Already the videotape is in the stores: "Bitch Set Me Up: My Dinner With Rasheeda."
Erol's reports tapes are outselling "Batman" by 15 to 1, and sales are so boffo that Guber and Peters, who bought the rights from Sting Co., the cinematic division of the U.S. Federal Witness Protection Plan, have commissioned a feature script and signed Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover for the leads. (Not to worry, "Lethal Weapon" fans, Mel Gibson will do a cameo as Jay Stephens.) On the TV front, the tape will be shown through the summer on "America's Most Damaging Home Videos."
Small movie houses are showing it around the clock to herds of eager neo-realism fans. Cults have sprung up. Like habitues of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," many in the audience come in costume, dressed like Marion and Rasheeda: men in suspenders, holding hand mirrors so they can preen at the appropriate times; women, with flowing scarves wrapped around their heads, carrying bottles of cognac and two hotel glasses. They've memorized the dialogue and say it with the principals. At 20:20:21 on the game clock, Marion sends Rasheeda after Wanda and the crack, and the men in the audience point with their right hands toward the theater exits and say dismissively, "Go get some. Go get it."
Later, women get up from their seats, and anxiously pace the aisles as they shriek along with Rasheeda, "I get too hyper, too nervous, too hyper!"
Seconds after the police rush in (and why, by the way, do they wear jackets with ridiculously large FBI block letters? Are they afraid someone will mistake them for the Beatles?), men join in with Marion to utter his most poignant line: "I shouldn't have come up here."
At the denouement as Marion sits on the foot of the bed, his shoulders sagging, and men in the theater slump sympathetically, and repeat over and over in a dull monotone, "Goddamn bitch. Goddamn bitch."
Over the weekend, the NYU film school held a seminar on the tape, evaluating it as film. (For those of you who haven't seen the credits, the three cameramen on the actual tape were federal agents who prepared for this assignment by viewing "Interiors" until they screamed in pain -- usually 10, 15 minutes in. The director of the tape, until recently a traffic cop in Toledo, has been called "the next Steven Soderbergh" and has been offered a $25 million budget to shoot a docudrama about sex, lies and FBI tape. He plans to hide cameras inside shower heads in the J. Edgar Hoover building.)
The seminar was conducted by the fabled cine'ma ve'rite' director Marty DiBergi, who was favorably impressed by the dim light, the grainy texture and the sense of spareness about the direction, which gives the tape a feeling of incredible intimacy, an almost perfect example of voyeur cinema.
"Very Swedish," DiBergi said.
Film school undergraduates pointed out how the black-and-white tape effectively captured the stylized realism.
"Moody," one said.
"Edgy," another said.
"Foggy," said a third, theorizing that Rasheeda killed Laura Palmer.
"Cold. Frozen. Very Bergman."
"Ingmar," someone nodded.
"What was so innovative and exciting," DiBergi offered, "was that we didn't get Bergman's hackneyed close-ups. We got his sense of impending doom, but the long shots implied Antonioni's melancholy grandeur."
The students analyzed the tape frame by frame, favorably commenting on the Late Nite Bed Cam angle, and bemoaning there wasn't more footage from the Bidet Cam.
"Very French," DiBergi said.
They were impressed how flamboyantly Rasheeda swatted the mayor's hand away when he began fondling her. "Very Kathleen Turner."
And how persistently he pursued her amour. "Very Al Pacino. ... If he knew it was on tape it would have been very Rob Lowe." One recalled the mayor laying on his back on the bed snapping his fingers. "Very Jose Greco." And who could forget the mayor primping in front of the mirror after Rasheeda dashed from the room, then him darting back to the bed as he heard her returning? "Very Warren Beatty."
Others reflected on the police crazily bursting in like ghosts from inside the wall. "Very Roman Polanski." The mayor sitting on the bed, smacking his fists in anger after the sting. "Very Robert De Niro." And the disembodied shot of the headless mayor standing in handcuffs. "Very Freddie Kruger."
(Georgetown Law School held a seminar on how R. Kenneth Mundy might counter the devastating image of Barry sitting forlorn, repeating "goddamn bitch." The students suggested Mundy convince the jury that Barry was actually saying "Got an itch," or "Dropped a stitch.")
There were, however, some questions. Many students wanted to know what was on TV in Room 727? It looked like "Entertainment Tonight." They also wanted to know if the painting above the bed was one of those oil seascapes you can buy at the cheapo art auctions at hotels outside the Beltway.
But most of all they wanted to know why Marion Barry let himself go into Rasheeda Moore's hotel room in the first place.