In Review: Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon

by Daniel Goodwin on 18/07/2014


We all know Hollywood as a land of scandals and secrets but first-time director Mike Myers does his best to unearth a few via superstar manager Shep Gordon. An industry bigwig and “ethical hedonist” with unprecedented insights into A-list lives, who is also partial to a bit of sex and substance abuse. In his day, Gordon managed the likes of Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd and Groucho Marx and embraced the celebrity lifestyle. He also convinced non-famous clients to live like stars even when they didn’t have a pot to piss in.

Myers’ fascinating documentary examines Shep’s past and managerial methods, using old film, news and home movie composites to bring his tales to life. The film includes interviews with Michael Douglas, Sylvester Stallone, Willie Nelson and Myers who discuss their times with Shep and sing his praises. Myers examines Shep’s relationships, brushes with death and Buddhism as well as being loaded with enough sensationalist morsels to front a thousand tabloids.

Supermensch (meaning a person of integrity and honour) resists delving into the darker side of Hollywood, which could have added greater substance, but instead focuses mostly on Shep and is produced with great love, as well as being laden with rock excess and celebrity gossip. Myers delivers a good-natured portrayal of an unsung industry icon with a bracing fondness. The film touches on scrapes with alcohol and drug addiction but is kept mainly light and starry.

Shep recounts his early days in the industry managing Alice Cooper and devising stunts to get his client in the spotlight, like the William Castle of celebrity management. He also reminisces on the time he dropped acid and interrupted Janis Joplin mid-coitus because he thought she was being raped. And when he moved to a secluded island and his computer broke but luckily the only other person on the island was Steve Jobs.

While spewing out dirt nuggets at an unprecedented rate with a lurid vibrancy, despite lacking conflicting perspectives, Supermensch remains both massively insightful and entertaining. The focus occasionally veers into sadder territory but is mostly lighthearted; concentrating on Shep’s good nature, family and friends and is speckled with enough yarns to keep industry enthusiasts and showbiz fanatics engrossed throughout.

Daniel has awarded Supermensch four Torches of Truth

4 torches

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