October = HST Month? Hard to tell.

October is shaping up to be the officially unofficial Hunter S. Thompson Month.

Two big bits of Gonzo action are slated; one, no doubt, orchestrated around the the other.

FEAR AND LOATHING AT ROLLING STONE is due to hit bookstores on October 16 — a week or so ahead of the long-awaited theatrical release (October 28) of THE RUM DIARY staring Aaron Eckhart (Thank You For Smoking, The Core, Dark Knight Returns), Amber Heard (Drive Angry, Zombieland), Giovanni Ribisi (Flight of the Phoenix, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Avatar), and good ol’ Colonel Ray himself, Johnny Depp — who, along with Nick Nolte, are Executive Producers.

A RUM DIARY movie poster was tough to find, which is shocking. The one above is at least two years old. Logic dictates that Warner Bros. would be doing more to boost their $45,000,000 film. (That’s nearly double what Universal spent on FEAR & LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS.) Combine the wide HST and Depp fanbases — as well as the Vegas movie’s cult status, DVD sales, and Criterion Collection treatment — and WB could have a modest hit on its hands. If they promote it. Which doesn’t seem to be happening. They don’t even have a trailer.

Could the fact that the movie has been in the can for more than a year be part of Warner’s overall lack of interest?

The film was completed in 2010 and, if memory serves, was pretty much ready to roll. But Depp jumped into filming something and, rather than run the PR engine without the big star, release was delayed for when he could make the rounds, too.

One Depp fan site referenced an Entertainment Weekly article from the January 21, 2011 issue quoting him as wanting to promote RUM DIARY through a college campus bus tour. Fantastic idea, really. Introduce the film the way Hunter used to work the collage circuit. But it would seem that not a single PR cowboy is out driving that herd. Neither is any RUM DIARY information to be found on the Warner Brothers Webpage — which, by the way, is an absolute mess.

(Tried going through their contact page for info on press kits, etc. Hit the submit button and get this:


So, a bit more than two months from opening day and nobody is stirring up buzz. Dumb bastards.

And so much for them.

Simon and Schuster has set the street date of FEAR AND LOATHING AT ROLLING STONE for a little more than a week prior to the film’s release, cleverly poised to take advantage of all the front end advertising money spent by the studio promoting the film. Since Simon and Schuster put out the 1999 edition of Rum Diary, I’d have thought they’d be releasing an updated edition to coincide with the film, maybe something with the movie poster on the cover.

Oh, wait . . . Never mind.

FEAR AND LOATHING AT ROLLING STONE appears to be the latest collection of HST’s writings reheated for fun and profit. The sub-head is “The Essential Writing of Hunter S. Thompson.” How essential this will be remains to be seen. Here’s the blurb from Amazon.com:

From Hunter’s first piece for Rolling Stone—the story of his infamous run for sheriff of Aspen in 1970 on the Freak Party platform—to his last piece on the Kerry/Bush showdown in 2004, with plenty of Nixon, Watergate, Vietnam, Muhammad Ali, and Bill Clinton woven in along the way, Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone presents forty-two examples of the best of Hunter’s work edited anew, along with never-before-seen selections from the correspondence between Wenner and Thompson. The result is a vital inside glimpse of the rollicking spectacle of a writer at his peak, delivering the work of his career to the editor of the magazine that became his literary home.

A couple things in that make my bowels twinge.  First, “the best of Hunter’s work edited anew . . . ” That sounds ominous and wrong — like “clean coal” or “New Coke.” It says something, but what does it mean?

Amazon lists Jann Wenner as the book’s sole editor, which is interesting. If he is editor-as- compiler — the same way Otto Penzler edited The Big Book Of Adventure Stories — then, right on. But then why say “re-edited?” Why would “the best of” what was previously published need to be monkeyed with? If a story had gone to the RS presses with typos, etc., let them stand. They are a piece of history — both Hunter’s and Rolling Stone’s.

Second, “along with never-before-seen selections from the correspondence between Wenner and Thompson.” Will readers/fans/historians finally get a look at the letter Hunter was supposed to have sent after Jann folded Straight Arrow Books, thereby nullifying the $75,000 advance Hunter was getting for another Campaign book? Will we get a look at the Saigon cable — sent after Hunter found out Wenner had (allegedly) fired him and cancelled his insurance?

Seeing as how in Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. Thompson, Wenner put it on the record that this last (alleged) act of (alleged) treachery was an ongoing gag between the two of them, the chances of the Saigon cable will be included are somewhere near zero. Same for the Straight Arrow letter. That is, if the letters ever existed in the first place. They could be more persistent bits of the Mythology. “Print the legend,” and so forth.

But we won’t know any of this until the book hits the street.

As for the movie, contact has been made with the Chicago office promoting THE RUM DIARY. Not a lot of action as yet, but the nice lady there said she’d keep me in the loop regarding screenings, etc. So, you’ll know more as soon as I do.

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