup, around the same time I started wanting to play guitar, it all sort of melded together into this sort of slightly decadent-looking vibe - I mean, I didn't quite have that at 13, but it was developing."

Her career path veered decidedly to music, but she hasn't been a stranger to the screen. The camera loved her from the moment she stepped out in red leather in 1981 for "I Love Rock 'n Roll," one of the first true MTV-bred hits. Six years later, she took the lead opposite Michael J. Fox in Paul Schrader's "Light of Day," and she's occasionally turned up since in places as unexpected as "Walker, Texas Ranger." Her pioneering 1970s ways were immortalized for a new generation with Kristen Stewart's portrayal in 2010's "The RUNAWAYS," which Jett executive produced.

Now she's playing herself in "Bad Reputation," a documentary that premieres at Sundance on Jan. 22, preceded by a live gig at the Park City film festival Jan. 20.

It was preordained that the film would be named after her 1980s signature song and album, but the title is a bit of a misnomer: If there's any rocker who doesn't require much image rehabilitation at this point, it's the nearly universally loved Jett. "Bad Reputation" is really part of a victory lap, coming on the heels of not just that biopic about her seminal all-girl band but her 2015 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. That's not to say the new doc feels unnecessary: As producer Carianne Brinkman says, "It's wonderful that the RUNAWAYS' story was told, but I didn't think we were done telling a story about JOAN JETT. I think it's a really important story, especially for young girls to see, and also young boys." The goal may be a tip-off that the movie's story is less about decadence than, in Jett's mind, "perseverance."

Brinkman is the daughter of KENNY LAGUNA, a writer-producer-manager whose run of 1960s hits has long since been eclipsed by his nearly four-decade partnership with Jett. Beyond playing up the historicity of one of the first and foremost female rockers, Brinkman sensed there was a sort of buddy movie as well in the relationship between Jett and her dad: "Their banter is great, and I thought it would be entertaining for people to see that too." A documentary wasn't an easy sell, though, at least to Jett. "She's an incredibly humble person, and somewhat private," Brinkman says. "So it was kind of a reluctant getting-on-board."

It's oddly hard for Jett to be the center of attention offstage. "I find it very difficult to say, ‘Oh yeah, people are taking notice of me now!'" she says, having been coaxed to say just such a thing. "It just sounds weird and not humble. I find it hard to toot my own horn too loud, unless it's in conjunction with something else, like the RUNAWAYS, or saying ‘the BLACKHEARTS.' But I can't talk about me like that."


25 Movies We Can't Wait to See at Sundance 2018

low resolution image Not Enlargeable Back in 1978 -- just a hair short of 40 years ago, in fact -- Robert Redford and a handful of fellow Utah residents decided to start a film festival in Salt Lake City. The focus, they said, would be on American "independent" movies; "what the hell is an independent movie, exactly?" was the reply. There had been a thriving filmmaking underground for decades, as well as various folks who'd made work outside of the studio system. But the idea of the adjective becoming a catch-all term divorced from economics or patronage -- something that would also encompass an aesthetic, a sensibility, a community and a dozen different D.I.Y. subgenres, the cinematic equivalent of "college rock" -- was not on anybody's minds. They just wanted to provide a focal point for the free-radical mavericks floating around and a forum for voices that weren't getting heard in the mainstream. The faith was that if they built it, filmmakers and fanatics would come.

One significant name change, one major locale switch to Park City, dozens of tweaks/additions (brand-name sponsors and other red-carpetbaggers, beefed-up foreign-film sections, "New Frontier" and V.R. sidebars) and several thousand movies later, it's safe to say that yes, they built it -- and yes, four decades later, we're still coming. When the Sundance Film kicks off its 2018 edition on January 18th, everyone from critics to cinephiles to the celeb-spotting curious descend on the ski-resort town in the hopes of catching the next Reservoir Dogs, or The Blair Witch Project, or Little Miss Sunshine, or Boyhood, or Call Me By Your Name. And by the time the annual event closes up shop on the 28th, there's a huge chance that we will have seen a smattering of movies that we'll be talking about for the rest of the year and/or the rest of filmgoing lives.

Here are 25 from this year's lineup that have us salivating -- from docu-profiles on musicians, artists and iconoclasts to left-field biopics on raunchy comedians, black metal Norwegians and paraplegic cartoonists, postapocalyptic character studies to sociopolitical satires. Oh, and one in which Nicolas Cage totally loses his cool and flies into a bloody rage.

'Bad Reputation'
She don't give a damn about her bad reputation -- but fuck if JOAN JETT has not benefited from her decades-long reputation as being one of rock & roll's premier badasses. Having done music docs on everyone from Bob Marley to Nirvana, director Kevin Kerslake gets a handful of collaborators and the heavily mascaraed lady herself to tell her story -- from RUNAWAYS guitarist to leader of the BLACKHEARTS, mainstream pop-charter (you could not escape "I Love Rock & Roll' back in the day) to elder stateswoman of a sticking-to-your-guns musical/feminist ethos. All hail the queen.


JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS - "Science Fiction/Double Feature"
from: YouTube

SCIENCE FICTION/DOUBLE FEATURE (From the album Dr. Demento Covered In Punk)

JOAN JETT - Guitars, Lead Vocals
Sami Yaffa - Bass
KENNY LAGUNA - Keyboards, Background Vocals, and Percussion

Produced by KENNY LAGUNA
Recorded, engineered, and mastered by Peter Kuperschmid at Soundnet Studios, Long Beach, New York.
Mastered By Alan Douches
Courtesy Of BLACKHEART RECORDS Group, Inc.

Sundance '18 unveils panels and off-screen events line up
low resolution image Not Enlargeable The 2018 Sundance Film Festival has finalized its panels and off-screen events schedule ahead its launch next week in Park City, Utah.

The 10-day festival will feature intersectional conversations on gender and diversity representation, power dynamics and bias in media, as well as behind-the-scenes panels on the art of filmmaking.

Anchoring the Utah-set festival's documentary installments is the 'Art of Film Weekend' series (Jan. 26-28). Unearthing the Past -- Art of Film Weekend will convene non-fiction filmmakers to discuss their innovative approaches through archive materials to craft artful representations of the past while re-contextualizing the present.

Featured in the discussion will be A Thousand Thoughts director Joe Bini, 306 Hollywood filmmakers Elan and Jonathan Bogarín, Bisbee '17 helmer Robert Greene, Our New President director Sierra Pettengil, and Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind filmmaker Marina Zenovich.

Alissa Wilkinson of Vox will moderate the Jan. 27 panel discussion.

The Sundance Institute Film Music Program will also present a one-night only performance by JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS. The Jan. 20 event, 'A Celebration of Music and Film', will be part of a celebration of Kevin Kerslake's biography on Jett, Bad Reputation (pictured), which world premieres on Jan. 22.


Sundance 2018 Preview: From JOAN JETT to Usher, The Most Anticipated Music Films
low resolution image Not Enlargeable The Sundance film festival has long showcased breakout actors and potential Academy Award contenders. But in 2018, major music artists will be driving much of the conversation at the annual film summit in Park City, Utah. "This, by far, was the year with the most options," says Jarom Rowland, senior manager of the festival's film music program.

The fest has already established its music-documentary bona fides with premieres of the Oscar-winning films Searching for Sugar Man in 2012 and 20 Feet From Stardom in 2013. The long-awaited MATANGI/MAYA/M.I.A. will be unveiled on Jan. 21 after years of delays; it captures the life and provocative art of M.I.A. by using an archive of the Sri Lankan performer's own footage. Punk trailblazer JOAN JETT is the subject of Bad Reputation, named after her defiant rock'n'roll anthem: Directed by music video veteran Kevin Kerlsake, the doc charts the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer's rise from 1970s band The RUNAWAYS to mainstream solo stardom.

Established actors, meanwhile, are turning their attention to music stories. Ethan Hawke co-wrote and directed Blaze, the saga of country great and Texas outlaw Blaze Foley, with Arkansas rocker Benjamin Dickey in the lead role; Hearts Beat Loud finds actor-comedian Nick Offerman portraying the owner of a failing record store in Brooklyn's Red Hook neighborhood who rekindles his musical ambition after an impromptu jam session with his college-bound daughter. Finally, R&B superstar Usher appears in Burden, about a breakaway Ku Klux Klan member who takes refuge in a black church community. With such a promising selection, Rowland admits that some quality projects simply couldn't be squeezed in: "Turning down [those other] films was heartbreaking."

A new documentary about JOAN JETT titled Bad Reputation will premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival
low resolution image Not Enlargeable A new documentary about JOAN JETT titled Bad Reputation will premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, scheduled from January 18 to 28 at a number of locations in Utah.

The movie follows Jett's life story from her early career with the all-female rock band The RUNAWAYS, to the start of her partnership with her longtime manager and collaborator KENNY LAGUNA, to her enduring success fronting her group The BLACKHEARTS.

Bad Reputation was directed by veteran music-video director Kevin Kerslake, whose previous films include As I AM: The Life and Times of DJ AM, Nirvana's Live! Tonight! Sold Out!, and The Ramones' We're Outta Here. The Jett documentary is the first in a planned series of music-related movies and TV programs from the BMG record label and publishing company.

"We are incredibly excited and proud [of Bad Reputation]," says BMG executive Justus Haerder. "JOAN JETT is an American icon and Kevin Kerslake has created a superb documentary which really captures her story."

Bad Reputation, the JOAN JETT Story
low resolution image Not Enlargeable Bad Reputation, director Kevin Kerslake's new documentary on the life and career of JOAN JETT, will have its world premier at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival which will be held January 18-28, 2018 in Park City, Salt Lake City and Sundance, Utah. The documentary is said to chronicle "her early years as the founder of The RUNAWAYS and first meeting collaborator KENNY LAGUNA in 1980 to her enduring presence in pop culture as a rock ‘n’ roll pioneer."

Bad Reputation is one of several new documentaries planned by media giant BMG over the next year in an effort to break into the growing video market for music content on iTunes and Spotify. Other films include The Children of the Revolution about Marc Bolan better known as T-Rex, Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records, and The Show's The Thing about the first generation of rock concert promoters.


low resolution image Not Enlargeable About
JOAN JETT is so much more than "I Love Rock 'n' Roll." It's true, she became mega-famous from the number-one hit, and that fame intensified with the music video's endless play on MTV. But that staple of popularity can't properly define a musician. Jett put her hard work in long before the fame, ripping it up onstage as the backbone of the hard-rock legends The RUNAWAYS, influencing many musicians-both her cohort of punk rockers and generations of younger bands-with her no-bullshit style.

Bad Reputation gives you a wild ride as Jett and her close friends tell you how it really was in the burgeoning '70s punk scene, and their interviews are laced with amazing archival footage. The theme is clear: even though people tried to define Jett and keep her stuck to one hit, she never compromised. She will kick your ass, and you'll love her all the more for it.

Mon. 1/22, 2:30 p.m., MARC, PC
Tue. 1/23, 8:30 p.m., Egyptian, PC
Fri. 1/26, 3:00 p.m., Redstone 7, PC
Sat. 1/27, 9:30 p.m., Wagner, SLC


JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS performing at Thunder Valley Casino Resort on New Year’s Eve

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