Luke Perry big-screen vehicle, 'Terminal Bliss,' is headed in wrong direction its filmmaker says

March 09, 1992|By Knight-Ridder News Service

Most young filmmakers would give a year's subscription to Variety and a lot more to be where Jordan Alan is today. Mr. Alan -- who hails from suburban New Jersey but now resides in Los Angeles -- is about to see his first feature as director-writer, "Terminal Bliss," go into wide release. The low-budget teen drama arrived in 62 cities and 400-plus theaters last week.

Not too shabby for a 24-year-old with no previous feature filmmaking experience.

Why, then, is Mr. Alan less than blissful? You might even describe him as miserable. He's calling everyone who will listen to explain that the release of his film, which actually was completed two years ago, is a bad idea.

Mr. Alan, it turns out, is the victim of what should have been a fortuitous turn of events. "Terminal Bliss," shot in Charleston, S.C., for a minuscule $560,000, just happens to co-star Luke Perry, of the top-rated "Beverly Hills 90210" TV show. "Terminal Bliss" marked Mr. Perry's feature debut. He was 23 and still relatively unknown when picked by Mr. Alan to play the film's rich-kid heavy.

The problem, moans Mr. Alan, is that Cannon Pictures, the distributor, is promoting the film as a Mr. Perry vehicle. The company, true to its exploitation roots, also is playing up the sex and drug angles. Posters feature Mr. Perry and co-star Estee Chandler leaning against a silver Porsche; theater trailers promise "Rich kids -- on the edge."

Mr. Alan -- whose heroes are Ingmar Bergman and Jean-Luc Godard -- thought he had made a serious little film about his days at Montclair High, where he did serious drugs ("every day you were stoned") and saw buddies "locked away in rehab."

"Terminal Bliss," he argues, should be marketed to art houses and campuses, treated like "sex, lies & videotape" and "My Private Idaho," not some latter-day Brat Pack fantasy.

"This film is not a teen-age romp," he insists. "It's about teen-age feelings and emotions, things occurring in American society like drugs and date rape. If people go expecting to see 'Beverly Hills 90210' or 'Wayne's World,' they'll be shocked . . . and Cannon will be happy."

During the two years that "Terminal Bliss" went from a festival favorite to a mass-release date picture, Mr. Alan repeatedly has asked Mr. Perry to talk up the film. But Mr. Alan says Mr. Perry would rather forget the venture, that he's wary of "overexposure" and "being exploited."

Mr. Alan describes his relationship with Mr. Perry as "strained." "There's a black cloud over my head in this industry because he has the power and I don't. As Luke's notoriety goes up, he becomes more arrogant."

Mr. Alan is now at work on a psychological thriller called "Mercy."

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