Shep Gordon is the greatest talent manager you’ve never heard of, not to mention a raconteur, bon viveur and all-round jammy bastard. That’s if you believe the hype of this wildly entertaining documentary co-directed by Mike Myers. But when it’s the likes of Michael Douglas and Sylvester Stallone doing the hyping, is there any other option?
“You need to listen to me,” says Gordon to his clients, who’ve included Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd and Teddy Pendergrass. “If I do my job perfectly, I will probably kill you.” He’s only just kidding.
What follows tracks his career from playing band manager as a front for selling drugs, to hitting it big with Cooper through a series of Spinal Tap-ish stunts. Gordon and Cooper offer eyebrow-raising anecdotes, and the film’s strongest when focusing on their antics. But Gordon’s ambitions didn’t stop with music, later managing celebrity chefs, turning Buddhist and becoming a Hollywood svengali. Myers describes hanging out at a Gordon party as “like being at Madame Tussauds”.
In truth, there’s almost too much material here and Myers is more interested in deifying Gordon than asking questions. These guys must know where the bodies are buried (“I’ve told Shep things I’ve never told anybody else,” Douglas admits), but they’re not going to tell us. While it lasts, it’s fun to be invited to the party, and even Gordon’s critics would have to admit he’s a man you couldn’t make up.
More sugar-rush than Sugarman, but Gordon’s extraordinary life just outside the spotlight is a whirlwind of charm and chutzpah.