TV Eye

Every parking lot is a world

<i>Parking Lot</i>
Parking Lot

What were filmmakers Jeff Krulik and John Heyn thinking when they took their cameras into a Maryland parking lot in the mid-1980s to film the boisterous fans at a Judas Priest concert? As it turns out, whatever they might be thinking couldn't be nearly as entertaining as the fans themselves. Of course, the acid-washed jeans, big hair, and 13-year-old girls dangling on the arm of a boyfriend who has long left his teen years might make some viewers blanch. Still, there's something intriguing about watching the subjects of a film speak for themselves in all of their proud, drunken glory.

It has been nearly 30 years since Krulik and Heyn's short film Heavy Metal Parking Lot hit underground film festivals and cable-access shows. Now, a sleeker, tighter version of their film comes to cable network Trio in a limited original series, Parking Lot.

The original Heavy Metal Parking Lot had the hapless filmmakers mingling among stoned fans eager to keep the buzz lit, while others bounced on their own adrenaline. All were thrilled to see the greatest freakin' band in the universe, so little prompting was required to get the gregarious fans to open up, even if it was a regurgitation of what someone else just said, something read on a T-shirt, or an excuse to utter foul-mouthed non sequiturs.

Interestingly, and perhaps as a reminder that getting face time was not always the height of hipness that it is today, there were a few suspicious of the filmmakers. Why were they filming and for what purpose? Who would want to film a bunch of freaks in a parking lot? Who would watch, and who would care?

How things have changed.

In Radical Media's Parking Lot, fans are not only eager to share their glowing praise of their chosen star, but now that most of us have been schooled in how to be real -- thanks to reality TV -- most of the subjects in Parking Lot not only feel obliged to speak, but are happy to have finally happened upon their 15 minutes.

The results are as intriguing and amusing as the original film, but with a more confident hand and a more diverse palette. Parking Lot starts where Heavy Metal Parking Lot left off, at another heavy metal concert, this one starring Motörhead in Asbury Park, N.J. From there, the series crisscrosses the nation to meet fans of other predilections. Though heavy metal fans have little in common with Cher fans, or Cher fans with cat lovers, one thing is clear: All of that jeering and the sidelong glances you toss to that crazy bunch of fans you couldn't imagine being a part of might someday be reflected back, when you find yourself panting and sweating outside an event headlined by celebrity X. Just make sure there's not a camera around if you don't want proof.

Here's a glimpse of what's featured in Parking Lot:

Premiere episode: Heavy metal fans of Motörhead in New Jersey; Cher fans (and impersonators) in Atlanta; sci-fi fanatics at a sci-fi convention in Stony Brook, N.Y. (The first televised screening of Heavy Metal Parking Lot follows.)

Episode 2: 50 Cent fans compete for tickets to the rapper's first major tour; Yanni fans swoon in D.C.; wrestling fans await a glimpse of their favorite wrestlers outside a WWE event in Richmond, Va.

Episode 3: Phishheads tailgate and set up a marketplace in Philadelphia; Dolly Parton fans wait for a glimpse of the country queen at the Dollywood Parade in Tennessee; surfers gather to catch a wave in San Diego.

Episode 4: Multigenerational fans gather to catch Mickey Mouse Club alums Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera in Phoenix, while the grand and leisurely traditions of the Kentucky Derby are revealed at the annual event down South; a Civil War re-enactment and the people who perform in it are featured in Selma, Ala.

Episode 5: Stevie Nicks fans come out for a Fleetwood Mac concert in Massachusetts; tattoo artists and the people they illustrate are on display in Tampa Bay; elsewhere in Florida, cats and the humans they tolerate mince for the camera at a cat show.

Episode 6: The Live Music Capital of the World is the location of a Dixie Chicks concert shortly after their anti-Bush comments in Europe; soap fans get weak-kneed outside the Daytime Emmy Awards in New York City; and, finally, White Stripes fans in Boston share their devotion.

Parking Lot airs at 8pm on consecutive nights beginning Sunday (Jan. 25) on Trio.

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Heavy Metal Parking Lot, Parking Lot, Jeff Krulik, John Heyn, Trio

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